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The Bootes constellation Herds A Flock Of Multiple Star Systems

The Bootes constellation. How does this weird, strange looking, even stranger sounding constellation even come to be? The mythology of Bootes I guess depends upon whom you ask.

Shaped like a kite to some or a giant ice cream cone to others, this man played an important mythological role to the benefit of farming.

Noted as a herdsman, the meaning of the name, Bootes(pronounced in 3 syllables {with long O as in no}BO O tease) is famed as the mythological inventor of the plow.

He has a close relationship to the Big dipper. The Big dipper is also known in some countries as the plow(plough). He is said to be driving his team of oxen around and this causes the sky to rotate.

Sometimes he was seen as a hunter instead.

In this role he is with his hunting dogs Canes Venatici as they track the great bear Ursa Major.

How do you see him? View him as you choose... but do view him.

Bootes constellation
Bootes outline

Almost As Bright As They come

Bootes contains within its constellation area the 3rd brightest star in the night sky.

Arcturus an orange colored star is also the brightest star in the northern celestial sky.

Although brighter than Rigel Kentaurus the alpha star of the Centaurus constellation, the combined magnitude of the 3 stars that make up Alpha Centauri are brighter than Arcturus. On a star list Alpha Centauri will be listed 3rd and Arcturus 4th. On a similar list of single stars, Arcturus will be 3rd and Rigel Kentaurus 4th.

Easily found by following the handle of the big dipper, you simply “ark to Arcturus”. This line of sight will continue on to the bright white star of Spica in the Virgo constellation.

So from the dipper's handle you “ark to Arcturus and speed to Spica”.

Gathering The Herd

Right Ascension: 15 hours

Declination: 30 degrees

Visible between latitudes +90 and -50 degrees

Best seen in June (at 9:00 PM local time)

Named Stars: Arcturus (Alpha Bootis) Nekkar (Beta Bootis) Seginus (Gamma Bootis) Izar (Epsilon Bootis) Mufrid (Eta Bootis) Asellus Primus (Theta Bootis) Asellus Secondus (Iota Bootis) Asellus Tertius (Kappa 2 Bootis) Alkalurops (Mu 1 Bootis) Merga (38 Bootis)

The Bootes constellation is a large one, 13th out of the 88, containing a good amount of double and binary stars.

Many of these can be split in small and medium sized backyard scopes.

Izar is the best and can be separated into its component stars, an orange giant and a blue-green companion star, in a telescope with a 3in(75mm) aperture. There is a third 12th magnitude star as well. You may have trouble separating it in small scopes though.

Alkalurops is also a triple star system with an apparent magnitude of 4.3.

Nu Bootis is a binary star visible in binoculars. Again featuring one of the many orange stars in this constellation.

Xi Bootes is actually a quad star system with a yellow primary and an orange secondary.

There are plenty more multiple stars within the boundaries of the Bootes constellation.

If you happen to have a larger scope 8in(200mm) or more you should be able to separate quite a few of them with some patience and practice.

Ngc5466 is a 9th magnitude globular cluster easily visible in most scopes.

As Bootes faces away from the galactic plane it has few deep-sky objects. Mostly faint galaxies, with no star clusters or nebulae.

The large Bootes void is a section of space containing few galaxies at all. It's about 250 million light years across and about 700 million light years from Earth.

The Bootes constellation is surrounded by:

Coma Berenices and Canes Venatici to the west. Ursa Major is northwest with Draco to the northeast. Hercules, Corona Borealis and Serpens Caput form along the eastern side and Virgo is to the south.

So get out and view some of the many colorful stars this herdsman has gathered for you.

› Bootes
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