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The First Light Astronomy Kit from David Chandler Company
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The American Association of Amateur Astronomers

Learn the Constellations
The First Light Astronomy Kit from David Chandler Company

 Buy it Now or Find Out More

The Constellation Cygnus - The Swan

Mythology: Cygnus - The Swan

Just as he was beginning his life as a great Trojan hero, Cygnus was tragically killed in battle by the famed and clever warrior, Achilles. As Cygnus drew a last breath of life, his father, Poseidon, transformed the young man into a beautiful swan and carried him to the heights of Mount Olympus, home of the gods. Here, Cygnus displayed his grand grace and elegance, inspiring the King of the Gods to change himself into a swan, too. Disguised as the majestic creature, Zeus sped to earth and courted the lovely Leda, who gave birth to their sons, Castor and Pollux. Zeus also took the form of the swan to trick Nemesis, the stern goddess of Divinity from Cygnus' attack. In the starry skies, the great white swan forever flies, with wings outstretched, southward along the Milky Way.

Make a survey of the very rich area of the sky composed of Cygnus, Lyra, Vulpecula, and Sagitta.. Here, in a relatively compact region, are a wealth of objects to keep observers busy on an autumn night. Scanning this region with binoculars is a pure joy, with field after field of star clusters and groupings everywhere you look. The listing of objects presented on each page are just a few of the splendors waiting for you to observe.

M-39. Through binoculars, this open cluster is very impressive. It is large and bright and stands out well from the background. I see it as having an overall triangular shape. Through a telescope, it loses some of its impact, because of its size and the fact that it is not very concentrated to the center.

M-29. This small open cluster is seen through binoculars as a diamond shaped grouping of about 6-8 stars in a nice field. In a telescope, the count increases to about 15 sparsely concentrated stars.

NGC 7000 - The North America Nebula. I usually see this best with the naked eye as a milky patch just to the east of the bright star Deneb. The "Gulf of Mexico" region stands out particularly well. Try holding an O-III or UHC filter in front of your eyes to increase the contrast. Then, as an added treat, use these filters while looking through binoculars.

NGC 6969/6992-5 - The Veil Nebula. This is a large supernova remnant best seen at low power, divided into two major segments. NGC 6969 is the more difficult to see, as the bright star 52 Cygni overwhelms it. NGC 6992-5 lies to the east, and shows a wealth of filamentary detail, especially when using a filter.

Alberio. This is a classic double star. Easily split, it shows a beautiful contrast of yellow-orange and blue stars. Even if you're not a double star fan, try this one. You'll like it.

Article © Copyright Rick Raasch
© Copyright Edward P. Flaspoehler, Jr.

Messier Objects in Cygnus











Open Cluster

20h 23.9

38d 32






Open Cluster

21h 32.2

48d 26




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