β Canum Venaticorum


Beta CVn is one binocular field northwest of alpha Canum: binoculars.

While beta (4.2 magnitude, 27 light years away) isn't terribly interesting, it has several fascinating neighbours.

First there is the very attractive telescopic double star, 2 CVn, just west of beta: binoculars. The binary label is Struve 1622:
     5.9, 8.7; 257 and separation 12". Not to be missed.

Back to the previous view. To the east of beta, in the same field is M94, a spiral galaxy seen face-on (circular). The galaxy makes a flattish triangle with alpha and beta Canum, midway between the two.

The galaxy is roughly 16 million light years away and is one of a whole group of galaxies, named the M94 Group, found in Canes Venatici and Coma Berenices. M94 is the brightest member of that group with an apparent magnitude of 9.0.

With M94 at the centre of your glasses, if you move east one binocular field you'll find M63 on the northern edge of your glasses. This is another spiral galaxy, about 10 apparent magnitude.

Put beta at the southern edge of your field of view and move one binocular field north. You'll see Y CVn on the lower (southeastern) edge: binoculars.

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1999-2014 by Richard Dibon-Smith.