| COMA BERENICES Chart | Midnight Culmination | Skylore | Description | Star Clusters |
| Galaxies | Discussed in these Shows |

Constellation Data

  • Translation: Berenice's hair
  • Abbreviation: Com
  • Genitive: Comae Berenices
  • Size: 42
  • RA: 13 hours
  • Decl: +25 degrees
  • Season: Spring
  • Midnight Culmination: April 2
  • Pages where COMA BERENICES is discussed in Chet Raymo's 365 Starry Nights: 70-71

What is the Genitive form?
What is Right Ascension (RA)?
Is this constellation ever visible from my latitude? What is Declination?

Where should I look for a constellation on a date before or after its midnight culmination? What is Midnight Culmination?


Coma Berenices is the only constellation named for a historical person. Berenice was the Queen of Ptolemy III in Egypt during the 3rd century B.C. For the safe return of her husband from war, Berenice cut off her hair as a thanksgiving sacrifice to Venus. Ptolemy was angered to find his wife without her beautiful hair until his astrologer declared that the gods had placed her braids among the stars.


To the east of Leo.htm">Leo is the constellation Coma Berenices (KOH-ma Bear-uhn-EE-chayz), which pictures the braided hair streaming down from the back of Berenice's head. Between Leo.htm">Leo, Virgo, and Boštes. Most stars are in a single cluster 250 light-years away.

[star chart]

Star chart created with Voyager II Software for Macintosh, published by Carina Software. This is just a taste of what Voyager can do! For info on Voyager II software, call Carina Software at (510) 355-1266, write them at 12919 Alcosta Blvd Suite #7, San Ramon, CA 94583, or visit Carina Software's home page and check out Voyager II for yourself.

Star Clusters

M53 (Globular cluster), mag. 7.8.

What are Star Clusters?


Looking in the direction of Coma Berenices and Virgo we gaze upon a "field of nebula" containing thousands of galaxies. The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are lonely stragglers millions of light years away from these giant clusters. If we were situated within any one of these galaxies, hundreds of neighboring galaxies would be visible in the sky as luminous balls of light brighter than the brightest stars visible here on Earth.

M64, Black Eye Galaxy (Spiral galaxy), mag. 8.5.

M85 (Elliptical galaxy), mag. 9.3.

M88 (Spiral galaxy), mag. 9.5.

M91 (Spiral glalaxy), mag. 9.5.

M98 (Spiral galaxy), mag. 10.2

M99 (Spiral galaxy), mag. 9.9.

M100 (Spiral galaxy), mag. 9.4.

One gigantic galaxy known as M87 contains 30 times as many stars as the Milky Way. It is closely attended by thousands of smaller clusters of stars. It may appear peaceful and serene in a small telescope, but its radio and x-ray emissions are enormous. Large telescopes reveal jets of material hurtling outward and rotating within, perhaps associated with a massive black hole at its center.

The Sombrero galaxy, M104, we see nearly edge-on, with its giant bulge rotating around the center. A huge black hole is believed to be hidden within this rare and wonderful cocoon of shining stars.

NGC 4565 is a classic edge-on spiral galaxy, often reproduced.

What are Galaxies?
Table of Messier Objects.
What is apparent Magnitude?

Discussed in these Shows

[Small Logo] ©1997 Welcome to the Basic Celestial Phenomena web site. To provide explanations of basic observational astronomy to students, teachers, families, and visitors to planetariums these pages have been written by an ex-OBU Planetarium Director, Kerry Magruder; the OBU Natural Sciences Coordinator, Mike Keas; and some of the students who work in the OBU planetarium.

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