The Sagittarius Constellation is a constellation in the deep southern sky that is formed by mostly faint stars, from Earth’s perspective. Its name is Latin for the archer, and Sagittarius is one of the constellations of the zodiac. It lies between Scorpius and Capricornus, and its main star, Epsilon Sagittarii, marks the Archer’s right shoulder. The center of our galaxy lies in this constellation.
How Did Sagittarius Constellation Get Its Name?
The constellation Sagittarius is named after a centaur, a creature that’s part human and part horse. Greek mythology tells the story of a centaur called Chiron who tutored young Achilles in archery. In one account, when Achilles’ friend Patroclus was killed in battle by Hector, he asked his teacher to help him fight. Chiron had his bow ready, but he lacked one arrow, so he used the arrow of Aesculapius that killed him.
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Sagittarius Constellation Points of Interest
Brightest Stars in Sagittarius
1. Epsilon Sagittarii is at the head of the archer, who is kneeling with his head turned to the left.
2. Lambda Sagittarii marks the archer’s left knee and Tau Sagittarii (mag. +4.5) marks his right knee.
3. Zeta Sagittarii is at the tip of his arrow.
4. Sigma Sagittarii is a double star situated on the bow. The brighter component (mag. +3.5) is a spectroscopic binary, while the companion star (mag. +8), discovered by SOHO, has been measured to be about 10,000 AU from the primary star.
5. Theta Sagittarii (mag. +4) is about 290 light years distant and shines with a combined magnitude of +4.0. It has the spectral class K3II-III, meaning that it’s a giant star that’s beginning to evolve away from the main sequence as its core hydrogen fuel supply diminishes.
Related: Orion Constellation
How to Find the Sagittarius Constellation
Finding the constellation Sagittarius is easy if you know where to look for it. To begin your search, first locate the easily recognized asterism of The Teapot in the south eastern sky around mid January. Just over three hand spans down and to the left of The Pointers (which point towards Polaris), you’ll see a faint group of stars which form a shape similar to a bow and arrow. Although it’s not as obvious as The Teapot, the constellation Sagittarius is very much present in this area.
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When Is Sagittarius Constellation Visible
The constellation Sagittarius is visible at latitudes between +65° and -90°, and best seen during the month of July at northern temperate latitudes. The southern hemisphere can see it in December.