History of the Constellations

Stars and Constellations

Corona Borealis

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Contents of this page: | Description | Skylore | Modern Culture | Origin and History | Special Stars | Submit new info... |

Images (at bottom of page): | Corona Borealis Chart: (Figure 1) | Hyginus, 1482, page D1v: (Figure 2) | Hyginus, 1482, page D2r: (Figure 3) | Hyginus, 1517, page E2r: (Figure 4) | Ptolemy, 1541-const, page CoronaBorealis: (Figure 5) | Bayer, 1661, page F: (Figure 6) | Bayer, 1697, page D1r: (Figure 7) | Bayer, 1697, page D1v: (Figure 8) | Bayer, 1697, page D2r: (Figure 9) | Bode, 1801, page l: (Figure 10) | Aspin, 1825, page Hercules: (Figure 11) | Images digitized by Hannah Magruder.

Constellation Data

Description

A semicircle of stars between Bootes and Hercules, featuring the bright star Gemma (jewel). To locate the Northern Crown, find Arcturus and Vega, the two brightest stars in the northern hemisphere. Draw a straight line between them and you will find not only the mighty Hercules, but the splendid Corona Borealis.

Skylore and Literature

Ariadne was the daughter of Minos, king of Crete. Each year, fourteen young people from Athens were delivered to Minos as a tribute and fed to the Minotaur, the monster that Minos kept in a labyrinth. When the young Athenian Theseus arrived, Ariadne fell in love with him. She offered to help him escape the Minotaur if he would promise to take her back to Athens as his bride. Theseus agreed. Ariadne kept her part of the bargain, and after Theseus killed the Minotaur, they sailed off. However, Theseus and the Athenians abandoned the sleeping Ariadne during a stop on an island. As she sat forlornly on the rocks, Dionysus (or Bacchus), the god of wine, came upon her and tried to comfort her. Overcome by her beauty, he asked her to marry him. She responded that she was disillusioned with mortal men and wished to be left alone. When he assured her that he was a god, she told him to prove it. Pleasantly he chuckled, and tossed the crown of gold he wore into the skies. There it hung, and one by one seven bright stars danced around it, until the whole band was shinning over head. That is your wedding gift, he said, pulling it down. You are to wear it as an everlasting token of your beauty. When, after a long and happy life together, Ariadne died, Dionysus honored her by putting her crown among the stars.

Modern Culture

Origin and History

Corona Borealis is included in the ancient star catalogs of Eudoxos of Knidos, Aratos of Soli, and Ptolemy.

Special Stars

Gemma is the center jewel in the Northern Crown, the constellation’s brightest star.

Submit new info...

Many excellent websites provide a variety of information about constellations for amateur astronomers and telescope users (see sidebar links for a few of these). These constellation pages are not intended to duplicate those efforts, but are devoted to two aims: First, they are intended to assist the beginning skywatcher, including students in history of science survey courses, in becoming familiar with Basic Celestial Phenomena (BCP). Second, these pages are devoted to the history of the constellations and the history of astronomy. They are intended to serve as a repository for collaborative use and reference. Do you have additional historical information about the stars or constellation described on this page? Please submit additional information to kmagruder@ou.edu. Submissions will be attributed. Editors for historical information are Kerry Magruder, JoAnn Palmeri, Peter Barker, and Laura Gibbs.

Oklahoma History of Science exhibits: http://hos.ou.edu/exhibits/. Page revised 4/15/04

Bad links, misplaced images, or questions? Contact Kerry Magruder. Thank you.

"If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown. But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile." R. W. Emerson, Nature

Images

Figure 1 Figure 1 - Return to Text

CrB Chart
Figure 2 Figure 2 - Return to Text

Hyginus, 1482

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Figure 3 Figure 3 - Return to Text

Hyginus, 1482

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Hyginus, 1517

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Ptolemy, 1541-const

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Bayer, 1661

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Bayer, 1697

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Bayer, 1697

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Bayer, 1697

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Bode, 1801

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Figure 11 Figure 11 - Return to Text

Aspin, 1825

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Exhibit credit: Kerry Magruder.

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These teaching resources provided by the History of Science Department at the University of Oklahoma.

Unless otherwise indicated, all images courtesy History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries. Image Terms of Use.

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