Cancer - Canes Venatici - Canis Major - Canis Minor - Capricornus - Cassiopeia - Cepheus - Cetus - Coma Berenices - Corona Borealis - Corvus/Crater - Cygnus


This group, faint to the eye, contains a wealth of interesting objects. Clear nights will reveal its chief stars, only of the 4th magnitude; but this is a constellation with a great number of stars just beyond the reach of the naked eye.

Groups of stars

1. 03h 40m, +63. Bright 5th-magnitude line. Two little lines of faint stars radiate from its easternmost member.

2. 03h 34m, +59. Beautiful semi-circle of 7th- and 8th-mag stars.

3. GC 6288. This 5.4m star is the centre of a good area for sweeping.

Wide doubles

BK Also called A Cam., this forms a fine pair with OΣ52, a telescopic double star.

11. This 5.3m star forms with its neighbour 12 a pretty object of contrasting colours, yellow and blue.

Close doubles

OΣ54. A difficult pair of 7.4 and 9.1 with a brighter double directly S.

Σ396. A slightly brighter, but very close double at only 20 seconds distance.

OΣΣ36. This double, separated by 41", is the apex of a triangle that points to group (1). A similar South-pointing triangle is close by.

OΣΣ39. Composed of two stars 59" apart whose magnitudes are both 6. Can you see any colour here?

β. An easy object for average-to-large glasses. Magnitudes 4 and 8, distance 80 arcseconds. A blue and yellow pair.

K. Closer at 34". Note a strange little group a degree south.

OΣΣ90. A triple star of magnitudes 5, 8 and 8. Rather isolated.

OΣΣ117. Again an isolated object. The mags are 6 and 8, the distance 65".

Σ1694. A close pair at only 22" but bright and roughly equal. A fainter but wider double lies closely NW.

Variable stars

U (7.7-8.7) A beautiful red star with a rough period of 400 days, so you only need to make one observation per month. It is near group (1), as are UV and ZZ following.

RY (7.3-9.4) This lies near the Eastern member of a line of three bright stars. The figure here shows the immediate area.

ST (6.0-8.0) A very easy star to observe, as it lies in a small pentagon near α, whose other members are of 7.0, 7.3, 7.2 and 7.8m.

UV (7.8-8.4) This is one of a Y-shaped cluster near group (1) although its small amplitude makes observation less easy than some.

UX (7.8-8.8) This star is not far from ST Cam, in a little inverted Y. It has a comes of 8.9m which hampers observation with many binoculars.

VZ (4.7-5.2) You might like to observe this star with defocussed binoculars because of its brightness and red colour. A star for the smallest of glasses, or even the naked eye. Too small a range for my liking. Look at it once a month.

ZZ (7.1-7.9) A red star lying in a neat little cross-shaped group. It is the most Northerly star in the cross. At the centre is a star of 7.5m which is useful for comparison purposes.

Clusters and Nebulae

NGC 2403. A spiral galaxy visible in 7x50s as a brightish oval nebulosity.


A nebulous group to the eye, but containing many fine fields in addition to a notable cluster. In some 17th-century star maps, poor old Cancer is depicted not as a crab, but as a lobster - with a small counterpart, indeed a shrimp, Cancer Minor, between Cancer (Major) and Gemini!

Groups of stars

1. β. 1 W of this orange star, and closely S. of a 6m, there is a small circlet of the 7th magnitude downwards.

2. 07h 58m, +10. Beautiful little group.

3. 07h 58m, +17. Large collection of bright stars, including 3 (5.8) and 5 (5.9).

4. 07h 54m, +12. Symmetrical arc of five faint stars.

5. σ 1,2,3. Included with these are many fainter stars. There are other attractive groups near the borders with Gemini and Lynx.

Wide doubles

ω. A wide pair in a fine field.

β. This 3.8m star has a bright neighbour to the SE. Directly East is a delicate little triple.

ρ1. Of 6.1 magnitude, this makes a pair with BO Cnc, a red variable. Well worth looking at with small glasses.

ξ. This forms a much closer pair with 79 (6.1).

Close doubles

ι A beautiful object of yellow and blue. Distance 31 seconds.

P.224. A good, easy object - magnitudes 6.6 blue and 6.7 yellow. The distance is 229".

P.226. Much fainter and closer, this is composed of 8m stars 144" apart.

P.228. Slightly more testing at mags. 6.8 and 8.0. The main star is orange, and the separation is 194".

