|Meaning in English||the Eagle|
|Right ascension||20 h|
|Visible to latitude||Between +85° and - 75°|
652 sq. deg.
|Number of stars with|
apparent magnitude < 3
- Apparent magnitude
|Altair (α Aquilae)|
Aquila is one of the 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy and is now also part of the list of 88 constellations acknowledged by the IAU. It lies roughly at the celestial equator. The alpha star, Altair, is a vertex of the so-called "Summer Triangle".
|Table of contents|
2 Notable deep-sky objects
- α Aql: also known as Altair (Arabic for eagle) this multiple star system (3 components) has 0.77m and is of spectral type A7 V.
- β Aql (Alshain): its spectral type is G8 IV and it shines with an apparent brightness of 3.71m. Like Altair, it too is a multiple star system with three components.
- γ Aql (Tarazed): spectral type K3 II; 2.72m
- η Aql: This variable star is one of the brightest classical Cepheids; its brightness varies between 3.48 mag and 4.39 mag every 7.177 days.
- 15 Aql: This double star is a yellow K star of 5.4 mag accompanied by a 7th mag star; it can easily be observed with small telescopes.
Notable deep-sky objectsTwo interesting planetary nebulae lie in Aquila:
- NGC 6803 shows a small but bright ring
- NGC 6781 which bears some resemblance with the Owl Nebula in Ursa Major.
- NGC 6709: an open cluster of 6.7m
- NGC 6755: an open cluster of 7.5m
- NGC 6760: a globular cluster of 9.1m
HistoryTwo major novae have been observed in Aquila; the first one was in 389 BC and was recorded to be as bright as Venus, the other shone brighter than Altair.
Aquila is Latin and means eagle. The constellation is said to represent the eagle which, in classical Greek mythology, carried the thunderbolts of Zeus and was sent by him to carry the shepherd boy Ganymede, represented by the neighbouring Aquarius, to Mount Olympus where he became the wine-pourer for all the gods. This explains why the largest moon of Jupiter was called Ganymede, Jupiter being the Roman name of Zeus.
Aquila also represents one of the Stymphalian Birds killed by the Greek hero Heracles during his Sixth Labour.
In the Chinese love story of Qi Qiao Jie, Niu Lang (Altair) and his two children (Aquila -β and -γ) are separated forever from their mother Zhi Nu (Vega) who is on the far side of the river, the Milky Way.