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Public Star Party: The Mighty Hercules Appears

  • Smokey Jack Observatory 100 South Adams Boulevard Westcliffe, CO, 81252 United States (map)

Join us in celebrating the arrival of the he constellations Boötes and Hercules as they take center stage in our night sky.

Any cancellations will be made here on the Event page by 7:30pm the day of the event.

All Star Parties are free and open to the public.


The earliest Greek references to the constellation we now call Hercules do not refer to it as Hercules. Aratus, a 4th century Geek poet and astronomer describes the constellation as “a Phantom form, like to a man that strives at a task…men simply call him On His Knees [Ἐγγόνασιν "the Kneeler"].”

The first reference of the constellation as Hercules is recounted by the ancient Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus, in the first century BC, who tells a story of a fierce battle between Hercules and two giants. Hercules, seeing the difficulty of the oncoming fight, kneels in prayer to his father Zeus for help. Dionysius states “It was this kneeling position of Heracles when prayed to his father Zeus that gave the name "the Kneeler"."


In ancient Babylon, the stars of Boötes were known as SHU.PA. They were apparently depicted as the god Enlil, who was the leader of the Babylonian pantheon and special patron of farmers. Boötes may have been represented by the foreleg constellation in ancient Egypt. According to this interpretation, the constellation depicts the shape of an animal foreleg.

The constellation of Boötes overlaid on the ancient Egyptian foreleg constellation.

The name Boötes was first used by Homer in his Odyssey as a celestial reference point for navigation, described as "late-setting" or "slow to set", translated as the "Plowman".