Fixed star:  ASTERION
Constellation:  Beta (β) Canes Venatici
Longitude 1900:  16VIR20 Longitude 2000:  17VIR42
Declination 1900:  +41.54' Declination 2000:  +41.21'
Right ascension:  12h 33m Latitude:  +40.32'
Spectral class:  G0 Magnitude:  4.3

The history of the star: Asterion

Canes VenaticiBeta (β) Canes Venatici, Asterion, on the southern of the two Hunting Hounds; the Hound named Chara.

The name Asterion seems to have derived from the Latin for "edible root", or "starry".  

This gets confusing! This star is named Asterion and has also been named Chara, both titles of the two dogs. The more northern of the two hounds is named Asterion, "Starry", as is the title of this star beta (β) Canes Venatici, Asterion, but this star, Asterion, is actually on the southern hound, Chara, and not the hound named Asterion as one would expect! To add to the confusion; the name Chara was originally applied to the "southern dog", but it later became used specifically to refer to this star beta (β Asterion). Chara means "Dear", also had the meaning "dear to the heart of her master".

The northern hound is named Asterion from the little stars marking the body and because it contains the M51 Whirlpool Nebula, Copula.

The southern hound is Chara which contains the alpha and beta stars; (α) Cor Coroli, and this star beta (β) Asterion, the two brightest stars.

The usual illustration of the constellation, Canes Venatici, is of two Greyhounds straining at the leash held in the hand of Bootes, as he is guiding the Bears (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor) around the pole star, Polaris.

The name Asterion in mythology

In Greek mythology Asterion denotes two sacred kings of Crete.

The first Asterion or Asterius ("ruler of the stars"), son of Neleus and Chloris by the Greeks called "king" of Crete, was the consort of Europa and stepfather of her sons by Zeus, who had to assume the form of the Cretan bull of the sun to accomplish his role. The sons were Minos the just king in Crete who judged the Underworld, Rhadamanthus, presiding over the Garden of the Hesperides or in the Underworld, and Sarpedon, likewise a judge in the Afterlife. He was the son of Tectamus. When he died, Asterion gave his kingdom to Minos, who promptly "banished" his brothers after quarrelling with them.

According to Karl Kerenyi (Kerenyi 1951 p 111; Kerenyi 1976:105) and other scholars, the second Asterion, the star at the center of the labyrinth on Cretan coins, was in fact the Minotaur, as the compiler of Bibliotheca (III.1.4) asserts: "And she (Pasiphae) gave birth to Asterius, who was called the Minotaur. He had the face of a bull, but the rest of him was human; and Minos, in compliance with certain oracles, shut him up and guarded him in the Labyrinth." "Minotaur" is simply a name of Hellene coining to describe his Cretan iconic bull-man image. Coins minted at Cnossos from the fifth century showed the kneeling bull or the head of a goddess crowned with a wreath of grain and on the reverse— the "underside"— a scheme of four meander patterns joined at the centre windmill fashion, sometimes with sickle moons or with a star-rosette at the center: "it is a small view of the nocturnal world on the face of the coin that lay downward in the printing process, and is, as it were, oriented downward" (Kerenyi 1976:105). [Answers]

The astrological influences of the constellation Canes Venatici

This constellation gives a love of hunting and a penetrating mind, making those born under it faithful, keen, clever and fond of speculation. [Robson*, p.34.]


*[Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, Vivian E. Robson, 1923].