The Constellation Coma Berenices

by Dominic Ford
Coma Berenices Coma Berenices
The constellation Coma Berenices. Roll mouse over to see labels.
Source: Stellarium.

Coma Berenices is a faint constellation which lies between Bootes and Leo, visible in the northern evening sky in the months around March.

Its brightest stars are of fourth-magnitude, forming a tight swarm close to the constellation's center.

Coma Berenices was introduced by Caspar Vopel in 1536, making it the oldest surviving constellation to have been introduced since the second century. It represents the hair of Queen Berenice of Egypt, which according to legend was shaved in the third century BC in gratitude for a military victory.

Its widespread acceptance as a constellation is widely attributed to Tycho Brahe, who used it in his star catalogue in 1602. In practice the association between this sky area and a lock of hair may be much older; Ptolemy described its brightest stars as a ‘nebulous mass, called the lock’ in the second century.

The Virgo Cluster of galaxies – the biggest and brightest grouping of galaxies in the sky – extends across its southern border. Separately, it is also home to the Coma Cluster of galaxies, though this is considerably more distant and can only be seen with a large telescope.

Date First Appeared
1536 (Vopel)
Sky Area
0.9% of the sky
386.5 square degrees
Messier Objects
Coma Berenices contains the following Messier objects: M53, M64, M85, M88, M91, M98, M99, M100.
Caldwell Objects
Coma Berenices contains the following Caldwell objects: C35, C36, C38.
The following constellations neighbor Coma Berenices: Bootes, Canes Venatici, Leo, Ursa Major, Virgo.
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Brightest Objects in Coma Berenices

Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
β-Com (mag 4.2) IC 3262 Messier 53 (mag 7.7) Messier 64 (mag 8.5)
γ-Com (mag 4.3) IC 4164 NGC 5053 (mag 9.8) Messier 85 (mag 9.2)
α-Com (mag 4.4) IC 808 NGC 4147 (mag 10.3) NGC 4725 (mag 9.2)
11-Com (mag 4.7) IC 3421 Messier 100 (mag 9.4)
36-Com (mag 4.8) IC 3252 Messier 88 (mag 9.5)
23-Com (mag 4.8) IC 3866 NGC 4565 (mag 9.6)
41-Com (mag 4.8) Messier 99 (mag 9.8)
12-Com (mag 4.8) NGC 4559 (mag 9.9)
37-Com (mag 4.9) NGC 4494 (mag 9.9)
14-Com (mag 4.9) NGC 4450 (mag 10.1)
31-Com (mag 4.9) Messier 98 (mag 10.1)
7-Com (mag 4.9) NGC 4278 (mag 10.2)
16-Com (mag 5.0) NGC 4473 (mag 10.2)
24-Com (mag 5.0) Messier 91 (mag 10.2)
HD 106760 (mag 5.0) NGC 4414 (mag 10.3)
35-Com (mag 5.0) NGC 4274 (mag 10.4)
6-Com (mag 5.1) NGC 4477 (mag 10.4)
27-Com (mag 5.1) NGC 4459 (mag 10.4)
GN Com (mag 5.1) NGC 4314 (mag 10.5)
α-Com (mag 5.2) NGC 4651 (mag 10.7)
AI Com (mag 5.2) NGC 4203 (mag 10.7)
UU Com (mag 5.4) NGC 4689 (mag 10.9)
18-Com (mag 5.5) NGC 4394 (mag 10.9)
26-Com (mag 5.5) NGC 4293 (mag 11.0)
HD 107325 (mag 5.5) NGC 4340 (mag 11.0)




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