Tag Archives: Lyra

Vulpecula (The little fox)

Vulpecula, Sagitta, DelphinusThe little fox is a small constellation of just a few moderately bright stars occupying the center of the Summer Triangle. Bearing little resemblance to a fox, this constellation reaches its highest nightfall ascension in September, appearing nearly directly overhead.  This constellation is one of the 48 that were cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. Vulpecula  is home to two notable deep space objects: the Dumbell Nebula (M27) and the Brocchi’s Cluster (Collinder 399, also known as “the coathanger” asterism).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulpecula

IAU Vulpecula chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Vulpecula chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Cygnus (The swan)

Cygnus, LyraCygnus, 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)

IAU Cygnus chart, (IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Rober Sinnott & Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Cygnus chart, (IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Rober Sinnott & Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Lyra (The harp or lyre)

Cygnus, LyraVega, 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.

640px-M57_The_Ring_NebulaLyra 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

IAU Lyra chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Lyra chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Lyrids Meteor Shower – April 22-23, 2014

Named meteor showers occur at roughly the same time each year. Astronomers estimate that the this year’s shower will be somewhat subdued because the Moon brightens the sky, which prevents the dimmer meteors from being seen. All of the meteors associated with the Lyrids shower will appear to come from inside the constellation Lyra. Even though the visible meteor trails are likely to begin outside of Lyra, and the end of the trails will be even farther away from Lyra in every direction, all of visible meteor trails associated with this shower can be traced backward to a common point within Lyra. The shower begins around April 16th and occurs every night through about April 25th. The shower will peak (highest number of meteors per hour) on April 22nd and 23rd. Lyra will rise in the east at about 11:30pm during this period, and can be found by locating its bright star Vega using a planisphere or smartphone app. To observe, be sure to dress warmly and sit in something comfortable, like a reclining lawn chair.