The Lion
Star Name

The Lion

A folkloric celestial complex


 Elements of the Celestial Complex

The Two Forearms (adh-dhira’an, الذراعان)
The Clenched Forearm (adh-dhira’a al-maqbuda, الذراعة المقبوضة)
The Extended Forearm (adh-dhira’a al-mabsuta, الذراعة المبسوطة)
The Claws (al-azfar, الأظفار)
The Tip of the Nose (an-nathra, النثرة)
The Two Nostrils (al-mankhiran, المنخران)
The Sneeze (an-nathra, النثرة)
The Eyes (at-tarf, الطرف)
The Eyelashes (al-ash’ar, الأشعار)
The Forehead (al-jabha, الجبهة)
The Mane (az-zubra, الزبرة)
The Sheath of the Penis of the Lion (qunb al-asad, قنب الأسد)
The Two Haunches (al-warikan, الوركان)
The Two Shanks (as-saqan, الساقان)
The Rump (al-‘ajz, العجز)
The Tail Hair (al-hulba, الهلبة)
The Tail Hair Strikes (darb al-asad bi hulbatihi, ضرب الأسد بهلبته)

The Lion (al-asad) of ancient Arabia was so massive that it roared from January to May, stretching across three seasons in its pre-dawn stellar settings, according to the rain star calendar of Qushayr. The cold season of winter (ash-shatawi) continues with the setting of the Two Forearms (adh-dhira’an) and then the Nose of the Lion (nathrat al-asad). The setting of the Forehead of the Lion (jabhat al-asad) marks the end of winter and the onset of the warm spring rains (ad-dafa’i). Some weeks later, the Two Shanks of the Lion (saqa ‘l-asad) set about 40 days apart, defining between them the rainy portion of the summer (as-sayf). All of this seasonal rain activity unfolds over the course of about four months, between the morning settings of the two brilliant pairs of stars (its Two Forearms and its Two Shanks) that roughly define the boundaries of the Lion.

When the whole Lion was above the horizon, it nearly covered the sky from west to east as it consumed some 135 angular degrees of the sky. In order to present this entire figure, the locator map below has a much larger scale than usual.

Wide-field view of the Lion (al-asad) and its elements as they appear when its Forehead (al-jabha) is in the middle of the sky.

Wide-field view of the Lion (al-asad) and its elements as they appear when its Forehead (al-jabha) is in the middle of the sky. Sky simulations made with Stellarium.


The Arabian megaconstellation of the Lion is much larger than its Greek counterpart, Leo. The Arabian Lion and its elements consume parts of nine different modern-day constellations. At its core is the modern constellation of Leo, which represents only the body of the Lion, from its Forehead to the Sheath of its Penis. Two Forearms stretch outward from this core to the west, and Two Shanks stretch to the east.

Modern Identification

The stars of the Clenched Forearm:
α CMI (Procyon), yellow-white star, magnitude 0.4
β CMI, (Gomeisa), blue star, magnitude 2.9
The stars of the Extended Forearm:
α GEM (Castor), blue-white multiple star, magnitudes 1.6, 2.0, 2.9
β GEM, (Pollux), orange giant star, magnitude 1.1
The stars of the Claws:
ρ GEM, white star, magnitude 4.2
τ GEM, yellow star, magnitude 4.4
ι GEM, yellow star, magnitude 3.8
υ GEM, orange star, magnitude 4.1
κ GEM, yellow giant star, magnitude 3.6
δ GEM (Wasat), white star with orange dwarf star companion, magnitudes 3.5 and 8.1
λ GEM, white star, magnitude 3.6
ζ GEM (Mekbuda), yellow supergiant Cepheid variable star, magnitude 3.7-4.1
ε GEM (Mebsuta), yellow supergiant star, magnitude 3.0

The stars of the Nose:
M44 (Praesepe), star cluster, magnitude 3.1
γ CNC (Asellus Borealis), white star, magnitude 4.7
δ CNC (Asellus Australis), yellow giant star, magnitude 3.9
The stars of the Eyes and Eyelashes:
ε LEO (Ras Elased Australis), yellow giant star, magnitude 3.0
ο LEO (Subra), yellow-white star, magnitude 3.5
μ LEO (Ras Elased Borealis), yellow-white star, magnitude 3.9
κ LEO, yellow-white star, magnitude 4.5
λ LEO (Alterf), orange star, magnitude 4.3
ξ LEO, white star, magnitude 5.0
6 LEO, yellow star, magnitude 5.1
10 LEO, white star, magnitude 5.0
2 HYA, yellow star, magnitude 4.7

