Data collected by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) have turned out to be useful for garnering information about occupants of the Bootes void.
The results hint that low-density regions like the Bootes void may have a higher proportion of galaxies that have not yet converted all of their dust and gas into stars, indicating regions where star formation is still going on.
The name Bootes, however, is thought to mean "ox driver," and he was imagined to be the designated driver for the Big Dipper, which in ancient Greece and Rome was also known as "the Wagon." Aratus, who wrote Phaenomena, the oldest known Greek star guide, indicates, "Arctophylax, who men call Bootes, because he is just seen to be touching the wagon-like Bear," follows the Big Dipper.
In Britain the Big Dipper is called the Plough, and some ancient authors also figured Bootes tills the fields of heaven with ox-drawn farm equipment.
Although simple to find, Bootes
is a constellation lacking deep-sky wonders--or so you might think.
It lies near one point of a right triangle of nearly equal stars, and a bright star in Bootes
can be seen to its south.
No one can look at Bootes
, the Herdsman, without paying homage to the brightest nighttime star lying north of the celestial equator and the second-brightest star normally seen from midnorthern latitudes.
Speaking of star colors, Bootes
is perhaps the most notable of constellations for prominent double stars.
This bright, 6th-magnitude star is easy to spot in the northern stretches of Bootes
, and I've included it because I think it's another showpiece.
But besides 0.0-magnitude Arcturus, Bootes
contains five 3rd-magnitude stars and two dozen more down to 5.0.
Stocke (University of Colorado) and his colleagues suggest that the other "spiral-bound" BL Lac, PKS 1413 + 135 (also in Bootes
), might possibly be a chance alignment, with the BL Lac actually lying behind its apparent host galaxy (S&T: September 1991, page 236).