This group of stars is small and not particularly bright (the brightest, Gemma, is only
magnitude +2.2). Nonetheless, the seven main stars are grouped in a distinctive
and recognizable U-shaped formation that calls to mind the shape of a crown or diadem.
This group has been called 'The Crown' since classical times, and there are several
conflicting myths to explain its presence in the sky. The most popular legend makes it the
headband of Ariadne, the daughter of Minos. When Dionysus came upon her on the island
of Naxos, it is said, he threw her jewelled band into the sky to prove his godhood,
and then claimed her as his wife.
Counting clockwise, the seven stars that make up the crown are Theta Coronae Borealis,
Nusakan, Gemma, and then
Epsilon and Iota Coronae Borealis. Gemma
is the brightest, while faint Iota Coronae Borealis has a magnitude of just +5.0.
Following the loop of the crown, the next star is fainter still (magnitude +5.4), but
important. This is Rho Coronae Borealis, a binary star but otherwise very similar to
our own Sun, and one of the few stars known to have a planet in orbit.