The Lyra constellation, one of the smaller constellations, with an area covering only 286 square degrees(52nd of the 88) contains one of the night's brightest stars. The alpha star Vega is the fifth brightest in the sky and the second brightest star in the northern hemisphere.
Vega along with the stars Alpha Cygni(Deneb) and Alpha Aquilae(Altair) form the “Summer Triangle”. A bright asterism in the northern sky.
Bordered by Draco, Hercules, Vulpecula,
note that Lyra is the small diamond shaped outlined above. The larger outline is Cygnus.
Right Ascension: 19 hours
Declination: +40 degrees
Visible between latitudes +90 and -40 degrees
Best seen August at 9:00 PM local time
Named Stars: Vega(Alpha Lyrae) Sheliak(Beta Lyrae) Sulafat(Gamma Lyrae) Aladfar(Eta Lyrae)
Vega has an apparent magnitude of 0.03 and is about 25 light-years away from us.
Sheliak is an eclipsing binary star system with the apparent magnitude of 3.45. The stars orbit to close to be separated in telescopes. The variable light is caused by the eclipse rather than the stars themselves. Stars of this type are known as Beta-Lyrae type stars.
Gamma Lyrae is a multiple star system with an apparent magnitude of 3.24
Epsilon Lyrae is a quadruple star
system as both of the larger components have a companion.
Only 2 Messier Objects can be found in the Lyra constellation, M56 and M57.
M56 is a globular cluster between Beta Cygni and Gamma Lyrae. It appears as a “fuzzy” star in large binoculars but can be resolved in an 8in(200mm) or larger telescope.
M57 is known as “The Ring Nebula”.
One of the better known planetary nebula, it appears in telescopes as
an elliptical ring with a green tint.
Lyra is said to represent the lyre or harp of the musician Orpheus.
According to legend the music of Orpheus was the most beautiful in the world. It had the ability to charm anyone and anything even rocks and trees.
His music was used to charm the Sirens and keep the Argo's sailors from crashing into the Siren's islands.
Orpheus was eventually killed by creatures that couldn't hear his wonderful music. These beings then threw the lyre into the river.
Zeus sent Aquila to retrieve the lyre and placed it in the sky as the Lyra constellation.