P.230. A difficult triple star. The faint members, both of 9th mag., are 132 and 179 seconds from the 7.3m main star. There is another faint triple a degree Southwest.

Variable stars

X (5.9-7.3) A deep red star, lying near δ between two comparisons of 6.3 and 6.8, with a 7.1m above the latter. An excellent star for the beginner.

RS (5.5-7.0) Another bright red variable well-provided with useful comparisons.

RT (6.9-8.0) This semi-regular variable is in a small triangle, the apex of which is 8.3m.

RX (7.5-8.9) A similar object in a crowded field. A chart is provided for this star and also the nearby BL Cancri.

VZ (7.2-7.9) Easy to find, this is an RR Lyrae star with a regular period of 0.178 days, or only 4 hours 15 minutes! This means you could follow a whole cycle during one evening's observing. It lies exactly halfway between 36 and 49 Cnc, the latter of which is slightly variable and is also called BI Cnc. It is a shame that VZ has few useful stars nearby.

Clusters and Nebulae

M.44 (NGC 2632) Known as the Beehive, this is the only cluster in the sky to have a hairdo named after it. A perfect object for small glasses, which will reveal many triples, doubles and streams of stars. Looking at this cluster with the naked eye certainly shows you why it is called the Beehive - but you need binoculars to see the bees!

M.67 (NGC 2682) A small, but prominent, cluster between 50 and 60 Cnc. Appears as a misty patch.


An apparently dull group to the eye, but holding some fine doubles and bright variables. The hunting dogs themselves were called Asterion and Chara. β is still occasionally given this name in some astronomy books.

Groups of stars

1. The region around 9 and 10 is quite rich in stars.

2. 12h 32m, +37. Line of three faint stars below a 7m.

3. 2, 4 or AI, 6 and β form a large quadrilateral with many fainter stars within its perimeter.

4. 20 (4.7). Other bright stars around this object.

5. The area bounded by Cor Caroli (a), 20 and 14 is quite rich - at least for this part of the sky!

Wide doubles

7. Magnitudes 6 and 8. One of a right-angle.

15 and 17. A wide, equal pair in a fine field.

Close doubles

Σ1607. Two 8m stars separated by 33 seconds of arc.

α. 2.9 and 5.4. A closer double of similar hues, i.e. yellow/reddish.

OΣΣ125. An unequal pair of magnitudes 5 and 8. Distance 71".

Variable stars

V (6.8-8.8) An interesting red variable lying between two 6m stars. Observe it twice a month.

Y (5.2-6.6) With a rough period of 158 days, this star is of a beautiful red colour, which led Secchi, in the last century, to call it La Superba. Y itself lies a degree North of a comparison star of 6.3m.

TU (5.8-6.3) This lies in the same field as Y CvN, and is likewise a degree North of a useful star, this time of 6.2m.

Clusters and Nebulae

M.3 (NGC 5272). A globular cluster which appears in small glasses as a nebulous star.

M.51 (NGC 5294). This is a distant galaxy, to be found as a misty patch of light near Alkaid, the end star in the bear's tail.

M.94 (NGC 4736) Another galaxy, appearing in 6x30s as a faint starlike object.


A rich constellation pointed out by the brilliant white Sirius, brightest of all the stars. Sirius was sacred to the Egyptians among others, and gives us the "dog days" when its rising just before the Sun presaged stifling weather, presumably because then Sirius would be aiding and abetting the Sun! As Smyth pointed out in 1881, however, the British dogdays "often commenced a fortnight after the veritable dog-days were ended". Somehow this does not surprise me.
Peculiarly, several classical writers asserted Sirius to be red in colour, but there are no good astrophysical reasons for such a change. One theory supposes that Sirius could have been veiled by a cloud of interstellar dust, which does have a reddening effect upon stars behind it.

Groups of stars

1. 06h 16m,-20. Large triangle of bright stars.

2. ζ . Beautiful areas near this star

3. 15 and π . Wonderful sweeping around these stars, especially with powerful glasses.

4. η . This is one member of a brilliant curving ray that extends to ω.

5. β238. Many bright stars around this telescopic double.

6. 07h 12m, -31. Fine, singular collection of 6m stars.

7. 07h 25m, -32. Smaller, brighter group that includes some fainter stars.

Wide doubles

Σ3116. This forms a wide pair with a red star, and there are others nearby.

10. The companion to this star is a faint double.

o1. A red star with a 6th-magnitude companion directly S. Two more companions to the N and SW.

