Shop Windows to the Universe

Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather by Mike Smith tells the story of our storm warning system. See our online store book collection.
The Constellation Cygnus, the Swan
Click on image for full size

Cygnus

Cygnus, the Swan, is also known as the Northern Cross because of its shape. The tail of the swan is marked by the bright star Deneb, Arabic for "tail". Three fainter stars cross the line between Deneb and the head of the swan, Albireo. Cygnus flies southward along the summer Milky Way, and into the Summer Triangle.

Deneb is a bright, blue supergiant star, very young as stars go. Albireo, the bill of the swan, is actually two stars which show a spectacular amber and blue contrast. Cygnus is also sprinkled with a variety of nebulae, including the North American Nebula and the Veil Nebula.

The identity of Cygnus is uncertain. He could be Zeus in the guise in which he seduced Leda, the mother of Helen of Troy. In one myth, Cygnus is a friend of Phaethon, the son of Apollo, the sun god. Phaethon fell into the river Eridanus, trying to drive the sun-gods chariot. Cygnus dove repeatedly into the water to search for Phaethon. Out of pity, Zeus turned the boy into a swan.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, available in our online store, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Science, Evolution, and Creationism

How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable....more

Deneb - White, Hot Supergiant

What's in a Name: Arabic for "tail" because it is located in the tail of the Cygnus, the Swan. Claim to Fame: 19th brightest star in the sky (apparent visual magnitude = 1.3) Type of Star: White Supergiant...more

Zeus

In Greek mythology, Zeus (Jupiter in Roman mythology) was the king of heaven and Earth and of all the Olympian gods. He was also known as the god of justice. He was named king of the gods in the special...more

Eridanus

Eridanus is known as the Celestial River. It most often related to the Nile or Euphrates Rivers because they were so important to ancient civilizations. Eridanus is the second longest constellation in...more

Gemini

Gemini is one of the more famous constellations. The Twins are best seen during the winter and spring in the Northern Hemisphere. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, look for Gemini in the summer....more

Leda and the Constellation Cygnus

For the ancient Greeks, the constellation Cygnus, which means "swan", was related to the myth of Zeus and the goddess Nemesis. In order to escape from Zeus, Nemesis changed herself into many different...more

Leda and the Constellation Cygnus

For the ancient Greeks, the constellation Cygnus, which means "swan", was related to the myth of Zeus and the goddess Nemesis. In order to escape from Zeus, Nemesis changed herself into many different...more

Leda

For the ancient Greeks, the constellation Cygnus, which means "swan", was related to the myth of Zeus(called Jupiter by Romans) and the goddess Nemesis. In order to escape from Zeus, Nemesis changed herself...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA