Coma Berenices






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Coma Berenices translates as Berenice's hair, and represents the tresses of an Egyptian queen which she offered as a sacficice to the gods should they ensure the safe return of her husband Ptolemy from a battle against the Assyrians. Ptolemy duly returned, his wife's beautiful hair was duly shorn, but someone stole it and Prolemy war furious, threatening the priests in whose temple the hair had been laid with death. In the nick of time the astronomer intervened, leading Ptolemy outside into the night and showing his his wife's hair twinkling in the heavens.

Coma Berenices starts the Coma-Virgo cluster of galaxies. In the photo Alpha Coma is the bright double star top right, with Beta top centre and the Coma Cluster below. M53 is at extreme top above Alpha. M54, the Black Eye Galaxy, is masquerading as a star above and left of the cluster. To the extreme left of the image is the bulk of the Virgo-Coma galaxy cluster.