StarDate logo

Over the millennia, stars acquire a lot of names. Some make sense, some don’t. And some of them might have gotten mixed up along the way.

An example is the fourth-brightest star of Leo, the lion, which is about 58 light-years away. It represents the lion’s hip. A few centuries ago, it was assigned the name “Delta Leonis” — an indication of its ranking within the constellation. But it also has some older names, including Zosma and Duhr.

Zosma comes from ancient Greek. It means “the girdle.” But that may be a mixed-up version of the original word, which meant “hip” or “back” — the star’s correct position in the lion’s anatomy. Duhr comes from ancient Arabic. It’s a shortened version of a phrase that means “the lion’s back.”

Regardless of the name, Zosma is a pretty impressive star. It’s more than twice the size and mass of the Sun, and about 15 times brighter. And its surface is thousands of degrees hotter.

Studies have shown that Zosma could be up to three-quarters of a billion years old. Stars of its mass burn through their nuclear fuel much faster than stars like the Sun. As a result, they live much shorter lives. Zosma should end its “prime-of-life” phase and head into old age in a few hundred million years. It’ll shine hundreds of times brighter than it does now — giving the lion a brilliant hip.

Zosma is high in the sky at nightfall. It’s well to the right of Regulus, the lion’s brightest star.

Script by Damond Benningfield

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top