Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation Leo, and one of the brightest stars in the night sky, with a bluish tint. Approximately 77.5 light years from Earth’s Solar System, Regulus has a mass about 3.5 times that of our own Sun. It is a young star – only a few hundred million years old – and spins extremely rapidly, with a rotation period of only 15.9 hours.
The name Regulus comes from a Latin word meaning “little king,” or “prince.” The star’s Greek name, Basiliscus, is also used. Regulus is also commonly known as Qalb Al Asad, from the Arabic phrase meaning, “the heart of the lion.”
The constellation Leo the Lion, of which Regulus is the most prominent member, consists of a sickle-shaped set of stars some describe as a “backwards question mark” connected to a large, vaguely trapezoidal shape. At the base of the sickle, dotting the backwards question mark, is Regulus, known as the “star of kings.”
Other stars in the sickle include Al Jabbah, Algieba, Adhafera, Ras Elased Borealis, and Ras Elased Australis. Together, they represent the lion’s mane. Two straight lines comprise the lion’s body, ending in the sharp triangle of his flank to the west.