Cygnus and Lyra - Downloadable article
Between the feathers of the Swan and the strings of the Harp, the abundant field of the northern Milky Way awaits.
March 3, 2009
|This downloadable article is from an Astronomy magazine 45-article series called "Celestial Portraits." The collection highlights all 88 constellations in the sky and explains how to observe each constellation's deep-sky targets. The articles feature star charts, stunning pictures, and constellation mythology. We've put together 11 digital packages. Each one contains four Celestial Portraits articles for you to purchase and download.|
"Cygnus and Lyra" is one of four articles included in Celestial Portraits Package 1.
Cygnus the Swan and Lyra the Harp are two of the summer sky's most recognizable constellations. Lyra appears to observers as a parallelogram of stars hanging to the south of its brightest star, magnitude 0 Vega. The fifth brightest star in the sky, Vega is only 26 light-years away — it's practically in our neighborhood. Northeast of Vega is Epsilon (ε) Lyrae — a pair of stars separated by 3.4'. Lyra's proximity to the Milky Way's plane makes it a constellation swimming with stars.
East of Lyra you'll find Cygnus. The focal point of the constellation is 1.3 magnitude Deneb. Although it is 1,600 light-years away, Deneb is 70,000 times more luminous than the sun and rivals the apparent brightness of closer stars. Cygnus the Swan looks like its namesake. The long neck of the Swan extends along our galaxy's plane to the beautiful double star Albireo (Beta [β] Cygni), while the wings are perpendicular to the galaxy's diffuse glow. To read the complete article, purchase and download Celestial Portraits Package 1.
|Deep-sky objects in Cygnus and Lyra|
Epsilon Lyrae, IC 1296, M57 (Ring Nebula), NGC 6745, NGC 6765, M56, NGC 6791, Beta Cygni (Albireo), NGC 6826, NGC 6857, NGC 6888 (Crescent Nebula), NGC 6894, M29, IC 5067 (Pelican Nebula), NGC 6960/92-5 (Veil Nebula), NGC 7000 (North America Nebula), NGC 7008, PK 80-6.1 (Egg Nebula), NGC 7026, M39