05 July 2021

Fun Facts

1. Sagittarius means ‘archer’ in Latin
2. Frequently depicted as a teapot-shaped asterism in star-maps
3. It is located close to the galactic heart of the Milky Way
4. Hosts one of the most luminous stars, though it is hidden behind cosmic dust
5. Believed to host the super massive black hole that exists in the center of our galaxy

An overview

The constellation of Sagittarius makes up a centaur brandishing a bow and arrow, with the latter aimed at a neighboring constellation, Scorpius. The constellation consists of 8 main stars, with the brightest being Kaus Australis, which hosts a blue giant eight times as large as our sun.

It is one of the 12 Greek Zodiac constellations, and is mainly visible in just the southern hemisphere, from the months of June to November.

The myth

In Greek mythology, Sagittarius (otherwise known as Chiron) is identified as a centaur, with the latter being a race of beings that inhabited certain parts of the ancient world. The centaurs were construed as debauched and violent, but Sagittarius was unique in several different ways.

Firstly, though his kind were born of rain clouds and the sun, Sagittarius was born half-man and half-horse. He was also known by most for his kindness as well as for being a great physician.

However, one day, Sagittarius was shot by a poisoned arrow that was fired by Hercules. And, despite his medical knowledge and skill, could not figure out how to remedy himself from the poison. But being immortal, he couldn’t die from the poison, and was left to suffer in never-ending pain.

Seeing that he could no longer do anything useful while being constantly pained by the poison inflicted upon him, Sagittarius decided to offer himself up as a replacement for Prometheus, who was being imprisoned by the gods for giving fire to humankind.

Zeus, the king of gods, was astounded by the kindness that Sagittarius had shown, as Prometheus was released from his chains in exchange for the centaur’s immortality. Zeus thus immortalized Sagittarius once again, but this time among the stars.

The constellation

The Constellation of Sagittarius is situated in the southern sky’s fourth quadrant, and is visible between latitudes -90 to +55 degrees. It neighbors the constellations of Scorpius, Capricornus, Aquila, Scutum, Indus, Microscopium, and Ophiuchus.

Of the 8 main stars it consists, there exists six celestial bodies of note: Rukbat and Arkab, also known as Alpha and Beta Sagittarii; Ascella, a binary star system consisting two white giants; Kaus Australis, which hosts a blue giant seven times larger than our sun; Kaus Borealis, an orange sub-giant star; and Nash, an orange giant star 12 times larger than the sun.

Want to learn about other constellations aside from Saggitarius? Find out more about Capricorn or Aquarius. Alternatively, you can simply click here for a full list of constellations.