Right Ascension: 20 hours
Declination: 18 degrees
Area in Square Degrees: 80
Crosses Meridian: 9 PM, August 30
Visible Between Latitudes: 90 and -70 degrees
The constellation Sagitta, the arrow, can be seen in late summer in the northern hemisphere. It is visible between latitudes 90 degrees and -70 degrees. It is an extremely small constellation, filling only 80 square degrees of the sky. This makes it the third smallest constellation in the night sky. It is bordered by Vulpecula to the north, Hercules to the west, Aquila to the south, and Delphinus to the east.
Sagitta is one of the 48 constellations first cataloged by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the second century. Its name if Latin for “arrow”. There are a number of Greek myths associated with this constellation. In one, it represented the arrow that Hercules used to kill the eagle that Zeus sent to gnaw on Prometheus’ liver. In this version, the eagle is represented by the constellation Aquila. In another myth, it may represent the arrow that Apollo used to kill the Cyclopes. In still another myth is represents the arrow of Eros which made Zeus fall in love with Ganymede. In this version, the eagle guards the arrow in the sky.
Red Giant Star
Multiple Star System
Yellow Giant Star
Yellow Giant Star
Sagitta is a very dim constellation that contains no stars brighter than magnitude 3. The brightest star is Gamma Sagittae with a visual magnitude of 3.47. It is a red giant star located approximately 274 light years from Earth. It is 640 times more luminous that the Sun. The second brightest star is Delta Sagittae. It is a multiple star system that lies 448 light years beyond our solar system.
Sagitta contains one Messier object and a few notable deep-sky objects. M71 is a loose globular star cluster with at least 20,000 stars. It is 27 light years across and 12,000 light years from Earth. Some of the more dim objects include the Necklace Nebula, a planetary nebula that resembles a necklace made of precious gems. These dim objects can only be seen with a large telescope.