Boötes Constellation Myths and Facts

Boötes: The Herdsman

Pronunciation: bo-OH-teez Boötes, The Herdsman Boötes as depicted by Johann Bayer in his Uranometria (1603). Source image provided by — Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc.
Boötes Constellation Profile
Abbreviation: Boo Genitive: Boötis
Origin: Ancient Location: Northern Hemisphere
Best View (North): Spring Best View (South):
Bordering Constellations: Draco, Ursa Major, Canes Venatici, Coma Berenices, Virgo, Serpens Caput, Corona Borealis, Hercules

The Story Behind the Constellation Boötes

Boötes is connected to several legends, many of them tied to the neighboring constellation, Ursa Major.  The name Boötes comes from the Greek for word for ox-driver” or “herdsman”.  One myth for Boötes is that he was Philomelus, son of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture.   He was the inventor of the plow, and upon his death, was placed in the stars. The brightest stars in Ursa Major are sometimes refered to as “the plough”. Another myth linked to Boötes has many variations.  In one of these, Boötes is Arcas, son of Zeus and Callisto.  To protect Callisto from the jealousy of Hera, Zeus disguises his paramour by turning her into a bear.  Arcas is raised by Maia, the mother of Hermes.  Many years later Arcas has become a masterful hunter and comes upon his mother in bear form.  Callisto recognizes her son and tries to greet him but her words only come out as growls.  Arcus is about to kill her when Zeus, taking pity, places them in the stars as Boötes and Ursa Major.

Boötes Constellation Points of Interest

Interesting stars and objects.

Bright Stars in Boötes

These are the stars in Boötes with a minimum magnitude of 3.0.
Name Bayer Name Magnitude Color Luminosity Distance
Arcturus Alpha Boötis -0.04  Yellow/Orange 298 suns 37 ly
Izar Epsilon Boötis 2.35  Orange 605 suns 203 ly
Muphrid Eta Boötis 2.68  Yellow 6.5 suns 37 ly