Home > Constellations, Ephemeris Program, Mythology > 08/04/2015 – Ephemeris – Is it a swan or a cross?

08/04/2015 – Ephemeris – Is it a swan or a cross?

August 4, 2015

Ephemeris for Tuesday, August 4th.  The Sun rises at 6:32.  It’ll be up for 14 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 9:04.   The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 11:33 this evening.

High in the east northeast as it gets dark flies the constellation of Cygnus the swan.  This constellation is also known as the Northern Cross.  The cross is seen lying on its side with the bright star Deneb at the head of the cross to the left.  The rest of the cross is delineated in the stars to the right.  As a swan, Deneb is the tail, the stars of the crosspiece of the cross are part of the leading edges of the wings as Cygnus flies south through the Milky Way.  There are faint stars that also define the tips and trailing edges of its wings.  It is a very good portrayal of a flying swan, like the mute swans we see on the wing in our area.  This is the form the Greek god Zeus took to seduce the maiden Leda in the Leda and the swan affair, out of whose union Pollux was born, who was the twin of Castor, both of whom are also in the stars as the constellation Gemini.  In Cygnus we are looking toward the direction that the Sun and the Earth are traveling as we orbit the center of the Milky Way.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.


CygnusTheSwan Created using Stellarium.

Cygnus The Swan Created using Stellarium.

Note for telescope owners:  The star that appears in the eye of the swan image above is Alberio (β Cygni), which splits into a beautiful binary star, whose component  stars are blue and gold.  It takes a bit more magnification than a pair of binoculars provides.

Note also the mythological citation in the program was omitted from the broadcast version due to time constraints.

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