Observing the Beak of the Swan

Have you seen the beak of the swan?

NASA’s APOD site is a great source of browsable inspirational astronomical images – take a peek!

NASA’s APOD site is a great source of browsable inspirational astronomical images – take a peek!

At the head of the constellation Cygnus (from the Greek word for swan) lies a very pretty double star named Albireo. It’s a favorite target for astronomical outreach parties, because of the difference in color between the two stars. The two stars are the yellow Albireo A, and a somewhat fainter blue-green Albireo B. It’s not known if the two stars orbit each other (a binary star system), or if they just happen to appear close from our vantage point on Earth (an optical double star system). Ironically, the brighter Albireo A is itself in binary star system, though you can’t see that in most backyard scopes.

A beautiful picture of Albireo by Richard Yandrick was featured in NASA’s APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day).