What lies hidden in the shadow of the Lion? This week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Feb 6, 2017

The Moon steps through the outer edge of Earth's shadow in front of Leo starting Friday, February 10.

Did you know that there’s not always a Full Moon in February, and that only once every ten years can the February Full Moon be eclipsed? 

Next year, there will be no Full Moon in the month of February, and this year, the Full Moon, which comes this Friday, the 10th, will move through the outer edge of Earth’s shadow, causing what’s called a “penumbral eclipse.”


Depending on where in the month it falls, the February Full Moon is usually standing in front of the region of Leo stars. In ancient tradition, Leo is associated with nurturing regal and courageous heart forces, so of course it was ruled by the Sun. The brightest star there is Regulus, and as the heart of the Lion, it was thought to be the ruler of the heavens.

This Friday, rather than reflecting back to us the light of the Sun from Leo, the Moon is actually going to show us the outer edge of the Earth’s shadow, which begs the question: what lives in the shadow of the Lion?

There’s a fairy tale in the Brother’s Grimm that might hold a clue. The tale is called “The Prince Who Feared Nothing”, and it’s about a Prince who leaves his childhood home to find adventure in the world. Eventually he encounters a mighty giant who sends him on a journey to pluck an apple from the tree of life, which the giant wants to give to his beloved. But there’s a trick, because the apple is guarded by a sacred ring and a wild lion, and if anyone attempts to pluck the apple that is not true of heart, the ring will prevent success and an attack from the lion will ensue.

Our Prince is a worthy hero, and not only does he win the apple and the ring, he also earns the guardianship of the Lion. This comes in handy later in the story, especially when he encounters a princess who is cast in a spell of shadows, like an eclipse. To free her, the Prince must endure three nights alone facing stronger and stronger demons, until at last the spell is broken and the princess is freed from the shadow.

The penumbral eclipse of the Moon in Leo on Friday will be deepest at 7:44 pm looking east, but don’t expect to see that deep reddish color like with total eclipses. Think of this as a practice encounter with what lies hidden in the shadow of the Lion, and in the secret chambers of the heart. 

Here is a link to the fairy tale: https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~spok/grimmtmp/091.txt