Lyra Constellation Facts
Lyra is one of the smallest constellations but contains one of the brightest stars.
- Lyra is visible in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
- In the Northern hemisphere the constellation can be seen from April to December.
- In the Southern hemisphere Lyra can be viewed low on the northern horizon in the winter months.
- The brightest star in this small constellation is Vega, which is also the fifth brightest star in the night sky.
- Vega is also part of the 'Summer Triangle' asterism, along with the stars Deneb and Altair.
- The Summer Triangle is formed by the brightest stars in each of the constellations of Lyra, Cygnus and Aquila.
- An asterism is a group of stars which form a pattern in the night sky but is not a constellation in itself.
- The beautiful Ring Nebula can be found within the Lyra constellation, between the stars of Sulafet and Sheliak.
- The Ring Nebula is a planetary nebula, these form when stars similar in size to our own sun shed their mass at the end of their lifespan.
Lyra is Latin for lyre, a type of ancient instrument similar to a harp.
Main Stars in the Lyra Constellation
The number next to each star is its apparent magnitude, its brightness from our point of view on Earth, the lower the number the brighter the star in the night sky.
Also known as Alpha Lyrae, like our sun Vega is a main sequence star but with surface temperatures almost twice as hot, this bluish-white star which lies around 25 light years from Earth is not only the brightest in the constellation but one of the brightest stars in the night sky. Vega has around twice the mass of the sun and is a around two and half times as large in diameter, the star is surrounded by a large disc of debris and is possibly orbited by a large Jupiter size planet. Sheliak
Also known as Beta Lyrae, Sheliak is a binary star system around 1,000 light years from Earth, the larger of the two stars has a mass around 13 times that of the sun and is around 30 times larger in diameter, with surface temperatures around 6 times that of the sun the larger star of the pair is around 25,000 times as luminous. Sulafet
Also known as Gamma Lyrae, Sulafet is a blue giant star around 600 light years from Earth, it is around 15 times larger than the sun in diameter with surface temperatures around twice as hot.
Finding Lyra - Northern Hemisphere
Finding Lyra - Southern Hemisphere