A Sky full of "Birds and Things they Eat"

by Philip Sacco, Lunatic #82



It is Turkey time again. And in celebration of this time of year, I couldn’t resist the urge to create yet another interesting hunt list for the season. How about an entertaining hunt for a common theme of objects by common name, all of which are at least remotely related to birds. I would like to give credit to Harmut Frommert and his web site of deep sky objects with common and uncommon names. He has a good catalog and I drew many of the deep sky objects found in section one from his source at: <spider@seds.org>

I am sure that you who have found this website are of the deep sky perversion ....errr.... persuasion.....(hehehe) so with no further delay, delve into these deep sky nasties....

For those just starting their study of the sky... grab a star chart and jump down to the "Birds at Play and Birds of Prey" section and I will entertain you with a sampling of naked eye objects to get you started. That section will be followed by naked eye objects no longer seen or viewed today, and finally you can join your deep sky fiends- errr... I mean friends- on the top of the list to continue the hunt for birds of wonder and the things they eat.

I hope you all enjoy ‘scoping out these beee-uts.....

Well....now that I have you interested....What came first the Chicken or the EGG?!

This is a time old Question, one which has stupefied the staunchest Darwinest, and with that question we will begin our quest for the ‘Birds of the Sky’, for surely without the Egg . . . we wouldn’t have the Birds . . . ENJOY!


The Egg Nebula CRL 2688 21:02.3 +36:42

Cygnus Egg CRL 2688 21:02.3 +36:42

The Pelican Nebula I 5067/70

The Seagull Nebula/The Eagle Nebula I 2177

The Eagle Nebula M 16/I 4703

The Owl Nebula M 97

Parrots Head Nebula 18:04.3 -32:30

Pavo Glob N 6752

Phoenix Dwarf 1:51.1 -44:26

Running Chicken Nebula I 2944/8

The Swan Nebula N 6618/M 17

Wild Duck Cluster N 6705/M 11

Cygnus A 19:59.4 +40:43

Cygnus Loop N 6960,92,95

Grus Quartet N 7552/82/90/99

Pegasus Dwarf (ok, ok, it’s not a bird, but Pegasus DOES have wings! I think that qualifies for the spirit of the list.....besides....it’s MY list! hehehe) 23:28.5 +14.44

Now that we have a sky full of winged beauties.....they need to eat! Let’s now take a look at the lower end of the food chain and see if we can grab some ‘Grub’...and just as we must have an egg to have a bird...we have to have a .......welllllll your just going to have to see where this section begins!

The Cacoon Galaxy N 4490

The Cacoon Nebula I 5146

The Butterfly Nebula M 29

Butterfly Cluster N 6405

The Butterfly Cluster N 2447

Butterfly Nebula N 650-1

The Butterfly Nebula I 2220

The Bug Nebula N 6302

The Spider UGC 5829 10:42.6 +34.27

Tarantula Nebula N 2070

Ant Nebula PK 331-1.1 16:17.2 -51:59

The Beehive Cluster N 2632

The Antennae N 4038-9 (I know this is stretching it a bit, but it is a common element to these critters......)


This next section is the Primer for those new to Astronomy or having a penchant for the Astronomy of old....LORE and MYTHOLOGY. It serves as a primer to the theme and will hopefully be found to be educational as well as entertaining. All of these flying animals are naked eye objects and therefor related (at least in my thinking)...


Birds at Play and Birds of Prey

Apus- The Bird of Paradise

Aquila- The Eagle

Columba- Noah’s Dove

Corvus- The Crow

Cygnus- The Swan

Grus- The Crane

Pavo- The Peacock

Pegasus- The Flying Horse (ok, ok, give me a little artistic license here....)

Phoenix- The Phoenix

Sagitta- The Arrow (Look....! Not only does it have feather, but it flies!)

Tucana- The Toucan

Volans- The Flying Fish (ok, OK...it may not have Feathers, But IT DOES FLY!)


Dead Birds and Things they Ate


I have included these extinct birds and consumables as they used to be studied in the sky, and it is a sort of history we shouldn’t forget....


What better way to head this list off than MOST APPROPRIATELY with an extinct constellation itself representing the act of extinction (well at least for one poor ‘Fine Feathered Friend’) we have the extinct constellation of ...the envelope please...

Vulpecula cum Ansere- This constellation created by Hevelius represents a Fox chasing a Goose! We know it today as simply Vulpecula the Fox.... so much for the poor GOOSE!! It is appropriately missing....The best Thanksgiving object I can think of...!

Apes- Flamsteed 41,33,35,39 in Aries. A Fly

Apis- Occupied the current position of the constellation Musca A Bee

Felis- Ok, it’s not exactly something eaten by birds, but how do you think the birds became extinct anyway?! Formed by the stars between Antlia and Hydra. A Cat

Gallus- The stars between Argo Navis and Canis Major. A Cock

Leo Palatinus- OK! So its a BIG CAT! He must have eaten BIG BIRDS!

This Imperial Lion was composed of the faint stars between the current constellations of Aquarius and Aquila.

Musca Australis- This title replaced Apis. It is now known as Musca(A Fly)

Musca Borealis- Flamsteed 41,33,35,39 in Aries. Originally known as Apes. The names may change, but the locations are the same.... A Fly

Noctua- On the tip of the tail of Hydra. It occupied the same position as ‘Turdus Solitarius’ A Night Owl

Phoenicopterus- Alternate seventeenth century name for Grus.

The Flamingo

Renne (or Tarandus vel Rangifer)- OK...this is again one of my odd-ball-add ons, but I started this list with Christmas around the corner, and everybody knows these guys can fly..... formed from the faint stars between Cassiopeia and Camelopardalis....we have A Reindeer


Sciurus Volans- Two stars in the tail of the present constellation of Camelopardalis. A Flying Squirrel

Solitaire- The 41 stars between the 3rd and 9th magnitude near the tip of the tail of Hydra. This group of stars was also known as Turdus Solitarius and later became known as Noctua. A Solitary Thrush


Any and all of the above subjects could be found among or perched on:

Lilium (Fleur de Lis)- Formed of the four stars north of Aries and which have been placed into the constellation of Apes. A Flower

Robur Carolinum- 25 stars including B Carinae. a Royal Oak Tree

Solarium- Found east of Horologium, between the head of Hydrus and the tail of Dorado.......A Sundial (ok maybe more butterflies would be seen here but...I HEARD THAT COMMENT! Watch it Buddy..!)


I hope you have enjoyed this list, and if you note any errors or would like to make any additions such as the coordinates of some of the objects or new objects, feel free to contact me.