Bootes, or "the Herdsman," is a constellation in the northern hemisphere, first documented by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century. Its name means "herdsman" or "plowman" in Greek. The Greeks used to call the constellation Arctophylax ("bear watcher" or "bear keeper").
Bootes is usually visualized as a herdsman holding a staff and two dogs on a leash, chasing Ursa Major
around the pole. The origin of the name is not certain, but the constellation is associated with several myths. In one, Bootes represents a ploughman who drove the oxen which were tied to the polar axis, in the Ursa Major constellation
, with his two dogs, which belong to the constellation Canes Venatici
. Bootes' work, in other words, kept the skies turning.
In other legends, Bootes is identified with Atlas because of the position of the constellation's arms near the pole star. Bootes is also said to have invented the plough, which earned him a place in the heavens. Another myth identifies the constellation with the Ursa Major
story and Arcas, the son of Zeus and Callisto, raised by his mother's father, Lycaon. When Zeus visited Lycaon, the latter served him his son for dinner to verify that it was really the god himself at his table. In retribution, the angry Zeus transformed Lycaon into a wolf. Meanwhile, Arcas' mother Callisto had been transformed into a bear by Zeus' jealous wife Hera. Not recognizing her in the forest, Arcas once began to chase her. Callisto hid herself in a temple, a place that was not to be desecrated, and faced the punishment of death. Zeus, however, decided that she should be placed in the sky instead, as well as her son: she became Ursa Major
and he, Bootes.
Yet another Greek legend identifies Bootes as Icarius, a grape grower whom the god Dionysus had taught to make wine. When they tasted the wine, Icarius' friends became so intoxicated that they believed they had been poisoned and killed him. When Icarius' dog Maera brought his daughter Erigone to his body, she hanged herself in despair and the dog died of grief. Zeus transformed them to constellations: Icarius became Bootes, Erigone was turned into the Virgo constellattion
, and the dog became either Canis Major
or Canis Minor
, depending on the source.
The Bootes constellation occupies an area of 907 square degrees and contains four stars with known planets. It can be seen at latitudes between +90° and -50° and is best visible at 9 p.m. during the month of June.
Bootes is home to 
Arcturus or alpha Bootis, the third brightest star in the sky. Arcturus is a red giant 36.7 light-years distant and about 110 times more luminous than the Sun. Its proper motion is larger than that of any first magnitude star except 
alpha Centauri. Its name is derived from the Greek word Arktouros, meaning "guardian of the bear." In mythology, Zeus placed the star in the sky to protect Callisto and Arcas from Hera’s jealousy. In other cultures, the star is also known as Aramec, Azimech, Alramih and Haris-el-sema ("the keeper of heaven"). It is the zenith star in Hawaii. Prehistoric Polynesian sailors called it Hokulea, or the "Star of Joy." Ancient Greeks believed the star to portend tempestuous weather. The Chinese call it Da Jiao ("great horn"), while Inuit astronomers call the star "the Old Man."
beta Bootis or Nekkar ("cattle driver"), is a yellow G-type giant about 219 light-years distant from Earth- It is also known by the name Meres.
gamma Bootis or Seginus, is a Delta Scuti type variable star with an apparent magnitude between 3.02 and 3.07.
epsilon Bootis, Izar ("veil") or Pulcherrima (“loveliest”), is a binary star composed of a bright orange giant and a main sequence star. Its other traditional names are Mirak ("the loins") and Mizar.
eta Bootis, also known as Saak and Muphrid ("the single one of the lancer"), is Arcturus’ first neighbour, a spectroscopic binary that has a notable excess of elements heavier than hydrogen.
mu Bootis, is also known as Alkalurops ("shepherd’s staff"), Inkalunis, Clava and Venabulum. It is a triple star system with a yellow-white F-type subgiant for a primary component.
kappa Bootis or Asellus Tertius ("third donkey colt"), is a white-yellowish star system that has a binary system for a primary and a Delta Scuti type variable star for a companion.
Bootes belongs to the Ursa Major family of constellations, along with Ursa Major
, Ursa Minor
, Canes Venatici
, Coma Berenices
, Corona Borealis
, Leo Minor
Constellations directly bordering Bootes are Canes Venatici
, Coma Berenices
, Corona Borealis
, Serpens Caput
and Ursa Major