Constellation Coma Berenices

 

Berenice’s Hair (lat. Coma Berenices) is a constellation of spring. The main star “Diadem” is a binary star whose stars are equally bright and circle once every 25 years. However, the constellation is relatively inconspicuous, because only two of its stars reach the fourth magnitude.

How to spot Coma Berenices

Coma Berenices stretches over 386 square degrees in the northern hemisphere. The constellation is located north of Virgo, west of Bootes, east of Leo and south of Canes Venatici.

History

In antiquity, the light of the Coma star cluster was associated with Berenice's hair and thus a part of the constellation Leo. About 250 BC the Pharaoh Ptolemy III. from Egypt married the young Berenice of Cyrene, who was considered a special beauty because of her blond curls. However, after the wedding ceremony, the pharaoh had to go to war, whereupon Berenice vowed to sacrifice her hair, should her beloved husband return unharmed. When the victorious return was announced, she cut off her hair and laid it on the altar of Aphrodite. When the curls could not be found the next day, resentment arose in the pharaoh's house. A astronomer was able to resolve the mood, claiming that the Gods joyfully put the hair of Berenice as part of the lion in the sky. In the 16th century Coma Berenices was first registered as a own constellation due to a misunderstanding.