π and 17. These form a wide double, with 15 (4.7) nearby. There is another very wide, bright pair a degree or so to the North.

Close doubles

η . Magnitudes 2.4 and 6.9. Distance 180".

ν1. A very difficult object. Distance only 15", so only to be tried for with large glasses, and even then not for the faint-hearted!

h3945. A beautiful coloured pair, red and blue; but still close at 27".

P.231. A faint (8th-mag) pair separated by 151 seconds.

P.233. Very difficult, this is a triple star whose primary of 5.8m overshadows the 9th-magnitude attendants, which are 131 and 216" distant.

P.237. Rather easier this time - magnitudes 6.7 and 8.3; distance 99".

P.239. A close pair in a fine area. Mags. 5.7 and 7.7 but only 26" apart.

P.241. Just North of κ , this is an unequal pair of mags 5 and 8 separated by 42 arc-seconds.

P.242. Wider but fainter, these stars are of 7.9 and 8.9. Distance is 132".

P.243. A fine object lying in a beautiful little group of bright stars. The mags are 5.4 and 8.0, and the distance is 99".

Variable stars

R (6.2-6.8) An eclipsing binary with a 1.1-day period. A small line of three lies closely SW. Their brightnesses are (N to S) 7.4, 6.8 and 6.6.

W (6.9-7.5) Easy to find from its deep red colour, W CMa lies inside a fine triangle formed by β328 above and two other stars of 6.4 and 7.0. A fainter star of 7.7m lies directly N.

VY (6.5-9.6) A peculiar "slow" variable lying between two bright stars. It lies just NE of one of these, from which a small line of 7.0, 8.8 and 9.2 runs Eastward below VY.

FS (7.6-8.6) Another out-of-the-ordinary star, similar to the "shell stars" typified by P Cygni. These are very hot, luminous objects. It has a companion of 7.4 closely East, and another of 8.7 directly N.

Clusters and Nebulae

M.41 (NGC 2287). This open cluster is a fine object, especially in large binoculars, which may resolve some of its members. In small glasses, it appears as a ragged, glowing patch.


A small, unremarkable group containing few interesting objects for us. Procyon is, like Sirius, a near-at-hand, bright star with a dense white dwarf companion, though of not so extreme a type.

Groups of stars

1. 6 (4.9) is in a fine field of bright stars.

2. 07h 37m, +08. Three faint pairs in a curve.

3. 07h 55m, +10. Some sprinklings of bright and faint stars.

Wide doubles

δ2. Makes a wide pair with δ3. There are two fainter stars SE of the latter.

Close doubles

14. A fine triple, suited to large glasses. The distances of the two faint comites are 86" and 117".

P.246. A difficult, unequal pair of 6.7 and 8.7m. The distance is 184", with a third star of 8.6m also nearby.


A large, triangular group, well supplied with binocular objects, though observers in the Northern USA and Europe may have some difficulty here.

Groups of stars

1. Very large, Y-shaped group that includes the 4.2m θ.

2. δ (3.0) is the leader of a fine parallellogram.

4. ζ (3.9) and 36 (4.6) are members of a large, wandering arc extending to η (4.9).

Wide doubles

α A beautiful naked-eye pair. With binoculars, note also two fainter stars,

chart for this variable in the appendices.

Clusters and Nebulae

M.30 (NGC 7099). A bright, starlike spot, this is a globular cluster close to the 5th-magnitude star 41.


An obvious group to the eye, and full of memorable objects and marvellous fields. The shape of this constellation lent itself to all manner of mythological interpretations; to the Inuit it was a lamp of stone, to the Arabs an open hand; to the Greeks a lady in a chair, while in the cosmogony of J.R.R.Tolkien's Middle Earth it appears poetically as Wilwarin, the butterfly.

Groups of stars

1. Line of 3 bright stars, τ , ρ and σ. The second of these is an interesting variable star. A fine region.

2. Sweep around kappa, where there is a fine angular Y.

3. 00h 28m, +55 20'. Small faint circlet.

4. ζ (3.7). Sweep southwards from here.

5. κ (4.2). Interesting area N., that includes 16, an unequal pair.

6. Large triangle of RU (32 Cas) 35 and GC1426. All three are doubles of varying distances and brightnesses.

7. Fine field around 40, 42, 48 and 50, all of magnitude 5.

8. Large, fine arc of 31, ψ , 43 and ω .

9. ε . This has three faintish companions directly E, plus a bright triangle to the NE. The region between this star and 35 is rich in doubles, lines, and groups of faint stars.

