Coma Berenices - Downloadable article
Messier objects and members of the Coma-Virgo galaxy cluster highlight the deepsky views within Berenice's Hair.
March 3, 2009
|This downloadable article is from an Astronomy magazine 45-article series called "Celestial Portraits." The collection highlights all 88 constellations in the sky and explains how to observe each constellation's deep-sky targets. The articles feature star charts, stunning pictures, and constellation mythology. We've put together 11 digital packages. Each one contains four Celestial Portraits articles for you to purchase and download.|
"Coma Berenices" is one of four articles included in Celestial Portraits Package 10.
In spring, the Milky Way encircles us along the horizon, turning the rest of the sky into a large, clear window for viewing distant galaxies. The north galactic pole, that point in our sky farthest from the plane of our galaxy, is located in the constellation Coma Berenices, Berenice's Hair. Despite being a mid-sized constellation, it contains no fewer than eight Messier objects and dozens of bright, nearby galaxies of the Coma-Virgo galaxy cluster. Several globular clusters in the Milky Way's halo also make their home in Coma Berenices.
Coma Berenices is a poorly defined constellation with only three stars brighter than magnitude 4.5. Find it by looking for a large right triangle between the tail of Leo and Boötes. At the northwest corner of this triangle is Gamma (γ) Comae Berenices, a yellowish star 170 light-years away that shines as brightly as 40 Suns. While not a cluster member, Gamma is superposed on the northern edge of Melotte 111, also known as the Coma Berenices star cluster, which appears as a sprinkling of a dozen stars brighter than 6th magnitude. Only 300 light-years away, the cluster occupies a diameter of more than 4°. Low-power binoculars or a finder scope yield the best view. Consider how well-camouflaged this cluster would be if it were located nearer to the galaxy's plane. To read the complete article, purchase and download Celestial Portraits Package 10.
|Deep-sky objects in Coma Berenices|
M98 (NGC 4192), M99 (NGC 4254), NGC 4302, M100 (NGC 4321), Melotte 111, M85 (NGC 4382), NGC 4450, NGC 4494, M88 (NGC 4501), M91 (NGC 4548), NGC 4559, NGC 4565, NGC 4710, NGC 4725, M64 (NGC 4826), Abell 1656, M53 (NGC 5024), NGC 5053