Constellation Sagittarius (Archer)

Sagittarius: IAU Constellation Map [150]


Sagittarius is a bright and showy constellation and is located east of Scorpius and south of Aquila, in the direction of the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, whose pale glowing band extends across the entire sky. The area of this constellation is 867 square degrees and the center culminates around midnight on July 5th. Some recognize in Sagittarius a milk ladle that draws the milk of the Milky Way, but the most impressive alignment in this constellation is that of the Teapot.

In late summer, when one of the short, bright nights is finally really dark again, you can see the teapot in the south with the lid on, the handle in the east and the spout in the west. In the course of a night you can see how the teapot tilts to the west, as if to be poured, and so the bright, star-rich region of the Milky Way seems to rise like two or three clouds of steam from the spout. If you are further south on the globe, you can also imagine the tea lightened with milk, which seems to pour onto the tail of the scorpion. [9, 15]

Stars with Proper Names [154]
α SgrRukbat, Rucba, Rukbat Al Rami, Alrami
β1 SgrArkab Prior, Arkab, Urkab
β2 SgrArkab Posterior, Arkab, Urkab
γ2 SgrNash, Alnasl, Alwazl, Zujj Al Nushshabah, Nushaba
δ SgrKaus Meridionalis, Kaus Media, Media
ε SgrKaus Australis
ζ SgrAscella
λ SgrKaus Borealis
ν1 SgrAin Al Rami
π SgrAlbaldah, Al Baldah
σ SgrNunki, Sadira
ω SgrTerebellum
59 SgrTerebellum
Data for constellation Sagittarius [150]
IAU NameSagittarius
IAU GenitiveSagittarii
IAU Abbr.Sgr
English NameArcher
Season (47° N)May … September
Right Ascension17h 43m 12s … 20h 28m 41s
Declination-45° 16' 39" … -11° 40' 34"
Area867 deg2
Neighbours (N↻)Aql, Sct, Ser, Oph, Sco, CrA, Tel, Ind, Mic, Cap

Deep-Sky Object Descriptions


Sagittarius: Large star cloud in Sagittarius with emission nebulae M 20, M 8, NGC 6357, NGC 6334 and IC 4628; Canon EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM bei f/5.0; Canon EOS 6Da; iOptron Skytracker; 59x2 min @ 2000 ASA; Namibia, Kiripotib Astrofarm, 1350 m AMSL; © 7. 7. 2013 Manuel Jung

Mythology and History

Sagittarius is an ancient constellation that depicts a centaur with a bow and arrow. Centaurs are mythical creatures and are said to have lived mainly in mountain forests. You have a human torso on the body of a horse.

In Greek mythology, Ixion is the forefather of the centaurs. The king of the Lapiths in Thessaly, who once - as an invited table companion with the gods - wanted to do violence to Hera, the wife of Zeus, with lust. But Zeus did not allow this and deceived him with a cloudscape that looked like Hera. This outrageous attempt did not go unpunished, however, and Ixion was tied to an eternally rotating wheel in the underworld. Nephele became a mother and gave life to a being: the original centaur. This horse man was a wild creature, violent, eager, maddened and unbridled, full of urges and never satisfied. He impregnated all mares on Pelionberg in Thessaly and thus begat the lineage of the centaurs. [20]

A special exception among the centaurs was Chiron, also called Crotus. He was the son of the crook Pan, who had the legs of a goat, and Eupheme, the nurse of the nine muses. Chiron sang to the lyre as a poet about the origin of the earth and the gods. He knew medicinal herbs and medicines. He was a wise, helpful and hospitable being and was the educator of many heroes and many sons of gods. Achilles, Asklepios and Heracles, as well as Orpheus and Jason, the Argonauts drivers, were among them. Chiron is considered to be the inventor of the bow and arrows and he was the first to shoot. Chiron was immortal because Kronos had once fathered him in the form of a horse. But when he was handling poisoned arrows with Heracles, an arrowhead accidentally got into Chiron's hoof and injured him. The wound kept causing him unspeakable pain and he - the immortal - wished he would die. Zeus then placed him in the sky as the constellation of Sagittarius. [20, 52, 80]

Constellation Sagittarius
Constellation Sagittarius: Illustration from «Uranometria» by Johann Bayer, copper engraving by Alexander Mair, 1603 [28]

According to [7], Sagittarius is of older origin than Centaurus and is said to represent the fierce, unbridled centaur who wields his bow on Antares, judged the heart of Scorpio, while Centaurus is identified with Chiron.

The Sumerians saw Negral, the god of war, in Sagittarius. The Egyptians interpreted the constellation as an arrow in a human hand. 3000 years ago the Indians saw a horse, a horse's head and sometimes even a rider in this star configuration. In many ancient cultures the Milky Way was seen as the path that souls walk after death and Sagittarius represented the gatekeeper of death. [20]


  • [7] «Der grosse Kosmos-Himmelsführer» von Ian Ridpath und Wil Tirion; Kosmos Verlag; ISBN 3-440-05787-9
  • [9] «Drehbare Sternkarte SIRIUS» von H. Suter-Haug; Hallwag-Verlag, Bern
  • [15] «Hartung's Astronomical Objects for Southern Telescopes» by David Malin and David J. Frew; Melbourne University Press 1995; ISBN 0-522-84553-3
  • [20] «Sternbilder und ihre Mythen» von Gerhard Fasching; Zweite, verbesserte Auflage; Springer Verlag Wien, New York; ISBN 3-211-82552-5 (Wien); ISBN 0-387-82552-5 (New York)
  • [28] «Uranometria omnium asterismorum continens schemata, nova methodo delineata aereis laminis expressa» Johann Bayer, Augsburg, 1603; DOI:10.3931/e-rara-309
  • [52] Eye On The Sky: Sagittarius by Deborah Byrd; Astronomy 7/92, p.52
  • [80] The Starry Sky: Sagittarius by Deborah Byrd; Astronomy 7/95, p.60
  • [150] IAU: The Constellations, 11. Oktober 2020;
  • [154] Yale Bright Star Catalog, 15. Oktober 2020;