University Lowbrow Astronomers

Constellation of the Month: Lynx.

by Mark S Deprest
Printed in Reflections: April, 2001.

The Constellation of Lynx

Johannes Hevelius is credited with the creation of this constellation saying that anyone wishing to study the stars in this area would need the eyes of a Lynx.

There is another more romantic story about Lynx, which I kind of like.  It involves Pluto (God of the Underworld) and Proserpina, daughter of Ceres (Goddess of Agriculture).  As it turns out Ceres cause a great blight to kill all of the grains and lay the earth barren until Pluto returned her daughter Proserpina.  Of course by this time Proserpina was already the queen of the Underworld and could not be returned to her mother.  Zeus finally stepped in and decreed that for six months Proserpina would live in the Underworld (winter, the season when nothing grows) and then for six months she would live in the Upperworld (summer, the season when crops grow and mature).  This placated Ceres rage and sorrows enough for her to send a messenger in her dragon-drawn Chariot to rain seeds of harvest across the Earth.  When her messenger came close to Scythia, reigned by the jealous and envious King Lyncus, a plot to kill this messenger and take the credit for the good harvest was contrived by Lyncus.  But, just a the fowl deed was about to happen, Ceres changed Lyncus into a Lynx and placed him in the sky where the stars were so dim that nobody could see him, unless “you had the eyes of a lynx.”  I like this last story best, but most scholars recognize Hevelius as Lynx creator.

Transit at Midnight of Alpha Lyncis: February 14th

The constellation runs sort of diagonally from its southeastern corner at 9 hours 23 minutes Right Ascension and north 33 degrees Declination to its northwestern corner at 6 hours 18 minutes R.A. and north 62 degrees Dec.  Working clockwise, Lynx is bordered by Camelopardalis to the north, Auriga to the west, Gemini and Cancer to the south, followed by Leo Minor and Ursa Major to the east.  The brightest stars in Lynx are Alpha Lyncis, a K5 spectral class 3.13 magnitude star, 31 Lyncis; Alsciaukat a 4.24 mag. K5 spec. and 38 Lyncis a 3.93 mag. A2 spec.  The remaining stars that make up Lynx are a dim 4.50 to 5.50 magnitude and only dark clear skies will make them comfortably visible with the naked eye.

Things to Check Out in Lynx:

Multiple Star Systems

12 Lyncis; STF948; ADS 5400

19 Lyncis; STF1062; ADS 6012

38 Lyncis; STF1334; ADS 7297

Deep Sky Objects

NGC 2683; Spiral galaxy

NGC 2419; Caldwell 25; Globular Cluster

Variable Stars

R Lyncis; Mira-type


All Images on this page were downloaded from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.


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This page originally appeared in Reflections of the University Lowbrow Astronomers (the club newsletter).
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