• Boo - Bootes the Herdsman or Bear Driver

    Size

    13 of 88

    Astronomical Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    Skywatchers have long-repeated the catch-phrase "Arc to Arcturus" (Arc-TUR-us). Follow the curve of the Big Dipper’s handle to the fourth brightest star in the sky. Arcturus belongs to the ancient constellation Bootes (BOW-oh-tees). Look for a pentagon above Arcturus forming the torso of the herdsman.

    Some prefer to see Bootes as a one-scoop ice cream cone. Just to one side lies Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown. With bright Gemma ("Jemma") in its center, like a second scoop of ice cream that melted in the heat of summer and fell off the top.

  • Leo - Leo the Lion

    IAU Constellation

    Size

    12 of 88

    Astronomical Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    East of the Gemini twins lies Leo the Lion.

    Find the bowl of the Big Dipper. A line running through the two stars of the bowl of the Big Dipper on the side nearest the handle points almost directly to two other notable stars. Follow them below the bowl of the Dipper to Regulus.

    Leo’s mane looks like a backward question mark, or sickle. Regulus, the "dot" at the bottom of the mark, lies nearly on the ecliptic.

    His flank is a triangle of stars farther east.

  • UMa - Ursa Major the Big Bear

    Size

    3 of 88

    Astronomical Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    Ursa Major or the Big Bear is the third largest of the 88 constellations. Seven stars form a familiar group of stars, or an "asterism" within the constellation. In America they are called the "Big Dipper" or "Drinking Gourd," and in Britain the "Plough" or the "Wain." The Big Dipper is one of the most easily recognizable groups of stars in the sky. It is referred to as circumpolar because it never completely sets below the horizon, but is visible in northern skies year-round.

    The Big Dipper.

    Hubble Deep Field

  • Vir - Virgo the Maiden

    IAU Constellation

    Size

    2 of 88

    Astronomical Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    Continue past Arcturus on the curve from the Dipper’s handle ("Arc to Arcturus, then speed on to Spica"). To "Speed on to Spica," go the same distance as it took to reach Arcturus. If it’s not below the horizon, Spica is the brightest star of the constellation Virgo the Maiden. Although Virgo is the second largest constellation in the sky, the rest of its stars are faint. Yet don’t be surprised if you often see a bright visiting planet nearby.