Constellation - Aquila

Constellation - Aquila


Aquila, the Eagle is a constellation that was included in the first 48 constellations by Ptolemy. It's alpha star is Altair (0.9 on the chart). This star is part of the summer triangle and the twelfth brightest star in the sky. Altair is unusual in that it has flattened poles owing to its incredibly fast rotational speed. It rotates every 6 and a half hours. At 17 light years away Altair is also one of the closest stars to us.

Aquila has demonstrated two novae one in 389 BC and the other in 1918.


Aquila was the eagle pet of Zeus that carried his thunderbolts during the battle with the Titans for control of the Universe. The eagle was also sent to collect Ganymede and took him to Mount Olympus so that he could be the wine pourer for Zeus. Hence, one of the moons of Jupiter is called Ganymede. Jupiter is the Roman name for Zeus.

Take the Tour:

Number Object Description Magnitude Surface Brightness
1 M11 Open Cluster 5.7 9
2 M26 Open Cluster 8.0 12

Each image is the size of a full moon for size comparison.

M11, the Wild Duck Cluster:


Messier 11, the Wild Duck Cluster is an open cluster found 6,200 light years away. It was discovered by  Kirch in 1681. This is one of the easier objects to locate and observe. It gets it's name from the triangular appearance of its brightest stars that resemble a flock of flying ducks. The open cluster contains around 2,900 stars and is estimated to be about 220 million years old.



Messier 26 is an open cluster 5,000 light years away. It was discovered by Messier in June 1764. This is a difficult to observe open cluster with the brightest of its estimated 100 members being magnitude 11.9. The rich surrounding star field is what makes it tricky to distinguish. The interesting point is that the centre of the cluster is obscured by a dense instellar cloud.

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