Aql - Aquila the Eagle

Intro and Visual description

Between Cygnus and Sagittarius, with Altair (its brightest star) making the south end of the Summer Triangle (along with Deneb of Cygnus and Vega of Lyra). As the night sky changes, Aquila the Eagle and Cygnus the Swan swing slowly westward across the sky towards the horizon. The Eagle sets tail first, followed closely by the Swan, who dives beak first below the western horizon.

Special Stars

The bright star Altair (ALL-tare) lies in the constellation Aquila the Eagle, which was a servant of Zeus. Altair means "the flying one," and Altair flies around its axis once every 6 and a half hours. Astronomers calculate that because of this rapid rotation, it must be twice as wide at its equator as at its poles. Altair is one and a half times larger and 11 times brighter than our sun, and only 16 light years away.

Origin and History

Aquila is included in the ancient star catalogs of Eudoxos of Knidos, Aratos of Soli, and Ptolemy.

Skylore, Literature and Culture

Aquila was a messenger for Zeus (Jupiter), who rewarded his faithful friend with a place among the stars after years of service. Another story is told of how Aquila was rewarded with a place in the heavens for having brought from earth the handsome Ganymede to serve as cupbearer of the gods.

In Middle Earth, the constellation Soronume (Eagle of the West) may have referred to Aquila. Soronume was said to be in the west with outstretched wings. (Rachel Magruder).