¡SkyCaramba! Weekly astronomy blog for the week ending May 9, 2015
From the era when the Greeks ruled parts of Egypt comes the story of a war, a sacrifice, a theft, and some quick thinking that saved lives. The story of Berenice’s Hair is part of western star lore. It’s not clear how much of the story is true. But here’s how it goes.
About 243 BC, Berenice II married King Ptolemy III. The newlywed queen, admired throughout the kingdom for her beautifully golden hair, loved her husband very much. She worried that he wouldn’t return from a battle in Syria where he would avenge his sister’s death. So Berenice prayed to Aphrodite for his safe return.
Ptolemy did return. So Berenice had an offering to make to the goddess. She cut off her locks and placed them in Aprohodite’s temple. Ptolemy admired Berenice’s hair as much as everyone else did, so he didn’t want her to do it. But he agreed as long as everyone else could visit the temple where they would see her hair lovely by itself but now even more splendid as a gift to a goddess.
But during the night, someone stole Berenice’s hair. Ptolemy ...