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Nothing but the Facts About the Constellation Cygnus

written by: Anurag Ghosh•edited by: Jason C. Chavis•updated: 11/12/2010

Constellation Cygnus is one of the 88 modern constellations recognizable in the northern summer and autumn. It is identified as a swan or some kind of a stellar bird, in most mythologies. Here are some facts about Cygnus constellation.

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    History & Other Fun Facts on Constellation Cygnus

    1. Symbolism: The Northern Cross or the Swan

    2. Right ascension: 20.62 hours

    3. Meteor Showers: October Cygnids (visible between 26 September and 10 October), Kappa Cygnids (visible between mid-July and the end of August)

    4. Declination: +42.03 degrees

    5. Latitudes visible at: between +90 degrees and -40 degrees

    6. The best time to view: at 9:00 PM (21:00PM) during the month of September

    7. Area of sky: 804 square degrees

    8. Nearest star: 61 Cygni (11.4 light years away)

    9. Brightest star: Deneb (alpha Cygni) (1.25 visual magnitude)

    10. Constellations bordering Cygnus: Lyra, Cepheus, Draco, Pegasus, Vulpecula, Lacerta

    11. Stars in the constellation: There are total 84 stars in the Cygnus constellation. Notable stars include Deneb (alpha Cygni), Albireo (Beta Cygni), 61 Cygni, and a variety of variable stars including V508 Cygni and XX Cygni.

    12. Other objects in the constellation: Notable deep sky objects include the North America Nebula (NGC 7000), The Pelican Nebula (IC 5070), the Veil Nebula (NGC 6960, 6962, 6979, 6992, and 6995), and the Crescent Nebula (NGC 6888).

    13. Meteor showers: October Cygnids, Kappa Cygnids

    14. Mythology: The Greek mythology identifies Cygnus with several different legendary swans. Zeus disguised himself as a swan to seduce the beautiful Leda. Orpheus, as well as King Cycnus, were transformed into a swan. According to researchers, Cygnus may have originated on the Euphrates, as clay tablets reveal a stellar bird of some kind. The Chinese mythology connects Cygnus with the mythological lovers Zhi Nu and Niu Lang (Qi Xi). Cygnus has also been associated with “Roc," a huge mythical bird found in the story of Sinbad the sailor (Thousand and One Nights). CygnusMyth 

    15. History of Cygnus Constellation: Cygnus is Latin for Swan. The Greeks identified Cygnus simply as “Ornis" (Bird), but it was the Romans who adopted Greek myths to name it Cygnus and explained its meaning to the world. To the Arabs, the constellation is identified as a hen. According to the first century astronomer, Ptolemy, the constellation Cygnus was among 48 constellations, and today it remains one of the 88 modern constellations.

    [Image Credit (Right): Torsten Bronger. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cygnus_constellation_drawing.jpg]

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    Constellation Cygnus Image

    photocygnus 

    [This photo of the constellation Cygnus shows, enlarged in their true color, the main "naked eye" stars that make up the shape of the constellation. Image courtesy of http://www.scienceandart.com]

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    Cygnus Constellation: Little Known Facts

    Cygnus constellation map 

    The North America Nebula (NGC 7000), which is found to the east of Deneb in constellation Cygnus, resembles the North American Continent.

    • The Veil Nebula is the remnant of an ancient supernova covering 3 degrees of sky (approx.)

    • Astronomers have witnessed more supernovae in the Fireworks Galaxy (NGC 6946) than in any other galaxy.

    • The Cygnus X-1 (Cyg X-1) is a popular galactic X-source in the Cygnus constellation. Discovered in 1964 during a rocket flight, the Cyg X-1 is accepted as a black hole candidate by astronomers and scientists. It is estimated to have a mass about 8.7 times the mass of the sun.

    • Constellation Cygnus boasts many variable stars, which cannot be noticed without high-tech telescopes. Notable variable stars include XX Cygni and V508 Cygni.

    • The Alpha Cygni is the best prototype for a variable class of 15 pulsating supergiants with very high magnitudes and spectral types of A and B.

    • During the 1977 occurrence of the Kappa Cygnids, Elvis Presley Died. The meteor shower is dedicated to him by his faithful fans.

    [Image Courtesy (Top Left): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cygnus_constellation_map.png Torsten Bronger]

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    Credits

    http://www.dibonsmith.com/cyg_con.htm

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A28387489

    http://www.mallorcaweb.net/masm/Cyg1.htm

    http://www.constellationsofwords.com/Constellations/Cygnus.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cygnus_(constellation)

    http://www.seti.net/html/SETINet/Archive/RA20/Cygnus/cygnus.htm