No Swan Song For The Cygnus Constellation 

Flying high through the summer skies of the north, soars Cygnus constellation of the swan. Easily recognized by its shape it's also known as the “Northern Cross”.

The bright star Deneb, at the tail of the swan, forms a part of the “Summer Triangle” asterism along with Vega from Lyra and Altair from Aquila.

With 5 stars brighter than 3rd magnitude this constellation is visible even in some city lighting.

MYTHOLOGY

As with most mythology there are different stories about the Cygnus constellation.

One has Zeus transforming into a swan when he mated with Leda the mother of the Gemini twins Castor and Pollux.

Another myth has Orpheus being transformed into a swan after his murder and placed in the sky near his lyre(the constellation Lyra, visible in the picture below with Cygnus)so he could continue to play.

Neptune(Poseidon) the God of the sea supposedly transformed his son into a swan after his defeat by Achilles.

Along with Aquila the Eagle and Vultur Cadens(alternate name for Lyra) the vulture, Cygnus is a part of the Stymphalian Birds from the Twelve Labors of Hercules.

CYGNUS AND LYRA
CTGNUS AND LYRA OUTLINE

FLYING WITH THE SWAN

Right Ascension: 20 hours

Declination: +42 degrees

Visible between latitudes: +90 and -40 degrees

Best seen in September at 9:00 PM local time

Named Stars: Deneb(Alpha Cygni) Albireo(Beta Cygni)

Sadr(Gamma Cygni) Gienah(Epsilon Cygni)

Deneb is a blue-white supergiant that shines at magnitude 1.3.

Albireo is a double star that could be a binary star of magnitude 3.18. Of the 5 brightest stars Albireo is actually the dimmest despite being the Beta star in the constellation.

The pair can be split in binoculars and small scopes. Albireo(A) is orange-hued and is itself part of a binary star system. Albireo(B) is blue-green.

Sadr is a yellow-tinged supergiant with a magnitude of 2.2.

Delta Cygni is a binary star of 2nd magnitude. The 2 stars can be split in scopes of medium aperture

Gienah is an orange giant about 72 light-years from Earth with an apparent magnitude of 2.5

DOUBLES AND BINARIES

Get out the binoculars and telescopes because the Cygnus constellation has plenty of star pairs to see.

Mu Cygni is a binary star with an optical triple. The binaries are a pair of white stars about 4.7 magnitude combined. The separate third star is of magnitude 7.0 and can be split with binoculars. It takes a mid-sized(6-8in/150-200mm) scope for a chance to split the main pair and see all three stars.

Omicron Cygni is a double star that can be split in binoculars. 30 Cygni is a blue-green star about 4.8 magnitude, and 31 Cygni is orange colored star at magnitude 3.8. 31 Cygni is a binary star with a blue companion.

Psi Cygni is a binary that can be split in smaller scopes. The primary is of magnitude 5.0 and the secondary has a magnitude of 7.5.

16 Cygni is a binary star about 70 light-years away. Both stars are 6th magnitude white stars.

61 Cygni is a binary system divisible in large aperture binoculars and small scopes. Both stars are orange dwarfs about 11.4 light-years away.

Variable star NML Cygni is a hypergiant star in Cygnus which is possibly the largest known star. With stars of this size it is very hard to get an exact measurement.

NML Cygni is about 1,650 times the size of the Sun. Similar to VY Canis Majoris, if it replaced our sun it would reach beyond Jupiter. It is very faint because it is 5,300 light-years away. Its apparent magnitude is about 16.5.

CLUSTERS AND NEBULAE

The North American Nebula, named for its resemblance to the continent, is located in Cygnus. It is naked-eye visible in dark skies as a bright patch on the Milky Way but the shape only becomes discernible in long-exposure photographs.

The Northern Coalsack Nebula also known as the Cygnus Rift is a visible dark patch on the Milky Way running through Cygnus.

M39 is an open cluster visible in dark skies with the naked eye. Its brightest stars are of mostly 7th magnitude.

The Rocking Horse Cluster (NGC6910) visible in small backyard scopes, has 2 golden stars and some nebulosity. Larger scopes reveal more stars.

The Fireworks Galaxy(NGC6946) has shown more supernovae than any other galaxy.



 

Bordered by the constellations Cepheus Draco Lyra

Vulpecula Pegasus Lacerta

› CYGNUS
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