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Constellations: Cygnus - Windows to the Universe

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The Constellation Cygnus, the Swan
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Cygnus

Cygnus, the Swan, looks like a big cross. The tail of the swan is marked by the bright star Deneb. The head of the swan is a star called Albireo, a star with a surprise! Three fainter stars cross the line between Deneb and Albireo, making a "t" shape.

Both the tail and bill of the swan are special stars. Deneb is a bright, blue star, and is only a few million years old - very young for a star! What is Albireo's surprise? Albireo is actually two stars, one yellow and one blue! Although with just your eyes you only see one star, you can see that there are really two if you look through a small telescope.

The ancient Greeks may have called these stars a swan to honor the great musician Orpheus. Orpheus loved his harp, Lyra, very much so he was transformed and set in the sky to be near it.

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