You Have To Be Lynx-Eyed
to see the faint stars of the constellation Lynx. So wrote the prosperous brewer Johannes Hevel (Hewelke) in the busy port town of Danzig, in the mid-1600s. He became an amateur astronomer as a hobby, and built for himself an observatory at his home. Only about 40 years after the invention of the telescope, he chose as a first project to develop an atlas of the Moon. This work contained the best maps up to that time, and many of the 250 names shown on his charts are still in use today. This Selenographia was finished in 1647. However, unsatisfied with the quality of his telescopic observations owing to chromatic aberration, Hevelius (this was the Latinized version of his name) began to make telescopes of increasingly longer focal lengths. At last he built a telescope with a focal length of 150 feet. This instrument was suspended from a 90-foot mast. Of course, this proved to be an impractical arrangement, for even the slightest breeze made it unusable. The mounting burned in the great Danzig fire of 1679, and Hevelius never again returned to productive astronomical observing.
Hevelius died in 1687; but his star chart published in 1690 put forth seven new constellations, including Lynx. The others, all in the north, included Canes Venatici (the Hunting Dogs), Lacerta (the Lizard), Leo Minor (the Lion Cub), Sextans (the Sextant of Urania, first called Sextans Uraniae), Scutum (the Shield, first called Scutum Sobieskii, the Shield of John Sobieski, a Polish hero-king), and Vulpecula (the Fox, first known as Vulpecula et Anser, the Fox and Goose).
Lynx is a winter constellation that lies directly to the north of Gemini's bright star Castor. But there are no bright stars in the constellation itself, as Hevelius pointed out. There is no asterism here, and the only pattern is of a wobbly line beginning from a point between Dubhe in Ursa Major and Capella in Auriga, then dropping south and east toward Leo Minor.
Our drawing associates the Lynx with the polar regions, fitting with its northern location, and with its best observation during the winter months. None of the stars have names, although Lynx's two brightest, Alpha and 38 Lyncis, form a pair distinguished by their location at the corners of an equilateral triangle with two other similar pairs in Ursa Major.
Of a number of good multiple stars in the constellation, one of the best is the triple 38 Lyncis. A 3.9-magnitude star is accompanied by a 6.6-magnitude star 3 arc seconds distant and a third star 88 arc seconds away at magnitude 10.8.
Another challenge for small telescopes is the triple system 12 Lyncis. These stars are about 200 light years away. Companion B is 1.7" from the primary, and companion C is separated by 8.7". A medium sized telescope should enable you to resolve all three of these 5th, 6th and 7th magnitude stars.
From 12 Lyncis, star-hop to Struve 958 by moving four degrees south, past 13 Lyncis, and slightly east, about three arc minutes. Here you will find a binary, two 6th magnitude stars 4.9" apart, with a third (11th magnitude) star nearby.
Kui 37 is one binary better known by another name: 10 Ursae Majoris. With a proper motion toward the west, this star has moved from Ursa Major to Lynx but kept its old name. It is a close visual binary with the companion revolving its primary every 21.9 years.
Deep sky objects in Lynx include the most distant of all globular clusters, 210,000 light years away from the center of the Milky Way. This is actually farther than the Large Magellanic Cloud, and this cluster, NGC 2419, has been called the Intergalactic Wanderer. None of the individual stars are brighter than 17th magnitude, yet the total cluster achieves a magnitude of 11.5. A large cluster, with a diameter of about 400 light years, it shows as an object 4 minutes across. The total luminosity of the cluster equals 175,000 suns.
There are a number of faint galaxies in this part of the sky. The best of these is NGC 2683, a spiral galaxy which we see nearly edge-on, and so its spiral structure is difficult to discern. In true-color photographs, it shows a red color where dust on the nearer side of the galaxy obscures and reddens the light coming from the more distant side. The galaxy occupies an area about 9.3 × 1.3 arc minutes in size and shines at a magnitude of just under 10.
 

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