Leo

I had taken up stargazing a few years ago, when I was doing my Masters; the campus was somewhere out there with lower light pollution, perfect for a low-cost hobby as this. I learned to identify constellations, mostly of the Zodiac since these were the most visible in the tropics, with some more notable extras like Orion, the Northern Crown, the Southern Cross, and the Great Bear. I knew them well enough that I noticed a red star that didn’t belong: it was the planet Mars.

These days I’m in a more urban environment, and the monsoons seem to be a bit off-season, clouding up a murky sky. Stargazing has been hard to pursue, and I’ve become a bit rusty. I can still make out some of the more prominent constellations: Orion being the easiest, but I was pleasantly surprised to make out the Pleiades even over all that light pollution and haze.

I set about to identify Leo, but try as I might for weeks, I couldn’t find it. I thought maybe Leo was too faint.

A few days ago, with a pleasant shock, I rediscovered the Lion of the Sky at the zenith. It was upside down. I had been looking at it all these weeks without recognizing it. Somewhere to the East Scorpio was rising, but the sky was clouded up there; sometime later this year the Great Scorpion will be up at a reasonable hour. Scorpio is a huge constellation stretching across half the sky, with a red heart: the great supergiant Antares.

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