A small constellation of the northern hemisphere. Canes Venatici is
surrounded by Ursa Major
to the north, Boötes to the
east and Coma Berenices
to the south (between RA=12h 10m and RA=14h 10m, DECL=+53 deg and DECL=+28 deg).
This constellation was introduced 1690 by Johannes Hevelius in his Firmamentum Sobiescianum (see here his drawing (392 kB)). It belongs to the Ursa Major constellation family.
Characteristic for this region of the sky is the high amount of galaxies.
Stars and other objects
The double alpha CVn, also known as Cor Caroli (meaning "The
Heart of Carles"; this name was given to the star by Edmund Halley in honor of
Charles II of England), is a blue-white star of 2.9 mag. The companion is a 5 mag
star, which can easily be resolved by small telescopes.
With a magnitude of about 6 the globular cluster M3 is still among the brightest of its class in the sky. It appears as a hazy patch in binoculars. Small scopes show a softly glowing lightball. To resolve individual stars telescopes with an aperture of 100mm and more are needed.
The famous Whirlpool Nebula, M51, is probably the most notable object in this region of the sky. It is well worth an observation, but within the lightpollution of cities is may not been seen. Next to M51 lies the companion galaxy, M51B (NGC 5195). Both galaxies are physically related. To separate the two galaxies large telescopes are required. In small scopes these galaxies appear as a misty patch which defined starlike points marking the core of each galaxy.
The spiral galaxy M63, also known as Sunflower Galaxy, has been discovered in 1779 by Pierre Mechain. The whole appearance is somewhat grainy.
The Sab galaxy M94 shows an extremely bright core. In the outer regions star formation is still taking place. This galaxy is seen head-on and resembles a comet in smaller scopes.
Another interesting spiral galaxy is M106 (Sbp). On some photographs it looks like a barred spiral (it may lies somewhere between a normal and a barred spiral).
The meteor shower Canes Venaticids is active during January 13th and January 30th (maximum around January 24/25th). It has been discovered by Zdenek Sekanina.
Canes Venatici is thought to represent the two dogs of the herdman Boötes.