Boötes is a considerably large constellation, so it is unexpected that there are so few deep sky objects in this constellation. At the heart of Boötes lies the red giant Arcturus, which is the fourth brightest star in the sky. It is also part of a starhopping chain and it is possible to 'arc to Arcturus' from the constellation Ursa Major. Furthermore it is possible to 'speed to Spica' from Arcturus. Spica is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.
The very few deep sky objects are faint in contrast to the bright stars and they seem to be mainly galaxies but there are a few clusters as well.
One way to celebrate the arrival of a new year is to be amazed by the spectacle that is the Quadrantid meteor shower. It has a maximum of a hundred meteors an hour but requires very dark skies as they are not very bright. The radiant is towards the north of Boötes, it is easier to see it early in the morning as this is when Boötes is visible at the start of the year.
The name of the meteor shower is derived from an obsolete constellation called Quadrans Muralis that was existent at the time the Quadrantids were first seen. The constellation was invented by Joseph Lalande in 1795 and it represented a device called a mural quadrant. This instrument was used for measuring the positions of stars.
|An unfortunately overlooked galaxy, NGC 5248 is the brightest galaxy in Boötes. Two spiral arms stuffed with HII regions are paved with dark brown dust lanes that lead the observer to a dazzlingly white core. The overall appearance is of a squashed version of the spiral galaxy, M100 in Coma Berenices.|
Hovering somewhere in the universe 200 million light years away, this galaxy will beguile you with its satisfyingly symmetrical charms and take you to another dimension!
Considering its immense distance, the size of it is quite large. One mystery is the uniform perfection of the spiral structure, this is unexpected as it is actually interacting with a vastly smaller galaxy called NGC 5752.
Because of its nature, the pair are also catalogued as Arp 297. The galaxy that has been showered with the gifts that arise from gravitational interaction is actually the smaller NGC 5752. Multiple intertwining dust lanes are encompassed by a huge group of star clouds and nebulae. Above this pair lies another pair of fainter galaxies,
|IC 983 and IC 982:|
|A fantastically odd pair of galaxies that will stretch the limits of the observation power of a telescope! IC 983 is the larger of the two and IC 982 is seemingly attached to the southern end of IC 983. It has many ghostly tendrils sprouting from the edges and also a dust lane. Nearby are two other galaxies, a blue spiral called NGC 5490c and a dim elliptical known as NGC 5490. In fact, despite the fairly calm appearance, NGC 5490c is also Arp 79.|
|An extremely faint and obscure magnitude 13 galaxy whose shape is comparable to NGC 7640 in Andromeda. The UGC stands for 'Uppsala Galaxy Catalogue' and is a compilation of more than 10 000 galaxies that was published in 1973.|
|Extraordinarily difficult to see, this magnitude 14 galaxy can only be described as "superthin". It is one of the thinnest edge on galaxies and most definitely the hardest in Boötes to see. If your pleasure is derived from finding really faint obscure deep sky objects, then this is for you.|
|IC 982 and IC 983 are classed as peculiar galaxies and are alternatively known as
Arp 117. To find out which galaxy is which, just hover the mouse over each one.
|Image copyright D. Goldman|