September Challenge: The Swan

September is a great month for viewing the stars of the so-called Summer Triangle: Vega, Deneb, and Altair. Vega is the brightest of the three and is almost directly overhead in the early evening. Deneb is slightly less bright than Vega, but it is also almost overhead. Deneb is the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan, and it marks the tail of the swan.

Deneb, Vega, and Altair
Deneb, Vega, and Altair form the Summer Triangle. Deneb is also part of Cygnus the Swan (or the Northern Cross). Albireo is the star in the crosshairs.

It’s a little hard to see the stars of Cygnus as a swan, but the stars numbered 1-5 below are also known as the “Northern Cross.” In the city lights, however, star number 5 is barely visible to the naked eye. Your challenge is to find this star and complete the Northern Cross.

Cygnus
Your challenge: find these 5 stars in the constellation Cygnus

This star is called Albireo, and it marks the head of the swan. Although Albireo appears to be a single star, it is actually a double star. If you have a pair of binoculars, it is possible to see Albireo as two stars. But, for now, just try finding it with your naked eye. You’ll need a still, clear evening, and it’s best to let your eyes adapt to the dark as much as possible. Good luck! Incidentally, star 2 is Delta Cygni; star 3 is Gamma Cygni; and star 4 is Epsilon Cygni.

All images from Stellarium.

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