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Lyra, The Lyra Constellation

Lyra Constellation Star Map

Lyra (Pronounciation:Lie-rah, Abbrev:Lyr, Latin:Lyrae) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Lyra takes up 286.476 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 0.69% of the night sky. Lyra is the 52nd largest in terms of size in the night sky.

The constellation name means The Lyra . The constellation is one of the original constellations that was devised by the Ancient Greco-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy who lived between 90 A.D. and 168 A.D.

There are 3 stars that make up the main constellation. The hipparcos satellite scanned and detailed 938 stars. There are 37 stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation on a very clear night sky.

Lyra is not a member of the Zodiac group of twelve constellations that appear when the Sun sets. Lyra is a northern hemispheric constellation which means it can't be seen easily or at all from the southern hemisphere.

There are 867 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Lyra.

There are 2 deep space objects that were identified by Charles Messier in this constellation. There are no non-Messier deep space objects in this constellation that are covered at present on this site.

The image at the top right of this page was generated using Night Vision, a free to use and download application by Brian Simspon.

Distance to Lyra

You can't just go to one location and arrive at the constellation because the constellation is made up of stars at different locations and different distances. The nearest main star in the constellation is at a distance of 25.00 light years and the furthest main star is a distance of 962.00 light years. The average distance to the main stars is 535.67 light years.

Lyra Star Facts

The caveat of these stars are that they are catalogued on this site. If you know of a star that is nearer or further then do let me know in the comments and I'll add it to the site. The stars mentioned are from the Hipparcos catalogue or have been added because of their special status.

IO Lyrae, Lyra's Furthest Star

The furthest star that is located in the constellation is IO Lyrae and it is 326163.3 light years away from the Sun. The furthest figure is derived from either the 1997 or 2007 Hipparcos star catalogue parallax figure and it has been known to produce distances that are wrong.

HD 175635, Lyra's Dimmest Visible Star

The dimmest star that can be seen in Lyra with the naked eye is HD 175635. The dim star has an apparent magnitude of 5.99. The dimmest star that a person is able to see with their naked eye is 6.0 magnitude based on the table in the reference. Ref: University of Michigan.

Vega

Vega or Alpha Lyrae is one of the brightest stars in the night sky and also one of the most famous. Vega is an egg/oval shaped star like Regulus but unlike Regulus, there are no companion stars orbiting it. It shaped is possibly due to its spin.

How to Find and View Lyra in the Night Sky

Northern Hemisphere

London, Great Britain

Lyra is fully visible in the night sky at about 9 p.m. from the start of May. If you want to see it early, you will need to stay up later as it appears later in the night. It can be seen not far off the horizon in a north-easterly direction. It will move round the sky before starting to disappear in December. If you plan to look out for the Lyrids, you would need to stay up until 10 p.m. or later in April as that is when the constellation is visible.

Miami, United States

If you wish to see the constellation, you would need to wait until June to be able to see the constellation just above the horizon in the same direction as above. It will disappear from the horizon about the same time as that in London. For viewing the Lyrids, you would need to stay up until midnight or one o'clock.

Southern Hemisphere

The more south you are, the latter in the year that the constellation will be viewable. For Sydney, the constellation will appear in July and be on the horizon at about 9 p.m. If you wish to view it earlier in the year, you will need to stay out longer. It is less visible that in the northern hemisphere, it will disappear in October so see it whilst you can. Unlike the southern hemisphere, it will not reach high i the sky. If you plan to view the Lyrids which appear in April, the constellation doesn't appear until 4 o'clock in the morning.

Lyra Mythology

There's no real legend behind this one but it maybe one of the Stymphalian birds that Hercules had to kill as part of his twelve labours. Not entirely sure. The most interesting things about the constellation is Vega and the Lyrids meteor shower.

Meteor Showers Radiating from Lyra

There are 9 Meteor Showers that occur during the year within this constellation based on information gathered from Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland). The list below are major ones and which I have a date period for.

NameActivityPeak ActivityClosest Star
LyridsApril 16-25Apr. 22Vega
Eta LyridsMay 03 - May 12 May 09Aladfar
June LyridsJune 10-21Jun. 15/16  


List of Main Stars in Lyra

The following list contains the stars that make up the constellation. For a larger list of stars in the entire constellation area, please visit the For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Lyra Star List page.

NameBayerDistance (Lt.Yr.)Right AscensionDeclinationSpectral TypeColour
VegaAlpha Lyrae2518h 36m 56.19+38d 46` 58.8A0VvarWhite
SheliakBeta Lyrae96218h 50m 04.79+33d 21` 45.6A8:V comp SBWhite
SulafatGamma Lyrae62018h 58m 56.62+32d 41` 22.4B9IIIBlue/White

Lyra Facts


NameLyra
AbbreviationLyr
Is a Zodiac Sign No
Brightest StarVega
Area286.476 sq. deg.
Percentage of Night Sky0.69%
Size Position52nd
Hemisphere Northern
Site Exoplanet Count867
Meteor Shower Count9
Nearest StarVega
Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)HD 176051
Brightest StarVega
Dimmest StarHD 175635
Furthest StarIO Lyrae
Bright Star Count37
Hipparcos Star Count938
Main Star Count3
Messier Deep Space Object Count2
Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding ConstellationsDraco
Hercules
Vulpecula
Cygnus

*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.


List of Deep Space Objects (Galaxies, Nebulas, Supernovas, etc) in Lyra


NameTypeDistanceDeclinationRight Ascension
Messier 56 (NGC6779)Globular Cluster32900+30:1119h 16m 6
NGC 6703Galaxy+45 33 02.28487927418 47 18m 8165361086
NGC 6791Open Star Cluster13,000 +37 46 1819 20 53m 0
Ring Nebula (M57, NGC6720)Supernova Remnant1,600 - 3,800+33:0218h 53m 6


Comments and Questions

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BobTuesday, 31st May 2016 3:18:08 AM
According to Roman legend, Lyra represents the lyre (Harp like instrument) that Orpheus, son of Apollo (Hermes) and famous musician, played. He left people, beasts, and even inanimate objects awestruck by the music he played. When his wife died of a snake bite, Orpheus took to the underworld to retrieve her. When he played there for Pluto (Hades) and Proserpina (Persephone) Pluto offered him a deal whereas he and his wife, Eurydice, could leave on one condition. Orpheus couldn’t look back at his wife until he had reached the surface. Nearing the top, the anxious Orpheus couldn’t bear not seeing his wife and, knowing not whether or not his wife was struggling, he looked back and lost her. Devastated, he lived a depressed life until the women, furious that he rejected them for small boys, stoned and dismembered him. As a testament to him, Jupiter then put his Lyre in the sky.
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