Star Names:

Vulpecula


Map of The Constellation of Vulpecula
Please hover over any star to get more information
Vulpecula is a small, faint constellation in the northern hemisphere. Its name means "little fox" in Latin. The constellation was introduced by the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius in the 17th century. He originally named it Vulpecula et Anser ("the little fox and the goose") and depicted it as a fox holding a goose in its jaws. The Fox and the Goose were then split into separate constellations and later reunited into a single one again. The Goose is now represented by the star [8981] Anser, alpha Vulpeculae.

The constellation Vulpecula occupies an area of 268 square degrees and contains three stars with known planets. It can be seen at latitudes between +90° and -55° and is best visible at 9 p.m. during the month of September. Vulpecula lies in the middle of the Summer Triangle, formed by the stars [3067] Deneb (alpha Cygni), [5350] Vega (alpha Lyrae) and [435] Altair (alpha Aquilae).

Vulpecula does not have any stars brighter than fourth magnitude. [8981] alpha Vulpeculae, also known as Anser, Lucida Anseris and Lukida, is a red giant with an apparent magnitude of 4.44. It is the brightest star in the constellation. It lies 296.5 light-years from Earth. It is an optical binary star.

The first pulsar, PSR B1919+21, was discovered in Vulpecula in Cambridge in 1967. It was spotted by the radio astronomer and Nobel Prize laureate Antony Hewish and astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

Vulpecula contains two well known deep sky objects, the Dumbbell Nebula and Brocchi’s Cluster. The Dumbbell Nebula (Messier 27) was the first planetary nebula to be discovered, by the French astronomer Charles Messier in 1764. The nebula is bright, large and easy to find in binoculars. It lies approximately 1,360 light-years from Earth. The central star in the Dumbbell Nebula is a white dwarf larger than any other white dwarf known.

Brocchi’s Cluster (Collinder 399) is formed by a group of stars that lie near the border with the constellation Sagittarius. The cluster was named after an amateur astronomer and chart maker. The cluster is also known as Al Sufi’s Cluster, after the Persian astronomer Al Sufi, who discovered the cluster in the 10th century. Brocchi’s Cluster contains an asterism called the Coathanger, formed by the 10 brightest stars in the group. The cluster appears to the naked eye as a patch of light. The Coathanger asterism can be seen in binoculars.

Vulpecula belongs to the Hercules family of constellations, along with Hercules, Sagitta, Aquila, Lyra, Cygnus, Hydra, Sextans, Crater, Corvus, Ophiuchus, Serpens, Scutum, Centaurus, Lupus, Corona Australis, Ara, Triangulum Australe and Crux.

Constellations directly bordering Vulpecula are Sagitta, Cygnus, Lyra, Hercules, Delphinus and Pegasus.



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