Saturday, 18 May 2024

Lake County Skies: That little old winemaker in the June skies

Image
Lake County Skies on June 15, 2008 at 9 p.m.


 



LAKE COUNTY – June is the month when the relatively sedate stars of spring slowly give way to the brilliance of the summer skies. But we still have several weeks to wait before summer is upon us. In the meantime, we can enjoy what’s left of spring including the celestial show.


Bootes


Directly overhead is a constellation named Bootes someone tried to write a song about this constellation and wanted to name it “Shake Your Bootes,” until she learned that wasn’t the correct pronunciation. Bootes is pronounced “Boo-aw-tis.”


In Greek and Roman mythology, Bootes is associated with agriculture, and is most commonly referred to as a herdsman. But there is a lesser known, but somewhat amusing story that has him cast as a grape grower and winemaker.


Bacchus, the god of wine and parties, introduced Bootes to the art of winemaking. So impressed was Bootes with the taste of wine that he invited his friends over for a taste of his new discovery.


Unfortunately, his friends drank far too much, and woke up the following morning with terrible hangovers. They were so sick they thought Bootes had tried to poison them!

 

 

Image
Bootes courtesy of starryskies.com.

 


Bootes is shaped like a kite, with the bright star Arcturus at its base. Arcturus is the third brightest star in the sky, and compared to our sun, it is huge!

 

 

Image
Arcturus courtesy of Wikipedia.
 

 

 


Hercules


Accompanying our celestial winemaker to the east is the strongman Hercules. Hercules is a faint constellation that requires clear, dark skies to see – and we have an abundance of skies like that in Lake County!


In Greek and Roman mythology, Hercules was the son of Zeus, king of all the gods. Hercules was born with tremendous strength. He managed to get himself into some serious trouble, and to exonerate himself, had to perform 12 labors.


One of these labors was to subdue Hydra, a nine-headed, dog-like monster that had breath that could kill (no dog-breath jokes, please!).

 

 

Image
Hercules subduing Hydra by Antonio Del Pollaiolo.
 

 


Hercules has one of the most beautiful objects in the night sky – an object that can only be seen through a telescope. This object is a cluster of stars called “The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules.” It is also labeled “M13” in the Messier catalog of deep sky objects. This is a cluster of several hundred thousand stars. Through a telescope, it looks like a miniature Christmas ornament.

 

 

Image
M13 courtesy of Michael Richmann.
 

 

 


For more information about astronomy and local astronomy-related events, visit the Taylor Observatory website at www.taylorobservatory.org.


John Zimmerman has been an amateur astronomer for 50 years. He is a member of the Taylor Observatory staff, where, among his many duties, he helps create planetarium shows.


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