A late addition to the northern sky, this group of stars
was originally intended to represent a fox carrying a goose in its jaws. Perhaps its most notable
feature is the Dumbbell Nebula, M27.
Vulpecula in the Sky
Historically, this narrow strip of sky had formed the southern boundaries of Cygnus the Swan, but Hevelius defined it as a small separate constellation, naming it Vulpecula cum Ansere, the 'Little Fox with the Goose'. Some astronomers went on to subdivide this already small constellation even further, making the eastern part the Fox and the western part the Goose. The entire group is now known simply as Vulpecula (strictly 'the Little Fox' but usually translated simply as the 'Fox'). A vestige of the constellation's history is retained in the name of its brighteststar, still known as Anser, meaning 'Goose'.
Below the threshold of naked-eye visibility, Vulpecula holds a number of other stars with interesting properties. In the southern parts of the constellation lies HD 195034, notable as having physical parameters very close to those of the Sun. Several stars within Vulpecula have been established as possessing planetary systems, notably V452 Vulpeculae or HD 189733, a binary system with a massivegas giant in close orbit around its primary. Water vapour has been detected in this planet's atmosphere, with significant implications for the possibility of exoplanetarylife.
Vulpecula is also significant as the location of the first pulsar to be discovered. Designated PSR B1919+21, this is a neutron star - the remnant of a supernova - that rotates at immense speed, sending out oscillating radio signals that pulse regularly, in this case just over once every 1.3 seconds.