Cygnus the Swan


Cygnus the Swan is another Summer Triangle constellation. It's a bird flying through the sky. This is Deneb's constellation with 13 stars, and it is one of the easiest to find. Vega is up high, and Deneb is at the lower left of the Triangle in the ENE just on the edge of the Milky Way. Cygnus is also known as the Northern Cross. In December it stands upright in the NW and is also known as the Christmas Cross.  This time of year, it's high in the sky.

This constellation is in front of the Milky Way and is a water bird flying over the river. The word Deneb comes from the Arabic word tail and is the Swan's tail. Albireo represents the swan's head and is 3 stars to the right of Deneb. It's a blue, white star 430 LY away from us. With a telescope you can see that it's a double star with the brighter one orange and the dimmer one blue.

The Swan's body, wings and head lie inside the Triangle. Cygnus is one of the most prominent constellations in the Northern Sky. It lies in a rich area of the Milky Way and contains many nebulae and open clusters. Its most distinctive feature is the Great Rift which is a relatively close dark cloud of dust that blocks light from the Milky Way. Try viewing it with binoculars or a telescope to find its many treasures.

This constellation represents a swan flying down the WNW, recalling the Greek God Zeus’ disguise while seducing Leda the wife of the King of Spaita. She later gave birth to the Gemini twins Castor and Pollux which apparently came from Zeus.

The bird's wings span the Milky Way at a location packed with stars and deep sky objects. It's highest in the sky late summer into fall. The North American nebula is a colorful gas cloud on the Swan's southern border just below Deneb. So, when you find Deneb, explore the sky to the right of it and discover the Swan. Then use binoculars or a telescope to see all the wonderful things in that area of the sky.

The full moon is on the 14th, but it’s going to do some unusual things this time. When you see it, it will be very yellow and low in the sky. Normally the full moon is very high in the sky and very bright white, but this time it isn’t going to rise. It will stay low in the sky and not become white. This event will happen every June for the next 5 years. It’s also going to be late in rising, so you may not even see it until after midnight. So have fun looking at it.

I wondered if any of you saw the meteor shower on May 30. I live in South Fork and our sky was very cloudy when I went to bed. Then when I got up at 1 a.m. the sky was still cloudy. I went out, but I only could see a few stars. So, I went back to bed and got up at 3 a.m. That’s when the sky had finally cleared, and it was beautiful. I enjoyed looking at the stars. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any meteors. When I read the article that I got in the e-mail the next morning, people saw a few of them at 11 p.m.

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