Albireo (and IC1296): Albireo is a double star (meaning two stars gravitationally bound to each other) seen in the sky as the foot of the Northern Cross; also it is the head of Cygnus the swan. It is also known as Beta Cygni, as the second brightest star in Cygnus. Visually, it is a breathtaking sight, and can be seen in all its glory with binoculars, which clearly split the pair, showing Beta 1 as a magnitude 3.1 yellow star, and Beta 2 as a magnitude 5.1 blue star. The two are separated by about 35 arcseconds, and the stars are some 400 light-years away from us. Albireo is a delightful summer and early fall sight in the northern hemisphere.
Copyright Mark de Regt, 2001