Bootes and Canes Venatici

Bootes the Herdsman 
and Canes Venatici 
the Hunting Dogs

By night

"Bootes is represented by the figure of a mighty man with an uplifted hand, holding in leash two hunting dogs (Canes Venatici). He seems to be pursuing the Great Bear around the Pole, and hence Bootes is often referred to as "the Bear Driver". Bootes is also represented as a Herdsman and a Ploughman, guiding the Wain, as the Constellation Ursa Major is sometimes called. Cicero takes this view and adds that Bootes was sometimes called "Arctophylax" from two Greek words signifying "bear keeper" or "bear drive."
By Day
The mythology of the constellation is interesting. According to some of the Greeks it represented Icarus the father of Origone, others claim it represented Erichthonius, the inventor of the chariot. It was also said to be Arcas, the son of Zeus and the nymph Callisto (aka Ursa Major the Greater Bear). The name Bootes, according to some authorities, is derived from the Greek (Ox + to drive) Others claim that it was derived from the Greek word for clamorous, descriptive of the shouts of the driver, or call of encouragement to the hounds.

At Dusk
This star group (Canes Venatici) is a modern one, having been formed by Hevelius in 1690, These stars are supposed to represent two hunting dogs or hounds, which, held in leash by the Bear Driver, pursue the Great Bear as it circles the Pole. The northern dog is named "Asteron", the Southern Chara. In the neck of the latter is situated the lucida of the asterism, a third magnitude star which bears the name of "Cor Caroli" or "Charles Heart"

Asteron and Chara


Winding around the pole

Bootes also appears as a spear or lance bearer, the shepherd's staff which he was represented as bearing having been changed into a more formidable weapon.

Pursuing the Bear

Bootes has also been called "Atlas" from its nearness to the Pole, and because it appeared to hold up the heavens."

from Star Lore by William Tyler Olcott

Holding up the world

Follow this link to see images of Bootes and Canes Venatic in progress


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