History of the Constellations

Stars and Constellations

Bootes

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Contents of this page: | Description | Skylore | Modern Culture | Origin and History | Asterisms | Special Stars | Submit new info... |

Images (at bottom of page): | Bootes Chart: (Figure 1) | Hyginus, 1482, page D1r: (Figure 2) | Hyginus, 1482, page D1v: (Figure 3) | Ptolemy, 1541-const, page Bootes: (Figure 4) | Bayer, 1661, page E: (Figure 5) | Bayer, 1697, page C3v: (Figure 6) | Bayer, 1697, page C4r: (Figure 7) | Bayer, 1697, page C4v: (Figure 8) | Bode, 1801, page l: (Figure 9) | Bode, 1801, page r: (Figure 10) | Aspin, 1825, page Bootes: (Figure 11) | Images digitized by Hannah Magruder.

Constellation Data

Description

Skywatchers have long-repeated the catch-phrase "Arc to Arcturus" (Arc-TUR-us). Follow the curve of the Big Dipper’s handle to the fourth brightest star in the sky. Arcturus belongs to the ancient constellation Bootes (BOW-oh-tees). Look for a pentagon above Arcturus forming the torso of the herdsman.

Some prefer to see Bootes as a one-scoop ice cream cone. Just to one side lies Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown. With bright Gemma ("Jemma") in its center, like a second scoop of ice cream that melted in the heat of summer and fell off the top.

In March of 1996 many North Americans observed the comet Hyakutake (YAH-koo-TAH-kee). When first visible, Hyakutake was near Arcturus, and from night to night it gradually passed between the Dippers before falling below our horizon at the end of April.

Skylore and Literature

One of the oldest constellations, mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey.

Modern Culture

Origin and History

Bootes is included in the ancient star catalogs of Eudoxos of Knidos, Aratos of Soli, and Ptolemy.

Asterisms

  • Ice Cream Cone
  • Kite

Special Stars

Arcturus means "guardian of the bear." It is an orange giant over 20 times brighter than the sun, the brightest in the northern hemisphere. Arcturus was the first star to be observed in the daytime, in 1635.

Arcturus moves across the sky against the background of the other stars. This "proper" motion was discovered by Edmond Halley in 1717, and shows that the so-called fixed stars are not completely fixed in their relative positions. You can’t see Arcturus move on any given night, but it is slowly passing by the Sun, and is scheduled to disappear from our sky in just half a million years. ;-)

Submit new info...

Many excellent websites provide a variety of information about constellations for amateur astronomers and telescope users (see sidebar links for a few of these). These constellation pages are not intended to duplicate those efforts, but are devoted to two aims: First, they are intended to assist the beginning skywatcher, including students in history of science survey courses, in becoming familiar with Basic Celestial Phenomena (BCP). Second, these pages are devoted to the history of the constellations and the history of astronomy. They are intended to serve as a repository for collaborative use and reference. Do you have additional historical information about the stars or constellation described on this page? Please submit additional information to kmagruder@ou.edu. Submissions will be attributed. Editors for historical information are Kerry Magruder, JoAnn Palmeri, Peter Barker, and Laura Gibbs.

Oklahoma History of Science exhibits: http://hos.ou.edu/exhibits/. Page revised 4/15/04

Bad links, misplaced images, or questions? Contact Kerry Magruder. Thank you.

"If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown. But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile." R. W. Emerson, Nature

Images

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Boo Chart
Figure 2 Figure 2 - Return to Text

Hyginus, 1482

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Hyginus, 1482

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Ptolemy, 1541-const

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Bayer, 1661

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Bayer, 1697

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Bayer, 1697

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Bayer, 1697

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Bode, 1801

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Bode, 1801

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Aspin, 1825

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Exhibit credit: Kerry Magruder.

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These teaching resources provided by the History of Science Department at the University of Oklahoma.

Unless otherwise indicated, all images courtesy History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries. Image Terms of Use.

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