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Northern Cross

An unofficial designation for the cross-shaped collection of stars that makes up the main body of Cygnus the Swan, prominent among the summer skies of the northern hemisphere. This formation creates a counterpart in northern skies of the famous Southern Cross, Crux or, in full, Crux Australis. (As the Northern Cross is not an official or classical star pattern, it does not have a formal Latin name, though if it did this would be Crux Borealis.)

The Northern Cross is rather more extended than the Southern, with a long axis of measuring over 16°, compared with just 6° for Crux. That axis runs from the bright star Deneb down to Albireo on the southern edge of Cygnus, two stars that represent the tail and beak of the Swan, respectively. The cross piece runs from Aljanah or Epsilon Cygni across to Fawaris or Delta Cygni. Unlike the Southern Cross, the Northern has a central star that marks the crossing point of these two axes: the star Sadr or Gamma Cygni.


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