γ Cygni

Gamma Cygni marks the middle of the Swan, where the wings meet the body. From here down to beta Cygni is the Cygnus Star Cloud, a wonderfully rich area of the sky.

The star cluster M29 is just west of 40 Cygni. This rather under-whelming cluster can't really compete with the rich area in which is is located; telescopes show about a dozen 8th magnitude stars.

Three pleasant binaries are found in this binocular field: Struve 2268, Struve 2666, and Struve (Appendix) 206.
     Struve 2268: 8.5, 9.7; 201, 24.4"
     Struve 2666: 5.8, 8.2; 246, 2.6" (White and blue)
     Struve (Appendix) 206: 6.7, 8.6; 256, 44.2" (Bluish and deep red).


A little less than one full binocular field to the southwest brings in three bright stars, 19, 22, and 25. There are also three binaries in this field, two with striking colour contrasts:
      Struve (Appendix) 196: AB 7.3, 9.3; 169, 53.8"
      Otto Struve 394 (white/blue; others report orange/purplish): 7.1, 10.3; 295, 11".
      h1470 (yellow-reddish/bluish; others have seen yellow/gold): 7.4, 9.2; 340, 28.6"


Now move down south-southwest, keeping 25 Cygni on the northeastern rim. You will have eta Cygni roughly centred.

Eta Cygni is a multiple system in which three of the four are binocular accessible:
      AB: 3.9, 12.0; 206, 7.8"
      AC: 3.9, 10.5; 333, 46.4".

In the same field is 17 Cygni, a golden primary and pale blue companion, with a wider component as well:
      AB: 5.1, 9.3; 70, 25.6"
      AC: 5.1, 9.4; 126, 107.9".


Chi Cygni, on the southern edge here, is a Mira-type variable with a period of 408.05 days. It is notable in that its range is one of the largest in the Mira-type category. It takes several months to reach its maximum, possibly naked-eye visibility (its brightest on record is 3.3), and then several more before it disappears from sight, at around 14 visual magnitude.

(Also seen here is Otto Struve 394, just south of 25 Cygni. Its details are given above.)


With eta Cygni centred, move southwest two fields: beta Cygni is a noted double with lovely colour contrast. Click on beta Cygni on the map for its details, as well as continuing to enjoy other binaries of this part of Cygnus.

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1999-2014 by Richard Dibon-Smith.