The Vulpecula constellation means “little fox”. It is not a bright constellation, but it sits in a beautiful location. It can be found in the heart of the famous “Summer Triangle”. The Summer Triangle is formed by the three bright stars Deneb, Vega, and Altair in the northern sky.
Vulpecula is the home of Messier M-27, the Dumbell Nebula. It has the distinct shape of a weight-lifter’s dumbbell. It was the first planetary nebula discovered in 1764.
Also notable, the first pulsar ever discovered is in Vulpecula. PSR B1919+21 was discovered in 1967 by Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Anthony Hewish. The pair later shared a Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery.
This is a favorite place to buy a star package to name a star for campers and summer travelers. Because the constellation is located in the heart of the triangle, the location is easily found.
Vulpecula is best viewed in July and can be seen from the North Pole all the way south to Cape Town, South Africa.
This constellation shares a border with Cygnus, Delphinus, Hercules, Lyra, Pegasus and Sagitta.
Right Ascension: 08:09
Diameter (°): 15
Area (square °): 268
Opposition: Jul 23
Size Rank: 55th
Brightness Rank: 60th
Major or notable stars in Vulpecula
Anser – α Vulpeculae (Alpha Vulpeculae)
HD 189733 (V452 Vulpeculae)
Deep Sky Objects in Vulpecula
Dumbbell Nebula – Messier 27 (M27, NGC 6853)
NGC 6820 and NGC 6823
NGC 6885 (Caldwell 37)
Mythology of the Constellation Vulpecula
The full title for his constellation is Vulpecula cum Ansere or Vulpecula et Anser, meaning “the little fox with the goose.” It occupies an area between the arrow and the swan, where Via Lactea divides between two branches. In the 17th century Hevelius selected it because, “I wished to place a fox and a goose in the sky.” Well, reason enough, I suppose.
Hevelius drew the constellation as a fox with a goose, but as the years passed, the goose was no longer included in the name or on a star chart. The goose is only represented by the Alpha star, Anser, meaning “Goose” in Latin.
As Longfellow put it in The Galaxy:
“Torrent of light and river of air,
Along whose bed the glimmering stars are seen
Like gold and silver sands in some ravine
Where mountain streams have left their channels bare!”