The stars of the Forehead and body:
α LEO (Regulus), blue-white star, magnitude 1.4
η LEO, blue-white star, magnitude 3.5
γ LEO (Algieba), double yellow giant stars, magnitudes 2.3 and 3.5
ζ LEO (Adhafera), white star, magnitude 3.4
δ LEO (Zosma), blue-white star, magnitude 2.6
θ LEO (Coxa), blue-white star, magnitude 3.3
β LEO (Denebola), white star, magnitude 2.1

The stars of the legs:
β VIR (Zavijava), yellow star, magnitude 3.6
η VIR (Zaniah), blue-white star, magnitude 3.9
γ VIR (Porrima), double yellow-white stars, magnitude 2.8
δ VIR (Minelauva), red giant star, magnitude 3.4
ε VIR (Vindemiatrix), yellow giant star, magnitude 2.8
α VIR (Spica), blue-white star, magnitude 1.0
α BOO (Arcturus), red giant star, magnitude 0.0

The stars of the Rump:
β CRV (Kraz), yellow giant star, magnitude 2.7
δ CRV (Algorab), white double star, magnitudes 3.0 and 8.4
γ CRV (Gienah), blue-white star, magnitude 2.6
ε CRV (Minkar), yellow star, magnitude 3.0

The stars of the Tail Hair and its Strikes:
The Tail Hair was represented by most of the numbered stars in Coma Berenices, which comprise the very large cluster of stars. The densest concentration includes the stars 14, 16, 13, 12, 17, 21, 18 Comae, most of which are of the fifth magnitude in brightness.
ν UMA (Alula Borealis), yellow star, magnitude 3.5
ξ UMA (Alula Australis), yellow-white star, magnitude 3.8
λ UMA (Tania Borealis), blue star, magnitude 3.5
μ UMA (Tania Australis), yellow star, magnitude 3.1


The entire Lion, from its Forearms to its Shanks set over the course of more than five months. Today we can expect to observe the Lion setting in the west (about 45-60 minutes before sunrise) from early January to early June, as seen from the latitude of Tucson. Likewise, it rose from late July through late October.

Rain Stars

In the rain star calendars of Qushayr and Qays, the pre-dawn setting of the Two Forearms (adh-dhira’an) and the Tip of the Nose (an-nathra) occurred during the cold winter season called ash-shita’. The setting of the Forehead (al-jabha) marked the end of winter and the beginning of the warm spring rains (ad-dafa’i), which continued through the setting of the Howling Dogs (al-‘awa’) and the Weather Change (as-sarfa). The setting of the Two Sky-Raisers (as-simakan) defined the beginning and end of the short rainy season of summer (as-sayf).

Lunar Stations

The celestial complex of the Lion comprises eight lunar stations, more than a quarter of the total number of 28. The earliest listings of the lunar stations were later adjusted backwards by two stations to adjust the calendar to begin with the vernal equinox. In what follows below, the earlier order is listed in parentheses.
7th (9th) lunar station: The Extended Forearm (adh-dhira’ al-mabsuta)
8th (10th) lunar station: The Tip of the Nose (an-nathra)
9th (11th) lunar station: The Eyes (at-tarf)
10th (12th) lunar station: The Forehead (al-jabha)
11th (13th) lunar station: The Mane (az-zubra)
12th (14th) lunar station: The Weather Change (as-sarfa), which in the context of the Lion was the Sheath of the Penis (al-qunb)
13th (15th) lunar station: The Howling Dogs (al-‘awa’), which in the context of the Lion was the Two Haunches (al-warikan)
14th (16th) lunar station: The Unarmed Sky-Raiser (as-simak al-a’zal), which in the context of the Lion was the Two Shanks (as-saqan)

 Related Blog Posts

The Protracted Roaring of the Lion
The Smiling Dog Tooth of Time
The Setting of the Arabian Sky-Raisers