10. An area of brilliant groups between δ and the previous star that includes M.103.

Wide doubles

1 and 2. A bright pair in the area of the well-known variable V Cas. The fainter of the two (i.e. 2 Cas) has an 8th-mag companion.

σ . Another wide, bright pair. The companion is of 5.7m.

ζ This has a 5.1m star NW, which in turn has another again NW.

21 and 23. 21 is the variable YZ Cas. A poor field.

υ1 and 2. A faint star between the two is a good test for average-to-large binoculars.

Close doubles

35. A difficult pair (B rather faint in 20x70s) though 52" apart.

OΣ33. A more equal but closer pair at only 25"

Σ163. Quite a difficult object, but of contrasting colours. Note a bright little triangle to the East.

OΣΣ26. A much easier object, though harder to find. Mags are 6.9 and 7.4 and the separation is 64".

OΣ496. The primary is AR Cas, of small range, and actually a quintuple star. Only one of the four companions is seen with bins at 7.1m and 76" distance.

Variable stars

R (6-12) Even though this star reaches 6th magnitude normally, I have seen it as bright as magnitude 4 to 5! It lies about a degree North of a 6.8m star which is useful as a comparison, though there are few brighter stars in the area. R Cas is a very red star, and predictions are given in the appendix.

RZ (6.4-7.8) An eclipsing binary of period 1.2d. A star of 7.7m lying a degree to the W. can be used to estimate RZ when at minimum.

WZ (6.9-8.5) A beautiful deep red star lying in a triangle of 6.2, 6.4 and 6.6m stars. WZ has a close blue comes of 8.4m which can prove a nuisance when the variable is near minimum.

IM (7.7-8.5) When I began drawing up a chart for this star, the figures in the variable-star catalogue led me to believe that this would be a telescopic variable. When I turned my telescope on it, however, it proved to be much brighter! I have supplied a chart for this red star.

V391 (7.6-8.4) This lies near group (7) as does the following variable. Two useful stars are close by; one between 42 and 48 of 7.7m, and another between this and the variable of 8.7. The three lie in a straight line.

V393 (6.8-7.9) A companion closely E is of magnitude 7.6.

ρ (4.1-6.2) This is a peculiar giant star which tends to spend most of its time around magnitude 5. It is one of those objects which are too bright for most bins, but just too faint for the eye to estimate well. Sigma (4.9) and tau (5.1) serve as good comparison stars.

Nova 1993. This was discovered by Kanatsu in Japan on Dec 7, 1993 at magnitude 6.5, rising to 5.7m by mid-month. At the time of writing in Feb.1994 it was around magnitude 8 and had undergone large fluctuations en route. Satellite observations suggest that it may decline abruptly, only to surge back later. Only time will tell. Another nova flared up in Cassiopeia in 1995, and is currently (Jan 1999) at about magnitude 12.

Clusters and Nebulae

NGC 225. A faint smudge in 10x50, but in 20x70, some stars can be seen, bordered by a 9th-magnitude curving line.

NGC 457. A beautiful oval gleam attached to φ. A few faint stars can be seen in large glasses.

M.103 (NGC 581). In 6x30s this appears as a diffuse spot. Using 10x80 glasses the Hungarian observer György Zajacz sees a "very faint, hazy nebulosity in the centre of four faint stars".

NGC 663. A good binocular target. In 20x70s, I see numerous stars, including two pairs and a triple before a white gleam.

M.52 (NGC 7654). A rather faint cluster, but in a fine field.

NGC 559. Visible as a misty patch near a long triangle.

IC 1805. A fine field for most glasses and well worth locating.


Just as fine a group as Cassiopeia, though not so vivid to the naked eye. Many beautiful Milky Way fields.

Groups of stars

1. 6 (5.2). Closely East is a small quadruple star.

2. A degree NE of 9 (4.9) is a 6m star with a tiny group to its North.

3. Large group including 11, 16 and 24. Note the small faint Y near 24.

4. Slowly sweep the triangle bordered by ξ , ι and ζ

5. 00h, +86. Large bright group, similar in shape to the Pleiades, but much larger.

6. The little naked-eye triangle of δ , ε and ζ is very beautiful with even the slightest optical aid.

Wide doubles

η . About a degree South is a wide double of 6.0 and 6.1.

Σ2970. This telescopic pair forms a wide double with a 6.4m star which is also a telescopic double.

