Constellation of Lyra
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Constellation of Lyra
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Image and text ©2008 Akira Fujii/David Malin Images.

In the picture above north is at top right and the image covers 29.5 x 36.9 degrees.
Image centre is located at 18:57:36.7, +34:53:21 (H:M:S, D:M:S, J2000) Astrometric data from

Best seen in the early evening in August

Lyra, The Lyre is one of the 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy, and represents a stringed musical instrument widely used in Greek classical times. Apparently, the young god Hermes (Mercury) created the lyre from the body of a large tortoise shell covered with animal hide sporting antelope horns. The instrument is associated with the virtues of moderation and equilibrium, and was given by Hermes to his half-brother Apollo, who in turn gave it to his son Orpheus.

Lyra is a small constellation, but rather obvious to the eye. Its principal star, Vega, is the second brightest star in the northern hemisphere and is also interesting because it is seen almost pole-on and is one of the most rapidly rotating stars known, so it we could see it from a different direction it would appear distinctly flattened.

Because of precession, Vega is destined to be the Pole Star in about 12,000 years. Entirely unconnected to this, the direction of the Sun around the Milky Way galaxy, with reference to external galaxies, is known as the solar apex. This point on the sky, as determined from optical observations, is in Lyra, close to its border with Hercules, and the Sun and planets are moving in this direction at about 300 kilometers per second.

Named stars in Lyra (Greek alphabet)
Aladfar (η Lyr), Alathfar (μ Lyr), Sheliak (β Lyr), Sulafat (γ Lyr), Vega (α Lyr).
Constellations adjoining Lyra: Cygnus, Draco, Hercules, Vulpecula.

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David Malin, 2015, February 27.