Bruce Bookout carries the weight of this week's episode of Looking Up in which four majestic stars come together for something special. Why? Because we want you to know how ancient cultures viewed the night sky.
Around 3000 BCE, the Persians looked at the sky saw kingliness. They had four stars they considered “Royal Stars”; Aldebaran, Antares, Fomalhaut and Regulus.
They were regarded as the guardians of the sky believing that the sky was divided into four districts each being guarded by one of the four Royal Stars. These stars held both good and evil power and were looked upon for guidance in determining the calendar and lunar/solar cycles.
Regulus was known to the ancient Persians as Venent. Regulus resides in the constellation of Leo the Lion, which is easily found chasing Orion across the sky. Leo was mentioned by Ptolemy and placed as part of his original 2nd-century constellations.
It is known as Qalb al-Asad, from the Arabic meaning 'the heart of the lion'. In Chinese it is known as the Fourteenth Star of Xuanyuan, the Yellow Emperor. Babylonians called it Sharru "the King", and it marked the 15th zodiac constellation.
Regulus received its modern name from Nicolaus Copernicus, from the Latin, meaning "little king” and marking the fact that it had been regarded as one of the leading stars in the sky for over 2,000 years.
I think we can truly say that Regulus is a Sun King.
If you’d like to take a closer look at a Regulus, or any of the other wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit csastro.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and our free public star parties.