The June Bootes meteor shower is unique in that this yearly shower is either absolutely spectacular, with 100 or more meteors flashing brilliantly through the night sky, or quite the let down with a mere 1 to 2 meteors per hour.
This year we will be experiencing the latter and it’s a great reminder that we don’t need to, and in fact shouldn’t, be performing at 100% all the time!
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What is a Meteor Shower
Meteor showers are annual night time shows here on earth, lighting up the sky with bright fire trails of light, but where does it come from? These dazzling lights come from meteors, which are made up of small pieces of space dust and debris that fall at high speeds through our planet’s atmosphere, usually coming from comets and sometimes asteroids. Because these little pieces of space are falling so fast they leave behind brilliant streaks of sparkling light that can be observed by the naked eye here on Earth.
What You Need to Know About the June Bootes
This annual shower lasts from June 2nd to July 2nd, with the peak night being June 27th. This year it’s taking place after the new moon in Gemini on the 17th, which is an excellent moon phase for a meteor shower since the moon will be dark. However, this shower also takes place just after the summer equinox, so the night hours in which you can view the shower will be far shorter than any other meteor shower this year.
The parent object is the 7P/Pons-Winnecke comet. The name comes from the two astronomers who “discovered” it. First was Jean Louis Pons in 1819 and the comet was in Leo at the time Pons discovered it. Then in 1858 Friedrich August Theodor Winnecke rediscovered it while it was in Ophiuchus.
Being discovered in both Leo and Ophiuchus makes so much sense for this comet which produces either unprecedented showers, or ones that are so sparse there’s no need to write home about it! That’s because Leo is the sign of the performer and Ophiuchus is the often debated “13th sign.”
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Ophiuchus will never be a part of tropical astrology or any astrology practice which utilizes the zodiacal wheel (a map of the solar system named after the constellations). However, Sidereal astrology takes into account the procession of the ages–the slight backwards rotation of our relationship to the stars–and the movement of the sun through the constellations where they are now, so Ophuicus will sometimes come into play.
You can think of this meteor shower as having both the energy of the bombastic Leo performer, sometimes showing off 100 meteors per hour, and other years it’s giving off more of the energy of the only sometimes utilized (and often shunned) Ophiuchus, showing us 1 to 2 meteors per hour.
The Bootes Constellation
It’s important to remember that, for us here on Earth, the stars in the night sky have always been a map. So when we are talking about meteor showers and where they are in our sky we use the stars as locations. This shower can be seen from the northern constellation Bootes.
The constellation gets its name from a Greek word which can be translated to plowman or herds man. It’s in the shape of a kite and much like Ophiuchus is the “13th sign,” the Bootes constellation is the 13th constellation.
This is one of the largest constellations in the night sky and it was among the group of constellations discovered by Ptolmny in the 2nd century.
There are many different stories about who and what we are seeing when we look up into the sky and see this constellation. The most popular western myth claims that it is Arcas, the son of Zeus and Callisto, the daughter of the Arcadian king. The Arcadian king raised young Arcas until one day when he decided to trick Zeus.
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The king killed Arcas and served Zeus a meal made from his son’s flesh. Zeus was not fooled and killed all of the king’s sons in retribution, bringing his own son Arcas back to life afterwards. Then, after all of that, and after Hera heard of her husband’s disloyalty, she turned Callisto into a bear. Later in his life, Arcas met his mother in bear form and tried to kill her. To protect them both, Zeus put his lover Callisto in her bear form and his now adult son Arcas in the sky as the Bootes constellation.
This year especially, during the end of June while the June Bootes meteor shower is shooting off a meager 1 to 2 meteors per hour on the short summer evening of the 27th, I want you to prioritize rest.
During the summer months especially, we often fill up the daylight hours with social events, activities, and trips, which are worthwhile things to do, but can sometimes lead to burnout and the summertime blues. The June Bootes shower is a reminder that just because it’s summer time doesn’t mean that we have to put on a big spectacular show every time!
The Greek origin story of the constellation is a reminder that truth and honesty is an integral part of life, and that when we aren’t being honest we end up getting ourselves into much bigger messes than we ever foresaw. Take this information with you into the end of June and the rest of the summer and be honest with how much you can put on your plate. Sure, going camping with your friends is fun, but if you need a weekend to rest and relax at home to catch up on your TV shows, just be honest with yourself–your future self will thank you!