Coma Berenices

Coma Berenices

English nameLocks of Berenices

No star of the constellation exceeds the magnitude 3,5.

DescriptionWeak constellation to the north of Virgo, between Bootes and Leo.

M64To the south of gamma Comae Berenices there is the Coma open cluster, a small group of about thirty stars disposed like a V, visible to binoculars. Other interesting objects are M53, a globular cluster of eighth magnitude, and M64 (reproduced here on the right), a spiral galaxy of ninth magnitude. This last object is also called Blackeye Galaxy, because of a dark dust stain near the center, visible with over 150 mm telescopes.

and history
Berenices was the wife of the Pharaoh Ptolemy III Evergetes, who lived in the III century before Christ: few days after the wedding, Egypt came into the war and Ptolemy had to depart at the head of his troops. Berenices made a vow: she would have cut her hairs in sign of thanks to the gods, if her husband had returned healthy. When Tolomeo came back victorious, Berenice kept the promise and deposed her own hairs in the temple devoted to Arsinoe at Zephirius (near today's Aswan): but the day after, the locks of the young girl disappeared. The astronomer Conon of Samo thought that the offer was appreciated by the gods and assumed in sky as a small group of stars.

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