The constellation Lynx-Lyn

The Lynx


The name, the story, the myth


The name of the constellation is not linked to mythological aspects, since it was introduced only in the 17th century by the astronomer Johannes Hevelius, who named it so, in 1687, because only with "lynx eyes" it was possible to see it! In his stellar catalogue, published posthumously (1690) Prodromus Astronomiae, also known as "Firmamentum", Hevelius recounts how in the celestial globes that empty space was used to transcribe a legend, or an annotation of the constructor, while he - proudly - had succeeded in inserting as many as 19 new stars. Curiosity: it is well known that Hevelius was able to see stars up to the seventh magnitude, while generally, one can see stars up to the sixth.
Sometimes a tiger was also seen there, with the faint stars pointing to its back.



The constellation Lynx

Yes, the Lynx is really bordering with the Big Bear on one side and Auriga (Capella) and no less than Gemini (Castor and Pollux) on the other: with such lighthouses to indicate its position, it shouldn't be difficult to find it in the sky, it's just a pity that its stars are very weak, apart from α Lyn which is of 3rd magnitude. With the lights of the city you can only guess its presence, in a big but empty area of sky, but in the mountains or where there are few lights, we have no more excuses!


Let's see now how the Lynx, the pointy-eared feline, was and is represented: this is the representation according to Hevelius, who had introduced it among the constellations, giving it this name, for the fact that it was necessary to have the eyes of lynx to be able to observe it.

the Lynx according to Hevelius

and instead here we see the representation of Stellarium

the Lynx according to Stellarium

Big stars but no neighbors

comparison between the stars of the Lynx and other notes

As the title says, no nearby stars have been (yet) discovered inside the Lynx, while in the comparison diagram we see that there are a handful of big stars, three of them colored orange.

The biggest one is 1 Lyn, a 5a and class M3 star, located right on the border with the constellation Giraffa: this star is instead a red giant with a diameter equal to 107 times our Sun. My friends are proud that their star is the biggest of the constellation and in fact they have always been called Primilinci, but they fear it for its majesty that even from 10 UA (Saturn's distance from the Sun) can be felt: this is the photo they just sent me, taken by an automatic probe called Prima I (they are really fixed!).

The next three stars are 26 Lyn, 31 Lyn and 5 Lyn, all of spectral class K and with rays respectively equal to 58, 54 and 49 times that of our Sun: guess what? All three are once again bigger than the famous Aldebaran and this unusual fact of having at the same time three stars bigger than the α Tau, had convinced the three alien races of my friends to associate and take the name Trelincioni: it happens that somatically they are very similar and then they differ from each other thanks to the prefix, respectively 026, 031 and 005. In fact, I forgot to tell you that, an absolutely rare case in the universe, they have a curious protuberance in the shape of a cellular phone just attached to the right ear. Never seen anything like it in the universe...


The last big star is finally α Lyn, another red giant, class M0, with a respectable diameter equal to 47 times that of the Sun. My Alfalini friends have never spoken about this characteristic of their star, also because they have no mouth, but they communicate only by SMS. Again, never seen anything like this...


Deep Sky Objects

Let's cut to the jokes, let's have fun with more serious things, represented by five not bad deep sky objects: let's start with the globular cluster NGC 2419, nicknamed Intergalactic Wanderer (Intergalactic Wanderer) since it turned out to be one of the most distant globular clusters orbiting our Galaxy: do you know how long its orbit around the center of the Milky Way lasts? A little over 3 billion years...

the globular cluster NGC 2419

The second object is a dwarf galaxy, NGC 2537, because of its shape called Bear's Paw Galaxy (Bear's Paw)

the galaxy NGC 2537, the Bear Paw

Next we have the spiral galaxy NGC 2541

the galaxy NGC 2541

The fourth object that I show you is the spiral galaxy NGC 2683, seen almost cut and which immediately received the witty nickname UFO Galaxy

the galaxy NGC 2683

Finally we see the spiral galaxy NGC 2770, which received the nickname Supernova Factory Galaxy (the Supernova Factory) not for its shape, but for the fact that in a few years three supernovas appeared in it (in 1999, 2007 and 2008).

the galaxy NGC 2770

Not bad for an inconspicuous constellation.

Names and visibility

Again out of curiosity, but not because they are actually called in this way, the two stars α Lyn and 31 Lyn are associated with two very similar Arabic names that sound like Alshaukaht, having the meaning of thorn, not really associated with a lynx.

As far as the visibility of the constellation is concerned, it must be said that the Lynx is almost circumpolar, in the sense that at least part of it is always visible at any time of the year. Any evening or night is therefore suitable to look for it! Let's not forget it!



Audio Video The constellation Lynx-Lyn
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