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The Constellation Lyra, the Harp
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It seems the sky is filled with mythical people and animals. But now meet the one and only musical instrument to grace the sky: Lyra, the Lyre! A lyre is a small harp, small enough to fit in your lap. The brightest star in Lyra, Vega, is placed in the handle of the harp. A small rectangle of four faint stars outline the harp itself.

Vega is a very bright star (the fifth brightest in the whole sky) and is very close. Lyra is also home to one of the brightest, loveliest planetary nebulae, the Ring Nebula.

The stories that we have from ancient Greece tell us that the lyre was invented by Hermes as a child by placing strings on a shell. He traded the lyre to Apollo, who then gave it to his son, Orpheus, a great musician.

The Lyrid meteor shower happens in April each year. The meteors in the Lyrid meteor shower seem to shoot outward from the constellation Lyra.

Last modified March 29, 2009 by Randy Russell.

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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.

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