Going to be outside this Labor Day weekend? Look for this summer constellation…

High above our heads in the summer evenings is the constellation Cygnus – the Swan.  It’s a memorable landmark of the summer sky.  It’s brightest stars form what look like a cross, so it is also known as the Northern Cross.

Though you can’t see them all with the naked eye, there’s some pretty amazing objects found in the sky space of this constellation.  The stars that make up Cygnus include supergiants and binary stars (two stars that orbit around each other.) There are remnants of a supernova explosion and some mysteriously possible black holes or quark stars.  Cygnus also has around 100 stars that have known planets orbiting them, including the first earth-like planet to be found in a star’s habitable zone.

So take a look upward tonight – look for the cross topped with one of the brightest stars in the evening sky (Deneb, a white supergiant!)  See Cygnus flying down the Milky Way.

The constellation Cygnus as it can be seen by the naked eye.  Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cygnus_(constellation)

The constellation Cygnus as it can be seen by the naked eye. Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cygnus_(constellation)

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5 Comments

  1. Cygnus is one of my favorite constellations. The Summer Triangle is very useful for star hopping around the sky this time of year. I observed Deneb with a binocular a few nights ago, but the weather was horrible. That’s what I get for living in New England.

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