Aquila, the Eagle, is an equatorial constellation which can be viewed from almost anywhere in the world. The brightest star in the constellation, Altair, has been known as the “Eagle” star for centuries, first by the Babylonians and Sumerians and then later Ptolemy called the star Aetus, which is Latin for “eagle.” In Chinese mythology Altair is identified with the Princess Zhi Nu The Eagle Constellation is bordered by these constellations: Scutum, Serpens Cauda, Aquarius, Capricornus, Delphinus, Hercules, Sagitta, Sagittarius, and Ophiuchus.
It is a member of the Hercules family of constellations with Ara, Corona Australis, Centaurus, Corvus, Crater, Crux, Cygnus, Hercules, Hydra, Lupus, Lyra, Ophiuchus, Sagitta, Scutum, Serpens, Sextans, Vulpecula and Triangulum Australe.
The constellation is easy to spot in the summer, as the bright Alpha star, Altair, is the southernmost point of the famous asterism called the “Summer Triangle”. This famous star formation includes Vega, in the constellation Lyra and Deneb, in the constellation Cygnus.
Although the Summer Triangle is relatively well-known today, it was not referenced in astronomical guidebooks until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Right Ascension: 07:42
Diameter (°): 15
Area (square °): 652
Opposition: Jul 16
Size Rank: 22nd
Brightness Rank: 23rd
Major stars in Aquila
Altair – α Aquilae
Alshain – β Aquilae
Tarazed – γ Aquilae
Deneb el Okab – ε Aquilae
Deneb el Okab – ζ Aquilae
Bezek – η Aquilae
Bezek – η Aquilae
Al Thalimain – ι Aquilae
Al Thalimain – λ Aquilae
Tso Ke – ρ Aquilae
Deep sky objects in Aquila
This constellation contains a large number of deep space nebulae - designated NGC (New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars)
Phantom Streak Nebula – NGC 6741
E Nebula – Barnard 142 and 143
The Glowing Eye Nebula – NGC 6751
Mythology of the Constellation
This large bird was formally pictured as carrying Antinous, the favorite page of Emperor Hadrian, to heaven in its talons. This configuration was discontinued by all but the German astronomers long ago.
Mythology usually attributes the eagle to Jupiter or Zeus or it is said that Aquila was the eagle who carried the thunderbolts of Zeus in his talons. One story is that it carried Ganymede, the most beautiful of all mortals from Troy to Olympus to fill the cup of Zeus and live among the gods. As a reward, the eagle was included in the constellation.
“Ganymedes was the loveliest born of the race of mortals, and therefore
the gods caught him away to themselves, to be Zeus' wine-pourer,
for the sake of his beauty, so he might be among the immortals.” — Homer
Another myth has it that this is the eagle that brought nectar to Jupiter while he was lying low in the cave on Crete, avoiding the fury of his father, Saturn.
Some of the ancient poets say this is the eagle which furnished Jupiter with weapons in his war with the giants.