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The Lynx Constellation
Ivan Madrigal
Physics 1040-002

Figure 1 (McLeod, 2011)

In the northern hemisphere, the Lynx Constellation is named after and represents the
wild cat found mostly in the northern latitudes of North America and Eurasia. It is not usually
associated with any myths in particular, and had no official name till 1687. To fill the relatively
large gap in the northern hemisphere between the two neighboring constellations, Auriga and
Ursa Major. Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius in the 17th century, created the constellation
and named it Lynx because it was faint and it took the eyesight of a lynx to see it (Lynx
Constellation, 2016). The brightest star in the constellation is Alpha Lyncis, with an apparent
visual magnitude of only 3.14. So it was originally named because it was dim, and had nothing to
do with whether or not it looks like a cat.
Lynx is the 28th constellation in size, occupying an area of 545 square degrees with a
right ascension of 8.03 hours and a declination of 45.3 degrees. It lies in the second quadrant of
the northern hemisphere (NQ2), and can be seen during winter at latitudes between +90 and
-55, best seen in March at 9:00pm(Lynx Constellation, 2016). The neighboring constellations
are Auriga, Camelopardalis, Cancer, Gemini, Leo, Leo Minor and Ursa Major. Lynx contains
five stars with known planets and has no Messier objects. There are no meteor showers
associated with the constellation. Lynx belongs to the Ursa Major family of constellations, along
with Botes, Camelopardalis, Canes Venatici, Coma Berenices, Corona Borealis, Draco, Leo
Minor, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. (Lynx Constellation, 2016) (See Figure 2)
Objects of Interest
NGC 2419: discovered by Sir William Herschel on December 31, 1788, NGC 2419 is a
globular cluster that was thought to be the Intergalactic Wanderer. The idea of it being a lonely
globular wandering the cosmic void between the galaxies is a intriguing notion (Dickinson,

2015). The debate has swung back and forth as to whether its a true globular or the remnants of
a dwarf spheroidal galaxy torn apart by our Milky Way. Today, we know that NGC 2419 is about
270,000 light years from the Earth, and about 300,000 light years from the core of our galaxy.
Studies over the past decade suggest there is a true gravitational link between it and the Milky
Way. This would mean at its current distance, it would orbit our galaxy once every 3 billion
years. This would easily make NGC 2419 the farthest of the more than 150 globular clusters
known to orbit our galaxy (Dickinson, 2015).
At an apparent magnitude of +9, it occupies an area of sky otherwise devoid of globulars.
The cluster sits 7 degrees north of the bright star Castor just across the border of Gemini in the
Lynx constellation, with a right ascension 7h 38m 9s and declination +38 52 55. We know
globular clusters are some of the most ancient structures in the universe due to their abundance
of metal poor, first generation stars. In fact, it was a major mystery up until about a decade ago
as to just how these clusters could appear to be older than the universe they inhabit. Today, we
know that NGC 2419 is about 12.3 billion years old, and weve refined the age of the Universe
down to 13.73 billion years. (Dickinson, 2015) (See Figure 3)
NGC 2770: Supernovae are the explosions of massive stars more than 8 times the mass
of the Sun. Their cores run out of nuclear fuel and collapse in on themselves to form a neutron
star or a black hole. In the process they launch a powerful shock wave that blows up the star.
Before, observations of these objects have been of the aftermath. Until Alicia Soderberg and Edo
Berger made the observations while looking at another older supernova, no one has witnessed a
star dying in real time. (All Eyes Turn To NGC 2770 For A Supernova Birth, 2008)
While looking at another object in the spiral galaxy NGC 2770, they detected an
extremely luminous blast of X-rays released by a supernova explosion. They alerted 8 other

