Coma Berenices


Coma Berenices, Berenice's hair, is a constellation with a tale of love and honor. Berenice was the daughter of royalty. She was married to Euergetes, an ancient King of Egypt. Eueregetes was readying to set out on a dangerous journey when Berenice vowed that should he return safely, she would cut off her hair and give it to the goddess Venus. The King did return safely and Berenice cut off her hair and laid it on the temple of Venus.

For the Observer

The Stars of Spring

Alpha Comae (13h 07m.6 +17° 48') has a magnitude of 4.2 and is a class F5 star. It is about 65 light years distant. It is an eclipsing binary with the companion having a magnitude of 5.

The Coma Cluster This open cluster does not have a Messier or NGC number but has long been recognized. It is a loose open cluster taking up about 3° in the sky. The cluster is lost in the narrow view of a telescope and is best viewed with binoculars.

M53 (NGC 5024) (13h 10m.5 +18°26') Is a globular cluster with a magnitude of about 8.7. The cluster has a bright nucleus surrounded by a halo of stars. There are about 45 variable stars in the cluster.

M64 (NGC4826) (12h54m.3 +21°57') Known as the Black Eye Galazy, this 8.8 magnitude galaxy is about 12 million light years distant. The galaxy has a distinctive dark lane of dust near the center.

M85 (NGC 4382) (12h 22.8m +18°28') is a 10th magnitude elliptical galaxy. It is one of the brightest members of the Coma-Virgo cluster. The central region is very compact and bright.

M88 (NGC 4501) (12h 29.5m +14°42') is a spiral galaxy of magnitude 10. The galaxy is tilted about 30 degrees from our plane and has multiple arms.

M98 (NGC 4192) (12h 11.3m +15°11') is a 10th magnitude spiral galaxy with a bright central area. This galaxy is quite large and very elongated.

M99 (NGC 4254) The Pinwheel Galaxy(12h 16.3m +14°42') is a small hard to find spiral galaxy of 10th magnitude. The galaxy is nearly circular.

M100 (NGC 4321) (12h 20.4m +16°06') is the largest spiral galaxy in the cluster. It has a magnitude of 10.

Copyright © 1995 - 2003
Kathy Miles, Author, and Chuck Peters, Systems Administrator