Come January 29 and 30, the brightest star, the so-called "brilliant waning gibbous moon," is pairing up with Regulus, the brightest star and Heart of the Lion in the constellation Leo.

According to EarthSky report, from most places all over the world, one will see the moon and Regulus by mid-evening. That is midway between the local sunset and midnight.

The moon will be so close to Regulus on January 29 evening. Then, by January 30, the moon is set to have moved onward in its orbit, "cruising ever-eastward" ahead of the stars, so that people might more easily see the predominant pattern of a star of which Regulus is part of it.

This pattern is not a constellation. It is an easy-to-see asterism or evident star patterns in the night sky. More so, the pattern has the shape of a reversed question mark.

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Science Times - Moon and Regulus Pair Up on Evenings of January 29 and 30
(Photo : Pablo Carlos Budassi on Wikimedia Commons)
The brightest object in the constellation Leo lying at 79 light years from the Sun - Quadruple star system organized into two pairs (an oblate shaped blue-white main-sequence star with a white dwarf companion and a pair of main-sequence orange K2V and red M4V stars).


'Regulus'

The brightest star, also identified as Regulus, marks the bottom or end part of a question mark pattern, which signifies the "Head and Shoulders of Leo."  

This much-loved pattern is also known as The Sickle. Even though Regulus ranks as the first magnitude star, or one of the brightest stars in the night sky, it is only the 21st brightest star ever documented.

One might need to search hard for Regulus in the glare of the moon on January 29, particularly if one lives in a city. If so, place the finger over the moon to "block out its light."

Waiting for a few days for the moon to "drop out of the night sky" is another option. Then, the Pointer Stars of the Big Dipper can always be used to help guide people to the blue-white Regulus and the constellation Leo the Lion.

Also, according to the said report, it helps if there's an inky dark night to see the Lion's starlit figure. At a roughly 77-light-year distance, the blue-white Regulus is a larger and hotter star compared with the sun.

'Blue-White' Color

It may look like a single star to the eye alone, and astronomers guarantee that it's a "multiple star system" that consists of various components of stars.

Regulus is spinning once on its rotational axis is shorter than 16 hours, contradicting the spin rate of our own sun at its 24-day equator.

If Regulus rotated much more quickly, this star would tear apart. Astronomers' suspicion is that companions of Regulus might be responsible.

Typically, the blue-white color of a star signifies that it is in the "heyday of youth," only around 50 to 100 million years old.

However, Regulus has a very near companion star, which cannot be seen through the use of a telescope but only identified using a spectroscope.

It is thought that the companion of Regulus could be a "white dwarf star," in which case Regulus, as well as its companion star, would need to be at least one billion years old.

Perhaps, mass transfer of material from one star to another in this close-knit binary star system is acting as a "fountain of youth," keeping the Regulus young in its old age.

The bottom line is that, on the evenings of January 20 and 30, the moon can be one's gateway to find Regulus, the brightest star of Leo.

Once it drops out of the night sky, Use Big Dipper to star-hop to the brightest and the constellation Leo the Lion.

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