The Perseids aren’t the only meteor shower in town this August — it’s also time for the Kappa Cygnids! Peaking August 18, you may see meteors radiating from the constellation Cygnus.
There’s no better time to check out the stars and deep-sky objects in the constellation if you’re located in the Northern Hemisphere, so join us in this week’s challenge as we turn our eyes toward Cygnus.
Cygnus the constellation appears as a majestic swan gliding through the night sky. Swans figure prominently in Greek mythology, and the constellation dates back at least to the time of Ptolemy in the 2nd century A.D. The most prominent pattern in Cygnus is the five stars that make up the Northern Cross.
Cygnus, Latin for swan, is visible June through December in the Northern Hemisphere, peaking in summer. It’s low on the horizon, but still visible in much of the Southern Hemisphere at that time.
Stars in Cygnus
Images captured by Unistellar eVscope user David Rowe (United Kingdom)
Cygnus is home to many notable stars, including:
- Albireo, the famous double star — one yellow and one blue
- Deneb, the brightest star in Cygnus and the top of the Northern Cross
- Sadr, the middle of the cross, is a supergiant star with a yellow-white hue
- Aljanah, a multiple star system located close in the sky to the Veil Nebula
- Fawaris, a blue-white giant, part of a triple star system
- Azelfafage, part of a binary star system visible to the naked eye
Deep-Sky Objects in Cygnus
With your eVscope, you can take a closer look at Cygnus’ deep-sky objects, too:
The remnants of a supernova, this cloud of heated dust and ionized gas takes up an area of the sky 36 times larger than the full moon. The Veil Nebula is the visible portion of the larger Cygnus Loop.
NGC 6946 is a spiral galaxy situated face-on — perfect for viewing in all its glory. The galaxy, about one-third the size of the Milky Way, is within the Virgo Supercluster.
The Cocoon Nebula is a stellar nursery forming stars from gas and dust. Astronomers have spotted hundreds of young stars in the nebula and surrounding “tail.”
We encourage you to share your observations and join the conversation through our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages using the hashtag #UnistellarChallenge!
If you’d like to send us your observations by email, send them to email@example.com.
Clear skies! 🔭