Wed Apr 19, 2017 ARCTURUS AND Boötes
If you look off to the east tonight, or any night this month or next, you’ll find a star low in the sky after sunset. That eastern star is named Arcturus, which means, “bear chaser.” It’s called the bear chaser because Earth’s rotation causes this star to follow or “chase” the constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear in the Sky. The bear is to the north of Arcturus (you’ll recognize its back and tail as the Big Dipper, well up in the northeast.) Arcturus is in the constellation Boötes, the Herdsman. This is an agricultural constellation that farmers and shepherds used long ago to keep track of when to plant and harvest and tend to the sheep. In the springtime, Boötes is a celestial reminder for those who watch over their flocks at the time when lambs are born. And in the fall, Boötes is low in the western sky after sunset, a cosmic post-it note to farmers - bring in the crops.