Constellation - Coma Berenices

Constellation - Coma Berenices


The Coma Berenices, The Hair of Berenice is another dim Spring constellation in the northern hemisphere or Autumn in the southern hemisphere. It can be found south of Canes Venatici which is south of the Big Dipper (from the northern hemisphere). If you are able to see magnitude 4.3 from your location the constellation has a very distinct right angle appearance. This galaxy is a great place to observe galaxies and it is home to the north galactic pole. This is the north pole of the Milky Way.

The Coma Berenices is home to the Coma Berenicids meteor shower this is a minor shower that peaks around Christmas time.

This constellation is a modern one that was created in 1551 but is related to the story of the real person, Queen Berenice II of Egypt. She was married to her own brother Ptolemy III Eurgetes. They were married in the 3rd century BC and she promised to cut off here hair if her husband were to return from war. On his return she dutifully removed here hair and it was placed in a temple. The next day the hair had vanished and was thought to have travelled to the stars.

Title image by: Till Credner

Take the Tour

Coma Berenices.jpg
Number Object Description Magnitude Surface Brightness
1 M3 Globular Cluster 6.3 11
2 C35 Galaxy 11.5 13.3
3 C36 Galaxy 10 14
4 C38 Galaxy 9.6 13.3
5 M64 Galaxy 8.5 12.7
6 M53 Globular Cluster 7.7 12

Each image is the size of a full moon for size comparison.



Messier 3 or NGC 5272 is a real gem. This is one of the often overlooked beautiful globular clusters. It can be easily seen in binoculars. The difficult part is locating the dim near constellations of Canes Venatici, to which this cluster officially belongs and Coma Berenices. This cluster was discovered by Charles Messier on May 3rd 1764. It is found about  34,000 light years away and contains around 500,000 stars. One of the biggest and brightest globular clusters in the northern hemisphere and should not be missed.



Caldwell 35, or NGC 4889 is an elliptical galaxy that is about 308 million light years away. It is the brightest galaxy in the Coma Cluster. This cluster of galaxies contains around 1,000 members and is thought to consist of around 90% dark matter. Many of the other galaxies in the cluster are visible to large (8 inch) telescopes. At magnitude 11.5 this galaxy is a tough find under light polluted skies.



Caldwell 36, or NGC 4559 is a spiral galaxy around 29 million light years away. This galaxy shows many bright regions where star formation is active.

C38, The Needle Galaxy:


Caldwell 38 or NGC 4565 is otherwise known as the Needle Galaxy. It is a spiral galaxy viewed edge on about 40 million light years away. This beautiful monster of a galaxy is more luminous than Andromeda and would have made a spectacular addition to the night sky if it was seen face-on. It was discovered by William Herschel in 1785.

M64, The Black Eye Galaxy:


Messier 64 or NGC 4826 is otherwise known as the Black Eye galaxy in reference to its prominent dust cloud. This is a fantastic deep sky object to view in telescopes 6 inches and above as it will demonstrate the dark cloud in these scopes. It is found about 24 million light years away. It was discovered in March 1779 by Edward Pigott. This fascinating galaxy has an unusual feature in that the outer regions spin in the opposite direction to the inner region. The boundary is a place of intense star formation. It is thought that this opposing spin is due to a collosion with a neighbouring galaxy years ago.



Messier 53 or NGC 5024 would be a fabulous globular cluster if it wasn't for the more impressive and nearby Messier 3. This cluster was discovered by Johann Elert Bode in 1775. It sits 58,000 light years away from us and about 60,000 light years away from the galactic centre. This makes it one of the more outlying globular clusters. The cluster is 65,000 times brighter than our Sun and travelling towards us at a rate of about 70 miles per second.

Back to Constellation Guide

 Privacy policy and cookies | Disclaimer | Contact Us | Credits | Resources | Site Map © 2012-2014