Canes Venatici (derived from the Latin “Hunting Dogs”) represents the dogs Asterion and Chara who chase Callisto once she has been transformed into Ursa Major (The great bear). Two bright stars that reside there are Cor Caroli and La Superba. There are also an abundant number of notable and frequently photographed deep sky objects including the Sunflower Galaxy, the Whirlpool Galaxy, and the Cat’s Eye Galaxy.
Canes Venatici basically consists of only two bright stars and you can easily locate them since they are bordered by Ursa Major, Boötes. and Coma Berenices. You can spot them with the naked eye on a starry night. The best time period to view it in the northern hemisphere is during winter and springtime.
Originally included as part of the Ursa Major constellation by Ptolemy, the constellation was given its own borders and designation by Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius in the 17th century.
Right Ascension: 01:04
Diameter (°): 13
Area (square °): 465
Opposition: Apr 07
Size Rank: 38th
Brightness Rank: 59th
Genitive: Canum Venaticorum
Major stars in Canes Venatici
Cor Caroli – α Canum Venaticorum (Alpha Canum Venaticorum, α CVn)
Chara – β Canum Venaticorum (Beta Canum Venaticorum, β CVn)
La Superba – Y Canum Venaticorum (Gamma Canum Venaticorum, Y CVn)
AM Canum Venaticorum (AM CVn)
RS Canum Venaticorum (RS CVn)
Deep sky objects in Canes Venatici
Messier 3 (NGC 5272)
Whirlpool Galaxy – Messier 51 (NGC 5194)
Sunflower Galaxy – Messier 63 (NGC 5055)
Messier 94 (NGC 4736)
Messier 106 (NGC 4258)
Cocoon Galaxy (NGC 4490)
Whale Galaxy (NGC 4631, Caldwell 32, Arp 281, PGC 42637)
Hockey Stick Galaxies – NGC 4656 & NGC 4657 (Crowbar Galaxy, UGC 7907, PGC 42863)
NGC 5005 (Caldwell 29)
Mythology of the Constellation Canes Venatici
The name "Dogs of Set", in Egyptian gave rise to the title Canes Venatici. Set was a generic term applied to all circumpolar constellations. Canes Venatici, however, usually was accounted for in reference to the hounds of Callisto and as the hunting dogs of Boötes.
In Mythology, Callisto (Kallisto) was a beautiful nymph who was seduced by Zeus who came to her in the irresistible form of Apollo. When the nymph became pregnant Hera was enraged and turned her into a great bear.
Although Canes Venatici is described previously by Ptolemy, it was given a more permanent status as a defined constellation by the astronomer Hevelius. He named the two bright stars associated with the bodies of the hunting dogs. The more northern star in the constellation is Asterion. The star Chara is south of Asterion and its closest to the breast of her master.
The hounds are held in the left hand of Bootes. Although the characters of Callisto and Bootes are included in Greek Mythology, the addition of the constellation Canes Venatici was a later add-on and not part of the story.
In any case, the hounds are now firmly established and recognized by all astronomers as two greyhounds held on a leash by Boötes, ready to chase the Bear around the pole. The astronomer Proctor called them Catuli, the puppies of Boötes.
Canes Venatici contains M-51, the Whirlpool Galaxy.