Night Sky: Algieba, the Double


The constellation Leo the Lion's second brightest star is Algieba. It's about 170 light years from us and looks yellow or orange to the naked eye. When you view it from a dark sky like we have here, you'll notice a fainter star just below it. This star is called 40 Lennis. Even though it looks close to Algieba, it isn't. It's about 60 light years closer to us.

If you observe Algieba with binoculars or a telescope, you'll see its twin. It's a double star, and the two stars revolve around each other. With a telescope they look like two golden jewels that are so close together, they almost seem to touch. Astronomers call them Gamma 1 Leonis and Gamma 2 Leonis.

Gamma 1 is the brighter of the two and has at least one planet rotating it. If we lived on that planet, we'd have two suns in our sky. These two yellow giants are 170 light years from us.

To find it, look for Regulus in Leo the Lion. It's the brightest star in that constellation and is the handle of the sickle. Algieba is the second brightest star and is the bottom of the blade. This constellation is currently high overhead, and as summer begins it will move into the western sky. Leo is a big constellation being 3 hands tall and 3 hands wide.

The new moon is coming up on June 10, so this is a good time for us to view the sky. We just have to stay up late since the days are getting so long. I would say don't even start looking until at least 9:30 p.m. Then the sky is fully light at 5 a.m.

The solar eclipse coming up on June 10 is not going to be visible here. It's strictly a northern event this time. So, it'll be visible in Canada and a few northern US states, but not many. This happens when the moon moves in front of the Sun and blocks its light. So, if you have any friends or family up there, they should be able to see it.

Did you get to see the Lunar Eclipse? I got up at 5 a.m. on May 25 to see if I could see the moon, and I couldn't. So, I knew I would have to get up earlier. The next morning, I got up at 4:28 and went upstairs. The moon was sitting just above the mountain. It was dark with just a thin moon strip on the side. I watched it for 10 minutes until it went below the mountain. Every evening for a few days I was looking at the big bright moon before I went to bed. It was beautiful!

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