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The Kite

The Ice Cream Cone

An asterism within Boötes that encompasses most of that constellation's brighter stars (to the extent that some sources prefer to use the 'Kite' as an alternative name for the entire constellation). The Kite comprises four stars that together from a distinctive kite-shaped form pointing northward and a little eastward in the sky.

At the base of the Kite is Arcturus, the brightest star in the northern sky, an orange giant some 37 light years from the Solar System. From there the northward 'strut' of the Kite runs for more than 23° towards another more distant giant star, Nekkar or Beta Boötis. Crossing this line at right angles near its northern end is another running west to east to form a cross shape. This east-west 'strut' runs between yellow Delta Boötis and white Seginus (also called Haris, and designated Gamma Boötis).

As an informal asterism, there is no official specification of the stars of the Kite, and some sources add two further stars to the shape. One of these, Izar, falls almost exactly halfway between Arcturus and Delta Boötis, and so makes little difference to the overall shape. The other, Rho Boötis, falls somewhat inside the 'kite' shape, and its inclusion adds an indentation to the asterism's longer western edge, making it more reminiscent of its alternative identity, the Ice Cream Cone, than a simple Kite shape.


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