International Star Registry

All Constellations

Lyra - Harp

The Lyre, or harp, is situated directly south of the first coil of Draco between the Swan on the east and Hercules on the west.

Vega, a brilliant blue-white star of 0 magnitude is the 2nd brightest in the Northern sky. It is the brightest of the summer triangle with Deneb and Altair. Vega will replace Polaris as the pole star in about 12,000 years because of precession of the Earth’s North Pole.

Lyra, because of Vega, is easy to locate. Lyra also contains the Ring Nebula of some interest to astronomers.

It’s generally agreed that this is the celestial lyre which Apollo or Mercury gave to Orpheus, musician of the Argonauts. Orpheus played it so well that even the fastest rivers slowed to listen, the wild beasts of the forest forgot their ill manners, and the mountains moved to listen to his song.

Of all the nymphs who used to listen to his song, Euydice was the only one who made a deep impression on the musician. They were married, but their happiness was short-lived. Aristaeus became enamored of Eurydice. As she ran away from him, a serpent lurking in the grass bit her foot and she died of the wound.

Orpheus resolved to get her back or die trying. With his lyre in hand, he entered the infernal regions and gained an audience with Pluto. The king of hell was charmed with Orpheus’ music. The wheel of Ixion stopped, the stone of Sisyphus stood still, Tantalus forgot his thirst, and even the Furies relented.

Pluto and Prosarpine were moved, and agreed to give Eurydice back, provided Orpheus agreed not to look back until he’d gotten to the farthest borders of hell. Orpheus agreed and was already in sight of the upper regions when he forgot and turned back to look at his beloved Eurydice. He saw her, but she instantly vanished from his sight. He tried to follow her, but was refused admission. Something like the biblical story of Lot’s wife.

Inconsolable, Orpheus withdrew form the society of mankind. This so offended the Thracian women, they tore his body to pieces and threw his head into the Hebrus River even as he continued to call the name o Eurydice. Orpheus had been one of the Argonauts, and wrote a poetical account of that adventure which is available to us today. After his death he received divine honors, and his lyre became one of the constellations.
Right Ascension 06:41
Diameter (°)5
Area (square °)286
Opposition Jul 01
Size Rank 52nd
Brightness Rank 17th