7. There is a fine orange pair of the 7th magnitudes just SE.

Close doubles

OΣΣ 1. A wide pair of 7.1 and 7.9. Colours are said to be red and yellow.

Σ2893. A close but easy pair near group (3). Distance 28".

δ . The primary is the typical Cepheid variable; but that aside, it is a lovely coloured pair whose yellow and blue stars are 41" apart.

Variable stars

T (6.0-10.3) You will need large bins to cover the whole of T's range, but any optical aid will show it at maximum. It lies just North of a straight line of 7.1, 6.7 and 7.7 and two little stars of 8.1 and 9.2 point right at it. Predictions for maxima of this star are given in the appendix.

W (6.9-8.6) A red star found between δ and two stars of 6.3 and 6.8, and furthermore between two closer ones of 7.5 and 8.3.

RU (8.2-9.4) A faint star in group (5), indeed rather too faint for most binoculars.

RW (6.2-7.6) This is one of a bright parallellogram whose other stars are 6.2, 6.4 and 6.6m. A good star for the smaller glasses and incidentally one of the most luminous stars known.

SS (6.7-7.8) A rather isolated far-north star which stands between a line of 5m stars and a bright Y. Two useful stars of 7.2 and 7.6 lie to the NE.

VV (6.7-7.5) A ramarkable eclipsing system with a period of twenty years! The large red component is more than 1000 times the diameter of the Sun, so that if it were placed in the centre of our system, all the planets out to Jupiter would actually orbit inside it.

AR (7.1-7.8) An easy star to find, in group (5). It is one of a line, lying between two stars of 6.2 and 7.1. A further 7.3m star makes an equilateral with these two. This star was thought to be an RV Tauri star at one time, though recent observations indicate a change of period from 324 to 364 days. More observations are needed to confirm this.

DM (7.0-8.2) Again easy to find, this red star has a companion of 8.7, with a wide pair of 7.5 and 8.0 just W. of the nearby 24 Cephei.

EI (7.6-8.1) Though of small range, this bears watching as there is some evidence of variation outside its normal eclipsing behaviour. A 6th-mag star lies nearby, and between this and EI is a vertical line of 6.7, 6.9 and 7.5. The variable itself has a neighbour of 8.0 to the east.

FZ (7.0-7.6) Another small-amplitude star, this time a red one in a very dense field on the border with Cygnus. Worth finding for its colour.

GK (6.9-7.5) Near beta Cephei or Alfirk, this is a beta Lyrae star. A star of 7.2m lies on the opposite side of Alfirk, and two additional comparisons of 7.1 and 7.4 form a south-pointing isosceles with the 5th-mag 11 Cephei nearby.

Clusters and Nebulae

NGC 7160. A fine cluster, some stars being distinguished in binoculars. A wonderful region closely N and W.


A very large group with some fine fields in its southern reaches, and of course the famous variable star Mira.

Groups of stars

1. Large group of seven, including AY or 39 Cet (5.5)

2. η (3.6). Note a group of four bright stars closely NW.

3. δ (4.0). A fine gathering just south of this star.

4. ν (5.0). An interesting region to the N.

5. The triangle of 2, 6 and 7 (AE Cet) outlines some attractive small groups of stars.

6. 00h 40m, -20. A region of many bright stars, including a 5m triangle.

7. Striking trapezium led by π.

Wide doubles

77 and 80. The latter also has a faint star close by.

Close doubles

h323. A faint pair 65" apart. Note a faint diamond Northwards.

37. A fine green and blue double.

Σ150. Rather elusive at 36". A neat pair lies NE.

ΣI 6. A wide pair 81" distant. Easy with most glasses.

Variable stars

T (5.1-7.0) A chart for this bright, easy variable is supplied in the appendices.

o (1.7-9.6) These are the extreme values of Mira; the maxima in particular vary from one cycle to the next. All the well-known astronomical societies issue charts to follow it with; it is never out of binocular range for very long.


A beautiful part of the sky to the eye, the lovely star-glow being caused by a particularly large cluster, beyond which is a much larger diffuse sheen which is due to vast numbers of faint galaxies abounding in this area.

Groups of stars

1. Mel 111. This is the brilliant large cluster just south of γ(4.6), readily visible on a clear night. Use the smallest glasses possible on this group - a cluster in the last place you would expect to find one, as far removed from the plane of the Milky Way as possible.

2. 12h 50m, +19. Small group of magnitudes 6 and 7. One of their number is triple (7.7,8.2,8.3).

