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Corona Borealis

The Northern Crown

Constellation of the northern sky

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Map of Corona Borealis Map of Corona Borealis


This group of stars is small and not particularly bright (the brightest, Alphecca, 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, Alphecca, and then Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Iota Coronae Borealis. Alphecca 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 known to have a planet in orbit.


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