orbiting and on-ground telescopes to turn their eyes on this first-of-its-kind event. On January 9,
2008, NASA's Swift observatory caught a bright X-ray burst from an exploding star. Soderberg
and Berger were on hand to witness this first-of-its-kind event. A few days later, SN 2008D
appeared in visible light. Using the most powerful radio, optical, and X-ray telescopes, we were
able to observe the evolution of the explosion right from the start. This confirmed that the big Xray blast marked the birth of a supernova. Hopefully we will be able to find many more
supernovae at this critical moment. It previously seemed nearly impossible to determine the
exact explosion time, this could allow searches for neutrino and gravitational wave bursts that
are predicted to accompany the collapse of the stellar core and the birth of the neutron star. The
next generation of X-ray satellites will find hundreds of supernovae every year exactly when
they explode, said Soderberg (All Eyes, 2008). NGC 2770 is 88 million light years away with
a right ascension of 09h 09m 33.7s and declination of +33 05 05. (See Figure 4)
Sometimes the brightest things come in the darkest packages. The Lynx Constellation is
a section of sky with a group of very faint stars, and is difficult to spot with the naked eye. Not
much mythology is associated with the Constellation, because the ancients considered it just a
dark area of the sky and did not associate with any of the surrounding constellations (Thompson
& Fritchman, 2007). In 1687, Johannes Hevelius wanted to fill in the dark area of sky between
Gemini, Ursa Major and Auriga. So he created a new constellation in its place. Hevelius is said
to have named this new constellation Lynx, because those group of stars were so dim that it
required the eyes of a cat to see them. For Hevelius, the lynx represented his own eyesight and
the thrill of hunting, stalking and discovering new objects in Space (Urban, 2015). Hevelius was
so proud of his eyesight, that he would often challenge rivals to use telescopes to better his bare-

eye measurements and observations. He enjoyed finding the secrets that were hidden in the
darkness that he later named Lynx, but where did the name lynx originate?
There may not be much mythology directly associated with this area of sky, but there is
some associated with Lynx the animal, for which it is named. According to Urban (2015),
Lynceus of Greek Mythology, had to the ability to see in the dark of night, underground, through
trees, walls and earth. He used his abilities to help Idas, his brother through many adventures.
The twin brothers, and their cousins Castor and Pollux carried out a cattle-raid in Arcadia. After
stealing the herd, they roasted a calf to reward themselves. As they prepared to eat, Idas issued a
challenge that which pair of cousins finished their meal first would take the entire herd. Castor
and Pollux agreed, then Idas quickly ate both his portion and Lynceus' portion. Castor and Pollux
got played, but allowed their cousins to take the herd. Later, Idas and Lynceus visited their
uncle's home in Sparta. He had to go and left Helen in charge of entertaining the guests. Which
included both sets of cousins, and Paris, prince of Troy. Castor and Pollux wanted to exact
revenge, they made an excuse to leave the feast, and set out to steal their cousins' herd. After they
ate, Idas and Lynceus set out for home, leaving Helen alone with Paris. Who then kidnapped her,
and set into motion the events that gave rise to the Trojan War. Meanwhile, Castor and Pollux
had reached the cattle. Lynceus (named for the lynx because he could see in the dark) saw Castor
hiding in the tree, they immediately understood what was happening. Idas, ambushed Castor,
fatally wounding him, but not before Castor called out to Pollux. In the fight, Pollux killed
Lynceus, then Idas was about to kill Pollux. When Zeus hurled a thunderbolt, killing Idas and
saving his son. Castor and Pollux became the two brightest stars in the constellation Gemini,
Alpha and Beta Geminorum. (Urban, 2015)

