The Constellation Cygnus

by Dominic Ford
Cygnus Cygnus
The constellation Cygnus. Roll mouse over to see labels.
Source: Stellarium.

Cygnus is a large and easily recognisable constellation in the northern summer sky. Its brightest star, Deneb forms one vertex of the Summer Triangle asterism.

Visually, Cygnus appears as a ‘T’-shaped grouping of stars, with a fainter star Albireo (β¹-Cyg) making the T into a cross. For this reason, the asterism is sometimes known as the Northern Cross.

The Milky Way passes through the middle of the cross, littering it with some of the richest star fields in the northern sky. Among these are twenty open clusters of tenth magnitude or brighter. A pair of binoculars are quite sufficient to bring hundreds of stars into view.

The star Albireo (β¹-Cyg) is particularly often observed, as it is a binary whose two components have two strongly contrasting colors – one red and the other blue.

The name ‘Cygnus’ is Latin for ‘swan’, though accounts vary as to the swan's identity. In one popular story, Cygnus is the god Zeus in disguise, pursuing one of his many love interests – perhaps Nemesis or Leda, mother of Helen of Troy.

Date First Appeared
Ancient
Sky Area
1.9% of the sky
804.0 square degrees
Messier Objects
Cygnus contains the following Messier objects: M29, M39.
Caldwell Objects
Cygnus contains the following Caldwell objects: C12, C15, C19, C20, C27, C33, C34.
Neighbors
The following constellations neighbor Cygnus: Cepheus, Draco, Lacerta, Lyra, Pegasus, Vulpecula.
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Brightest Objects in Cygnus

Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
Deneb (mag 1.3) Messier 39 (mag 4.6) NGC 7000 (mag 6.0)
Sadr (mag 2.2) NGC 6871 (mag 5.2) NGC 6995 (mag 7.0)
ε-Cyg (mag 2.5) Messier 29 (mag 6.6) NGC 6960 (mag 7.0)
δ-Cyg (mag 2.9) NGC 6811 (mag 6.8) NGC 6992 (mag 7.0)
Albireo (mag 3.1) NGC 7063 (mag 7.0) NGC 6888 (mag 7.5)
ζ-Cyg (mag 3.2) NGC 7082 (mag 7.2) IC 5070 (mag 8.0)
ξ-Cyg (mag 3.7) IC 4996 (mag 7.3) NGC 6946 (mag 9.7)
τ-Cyg (mag 3.7) NGC 6819 (mag 7.3) NGC 6826 (mag 9.8)
ι-Cyg (mag 3.8) NGC 6910 (mag 7.4) NGC 6996 (mag 10.0)
κ-Cyg (mag 3.8) NGC 7039 (mag 7.6) NGC 7027 (mag 10.4)
V695 Cyg (mag 3.8) NGC 6866 (mag 7.6) NGC 7048 (mag 11.3)
η-Cyg (mag 3.9) NGC 6834 (mag 7.8) NGC 6857 (mag 11.4)
ν-Cyg (mag 3.9) NGC 6883 (mag 8.0) NGC 6824 (mag 11.9)
ρ-Cyg (mag 4.0) NGC 7062 (mag 8.3) NGC 6884 (mag 12.6)
V1488 Cyg (mag 4.0) NGC 7086 (mag 8.4) NGC 7026 (mag 12.7)
41-Cyg (mag 4.0) IC 1369 (mag 8.8) NGC 7013 (mag 12.9)
52-Cyg (mag 4.2) NGC 7031 (mag 9.1) IC 1392 (mag 13.0)
σ-Cyg (mag 4.2) NGC 7128 (mag 9.7) NGC 7008 (mag 13.3)
π²-Cyg (mag 4.2) NGC 7067 (mag 9.7) IC 1302 (mag 13.3)
33-Cyg (mag 4.3) NGC 6997 (mag 10.0) NGC 6833 (mag 13.8)
υ-Cyg (mag 4.4) IC 5146 (mag 10.0) NGC 7116 (mag 14.2)
39-Cyg (mag 4.4) NGC 7044 (mag 12.0) IC 1303 (mag 14.2)
θ-Cyg (mag 4.5) IC 1311 (mag 13.1) IC 1301 (mag 14.3)
f²-Cyg (mag 4.5) NGC 6846 (mag 14.2) NGC 6881 (mag 14.3)
λ-Cyg (mag 4.6) NGC 7058 NGC 6764 (mag 14.3)

Ashburn

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

39.04°N
77.49°W
EST

Color scheme