Cygnus, the swan, is a bright and distinct northern constellations, and one of the 48 constellations cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. It is located among Lyra, Hercules, Draco, Cepheus, Lacerta and Pegasus. Deneb (Alpha Cygni) is its brightest star, and a member of the Summer Triangle. Cygnus reaches its highest ascension in September. A gracefully flying swan can be easily imagined while taking in this constellation. Cygnus is also known as the Northern Cross.
Cygnus lies on the Milky Way’s plane, and is thus filled with many deep space objects. Of these, two were cataloged by Charles Messier. M39 is an open cluster of about 30 stars in the north east corner of Cygnus, and M29 is a small open cluster near the crux of the Northern Cross. There are several named nebula, star clusters, and galaxies to include the Blinking Nebula (NGC 6826), the Rocking Horse cluster (NGC 6910), the Veil Nebula, the North America Nebula (NGC 7000), the Northern Coalsack nebula, the Soap Bubble nebula (PN G75.5+1.7), and the Fireworks galaxy.
© James R. Johnson, 2014.