Another name on the short list for the F9 is Denebola. From the Arabic Al Dhanab al Asad, the Tail of the Lion. This project has taken on a kind of unwieldy leonine gestalt, certainly, as pretty much every boat restoration project I have ever been involved in has. A bit like grabbing the tail of a great lion and hanging on. I think she’ll sail like that too.

Leo is one of the few constellations that actually looks like its name, and there is Denebola, out there, the tip of the tail, near the boundary with Virgo.

The sky tonight shows a bright crescent moon low in the west with Regulus, the ‘heart of the Lion,’ and Saturn. Regulus is to the right of the moon. Saturn shows upper left. Denebola lights above Saturn, one of two somewhat fainter stars, the other being Zosma, the ‘rump’ of the lion.

about 10 PM viewing w, HA Reys Leo with Denebola, the tail, and Zosma, the rump.

Incidentally, this stick drawing of Leo is from the Rey’s configuration. (HA Rey – yes, he’s the guy that illustrated the Curious George books.) These stick figures represent Rey’s take on the most easily identifiable pattern for a given constellation. He re-connected the dots in his own way… that the stick figure shape would more meaningfully reflect the mythology. Rey’s constellation Leo looks like a lion. (The image below is from the other common system.)

I bring this up because Rey’s lion stands upright, striding across the vast dome of night. Older systems of drawing the constellation had the lion resting, the classic ‘steps of the library’ pose. Perhaps this is how Regulus came to be called the ‘heart’ of the lion, as this is where that beautiful 1st magnitude star is located in older illustrations.

Regulus is also one the Four Guardians of Heaven, with Fomalhuat, Aldebaran and Antares. These stars were probably used to mark early equinoxes and solstices, their right ascensions being about 6 hours apart.

The sun was in Leo at the time of the solstice when early creation mythologies were first being written, and the solstice was of great importance, representing the victory of light over dark. It was a time of renewal – when the Nile flooded, (and the lions came out of the desert) and Sirius’ heliacal rising indicated the time for planting, and the beginning of a new year. 26 June