Lepus, "The Hare", is an ancient constellation
found under the feet of Orion, the Hunter. No one seems to know just which
culture first saw the constellation as an animal; the Arabs saw it as the
"throne of the central one" (i.e. Orion).
Lepus, The Hare is not to be confused with Lupus, The Wolf,
which is a spring constellation.
Lepus is often ignored, as Orion is such a dominating constellation. Yet Lepus
contains a number of interesting objects. Its Bayer
stars are generally third and fourth magnitude.
Beta Leporis is a close binary with faint companion: 2.8, 11; PA
330º, separation 2.5".
Gamma Leporis is a lovely wide binary with slight colour contrast, yellow
and orange (although observers vary): 3.6, 6.3; PA 350º, separation 96.0".
Kappa Leporis (Struve 661) is a fixed system: 4.5, 7.4; PA 358º,
h3750 is a fixed binary: 4.7, 8.5; PA 282 degrees, separation 4.2".
h3752 is a fine multiple in the same field as M79.
AB: 5.5, 6.5; PA 97 0186, separation 3.1".
AC: 9; PA 106º, separation 59".
h3780 is a noted multiple system which also goes under the name
AB: 6.7, 7.8; PA 146º, separation 0.5".
AC: 8.9; 137º, 89.3".
AE: 7.9; 9º, 75.6".
AF: 8.3; 300º, 133.9".
AG: 9.5; 49º, 59.8".
Mu Leporis is an alpha CV type variable: 2.97 to 3.41 about every
Rho Leporis is an alpha Cygni type variable: 3.83 - 3.90.
R Leporis is a long-period (Mira) variable that ranges from about 6 to about 11.5 every 427.07 days. However sources vary over this figure, and you will find quoted a period ranging from 427 to 440 days. In 2000 the maximum may occur in the last week of December, depending of course on the star's current period.
The star glows with an unusually intense red; it goes by the name of
Hind's Crimson Star since John Russell Hind (in 1845) wrote that it
resembled "a blood-drop on the background of the sky". Although,
unfortunately, as the star brightens it loses much some of its intense colour.
The star is 3.5º NW of mu Leporis. Burnham (p.1094) has a finder's chart.
(The star less than two degrees south of R Lep is the close binary b314.)
Deep Sky Objects:
Lepus has one Messier and a tiny star cluster which is actually the half
dozen stars which go to make up the multiple h3780.
M79 (NGC 1904) is a small globular cluster about 3.5 degrees SSW
of beta Leporis. In the same field, half a degree to the SSW of this
cluster, is h3752 (see above).
NGC 2017 is a group of a half dozen stars, all gravitationally
bound (h3780, see above). The "cluster" is found seven arc minutes due
east of alpha Leporis.
For a more detailed appreciation of Lepus, visit the Binocular Section.