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Beg Your Pardon




Far be it for me to question the authority of one of my favorite local heroes, Barry Evans, and yet the truth compels me to do so. In his otherwise outstanding article on the Winter Hexagon ("Field Notes," Mar. 6), Barry maintains that the star Regulus, in the constellation Leo (The Lion) marks Leo's front paw.

But Regulus, one of the brightest stars in the night sky, is often described as "glowing at the heart of Leo the lion." The name Regulus is Latin for "prince" or "little king" (the diminutive of "Rex"). However, in Arabic Regulus is known as Qalb Al Asad (also written Al Kalb), meaning "the heart of the lion."

Most ancient and modern astronomers, including R.H. Allen (author of the classic work “Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning”), consider Regulus (alpha Leonis) to mark the heart, or breast, of the Lion. The star Subra (omicron Leonis) defines Leo's front paw.

To reference another of Barry's recent columns, Paul Brians, author of “Common Errors in English Useage,” refers to the phrase "far be it for me" as "a mangled expression." Apparently, the standard expression is "far be it from me."  However, I grew up with, and continue to use, the former, inexcusable mondegreen though it may be.

Ric Schlexer, Fieldbrook


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