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The Constellation Bootes, the Herdsman
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Bootes

Bootes, the herdsman, rides through the sky during the late Spring and early Summer. While he may have appeared as a shepherd to the ancients, modern star-gazers like us can easily recognize the shape of a kite, with the bright star Arcturus at the point of the kite where the tail is attached.

Arcturus is a bright red supergiant star with a diameter nearly 20 times that of the Sun and a brightness more than 100 times that of our Sun. Since it is only 36 light-years away (close for a star!), it appears as the brightest star in Bootes, and, in fact, the fourth brightest star in the sky.

The name Bootes is derived from the Sumerian Riv-but-sane, which means the "man who drove the cart". So Bootes was identified with a farmer who plows the land during spring. The Romans called Bootes the Herdsman of the Septemtriones, that is, of the seven oxen represented by the seven stars of the Big Dipper, which was seen as the cart or the plow.

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