Planet Earth
International Astronomical Union WGSN

IAU: Boötes

Profile / Characteristics

English translationLatin declination and pronunciationsSize/ °²# stars
the HerdsmanBoötes – bo-OH-teez
Boötis – bo-OH-tiss

Ancient Globes

Farnese Globe

Kugel Globe

Mainz Globe

a shepherd


Ancient Lore & Meaning


[91] Behind Helice, like to one that drives, is borne along Arctophylax whom men also call Boötes, since he seems to lay hand on the wain-like Bear. Very bright is he all; but beneath his belt wheels a star, bright beyond the others, Arcturus himself. [96] Beneath both feet of Boötes mark the Maiden [Virgo], [580?] No longer great on both sides of the horizon is Arctophylax but only the lesser portion is visible, while the greater part is wrapt in night. For with four signs of the Zodiac Boötes sets and is received in the bosom of ocean; and when he is sated with the light he takes till past midnight in the loosing of this oxen, in the season when he sets with the sinking sun. Those nights are named after his late setting. So these stars are setting, but another, facing them, no dim star, even Orion with glittering belt and shining shoulders and trusting in the might of his sword, and brining all the River, rises from the other horn, the East. [607] Nor can the rising Claws [Libra], though faintly shining, pass unremarked, when at a bound the mighty sign of Boötes rises, jeweled with Arcturus.

English translation by Douglas Kidd (1997).
Aratus: Phaenomena, Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries, Series Number 34

Online available: translation by Mair (1921) 


his name is Arcas, son of Callisto. Hesiod reports that Callisto’s father Lykaon invited Zeus for a meal for which he prepared the toddler. Zeus was angry and destoryed Lycaon’s house because of this cruelty. He redeemed Arcas.

French translation by:
Jordi Pàmias i Massana and Arnaud Zucker (2013). Ératosthènes de Cyrène – Catastérismes, Les Belles Lettres, Paris

English version in:
Robin Hard (2015): Eratosthenes and Hyginus Constellation Myths with Aratus’s Phaenomena, Oxford World’s Classics

Early Modern Interpretation


As one of their first tasks in the 1920s, the newly founded International Astronomical Union (IAU) established constellation standards. The Belgian astronomer Eugène Delporte was assigned to the task to define borders of constellations parallel to lines of declination and right ascension. They were accepted by the General Assembly in 1928. The standardized names and abbreviations had already been accepted in 1922 and 1925.  

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