Sky Spy

Look for Bootes the Herdsman next to Arcturus

2014-05-01T00:00:00Z 2014-07-03T11:18:22Z Look for Bootes the Herdsman next to ArcturusBy Tim Hunter Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Tonight is a good time to look in the east for Bootes the Herdsman, which resembles a slightly squished pentagon of stars.

Look directly east and nearly 60 degrees above the horizon at 10 p.m. Bootes will be joined on its right (southern) side by the very bright orange star Arcturus, the fourth-brightest star in the sky. Flanking Arcturus on its eastern and western sides is a bright star to complete the constellation.

Arcturus is truly a most magnificent star. Its relatively high northern position makes it visible most nights throughout the year. Arcturus is bright enough to be visible even with the moon in the sky.

The Big Dipper is the main portion of Ursa Major the Great Bear, and the handle of the famed grouping of stars points to Arcturus. This relationship of Arcturus and Bootes to Ursa Major is reflected by the fact that Arcturus means “Bear Watcher.”

“Arktos” is the Greek name for bear, and the word “arctic” is derived by reference to the Great Bear circling around the northern sky, concepts that came down to us from Ice Age peoples.

King, queens and heroes are in the sky. There are even crowns, one of which is Corona Borealis, the “northern crown” in Latin, just east of Arcturus.

Corona Borealis consists of six relatively bright stars forming a “U” or a wide cup. The open portion of the “U” faces north, and the entire constellation is approximately as wide as a fist as viewed if an arm were extended toward the sky.

There is also a Southern Crown — Corona Australis — which is south of Sagittarius the Archer.

It is low in the sky, and not nearly as beautiful as Corona Borealis.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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