Leo Minor is one of the seven constellations introduced by Johannes Hevelius
in his posthumous catalogue of 1690. The others he introduced are Canes
Venatici, Lacerta, Lynx, Scutum, Sextans, and Vulpecula.
(See "Lacerta" for a brief comment on Hevelius.)
While Lacerta has two Bayer stars (alpha and beta), Leo Minor has only
one; curiously it's Beta LMi. It isn't even
the brightest star of the constellation; 46 LMi has that honour
with a magnitude of 3.8.
Leo Minor is the only northern hemisphere constellation which has no
"alpha". The others, all in the southern hemisphere, are Norma, Puppis,
Leo Minor lies just above Leo with a
nondescript asterism; it's a "lesser lion" in name only.
The constellation has one binary of any interest, one Mira variable, and
a few galaxies, including a rare interacting pair of galaxies.
Beta Leo Minoris is an extremely close binary with an orbit of 39 years: PA 223º, separation 0.4".
R Leo Minoris is a Mira type variable ranging from 6.3 to 13
every 372.2 days. In 2000 the maximum should occur in early September.
Deep Sky Objects:
NGC 3003 is an almost-on-edge galaxy, quite large but rather
faint. It is four degrees SW of 21 LMi.
NGC 3395 is one of two interacting galaxies, two small and bright
galaxies which seem to exist in some kind of symbiotic relationship. The
two are found 1.5 degrees SW of 46 LMi.
NGC 3396 is the other half of the interacting galaxies, with a
separation of 1.7'. It is slightly fainter (12.8) and slightly smaller.