Lepus used to be known as The Chair of the Giant and even The Throne. In fact this constellation has been a number of things besides a hare. The easiest way to start investigating Lepus is to drop due south from the middle of Orion's belt, past the Hunter's feet, and into the neighbouring constellation, Lepus, where you will first encounter the 3.3 magnitude star mu Leporis. It is suggested that you click on this star first.
Alpha Leporis, "Arneb", is a yellow supergiant 1280 light years away. It is due south of the central star of Orion's belt, and nearly due west of Sirius, the brightest star in the heavens. The easiest way to find alpha Leporis is with the naked eye. Pick a point between Rigel and lambda Eridani (the star to the right of Rigel). Now move your eyes slowly to the south and you'll come to a group of stars which seemingly point southward. The brightest of these -- mu Leporis -- is the farthest south. To the east of mu Leporis, in the same FOV are alpha and beta Leporis.
In the same binocular field as alpha -- due east -- is the relatively faint but interesting star cluster (really a binary system) NGC 2017 also known as h3780.
Gamma Leporis is a splendid binary consisting of a yellow primary (3.6) and orange companion (6.1) quite suitable for binoculars. The pair are 29.2 light years away. The companion is a wide 96" away, at a position angle of 350º (that is, nearly due north).
Mu Leporis isn't particularly important except to get your initial bearings. The interesting red giant, R Leporis, is to the west.
R Leporis is a remarkable long-period Mira type variable that goes by the name of Hind's Crimson Star because of its peculiarly intense shade of red. The dimmer the star, the redder. Unfortunately this means that as the star brightens to its maximum, which is about 5.5, it loses much of its colour. Yet if you can spot the star before it achieves its maximum you'll find an intriguing object. At its minimum the star is only about a 11.7 magnitude, beyond that of all but the largest binoculars. If you've a medium sized telescope, the star is worth the time. Place mu a09:42:07 PM 08/25/2008nd lambda Leporis at the eastern edge of your FOV. Now R Leporis will be near the western edge.
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