|Winter: Orion Canis Major Canis Minor Monoceros Lepus Eridanus Taurus Auriga Camelopardalis Lynx Gemini Cancer|
|Spring: Hydra Sextans Crater Corvus Leo Leo Minor Ursa Major Ursa Minor Canes Venatici Coma Berenices Virgo Bootes|
|Summer: Draco Corona Borealis Hercules Ophiuchus Serpens Libra Scorpius Sagittarius Scutum Aquila Sagitta Vulpecula Lyra Cygnus|
|Autumn: Andromeda Perseus Pegasus Cassiopeia Cephus Cetus Lacerta Delphinus Equuleus Capricornus Aquarius Pisces Aries|
|Southern Skies: Centaurus Crux Lupus Corona Australis Piscis Australis Sculptor Tucana Fornax Dorado Columba Puppis Carina Vela|
Legend tells us that the northern crown was originally a beautiful jeweled tiera which belonged to the princess Ariadne, of Crete. Her father, King Minos, kept a ferocious minotaur (half man, half bull) trapped in a labyrinth from which it could not escape. The minotaur had a taste for human flesh, and periodically hapless victims from the subjugated city state of Athens were put into the maze for the minotaur to feed on.
One year the prince of Athens, Theseus, was to be fed to the beast. When the princess Ariadne saw Theseus, she immediately fell in love with him and promised to help him escape, if he would take her away and marry her. Theseus agreed, and Ariadne secretly gave him a spool of thread just before he was put into the maze. Theseus unraveled the thread behind him as he hunted down the minotaur and killed it. Then he followed the thread back out of the maze, and carried Ariadne off across the sea back to Athens.
On their journey they stopped at the island of Dia (Naxos), which was the home of the god Dionysus (Bacchus). For reasons known only to himself, Theseus abandoned Ariadne on the shores of the island, where she proceeded to weep and lament, and waste away in her sorrow. When Dionysus found her, he took her as his wife, and they lived a long and happy life together. Eventually, however, she died, as all mortals do, and to honour her memory, Dionysus removed her crown, and flung it into the sky, where the jewels became stars, to stand as an eternal monument to her love and loyalty.
As far back as the third century B.C., Apollonius Rhodius wrote in his Argonauticae:
The brightest star in the constellation retains the original Arabic name of Alphecca, which means "the broken" ring of stars, but is also known as Gemma, which is Latin for jewel. It has a magnitude of 2.23, and is 75 light years away.
The second brightest star is Nusakan, which is Arabic for "two lines" of stars, which has nothing to do with the crown, but refers to a much larger asterism, known to the ancient Arabs as the pasture, which incorporates much of the constellations Hercules and Ophiuchus. It has a magnitude of 3.66 and is 100 light years away.
The star labelled T Coronae Borealis is also called the Blaze Star. It is a class of star known as a variable star, because it periodically changes brightness. Normally it is a tenth magnitude star, too dim to be seen by the naked eye, but on May 12, 1866, it suddenly "blazed" up to magnitude 2, brighter than Alphecca. After only a week it had dimmed back down again. Then, eighty years later, on February 9, 1946, it temporarily blazed up again. So the big question now is whether or not this is a pattern, and will the normally invisible star blaze back up into prominence when another eighty years is up, in 2026. The distances to variable stars is difficult to determine, but T Coronae Borealis appears to be very far away, probably over 2,600 light years.
R Coronae Borealis is an even more mysterious variable star. Instead of brightening, it dims. Its normal magnitude is around 6, right at the edge of naked eye visibility, but at widely irregular intervals it will suddenly dim to around magnitude 12, and stay there for a few days, a month, or even a year or two. It has been observed closely by astronomers for 150 years, since 1858, and so far, the variations in its brightness have been completely irregular. There are no patterns, and there are no explanations. R Coronae Borealis is estimated to be a staggering 5,000 light years away.
Corona Borealis contains two known planetary systems. One of these systems is centered on the naked eye star Rho Coronae Borealis. It is a faint star, with a magnitude of 5.4, located 55 light years from Earth. One planet has been discovered so far orbiting this star. It is slightly larger than Jupiter. For more information on extrasolar planets visit NASA's Planet Quest.
There is one more object of note in Corona Borealis. It is a particularly dense cluster of galaxies, sometimes referred to as a super galaxy. There are over 400 galaxies clustered together in an area the width of the moon, and they are very far away - over a billion light years. An average magnitude of 16.5 places them out of reach of most amateur scopes.