monthly skyguide, free star charts, constellation star charts, sky guide

Canes Venatici and Coma Berenices
The Hunting Dogs and Hair of Bernice


Mythology - The two hunting dogs, Chara and Asterion, are dragging their owner Boötes across the sky in pursuit of fresh game. The strange name of alpha canes venaticorum is a reference to King Charles I having to drag a wagon (Plough) along to his own execution in 1649.
Coma Berenices was previously just described as a "mane" or "hair". Tycho Brahe renamed this constellation in honour of the sacrifice to Venus made by Queen Berenice who cut off her golden hair to guarantee the safe return of her husband Ptolemy III of Egypt.
Stars - alpha canum venaticorum (Cor Caroli) is an easy telescopic double.
Deepsky - M3 and M53 are small globular clusters in the constellation of Canes Venatici. The “A” shape in Coma Berenices can be considered a large loose cluster (technically Mel 111), easily picked out with the naked eye. Canes and Coma are fertile hunting grounds for galaxy observers, mainly because we are
looking in a direction at right angles to the dusty, obscuring plane of our galaxy. All the following are
capable of being picked up in binoculars on clear nights (away from the Moon or any light pollution):
In Coma Berenices we have M64 (the Black-eye Galaxy), M88, M98, M99, M100 and NGC 4565 (the
Needle Galaxy). In Canes Venatici we have M51 (the Whirlpool Galaxy), M106, M64 and M94.
Visibility - These two constellations are visible best from April until June