canes venatici

Canes Venatici

By Jake Riley, SR Senior Editor

Fun Facts

1. Canes Venatici means ‘hunting dogs’ in Latin
2. The two hunting dogs of the constellation are known as Asterion and Chara
3. The constellation was first acknowledged by Ptolemy as unformed stars
4. Hosts the famous Cor Caroli and La Superba
5. The M51 spiral galaxy, the first spiral galaxy to be recognized, lies within its confines

An overview

The constellation of Canes Venatici makes up a somewhat straight line that depicts the hunting dogs held by Boötes, the Herdsman, while he hunts for the bears Ursa Major and Minor, all of which are represented by neighboring constellations. The constellation of Canes Venatici consists of 2 main stars, Cor Caroli and La Superba, which make up each of the two hunting dogs.

The constellation is one of the ancient constellations catalogued by Ptolemy, and is visible in the northern hemisphere in spring and summer.

The myth

There are no myths associated with the constellation of Canes Venatici. Instead, the constellation is merely identified as the two dogs held on a leash by the Herdsman, Boötes, due to a translation error.

Originally, in Ptolemy’s text, some of the stars in the constellation of Boötes represented the herdsman’s club, which was loosely translated from Greek to Arabic as ‘the spearshaft with a hook’. Consequently, when the Arabic phrase was later translated to Latin, the translator mistook one of the Arabic words to mean ‘dog’, thus birthing the constellation of Canes Venatici.

The constellation

The constellation of Canes Venatici is situated in the northern sky’s third quadrant, and is visible between latitudes +90 to -40 degrees. It neighbors the constellations Boötes, Coma Berenices, and Ursa Major.

Of the 14 main stars it consists, there exists seven celestial bodies of note: Thuban, a white giant star 399 lightyears from earth; Edasich, an orange giant star with a mass twice that of earth and a diameter 11 times greater; Aldhibah, a blue giant star; Nodus Secundus, a yellow giant star; Grumium, an orange giant star; Eltanin, the brightest star in the constellation; and Rastaban, which has a luminosity around 1,000 times greater than that of the sun.

Want to learn about other constellations aside from Canes Venatici? Find out more about Microscopium or Pictor. Alternatively, you can simply click here for a full list of constellations.

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