The Vulpecula constellation makes up one of the 19 constellations that belong to the Hercules family. If you’re looking to start with astronomy, it can be a good place to start because it has the Dumbbell Nebula in it, which can be seen very easily with a telescope. It also contains the Coathanger Cluster, which is also easily found. Let’s look at some of the most interesting facts about Vulpecula.
- Bordered By; Cygnus, Lyra, Hercules, Sagitta, Delphinus, Pegasus.
- Named after; The Fox
- Declination; +25°
- Brightest Star; Alpha Vulpeculae
- Best seen; September
- Size rank; 55th
- Constellation family; Hercules
- Pronunciation; VUL-PECK-YOU-LAR
What is Vulpecula named after?
The Vulpecula is name comes from the likeness to a fox. Actually, it was originally part of a constellation called Vulpecula et Anser, which actually is Latin for the Fox and the Goose. However, this was later changed to instead have the fox as the main constellation, and Anser became just the brightest star of this constellation.
Who founded the Vulpecula Constellation?
The Vulpecula doesn’t have a deep history as a constellation as many expect it too. It was actually first catalogued by Johannes Hevelius, a Polish councillor and astronomer. He dedicated much of his time to astronomy and topography, and is known because he never liked to use a telescope. Hevelius’s wife is Elisabeth Koopmann, who is known for being one of the first female astronomers. He’s also responsible for naming 6 other constellations we still use today, including Scutum and Sextans.
How can I see Vulpecula in the sky?
Although Vulpecula is quite a faint constellation, it is still possible to get a good view of it. The best months for seeing Vulpecula is July through to September.
Main Stars of Vulpecula
Vulpecula is quite a simple constellation, made up of only five different stars. However, it does also have the Coathanger cluster and the Dumbell Nebula in it, too. So, let’s get started with talking about the brightest star in the Vulpecula constellation.
- Alpha Vulpeculae (α) – Alpha Vulpeculae is also well known by other names such as Lucia Anseris, and also as Anser, which is Latin for Goose. it is a red giant star, which means it has a relatively low mass and will appear as anything from yellowish-orange to red. It’s actually theorized that this star was formed as the remains of a galaxy, which was consumed by the Milky Way.
- 23 Vulpeculae – This star is actually a triple star system, meaning it’s made of two stars orbiting an object between them, with one additional star orbiting those. It is made up of a giant star, amongst others.
- 31 Vulpeculae – 31 Vulpeculae is defined as a binary star system, which is just two stars orbiting an object. It is approximately 228 light years away, and made up of a red giant star combined with a variable star.
- 13 Vulpeculae – 13 Vulpeculae is a blue giant star, that’s estimated to be 180x as luminous as the Sun.
- 15 Vulpeculae – 15 Vlupeculae is a variable star, which means that it’s brightness fluctuates when we see it from the Earth.
As well as these stars, Vulpecula is also home to the Dumbbell Nebula. It was actually discovered in 1764, and was the first planetary nebula to be discovered. It is seen quite easily with a telescope due to it’s brightness, and is known for it’s white dwarf star, which is the largest of any white dwarf.
Vulpecula is also home to the Coathanger Cluster, which have have Persian writings that date back to 964, talking about it’s appearance. You can actually see the Coathanger without a telescope, but it is a good place for amateurs to start with amateur astronomy too.
All in all, Vulpecula is often mistaken for being one of the older constellations as it’s part of the Hercules family and the fox is mentioned a lot in Greek mythology. However, it is actually one of the more recent constellations, and due to it’s simple amount of stars and surrounding Nebula, it is a perfect place to start for any amateur astronomist.