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Lyra (lĪˈrə) [key] [Lat., = the lyre], northern constellation lying S of Draco, E of Hercules, and W of Cygnus. Although many civilizations represented it as a bird, it was also depicted as a tortoise. The white star Vega (Alpha Lyrae), the brightest star in the constellation, is one of the brightest in the entire sky. Just NE of Vega is Epsilon Lyrae, one of the few double stars that can be resolved with the naked eye. Also in Lyra is the Ring Nebula, the most famous of the planetary nebulae, consisting of a shell of gas separated from and expanding from a central star. Lyra reaches its highest point in the evening sky in August.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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