Cygnus Constellation

Currently, there are 88 official IAU recognized constellations. There are more unofficial constellations which have been invented by ancient astronomers and modern science fiction writers. In this list, I will focus on the Cygnus constellation.

The Swan Constellation

This 10 Star Constellation, also referred to as the Swan constellation, is one of the most beautiful constellations in our night sky.

Cygnus is a northern hemispheric constellation located in the dim region between the bright stars of the summer triangle and the quadrilateral formed by the bright stars of Draco, Hercules, Ophiuchus and Serpens. The constellation is also known as the Northern Cross due to its shape.

In fact, it consists of 10 main stars forming a cross with the exception of its brightest star Deneb, which forms a T-shape and also, because of its position in the sky, is referred to as the North star.

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What are the 3 brightest stars in Cygnus?

The Cygnus constellation was first catalogued by Ptolemy who listed 24 stars within its borders; however, since then 13 more stars have been added as time went on.

The constellation’s main stars are part of the Northern Cross asterism, which forms one leg of the well-known “Summer Triangle” along with the neighboring stars Vega in Lyra and Altair in Aquila.

The star Deneb, also known as Alpha Cygni, is the farthest bright star in our galaxy, located about 1,500 light years from Earth. Deneb marks the swan’s tail and is one of the most distant stars easily visible with the unaided eye.

Related: Leo Constellation

Vega is the 5th brightest star in the sky, and is the second brightest star within Cygnus constellation. The star has a magnitude of 0.03 and is actually a multiple system which includes an A0V main sequence dwarf with a 10 solar masses , a secondary companion star, and two red dwarfs orbiting each other every 200 years.

Altair is the brightest star within the constellation Aquila and one of the three bright stars that forms the “Summer Triangle” asterism along with Deneb, which is part of Cygnus, and Vega in Lyra. It has an apparent magnitude of 0.77 and is about 16 light years away.

Related: Orion Constellation

Where Is Cygnus Located

The constellation of Cygnus is mostly visible at latitudes between +90° and -60°, and is best seen at 9 p.m. during the month of July.

Deneb, which marks the swan’s tail, can be found by tracing a line from the bright star Vega through Altair. Deneb is the most distant of the bright stars and is one of the farthest stars visible to the unaided eye.

Cygnus’s brightest star, Deneb, forms a corner of a great triangle with Vega in Lyra, and Altair in Aquila. The Milky Way passes through Cygnus which makes it an ideal constellation through which to view our galaxy’s richest star fields.

Related: Taurus Constellation

Mythology of Cygnus

The swan is the celestial bird of Apollo and it is believed that its stars represent the god’s sacred bird. Cygnus constellation also represents Zeus’ lyre-playing son who was placed among the stars by his father after death.

Cygnes has a connection with the mythological hero Orpheus of Greek mythology. According to the myth, Zeus placed his lyre-playing son in the sky along with the northern celestial bird after both had been killed by jealous forces on Earth.

Related: Sagittarius Constellation

Orpheus was a gifted musician who is known for his exceptional talent of playing music on his magic golden lyre. His voice was so beautiful that everything he played moved people’s hearts and souls. Orpheus was the son of Apollo and Calliope, a muse from Pieria. His beloved wife Eurydice died from a snake bite when she stepped upon a nest of snakes while on her way to join him at his performance.

Orpheus descended into Hades in an attempt to revive his wife but failed since he was required to walk out holding on to nothing except the faint sound of Eurydice’s footsteps. The moment he looked back, Eurydice was pulled back into the underworld forever

Orpheus’ lyre is placed in the sky by Zeus after his death from a ferocious beating from Dionysus’ maenads for failing to worship their god.

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