Twin City Amateur Astronomers
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Boötes is a constellation that is visible high in the sky during the summer months and is positioned west of Ursa Major. In Mythology, Boötes is known as the Ploughman, the ox driver or the bear driver. In some cultures, the Big Dipper was seen as a wagon or a plough that is pulled by a team of oxen. In these contexts, Boötes is seen as the driver. Another story sees the constellation as Icarius, a famous grape grower from Attica, who was shown how to turn grapes into wine by Bacchus, the god of wine. In stories where the Big Dipper is seen as the rear of the bear, Boötes is seen as the bear-driver, who in conjunction with his hunting dogs, Chara and Asterion, Canis Venatici, pursue the great bear around the celestial pole. This has become the traditional story and is consistent with the name of the constellation’s brightest star Arcturus which means “Bear-Guard.”