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Lore of the Constellations: Corona Borealis

In our last video, Jay Lamm, Planetarium Producer and Technical Manager at the Irene W. Pennington Planetarium in the Louisiana Art & Science Museum, will tell you a little bit about the crown in our sky: Corona Borealis, or, the Northern Crown.

I’ve touched on constellations such as Bootes and Virgo which are based on people, and I’ve talked a little bit about constellations such as Leo and Ursa Major which are based on animals.  But constellations can also be based upon other things.  Such is the case for Corona Borealis.  This constellation is in the shape of a letter C since it’s based on a crown.

Corona Borealis is a small but recognizable constellation that can be seen as a letter C or maybe a horseshoe.  The stars that create this configuration are said to be the jewels of the crown of Ariadne, daughter of King Minos, ruler of Crete.

According to Greek myth, Ariadne helped the hero Theseus slay her half-brother the Minotaur under the condition that when he returned to her from the labyrinth he would promise to marry her. 

Once the mission was completed, Theseus abandoned Ariadne on the island of Naxos before traveling onto his native Athens.  But after the god Dionysus came upon her he fell instantly in love.  Once they got married, the crown she wore during the ceremony was tossed into the sky where its jewels became the stars of the constellation Corona Borealis.

So, if you can find Bootes (which we talked about in a later video), look a little more to the east for that letter C or horseshoe pattern of stars to find Corona Borealis, also known as The Northern Crown.

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