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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cygnus_(constellation)
Vega, the harp, or lyre, is a small, but pretty constellation northern constellation that contributes the bright star Vega (Alpha Lyre) to the Summer Triangle. Lyra is located between Hercules and Cygnus, and all of its main stars can be readily picked out, even in our light-polluted skies. It reaches its highest nightfall ascension in August.
Lyra is home to two Messier objects. M56 is a rather loose globular cluster of stars located near Hercules’ southern border with Cygnus. M57 is one on the most interesting Messier objects, and is also known as the Ring Nebula. It is located half-way between the two stars of the parallelogram asterism most distant from Vega. The “ring” is an emission nebula consisting of an expanding shell of ionized gas that was ejected from a red giant star late in its life about 6,000 years ago. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyra
The Hercules Cluster (M13) is located between the two western stars of the Keystone Asterism that represents Hercules’ head. M13 is about 25,100 light years from Earth, and was the target toward which the Arecibo message was beamed in 1974, or 40 years ago. This cluster is comprised of about 300,000 closely packed stars, can be seen with the unaided eye in a very dark sky, and it is easily located with binoculars or modest amateur telescopes. I have not tried, but I think that a camera set up described for the Virgo Cluster could easily capture this cluster. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messier_13
Hercules is one of the 88 modern constellations that are among the 48 constellations cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. It is named after the Roman mythological hero adapted from the Greek hero Heracles. It is a northern constellation that lies just off of the Summer Triangle, and near Ophiuchus. Hercules reaches its highest nightfall ascension in July. A squarish asterism called the Keystone is likely to catch the eye first when looking in this area. Older visualizations of this constellation depict the Keystone as Hercules’ hips, while some more modern visualizations depict the Keystone as Hercules’ head.
One of the most notable Messier objects, the Hercules Cluster (M13), is a bright globular star cluster that can be seen with the naked eye in dark skies. It is located between the two stars comprising the Keystone’s western edge. M92 is the only other Messier object in this constellation. The largest and most massive known structure in the universe, The Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall, is a filament of galaxies that is situated on Hercules’ border with Corona Borealis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hercules_(constellation)
Corona Borealis is one of the smallest, but prettiest constellations. It is located between Boötes and Hercules, and is best seen when it reaches its highest nightfall ascension in September. It is also one of the 48 constellations cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. This constellation’s name is inspired by its shape: its main stars form a semicircular arc with Alphecca, a bright jewel, situated about half way around the arc. This distinct constellation easily catches the observers eye in a dark sky, but often escapes notice in a light-polluted urban sky. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corona_Borealis
Boötes is a bright and distinct northern constellation that is one of the 48 constellations cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. It can be found by looking south of Draco, lying between Hercules and Ursa Major. It is also found by following the curve of the Big Dipper’s handle southward and away from the bowl to the bright star Arcturus. Sometimes the phrase “arc to Arcturus” is used to describe this approach to locating it. Boötes reaches its highest nightfall ascension in June. Arcturus is the fourth brightest star in the night sky, and Boötes is home to many other bright stars, including eight above the fourth magnitude and an additional 21 above the fifth magnitude, making a total of 29 stars easily visible to the naked eye.
There are no Messier objects located in Boötes, but several NGC galaxies can be found with a telescope. The radiant of the Quadrantids meteor shower, which displays about 100 meteors per hour when it peaks over January 3rd and 4th, is located between Bootes’ head and the end of Ursa Major’s tail. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bootes_(constellation)
IAU Bootes chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 4, 2011.