Coma Berenices Constellation History, Location, How To View

Coma Berenices Constellation: History, Location, How to View

You have probably heard about Greek myths’ constellations, but unlike those constellations, Coma Berenices relates to the Egyptian Queen Berenice II. This constellation belongs to the Ursa Major family of constellations.

The Coma Berenices is not one of the largest constellations. Still, it is home to numerous deep-sky objects like the messier objects Messier 64 (Black Eye Galaxy), Messier 98, Messier 53 (Global Cluster), Messier 99, and Messier 100 and among other objects, Coma galaxy cluster and Needle Galaxy (NGC 4565).

History of Coma Berenices Constellation

The Coma Berenices has its roots from Mesopotamia. The Babylonian astronomers called it “Hegala” which means “which is before it.” But the evidence about the initial recorded mention of this constellation comes from the Conon of Samos, who was court astronomer of Ptolemy III Euergetes (the Greek-Egyptian king) in the 3rd century BCE. He named it in honor of Berenice II, who was his consort.

However, Ptolemy considered Coma Berenices a part of the Leo constellation in his Almagest in the 2nd century. He called it a “Plokamos” which is a Greek word for “braid”. Moreover, in the old days, some major non-western cultures had also recognized the Coma Berenices constellation.

Astronomers and famed cartographers started featuring this constellation on maps and globes during the 16th century. It was included in the star catalog of Tycho Brahe in 1602. Later, the next year Johann Bayer had Coma Berenice in his famed celestial map named Uranometria.

What is the English name for Coma Berenices Constellation?

The Coma Berenices constellation is called “Berenices’ Hair” in English.

What is the Greek Mythological Significance of Coma Berenices Constellation?

This constellation does not have any Greek mythological significance, instead, it is related to the story of Egyptian Queen Berenice II. Queen Berenice was the wife of King Ptolemy III Euergetes. Berenice II had a gorgeous long and blond hair.

During the 3rd Syrian war in 243 BC, the king went on a mission against his sister named Seleucids’ killer. Berenice II was anxious about her husband’s safety. She promised to Aphrodite that if the goddess safely brought him back home, she would cut off her hair.

Afterward, when her husband returned home safe, Berenice cut of her hair as a fulfillment of her promise and placed it in the temple of Aphrodite. Surprisingly, Queen’s hair disappeared from the temple the next day, which made the king enraged.

For appeasing the king, Conon, the court astronomer, said that Queen’s sacrifice made the goddess Aphrodite so happy that in return, she placed Queen’s hair in the sky, pointing towards the group of stars what is now known as Coma Berenices.

How to Find Coma Berenices Constellation?

Follow the steps below for locating Coma Berenices:

  • Locate Ursa Major.
  • Using the handle of the big dipper, locate Arc Taurus.
  • From Arc Taurus move towards Boötes.
  • From there, move towards the right side until you find a cluster of stars.
  • The cluster of stars will be the Coma Berenices.

What is the Area of Coma Berenices Constellation?

This constellation has a total area of 386.475 square degrees.

What Quadrant is Coma Berenices Constellation in?

You can find the Coma Berenices constellation in the third quadrant of the northern hemisphere denoted as NQ3.

What Latitude is Coma Berenices Constellation Visible in?

It is visible between the latitude of +90° and -70°. It is surrounded by:

What Type of Telescope is Best for Viewing Coma Berenices Constellation?

Though this constellation is not one of the largest, it is not one of the smallest either. This mid-sized constellation is not very hard to view. You can watch it using binoculars, but it will be better to use a 3-inch eyepiece telescope to get a detailed view.


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