3. α (4.2). Just to the NE of this star there lies a small collection which includes two wide pairs.

Wide doubles

3 (6.4). Closely S. is an unequal, wide double.

12 (4.7). This has two faint companions.

17. Otherwise called AI Com, this has a 7m attendant which is actually a telescopic double.

27. A 5.3m star with a close neighbour of 8.2. One of a bright triangle.

Close doubles

24. A difficult yellow and blue pair, only 20" apart.

Σ1678 Wider but fainter, this makes a triangle with 28 and 29. Near the latter is a slightly fainter close double.

Variable stars

FS (5.3-6.0) A rather underobserved star which would be good for owners of small glasses but for its poor light range. 35 Com (5.1) and 39 (6.0) make good comparison stars.

Clusters and Nebulae

There are innumerable distant galaxies in this part of the sky, where obscuration from the gas and dust in our own Galaxy is at a minimum, thus allowing us to see their faint light. Few, unfortunately, are good binocular objects. The most notable are M.64 (NGC4826), known as the "black eye" galaxy, and M.53 NGC5024), a globular cluster. The two galaxies M.98 and 99 are faintish, but could be worth hunting down.


A group bearing a striking resemblance to its mythological model, though extending some way beyond the actual crown shape itself. Among its notable objects are two fascinating variable stars well-suited to binocular owners.

Groups of stars

1. Large, roughly triangular group of κ, λ and τ. An interesting area for sweeping around, especially near tau.

2. ε (4.2). Some faint groups to the SE of this star.

Wide doubles

ζ This wide pair is made up of 5.0 and 6.0m stars.

η Two wide, but rather faint pairs a couple of degrees south.

ν A bright reddish pair with a third (8th-mag) star nearby.

Close doubles

Σ1964. A critical test-star for larger glasses, only 15" apart, and quite close to zeta. An eighth-magnitude companion lies NE.

Variable stars

R (6.0-14) The prototype of its class, affectionately known as "Sooty stars" because from time to time, and without warning, they eject clouds of Carbon which then condense into soot and cut off most of the star's light. Pollution on a grand scale! This star thus needs constant watching - and amateurs with binoculars are the best people for the job!

T (2.0-10) In terms of its light-changes, this is a mirror image of the preceding star, and is known as a Recurrent Nova. It spends most of its time at minimum (beyond the reach of most binoculars) but at long intervals undergoes a violent outburst. The last of these occurred in 1946, but the binocular watcher may well be the first to spot its next explosion. I have supplied a chart in the back of the book.

RR (7.1-8.6) Back to normalcy now, with a red variable which, together with its slightly less-variable neighbour SW CrB (7.6-8.3) can be compared against a nearby 8.1m comparison star.


A small though distinct group rather lacking in interesting objects. It is one of those constellations in which the greek letter system seems to have gone somewhat askew, as its brightest star is not α, which is actually one of the lesser stars. Some nineteenth-century observers also had trouble with β, and thought it could be variable on a slow time-scale - a "secular variable". Have a look at Corvus and draw its shape, labelling the stars in order of brightness.

Groups of stars

1. Sweep around the area bordered by alpha, epsilon and zeta.

2. 12h 32m, -13.Beautiful long inverted Y. The northern star is quadruple (6.8,8.5,8.7,6.6) with another group of four 1 NE, whose members of 8.1,8.3,8.4 and 9.1 might be seen in large glasses.

3. 12h 36m, -19.Bright 6th-magnitude trapezium, one of which is a wide double.

Wide doubles

ζ This bright star has a 6th-mag companion.

δ and ε. Between these stars, in a barren area, is a 6m star that makes a fine pair with the Mira variable R Corvi (6.7-14) on those occasions when R is bright - a sort of "part-time double".

6. An attractive wide pair in a fine field.

β Note the delicate unequal pair to the SW.

P.249 This triple is wide but difficult because of the faint companions of 8.5 and 8.7, both about 160" from the 6.8m main star. Another 6th-magnitude star is close by.

Σ1669 A telescopic pair, this has a distant neighbour.


Like Corona, this bears a good likeness to the object it is supposed to be; and like the preceding constellation, contains few interesting sights.

Groups of stars

1. 11h 00m, -12. Large collection of fairly bright stars.

Wide doubles

ι This 5.6m star has a 6.8m orange attendant.

