28 May 2012

Corona Borealis - The Northern Crown

Facing east in May, you can see a number of very nice constellations filling the sky from horizon to zenith. The small constellation Corona Borealis takes some work to find in city skies, but it something to discover and remember among the bright stars and busy constellations of the springtime sky.

Corona Borealis, or The Northern Crown, is a simple "C" of stars sandwiched between the constellations Bootes and Hercules, two big constellations that dominate the late spring skies. Bootes is easy to find because it contains Arcturus, the third brightest star in the heavens, and is located just down the 'arc' of the handle of the Big Dipper. Hercules is a massive constellation that features the well-known deep space object M13, or the Great Globular Cluster. But Corona Borealis has none of these special features; it's just a simple collection of 2nd and 3rd magnitude stars that are grouped together nicely and are a simple pattern that is easy to locate, giving some texture to a small patch of the heavens for those whose eyes stop for a moment between the "big guys" in the sky. Try to spot it tonight.

The mythology of Corona Borealis is interesting, stemming from the crown of Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete.

And the Northern Crown is balanced in the southern hemisphere by Corona Australis, the Southern Crown. I'll be on the lookout for that one this summer when Scorpius and Sagittarius come into view.

Image courtesy of Sky & Telescope.


Sidewalk Universe said...

Nice double star hunting ground!

The Urban Astronomer said...

Yet something more to look for. Thanks for adding that, Richard.

-- Paul