Lepus (constellation)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Abbreviation Lep
Genitive Leporis
Pronunciation /ˈlpəs/, or colloquially /ˈlɛpəs/; genitive /ˈlɛpərɪs/
Symbolism the Hare
Right ascension 6h
Declination −20°
Quadrant NQ2
Area 290 sq. deg. (51st)
Main stars 8
Stars with planets 3
Stars brighter than 3.00m 2
Stars within 10.00 pc (32.62 ly) 3
Brightest star α Lep (Arneb) (2.58m)
Messier objects 1
Meteor showers None
Canis Major
Visible at latitudes between +63° and −90°.
Best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of January.

Lepus (/ˈlpəs/, colloquially /ˈlɛpəs/) is a constellation lying just south of the celestial equator. Its name is Latin for hare. It is located below—immediately south—of Orion (the hunter), and is sometimes represented as a hare being chased by Orion or, alternatively, by Orion's hunting dogs.[1]

Although the hare does not represent any particular figure in Greek mythology, Lepus was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations.

This constellation should not be confused with Lupus, the wolf.

History and mythology[edit]

Lepus as seen in Urania's Mirror (1825)

Lepus is most often represented as a hare being hunted by Orion, whose hunting dogs (Canis Major and Canis Minor) pursue it. The constellation is also associated with some lunar mythology,[which?] including the Moon rabbit.[2]

Four stars of this constellation (α, β, γ, δ Lep) form a quadrilateral and are known as ‘Arsh al-Jawzā', "the Throne of Jawzā'" or Kursiyy al-Jawzā' al-Mu'akhkhar, "the Hindmost Chair of Jawzā'" and al-Nihāl, "the Camels Quenching Their Thirst" in Arabic.



The constellation Lepus as it can be seen by the naked eye.

There are a fair number of bright stars, both single and double, in Lepus. Alpha Leporis, the brightest star of Lepus, is a white supergiant of magnitude 2.6, 1300 light-years from Earth. Its traditional[when?] name, Arneb, means "hare".[clarification needed] Beta Leporis, called Nihal,[why?] is a yellow giant of magnitude 2.8, 159 light-years from Earth. Gamma Leporis is a double star divisible in binoculars. The primary is a yellow star of magnitude 3.6, 29 light-years from Earth. The secondary is an orange star of magnitude 6.2. Delta Leporis is a yellow giant of magnitude 3.8, 112 light-years from Earth. Epsilon Leporis is an orange giant of magnitude 3.2,[3] 227 light-years from Earth. Kappa Leporis is a double star divisible in medium aperture amateur telescopes, 560 light-years from Earth. The primary is a blue-white star of magnitude 4.4 and the secondary is a star of magnitude 7.4.[2]

There are several variable stars in Lepus. R Leporis is a Mira variable star. It is also called "Hind's Crimson Star" for its striking red color and because it was named for John Russell Hind. It varies in magnitude from a minimum of 9.8 to a maximum of 7.3, with a period of 420 days. R Leporis is at a distance of 1500 light-years. The color intensifies as the star brightens.[4] It can be as dim as magnitude 12 and as bright as magnitude 5.5.[2] T Leporis is also a Mira variable observed in detail by ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer.[5] RX Leporis is a semi-regular red giant that has a period of 2 months. It has a minimum magnitude of 7.4 and a maximum magnitude of 5.0.[6]

Deep-sky objects[edit]

There is one Messier object in Lepus, M79. It is a globular cluster of magnitude 8.0, 42,000 light-years from Earth. One of the few globular clusters visible in the Northern Celestial Hemisphere's winter, it is a Shapley class V cluster, which means that it has an intermediate concentration towards its center. It is often described as having a "starfish" shape.

M79 was discovered in 1780 by Pierre Méchain.[7]


Inline citations[edit]

  1. ^ "Skys & Telescope: March 2008", Southern Hemisphere Highlights: by Shermend
  2. ^ a b c Ridpath & Tirion 2001, pp. 170-171.
  3. ^ Gutierrez-Moreno, Adelina; et al. (1966). "A System of photometric standards". 1. Publicaciones Universidad de Chile, Department de Astronomy: 1–17. Bibcode:1966PDAUC...1....1G. 
  4. ^ Levy, David H. (2005), Deep Sky Objects, Prometheus Books, ISBN 1-59102-361-0 
  5. ^ Unique Details Of Double Star In Orion Nebula And Star T Leporis Captured By 'Virtual' Telescope. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 19, 2009, [1]
  6. ^ Ridpath & Tirion 2001.
  7. ^ Levy 2005, pp. 160-161.

Sources referenced[edit]

  • Allen, R. H. (1899). Star-names and Their Meanings. New York: G. E. Stechart. 
  • Kunitzsch, P.; Smart T. (2006). A Dictionary of Modern Star Names: A Short Guide to 254 Star Names and Their Derivations. Cambridge (USA): Sky Publishing Corp. 
  • Levy, David H. (2005). Deep Sky Objects. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-59102-361-0. 
  • Ridpath, Ian; Tirion, Wil (2001), Stars and Planets Guide, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-08913-2 
  • Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion (2007). Stars and Planets Guide, Collins, London. ISBN 978-0-00-725120-9. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN 978-0-691-13556-4.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: Sky map 06h 00m 00s, −20° 00′ 00″