Close doubles

P.247 A wide, unequal pair (6.8,8.4; 205")

Variable stars

R (8.0-9.0) Easy with a telescope, but two close companions, and the proximity of α make this an object really suitable for powerful glasses with high magnifications.

S (8.2-9.2) A bit easier but still rather faint, and there are few useful stars in the area for comparison purposes.


Certainly the best constellation in the whole Northern heavens for binoculars (or anything else for that matter) It contains many notable objects, including Cygnus X-1, prime candidate for black-holedom. Deneb, the leader of Cygnus, is a real celestial searchlight thousands of times more powerful than the Sun. It is also known as Arided, to my ears at least, a beautiful name for a star - but then Cygnus has it all!

Groups of stars

1. θ and ι . Brilliant fields around these stars.

2. 19h 50m, +47. Rather singular bright Y of magnitudes 5 to 6.

3. Marvellous meandering line that includes ψ (4.9) and 20 (5.2).

4. Fine, large semi-circle ending at 33 (4.3).

5. NE of Deneb, near 55 and 57, are some of the most radiant areas of the Summer heavens. Dark skies and large glasses may pick out several nebulous gleams here.

6. π1 (4.8). Note the beautiful line snaking away to the NW.

7. Large bright group, including δ and 14.

8. Long, sinuous trail, rambling through areas of breathtaking splendour, and stretching from 15 Cygni right through to 40.

9. γ . The central star of the cross marks probably the richest part of the constellation, and is a brilliant area to the naked eye. This whole region gives the impression of countless stars arranged layer upon layer, and the 19th-century Irish observer John Birmingham called it the "Red Region of Cygnus" because of the large number of red stars in the area. Excellent sweeping from here towards the fourth-magnitude η , which is in another magnificent region, star-clouds being visible with small glasses.

10. Large and bright irregular pentagon of 39, 41, 47, 52 and ε. Large bins, no light pollution, and dark skies will enable you to glimpse the Veil Nebula supernova remnant in the region of 52.

Wide doubles

θ . Directly E. is the well-known L.P.V. R Cygni (click on it for dates of maxima) which reaches mag. 6 at times. On the other side of theta is another star of 6.6m, and just West of this lies a large triple of 5.7, 7.8 and 8.3.

ω . A red star with a fainter associate. One of a bright group in a fine field.

γ . 1N is a fine wide pair of 6.1 and 6.4, attached to the open cluster NGC 6910.

29. A star with a companion to the SW. Both these stars are also fairly wide doubles.

48. A beautiful equal pair, both white.

σ and τ . An unequal wide double forms a little triangle with these stars.

77. A 5.5m object with a seventh-magnitude attendant.

79. These stars are similar in brightness to the preceding objects.

μ . Directly North there lies a wide double of 7.3 and 7.4.

Close doubles

β . The famous Albireo is separable with binoculars. With colours of orange-yellow and blue-green, this is one of the sky's showpieces.

16. A fine, equal pair 37" apart. Beautiful in small glasses.

OΣΣ 191. Distance 35", but the companion is faint.

26. Another unalike pair, though rather easier at 42" of arc.

o1. A wonderful coloured triple. The faintest star is a beautiful clear blue, and the others are yellow. Amazing colours.

Ho 588. A faintish, closer pair near 39 (4.6). Separation 51".

OΣΣ 207. A fine pair in a crowded field. Magnitudes are 6 and 8, 96" apart.

OΣ 410. This is a rather dim, yellow double separated by 69 seconds.

61. A famous star as being the first to have its distance measured - and it may also possess planets, so an interesting star for several reasons. The binocular observer sees a fine, equal red pair only 25" apart, but not too difficult.

Variable stars

χ (3 - 13). One of the first variable stars to be discovered - by Kirch in 1686. The range given above represents the extreme values we have observed. The maxima, especially, are not consistent, and usually chi will reach magnitude 4. At such times, it will probably be mentioned in astronomy magazines such as Sky and Telescope or Astronomy Now . The stars η (4.0) and 17 Cyg (5.0) will be useful around times of maximum, which are given here.

W (5.0-7.6) A well-observed object easily found near ρ , with several good comparisons, notably two of 6.1 and 6.7 to the SE.

RS (6.5-9.3) A deep red variable in the "Red Region"; note the little triangle to the N. of 7.3, 7.5 and 9.0. Observation with small bins can be hard due to two rather close companions of 7.2 and 9.0. Observe RS once a month, appreciating its fiery appearance when bright.

RU (8.4-9.4) Probably too faint for average glasses, but in a fine area.

