The name Lynx never stood for the animal itself. Hevelius, who invented
the constellation, said anyone who wanted to study the stars here should
have eyes like a lynx.
As with many other minor constellations invented by Hevelius and others to
fill in the blanks, Lynx is nothing more than a
bumpy line running south from 2 Lyncis down to alpha Lyncis,
which sits just north of the border of Leo with Cancer.
Actually when you connect the stars, the figure of a giant seagull comes to
mind, or an albatross perhaps.
The only Bayer star in the constellation is
alpha Lyncis, a red giant roughly 25-30 times the size of the Sun,
and 170 light years away. The star is also a binary, discussed below. In
fact, obscure as the constellation is, it has some very fine binaries.
12 Lyncis is about 200 light years away, and the triple system
(also known as Struve 948) is an excellent test for telescopes.
Companion B is 1.7" from the primary, at PA 69 degrees. The orbit is a long one, 699 years, and as you can see
it describes a near-perfect circle.
Companion C is a fixed star at PA 308, separation 8.7". With a medium
sized telescope you should be able to resolve all three components.
Struve 958 is another wonderful sight: two 6.0 stars, PA 257 degrees,
4.9". To find it, move south four degrees from 12 Lyncis (passing 13
Lyncis on the way).
Struve 1009 is perhaps even more attractive. Find 15 Lyncis, the
brightest star in this corner of the constellation. Then drop down five
and a half degrees and east about a degree.
After enjoying the delicate beauty of these last two binaries, 19
Lyncis offers a different kind of sight.
There's a small challenge here, for some observers report the companion to
be purplish; others a soft green. This too is a Struve binary (Struve
1062): 5.3, 6.6; PA 315 degrees, 14.7".
Kui 37 is one binary better known by another name: 10 Ursae
Majoris. With a proper motion of .507" in a westerly direction (240
degrees) this star has moved from Ursa Major to Lynx but kept its old name.
The star is a close visual binary with the
companion revolving its primary every 21.9 years. The Epoch 2000 values
are: PA 46 degrees and separation a mere 0.6".
Finally we offer Struve 1282, a faint binary system which reflects
the same delicate beauty seen in the others listed.
This system is located in the eastern region, not far from alpha
From alpha Lyncis move west six degrees then north nearly one
degree. The right ascension is 8h50m44s, declination 35 degrees, 4 minutes.
The binary is the brighter of the small group of stars found here.
Variable Stars in Lynx:
R Lyncis is a long-period variable with a range from 7.2 to 14.3,
and a period of 387.75 days. In 2000 the maximum should occur roughly on
the tenth of March.
Deep Sky Objects in Lynx:
NGC 2683 is a spiral galaxy which lies two degrees to the southeast
(or a degree northwest of sigma2 Cancri). Seen practically
edge-on, it's fairly bright and quite large.
For a more detailed appreciation of Lynx, visit the Binocular Section.