What the constellation Swan looks


Constellation Swan is a group of stars visible in Earth’s northern hemisphere. Ancient tribes saw a flying bird in it with open wings and referred to it simply as “Bird”, “Forest Bird” or “Chicken”. In astronomy, this group of stars is still called the “Northern Cross”.


It is best observed by the constellation Swan from July to November. If you look at it with the naked eye, you can only see the four brightest stars. In this case, the group looks like a large cross crossing the Milky Way. In the case of observation of the Swan into binoculars with good magnification, several more stars become distinguishable. Mentally connecting them together, you will get a figure resembling a bird along the lines. The lower part of it is a head with a curved neck, and there will be a tail at the top.


The swan’s tail is the star Deneb or α-swan, the brightest in the constellation. Deneb is the landmark when finding the constellation in the night sky, also it is part of the Summer Triangle. If the Swan is observed in a telescope, it is possible to distinguish near it the “North America” nebula, which enters the region of the constellation. Other equally colorful nebulae form the wings, body and long curved neck of the bird. The Swan ends with an impressive double star of Albireo, which symbolizes the head.


Most likely, the constellation got its name due to one of the ancient Greek myths. One of them narrates the love of the god Zeus for the mortal girl Leda. According to legend, Zeus, to subdue the wife of king Tindareus, turned into a beautiful white swan. In this form he seduced the beautiful Leda, who soon gave birth to two children — Polidevka and Elena, the perpetrator of the ten-year Trojan war. Another version of the appearance on the firmament of the Swan speaks of Orpheus’s love for Eurydice.

In the second century AD, the ancient Greek astronomer and thinker Claudius Ptolemy created the star atlas Almagest, which included 48 constellations visible from Alexandria, including the constellation Swan.

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