RV (7.1-9.3) In a small group around the wide pair 79 Cygni. A little triangle just to the South of 7.2, 7.4 and 7.7 comes in useful. Another deep red star.

RW (8.0-9.4) A chart is supplied for this difficult object, yet again red. though not so obvious due to its faintness.

SS (8.0-12) This is the best-observed of the dwarf novae, and I have included it here since you might like to watch the area every night to see when SS pops up inside its little faint triangle. The diagram here will help you to find it; note the beautiful gold colour of 75 Cygni.

TT (7.4-8.7) Lying in a crowded area near the famous Mira star chi Cygni, this red star has a small line of three slightly SW whose two fainter members make good comparisons of 7.9 and 8.7.

AB (7.4-8.5) Rather isolated, though a line of three can again be used, their magnitudes here being 7.7, 9.0 and 8.8.

AF (7.4-8.7) Even though I use a 36cm Newtonian reflector to observe faint variables, I still like to follow this star's variations, and certainly those of the next object. It makes a little isosceles triangle with stars of 7.1 and 7.6. It needs observing twice a month and usually gives you an interesting light-curve.

CH (6.0-8.7) A very peculiar star, since a circular issued by the (alas now defunct) Binocular Sky Society called it an " Eclipsing Novalike Semiregular Variable". I was doing a radio phone-in once when, as part of the intro, the presenter referred to "Celestial cannibalism". I was not too clear as to his exact meaning until he showed me the press cutting - CH Cyg had made the national newspapers! Once thought to be a run-of-the-mill red variable, we know now that this star is made up of two components which have evolved differently due to their different initial masses. Gaseous material passes between them which causes dramatic light changes from time to time. In 1968-69 this star brightened to magnitude 6, whereas in the late '80s and the early '90s it faded beyond its official limit to magnitude 9.2. An ever more drastic fall took place two or three years after that, when it fell even farther to magnitude 10, way beyond its official range. A really fascinating and important star which you need to look at from one night to the next, recording times to the nearest minute.

V367 (7.1-7.7) An eclipsing binary with some good comparisons in the form of three stars to the W of 6.3, 6.4 and 6.8 and another of 7.9m to the North.

V449 (6.3-7.1) Found by locating two bright stars of 6.1 and 6.4 which point to a line of three. This is the one in the middle. A further star of 6.9 lies to the SE.

V460 (6.1-7.0 A red variable, with a useful star of 6.6 to the NE.

V485 (7.2-9.0) Halfway between this star and eta Cyg you can find three objects of (N to S) 8.2, 8.1 and 7.9. Another red variable.

V973 (6.2-7.0) An easy binocular variable, if of rather small range. One of a trapezium whose other members are of magnitudes 6.1, 6.7 and 6.9.

V1070 (6.7-7.7) Another good star to observe. It makes an equilateral with 6.2 and 6.5m stars, and two comparisons of 7.2 and 7.4 lie to the S.

V1339 (5.9-6.5) This used to be used as a comparison for the nearby W Cygni until observers discovered its variability. Use the stars under W for this one.

V1500 (2.1-?) The strange Nova discovered by Honda in 1975, as well as by others (including the author). It was peculiar because of its very large range; most Novae have amplitudes of about 12 or 13 magnitudes but V1500 rose rapidly from below magnitude twenty right up to the second magnitude!

Clusters and Nebulae

NGC 6866. A cluster seen as a diffuse oblong patch.

NGC 6910. A misty spot near γ in a superb field.

M.39 (NGC 7092) Visible with the eye as a brightening of the Milky Way, even the smallest bins reveal several stars. With 10x80, over twenty stars are visible. Telescopes are no good here as they have too small a field to give a good view.

NGC 7000. The North America Nebula, so called for its amazing resemblance to that landmass. Sandor Toth using 10x80s says "easy... hazy edges... brighter to the South and in the centre". A clear dark sky is an absolute essential for this nebula. The more elusive, and again well-named, Pelican Nebula close by has been seen with 10x80s.

NGC 6883. An open cluster, with three distinct stars seen with 8x30s.

NGC 6826. A planetary nebula in a fine area, for which you can use the chart here. Telescopes show a central star, about whose magnitude there has been some dispute., and the appearance of the star and nebula is such that when one looks at the star with a small telescope, the nebula becomes less distinct, and vice versa. For this reason it has become known as the "Blinking Nebula", though the two will not be separately seen with ordinary binoculars.