Venus and Moon visit Regulus
Venus is brilliant in the west at dusk during the month of July. Carefully examine the region around Venus from July 9 to July 19 as the shimmering planet dances around Regulus, the heart of Leo, the Lion.
On Tuesday, July 9, Venus shines 1.3 degrees (about a finger width) to the right of Regulus. Then on Wednesday, July 10th, the planet is right above the star separated by only 1.1 degrees. Every night thereafter, Venus pulls farther away from Regulus, as the star descends and disappears into twilight by the end of the month.
A sliver of the new crescent moon sits 6 degrees (12 moon diameters) to the right of Regulus on Friday, July 12. Venus hangs just 3 degrees to the star's upper left. As the twilight darkens on Saturday, July 13, look for the earthshine, or the shadowy "dark " side of the moon. Venus is 7 degrees to the lower right of the moon and Regulus is to the lower left of Venus. Both nights offer an enchanting view.
The Latin name for Regulus means " the little king". It marks the heart of Leo the Lion. To locate Leo, look for a figure with five stars that remind you of a question mark turned in the wrong direction. These stars mark the head and mane of the Lion. To the left of the question mark, or Sickle as it is commonly called, are three stars of almost equal brightness that form a triangle. Regulus is the largest and lowest in the Sickle.
Regulus is the brightest star in the Leo constellation shining at a magnitude 1.3. It is a hot, blue star having a luminosity about 140 times that of the sun and about 3.4 times the diameter. Venus is shining at a much brighter -4.0 magnitude. The casual star observer could easily miss seeing Regulus if not aware of its presence during the middle of July.
Enjoy the warm evenings and watch Venus, the moon, and Regulus as they cast their charm in the summer night skies.