There was another Lynceus in another Greek tragedy. The story goes, King Danaus
fathered fifty daughters, while his twin, King Aegyptus, fathered fifty sons. When they were old
enough to marry, Aegyptus told Danaus to marry off his daughters to his sons. Danaus ordered
his daughters to avenge him by killing their husbands on their wedding night. Lynceus (one of
the sons) was spared by his wife (Amymone), because he had spared her virginity. Lynceus hid
near Argos, and Amymone hid in Larissa, the citadel of Argos. Until Danaus died, they lived
apart and signaled each other by waving torches. After he passed, Lynceus and Amymone left
their sanctuaries, reunited and came to rule Argos. In the memory of the torch signaling, the
citizens of Argos, long held an annual torchlight festival. There is one connection between the
Lynceus of these stories, both had brothers named Idas. (Urban, 2015)
Lynceus was not the only name linked to Lynx. The ancient Greeks told an infamous
story of Hades taking Persephone into the Underworld. Demeter, her mother, was so sick she
neglected to sow seeds on the Earth as she searched for Persephone. The Earth lay barren until
Zeus, hearing the plight of the Greeks, stepped in and ordered Hades to release Persephone.
Upon releasing Persephone, he gave her a pomegranate, which she ate. She became Goddess of
the Underworld and could not return to her mother. Zeus again intervened and decreed that
Persephone would live in the Underworld for only four months, and with her mother for eight
months. Demeter agreed, and sent Triptolemus to rain seeds over the land. Lyncus ruled Scythia,
and he was a jealous and plotted to kill Triptolemos. Then take the credit for the good harvest
over Scythia and the rest of the known Earth. Just as Lyncus was about to ambush Triptolemus,
Demeter appeared and changed Lyncus into a lynx. She placed him in the sky where the stars
were so dim nobody could see him. So came Lynx in the sky. (Urban, 2015)

Primary Stars
Below is a table of the 20 brightest stars in the Lynx constellation. They are in order of
apparent magnitude, and come with each stars location with right ascension and declination,
visual magnitude, distance in light years, and spectral classification.

Right Ascension


Vis. Mag.

Distance (ly)

Spec. Class


09h 21m 03.46s

+34 23 33.1




38 Lyn

09h 18m 50.67s

+36 48 10.4




10 UMa

09h 00m 38.75s

+41 47 00.4




31 Lyn

08h 22m 50.13s

+43 11 18.1




15 Lyn

06h 57m 16.60s

+58 25 23.0




2 Lyn

06h 19m 37.39s

+59 00 39.3




HD 77912

09h 06m 31.79s

+38 27 08.1




21 Lyn

07h 26m 42.86s

+49 12 41.9




27 Lyn

08h 08m 27.50s

+51 30 24.0




HD 82741

09h 35m 03.85s

+39 37 17.2




12 Lyn

06h 46m 14.15s

+59 26 30.1




10 Aur.

06h 57m 37.12s

+45 05 38.8




24 Lyn

07h 43m 00.46s

+58 42 37.8




1 Lyn

06h 17m 54.83s

+61 30 55.1




HD 56169

07h 18m 31.98s

+49 27 53.1




35 Lyn

08h 51m 56.84s

+43 43 35.4




DU Lyn

07h 46m 39.26s

+37 31 02.5




18 Lyn

07h 15m 55.02s

+59 38 17.1




5 Lyn

06h 26m 48.88s

+58 25 02.7




42 Lyn

09h 38m 21.79s

+40 14 23.2




(List of stars in Lynx, 2015)

Figures and Diagrams

Figure 2 (Lynx Constellation, 2016)

Figure 3 (Dickinson, 2015)

Figure 4 (All Eyes Turn To NGC 2770 For A Supernova Birth, 2008)

References (Bibliography)
All Eyes Turn To NGC 2770 For A Supernova Birth. - Science 2.0., ION Publications (2008,
May 21), Retrieved April 17, 2016, from
Dickinson, David. (2015). NGC 2419: Wayward Globular or the Milky Ways Own? - Universal
Today. Retrieved April 17, 2016, from
List of Stars in Lynx. (2015). Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved April 15, 2016, from
Lynx Constellation. (2016). Retrieved April 16, 2016, from
McLeod, Jamie. (2011, July 18). Lynx: The Stellar Wildcat - Farmers Almanac. Retrieved April
17, 2016, from
Thompson, Robert Bruce; Fritchman, Barbara (2007). Illustrated Guide to Astronomical
Wonders. Sebastopol, California: O'Reilly Media. (pp. 302-307).
Urban, Shawn. (2015). Lynx: Ancient Myths of a Modern Constellation. Diamond Midnight:
Star Stories. Retrieved April 10, 2016, from