COMA BERENICES
(April schedule, May schedule, June schedule)

     Coma Berenices constellation is spring constellation and it is in best position for evening observing in May, when it is high on the south sky close to the zenith. We will observe it in April when it is high on the southeastern sky. Also we will observe it in May when it is high on the south sky close to the zenith, and in June when it is on the southwestern sky halfway between the zenith and the horizon. North Galactic Pole -

Double and multiple stars

     24 Comae Berenices - The brighter component of this double star has visual magnitude 5.2 and the dimmer component has visual magnitude 6.7. They are separated about 20 arc minutes on the sky. The brighter component is orange giant and the dimmer component is main sequence star with blue-white color. They give nice color contrast when viewed through a telescope.

Deep sky objects
(will be observed only from dark location outside of the city)

     In this part of the sky where is the Coma Berenices constellation and also in the neighboring Virgo constellation is located the famous Virgo Cluster of galaxies. Virgo Cluster of galaxies is the closest cluster of galaxies to the Earth and together with several more groups of galaxies including our Local Group of galaxies which contains our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and some more galaxies grouped in chains make one supercluster of stars. The name of that supercluster is the Local Supercluster or Virgo Supercluster. We say Local because it is our, because our own galaxy is part of that supercluster. It is not "real' supercluster because contains only one cluster, the Virgo Cluster, compared with other superclusters of galaxies in the universe which are much bigger and each of them contain a lot of clusters. Virgo Cluster of galaxies by itself is rich cluster of galaxies and it is located in the heart of the Local Supercluster. It contains a lot of galaxies, about 2,000 or even more and its center is about 55 million light years away from the Earth. That means this part of the sky where is the border between Coma Berenices constellation and Virgo constellation is packed with galaxies and real heaven for amateur astronomers because hundreds of galaxies can be observed with a telescope in such a small area on the sky. It is very hard even for professional astronomers to exactly determine and calculate everything here, the exact positions of the galaxies in the space, their distances, their proper motion, which galaxies are masters and which are their companions, so a lot of things are not completely clear and astronomers still debating about the facts. Astronomers further divide the Virgo Cluster on subclusters, clouds etc. which for us amateurs make the things more complicated and cause quick headache when we read so many facts about the Virgo Cluster.
     The hard thing for amateurs who want to observe these galaxies is that there are not too many bright stars in this area of the sky to serve as guide when hunting for these dim distant space islands with a telescope in order to identify them which one is which. Even the biggest astronomers and amateurs of all time like Charles Messier and others were making mistakes where cataloging the galaxies from this part of the sky. Because of lack of stars in this area, they were describing and writing the position of one galaxy relatively to some other closest galaxy in their notes, which were causing confusion in further observations and determining the position of the next discovered galaxies.
     During whole year one can not observe on the sky so many galaxies as in spring when our Local Supercluster of galaxies is in best position for observing. That is why among amateur astronomers the spring observing season is called "galaxy season" (or better if we say "galaxy hunting season").

     NGC 4559 - It is spiral galaxy and we see it tilted on the sky. Its visual magnitude on the sky is 9.9 and it is about 30 million light years away from the Earth. It is not part of the Virgo Cluster.

     NGC 4725 - It is a spiral galaxy which we see on the sky almost face-on. Its visual magnitude on the sky is 9.2 and it is about 40 million light years away from the Earth. It has only one arm! while most spiral galaxies have two or more arms. Its size is same as the size of our galaxy. It is not part of the Virgo Cluster.

     NGC 4565 - It is a spiral galaxy which we see on the sky edge-on. Because of that it looks like a line on the sky. Its name is the Needle Galaxy. Its visual magnitude on the sky is 9.6 and it is about 40 million light years away from the Earth. It is not member of the Virgo Cluster. Its real size is about the size of our galaxy. Very close to this galaxy on the sky, about one degree away is NGC 4494 galaxy with visual magnitude 9.9. 

