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Canes Venatici (hunting dogs)

Location: Northern Hemisphere
Right Ascension: 13h
Declination: +40º
Source: Created by astronomer Johannes Hevelius around 1687
Canes Venatici Constellation

The story behind the name: Hevelius was an observational astronomer who cataloged stars, and created some new constellations in parts of the sky where none had been marked out by earlier civilizations. The constellation of Canes Venatici, consisting mainly of two bright stars, is supposed to represent the two hunting dogs of Boötes held on a leash. Hevelius even named them, Asterion and Chara. The constellation, found in the sky between Boötes and Ursa Major and Minor, forms a link between Boötes, in his role as bear-driver, and the bears he is chasing, represented by the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

Canes Venatici
Johannes Hevelius' Canes Venatici from Uranographia (1690)

Hevelius may have wanted to give a marker to this area of the sky because it contains interesting objects that are visible through the kind of early telescopes that were available to him. Edmund Halley, the discoverer of Halley's comet, began using an alternate name, "Cor Caroli", or "heart of Charles", for Asterion, which is the brighter of the two stars and really a double star system. The alternate name is a reference to one of two 17th century English kings, Charles I, who was beheaded during Cromwell's revolution, or his son Charles II, who "restored" the throne. There are stories which support each king as the intended namesake.

Introduction to Constellations | Constellation Sources | Constellations Index

Objects observed by Chandra in Canes Venatici