coma berenices

Coma Berenices

By Jake Riley, SR Senior Editor

Fun Facts

1. Also known as Bernice’s Hair
2. This constellation is named after Queen Berenice II of Egypt
3. It hosts the North Galactic Pole
4. Coma Berenices is part of the Ursa Major family of constellations
5. The constellation is also home to numerous famous deep sky objects, such as the Black Eye Galaxy and the Mice Galaxies

An overview

The constellation of Coma Berenices makes up a fan-shaped swarm of faint stars, depicting a lock of hair. The constellation consists of just 3 main stars, with the brightest being Beta Comae Berenice, which is only slightly larger and brighter than our sun.

The constellation is one of the ancient constellations catalogued by Ptolemy, and is visible in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

The myth

Coma Berenices is associated with the historical figure that is Queen Berenice II of Egypt. The Queen was married to Ptolemy III Euergetes, who had undertaken a dangerous mission against the Seleucids due to their murdering of his sister during the Third Syrian War.

The Queen, Berenice II, was worried for her husband’s life, and swore to Aphrodite that she would snip off her beautiful, long hair if the goddess were to bless Ptolemy and bring him back home safely.

Sure enough, her husband hard returned, and Berenice then proceeded to fulfil her promise to the goddess, cutting off her hair and placing it in the temple of Aphrodite. It is said that the lock of hair had disappeared the next day, and the court astronomer, Conon, told the royal couple that Aphrodite was so pleased with Berenice’s offering that she had taken it and placed it amongst the stars, birthing the constellation of Coma Berenices.

The constellation

The constellation of Coma Berenices is situated in the northern sky’s third quadrant, and is visible between latitudes +90 to -70 degrees. It neighbors the constellations of Boötes, Canes Venatici, Leo, Ursa Major, and Ursa Minor.

Of the 3 main stars it consists, there exists just one celestial body of note: Beta Comae Berenices, which is the brightest star in the constellation with an apparent magnitude of 4.26, and is a main sequence dwarf star largely similar to our sun, though no planets have yet been discovered in the dwarf star’s orbit.

Want to learn about other constellations aside from Coma Berenices? Find out more about Canis Major or Columba. Alternatively, you can simply click here for a full list of constellations.

Frequently Asked Questions

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