This entire constellation
consists of an open star cluster
. Legends say the daughter of the king of Cyrene
, married Ptolemy Euergetes
, a pharaoh of Egypt
in the 3rd century B.C.
Her hair was famed for its beauty. As an offering of thanksgiving to the gods, she cut it off when her husband returned victorius from battle. The hair was placed in a shrine, but the next night it disappeared. The royal astronomer Conon
saved the necks of the priests by claiming the offering had met with such favor from the gods that they had taken it up into the sky. In the same century the Greek
called this star group "Ariadne's
hair". In Tycho's
time it became a separate constellation. In this direction lies the galactic north pole
, and because the absorbing dust is thin we can see through it and beyond our galaxy into great depths of space.
Coma Berenices (or "Berenice's Hair") is between Bootes, Leo and Virgo. It also contains the "Coma cluster", a group of more than 1000 galaxies at a distance of around 368 million lightyears. Several if them are of the 9th or 10th magnitude.