Sagitta, the arrow, lies in the Milky Way directly north of Aquila and south of Cygnus, pointing eastward. It is one of Ptolemy’s original 48 constellations catalogued in the 2nd century.
It is a small constellation, occupying only 80 square degrees of space. It is overhead in the summer months, during camping season. Although it is small, it is a favorite constellation to buy a star package to name a star for members of scouting organizations. It's a great way to introduce scouts to the wonders of astronomy. The constellation is viewable from everywhere in the northern hemisphere and south to the southern tip of South America.
It shares a border with the constellations Aquila, Delphinus, Hercules and Vulpecula.
Right Ascension: 07:51
Diameter (°): 4
Area (square °): 80
Opposition: Jul 18
Size Rank: 86th
Brightness Rank: 77th
Major or notable stars in Sagitta
γ Sagittae (Gamma Sagittae)
δ Sagittae (Delta Sagittae)
α Sagittae (Sham – Alpha Sagittae)
β Sagittae (Beta Sagittae)
ζ Sagittae (Zeta Sagittae)
η Sagittae (Eta Sagittae)
ε Sagittae (Epsilon Sagittae)
θ Sagittae (Theta Sagittae)
9 Sagittae (QZ Sagittae)
Deep Sky Objects in Sagitta
Messier 71 (M71, NGC 6838)
Necklace Nebula (PN G054.2-03.4)
Mythology of the Constellation Sagitta
There are several myths associated with Sagitta, the arrow. In ancient Greek mythology, Heracles (Hercules) saved Prometheus from the Eagle by killing it with an arrow.
Other myths include Erostones’ story of Apollo. In this story, the Cyclopes created thunderbolts that were used to kill Ophiuchus (Asclepius) the son of Apollo. Apollo used the arrow to kill the race of one-eyed giants to avenge his son's death.
It is also said to represent the arrow dipped in the poisonous blood of Hydra. In the sixth Labour of Heracles, Hercules was sent to defeat the Stymphalian birds. The Stymphalian birds were the voracious pets of Ares, the God of war, that were destroying the countryside. The birds are represented by the constellations Aquila and Cygnus.
Another story is more romantic. Sagitta is associated with the arrow of Eros (Cupid) the God of Love. Cupid's arrow is famous for causing many hearts to fall in love.
It is often depicted as the arrow held in the eagle’s talons. This is because the eagle originally was the armor-bearer for Jove in some stories of mythology.
Early Jesuit astronomers called it the “Nail of the Crucifixion.”