Vulpecula: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

List of stars in Vulpecula
Abbreviation Vul
Genitive Vulpeculae
Pronunciation pronounced /vʌlˈpɛkjʊlə/, genitive /vʌlˈpɛkjʊliː/
Symbolism the Fox
Right ascension 20 h
Declination +25°
Family Hercules
Quadrant NQ4
Area 268 sq. deg. (55th)
Main stars 5, 20
Stars with
known planets
Stars brighter than 3m 0
Stars within 10 pc (32.6 ly) 0
Brightest star α Vul (Anser) (4.44m)
Nearest star Ross 165
(33.54 ly, 10.28 pc)
Messier objects 1
Visible at latitudes between +90° and −55°.
Best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of September.

Vulpecula is a faint constellation in the northern sky. Its name is Latin for "little fox", although it is commonly known simply as the fox. It was created in the seventeenth century, and is located in the middle of the Summer Triangle (an asterism consisting of the bright stars Deneb, Vega and Altair).


Notable features



There are no stars brighter than 4th magnitude in this constellation. The brightest star in Vulpecula is α Vulpeculae, a magnitude 4.44m red giant at a distance of 297 light-years. The star is an optical binary (separation of 413.7") that can be split using binoculars. The star also carries the traditional name Anser, which refers to the goose the little fox holds in its jaws.

In 1967, the first pulsar, PSR B1919+21, was discovered in this little constellation by Antony Hewish and Jocelyn Bell, in Cambridge. While they were searching for scintillation of radio signals of quasars, they found a very regular signal consisting of pulses of radiation at a rate of one every few seconds. Terrestrial origin of the signal was ruled out because the time it took the object to reappear was a sidereal day instead of a solar day. This anomaly was finally identified as the signal of a rapidly rotating neutron star. The pulses arrive every 1.3373 seconds — too regular to be associated with any other object.

Vulpecula is also home to HD 189733 b, the closest extrasolar planet currently being studied by the Spitzer Space Telescope. On 12 July 2007 the Financial Times (London) reported that the chemical signature of water vapour was detected in the atmosphere of this planet. Although HD 189733b with atmospheric temperatures rising above 1 000 °C is far from being habitable, this finding increases the likelihood that water, an essential component of life, would be found on a more Earth-like planet in the future.

Deep sky objects

Two well-known deep sky objects can be found in Vulpecula. The Dumbbell Nebula (M27), is a large, bright planetary nebula which was discovered by the French astronomer Charles Messier in 1764 as the very first object of its kind. It can be seen with good binoculars in a dark sky location, appearing as a dimly glowing disk approximately 6 arcminutes in diameter. A telescope reveals its double-lobed shape, similar to that of an hourglass. Brocchi's Cluster (Collinder 399) is an asterism formerly thought to be an open cluster. It is also called "the Coathanger" because of its distinctive star pattern when viewed with binoculars or a low power telescope.


Vulpecula et Anser in Uranographia 1801

In the late 17th century, the astronomer Johannes Hevelius created Vulpecula. It was originally known as Vulpecula cum ansere ("the little fox with the goose" or Vulpecula et Anser ("the little fox and the goose"), and was illustrated with a goose in the jaws of a fox. Hevelius did not regard the fox and the goose to be two separate constellations, but later the stars were divided into a separate Anser and Vulpecula. Today, they have been merged again under the name of the fox, but the goose is remembered by the name of the star α Vulpeculae: Anser.


  • Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion (2007). Stars and Planets Guide, Collins, London. ISBN 978-0007251209. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN 978-0691135564.

External links

Coordinates: Sky map 20h 00m 00s, +25° 00′ 00″


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also vulpecula



Wikipedia has an article on:



Named by the astronomer Johannes Hevelius in 1687. From Latin vulpēcula "little fox".


  • IPA: /vʌlˈpɛkjələ/

Proper noun




  1. (astronomy) A faint autumn constellation in the northern sky.

Derived terms


Simple English

Vulpecula is a northern constellation (group of stars). People say that it looks like a fox. It is not very bright.


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