     M 64 - It is a spiral galaxy which we see tilted on the sky. Its visual magnitude is 8.5 and it is about 25 million light years away from the Earth. Given this distance, most likely it is not member of the Virgo Cluster. Its name is the Black Eye galaxy. The galaxy has prominent dark circle made of dust around its bright core, so it looks like black eye. 

     M 53 - It is a globular cluster of stars. Its visual magnitude on the sky is 7.7 and it is about 60,000 light years away from the Earth. Its age is about 13 billion years.

     NGC 5053 - It is a globular cluster of stars and very close apparently on the sky to M 53, about one degree away. Its visual magnitude is 9.8. It is about 55,000 light years away and it is about 13 billion years old. It does not look as impressive as M 53 in a telescope, it looks more like open cluster than like global cluster.

     M 85 - It is an elliptical galaxy. Its visual magnitude on the sky is 9.2. It is about 60 million light years away from the Earth and its size is about the size of our own galaxy. Very close apparently on the sky, about 7 arc minutes away is the spiral galaxy NGC 4394 with visual magnitude 10.9 and another small elliptical galaxy. They are companions to M 85 and all three interact with each other. M 85 is member of the Virgo Cluster.

     M 100 - It is a spiral galaxy. Its visual magnitude on the sky is 9.4 and we see it face-on on the sky. Its size is about the size of our Milky Way galaxy It is about 55 million light years away from the Earth. Has relatively large size apparently on the sky and was among the first galaxies which spiral arms were observed through a telescope, about 180 years ago. M 100 is member of the Virgo Cluster. Has two very small companion galaxies - NGC 4323 and NGC 4328. 

     M 98 - It is a spiral galaxy which we see almost edge-on on the sky. Its visual magnitude is 10.1. It is about 45 million light years away from the Earth. It is member of the Virgo Cluster.

     M 99 - It is a spiral galaxy which we see face-on on the sky. Its visual magnitude is 9.8 and it is about 55 million light years away from the Earth. It is member of the Virgo Cluster. M 99 is very close in the space to M 98.

     M 91 - It is a spiral galaxy which we see face-on on the sky. Its visual magnitude is 10.2 and it is about 65 million light years away from the Earth. It is member of the Virgo Cluster.

     M 88 - It is a spiral galaxy which we see pretty tilted on the sky. Its visual magnitude is 9.5 and its distance from the Earth is about 50 million light years. It is member of the Virgo Cluster.

     Coma Berenices Cluster - It is an open cluster of stars. Has no Messier or NGC designation. It is very close to the Earth, only about 300 light years away, and because of that it covers large area on the sky. Its diameter is more than 5 angle degrees on the sky. Contains about 50 stars. It is about 500 million years old. The cluster brightest member is the star 12 Comae Berenices. Its visual magnitude is 4.8. It is spectroscopic binary star system with one giant star and another subgiant.

     Coma Cluster of galaxies - Or Abell 1656 is a cluster of galaxies, with its center about 325 million light years away from the Earth. It contains 1,000 large galaxies and over 30,000 smaller ones. It covers an area on the sky with diameter of several degrees. The two brightest and main members at the same time are the galaxies NGC 4889 and NGC 4874. They are giant elliptical galaxies. Because of the distance, their visual magnitudes on the sky are only 12.8 and 13.0. NGC 4889 is about 300 million light years away from the Earth and NGC 4874 is about 350 million light years away from the Earth. The diameter of each galaxy is about 1 million light years.
The Coma Cluster of galaxies is not part of our Local Supercluster of galaxies. The Coma Cluster is located in the heart of the Coma Supercluster of galaxies. The Coma Supercluster of galaxies consists of two major clusters of galaxies: The Coma Cluster of Galaxies and the Leo Cluster of Galaxies (Abell 1367). Leo Cluster of galaxies is in the constellation Leo and its heart is about 330 million light years away from the Earth and consists of about 100 galaxies.