Costellazione Corona Boreale, stelle principali e mitologia

25 Set 2017

OSR blog post

La costellazione Corona Boreale veniva già osservata nell'antichità tanto che sia gli arabi che i persiani la identificavano con nomi bizzarri come, ad esempio, la "Ciotola dell'elemosina" o il "Vassoio derviscio". Questi nomi erano legati al fatto che le stelle che appartengono a questa costellazione non compongono un cerchio perfetto. Meno diffuso ma attribuitogli per lo stesso motivo era anche il nome "Vassoio rotto".

A very interesting aspect to reflect on also concerns the fact that the constellation Corona Borealis is also spoken of in the Odyssey in which, among other things, the origin of the myth is also explained. But let’s go into more detail and discover which stars make up this constellation as well as the myth linked to it.

Main stars

The so-called alpha star of the Corona Borealis constellation is Gemma. The magnitude of this star is 2.2. In this regard, it is important to take into account the fact that we are dealing with a very particular double star. The eclipses generated by the orbits of the two stars, in fact, give shape to variations in light worthy of note even if not visible to every naked person. As for the beta star, however, it is Nusakan. Among other things, a curiosity concerns the fact that it is the only star to which a proper name has been attributed. Another star to take into account is R, a celestial body located in the middle of the constellation Corona Borealis. In reference to this star, it is useful to take into account that it is a decidedly original variable. In fact, periodically the magnitude of R increases drastically. This behavior is the opposite of what the star Y does. In this case, we are dealing with a star that is near epsilon and, therefore, on the leftmost part of the constellation. The magnitude of this star is generally medium high. Sometimes, however, real explosions occur which tend to lower it. Finally, as regards amateur observation, it must be kept in mind that no other celestial bodies are visible in this constellation.

Mythology

The myth underlying the constellation Corona Borealis sees the character of Ariadne as the protagonist. In reality, there are more than one legends. The first tells that Dionysus decided to give a crown to the beautiful Ariadne. The crown was made by Hephaestus and was a wedding gift. After Ariadne’s death, Dionysus decided to take the crown and throw it into the sky in order to crystallize the memory of his beloved forever. Another legend, however, tells that Ariadne, daughter of Minos, offered her help to Theseus to defeat the Minotaur and to escape the labyrinth thanks to the thread whose history is well known today. Theseus, for his part, to return her favor, decided to bring Ariadne to the island of Naxos. Precisely on this island, however, he soon abandoned her in the middle of the night. Displeased, Arianna cried endlessly and moved Dionysus to pity him, who married her and gave her a crown. The crown in question was nothing more than a token of love that Dionysus gave to Ariadne to demonstrate his love for her and his willingness to take care of her forever. In yet another legend, however, it is said that the constellation is nothing other than the golden threads that Ariadne gave to Theseus to get him out of the labyrinth. In this case, it is a version very similar to the one narrated above which, however, sees Ariadne alone and abandoned on the island of Naxos where she had been taken by Theseus. Lastly, there is both a Greek and Roman legend according to which the crown is a gift for athletes as well as for the military. It seems clear, therefore, that the constellation Corona Borealis was the cause of the birth of various legends, all of which are accredited. Being able to establish which of those provided was the most followed is not at all simple. Certainly, in ancient times and still today, it is closely linked with the story of the beautiful Ariadne.

Curiosities and useful information

As regards the observation of this constellation, it is important to take into account the fact that to see it you must point towards Arcturus which, as is known, is the alpha star of the constellation Bifolco. To be precise, you need to move about 20 degrees northeast of this constellation, going in the direction of the constellation Vega. As regards the stars of the Corona Borealis constellation, it is important to take into account the fact that they are easily identifiable thanks to their very particular shape. The most experts, in fact, know that they are arranged in a semicircle. Furthermore, unlike many other constellations, it is a group of celestial bodies enclosed in the so-called main asterism. This excludes about 20 stars larger than the sixth magnitude. A final notion worthy of note must be provided in reference to the fact that the constellation occupies approximately 180 square degrees and is located in the meridian exactly at 10.00 pm on every 19th June. At this point, there is nothing left to do but equip yourself with a telescope and go and discover the stars that form the Corona Borealis constellation, one of the most sought after in the sky and observed both by professionals and simple astronomy enthusiasts.