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Lynx, a Constellation for March

Contributed by Paul Rodmell, Southland Astronomical Society

LYNX "The Lynx"; pronounced LINKS

Chart showing the constellation.

LYNX was made by Johannes Hevelius, the Polish astronomer about 1660 from 19 stars to fill a gap between Auriga and Ursa Major. He named it Lynx, because only the lynx-eyed would be able to see it. It is rather low in the northern sky, and not all the constellation is visible from New Zealand. On the chart the horizon is for Auckland; residents of Christchurch would see from the constellation name up; while Invercargill viewers may just see 31 Lyncis on the horizon.

Apart from α Lyncis, all the named stars are referred by Flamsteed numbers instead of Greek letters. These numbers are from a catalogue of 2935 stars Historia Coelestis Britannica compiled by the first British Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed (1646-1719). This catalogue was published posthumously in 1725, and listed the stars in each constellation in order of right ascension. The numbers, now known as Flamsteed numbers, were not given by him, but were added later by other astronomers.

To find Lynx look very low to the north, away from city lights under an area between the Gemini twins Castor and Pollux, and Regulus.

Chart showing the constellation as seen to the north at about 11.00 pm NZDT in mid March.

The chart is also valid for about 8pm NZST mid April and 7pm at the beginning of May.

Constellation Lynx.

Constellation Cancer Constellation Leo Constellation Leo Minor Constellation Gemini Constellation Auriga Constellation Canis Minor Constellation Hydra Constellation Ursa Major

Details of some of the objects shown in the chart.

α Lyncis is a magnitude 3.1 red giant star 222 light years away.

31 Lyn is another red giant star, magnitude 4.2 and about 400 light years away.

38 Lyn is a fine bright pair of 4th and 6th magnitude stars, difficult in small telescopes because of their closeness. In 1988, the less bright star was found by speckle interferometry to be a close pair, making this a triple star system. The system lies 122 light years away.

41 Lyn is really over the border in Ursa Major. It is a magnitude 5.4 yellow star, but small telescopes revel a magnitude 7.8 wide companion star. A 10th magnitude star nearby forms a triangle, making this an apparent triple star 288 light years away.

Visibility

α Lyncis has a maximum altitude of about 18° from Auckland, 12° from Christchurch and 9° from Invercargill. The parts of the constellation which are visible from New Zealand are only above the horizon for a few hours at the most.


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