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Canes Venatici the Hunting Dogs.

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

For this weeks post, I thought it might be interesting to have a look at one of the lesser known constellations. Canes Venatici, which means Hunting Dogs, is one such grouping. In case you are wondering about the Latin, Canes is the plural of Canis which translates to dog, or in this case, dogs. Venatici means hunters and so in this case it is hunting. Put together it becomes The Hunting Dogs. Here endeth this brief Latin lesson.


Canes Venatici occupies a rather barren region of sky between Ursa Major, Bootes & Coma Berenices. The invention of this constellation is usually credited to Johannes Hevelius in the late 17th century. However, the two hunting dogs held on leashes by Bootes, first appear on old star maps drawn in the early 16th century. Also, Ptolemy mentions the hunting dogs as part of Ursa Major in the 2nd Century. In any case, Helevius named the two brightest stars, Asterion (Starry) and Chara (Dear).


The brightest star in the constellation was also named Cor Caroli https://www.astrocrescent.com/post/cor-caroli by Edmund Halley in honour of King Charles I of England, who was beheaded under the rule of Oliver Cromwell in the mid 17th century. After dismissing Parliament by force, the ever pleasant Cromwell was a military dictator in all but name, who happily raised taxes without consent and imprisoned many without trial. It's easy to see why his detractors argue he was power-hungry, ambitious and hypocritical. Wait.. yes, this is like today's deranged idiots who call themselves leaders. One can see, that as far as politics go, very little changes..


But, back to the subject in hand. Although Canes Venatici has only 2 bright stars, it is located in a galaxy stream that begins in the north at Ursa Major and then extends south through Coma Berenices and Virgo and eventually to northern Centaurus. All these galaxies are members of the huge Local Supercluster, centered some 60 million light years away. The closest group, at 20 million light years, is called the Canes Venatici I Cloud and includes Messier 94 and Messier 106. The next group at 40 million light years is the Canes Venatici II Cloud and includes Messier 101, 51 and 63. The last group are part of Canes Venatici and the Ursa Major I Cloud. All these groups contain hundreds of NGC numbered galaxies. Canes Venatici also contains Messier 3, a very bright globular cluster.


The Local Group and other galaxy cluster groups. Graphic by Dale Alan Bryant.


As you can see by the graphic above, these amazing galaxy cluster groups extend for millions of light years and contain thousands of galaxies. Well, I hope you have enjoyed this little ramble around Canes Venatici and if you have a telescope, try to seek out some of the galaxies in the constellation. Look out for my next image, which will be one of the Messier galaxies mentioned above. As usual, any comments about this blog, bad or good, are always welcome. Until next time, take care and be mindful of the lunacy that surrounds us...

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