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The Winter 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist includes a variety of educational resources, ranging from astronomy to glaciers. Check out the other publications and classroom materials in our online store.
The Constellation Aquila, the Eagle
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Aquila, the celestial eagle, is one of the three constellations which have bright stars forming the Summer Triangle. A nearly perfectly straight line of three stars symbolizes part of the wings. The center and brightest of these three stars is Altair. The tips of the wings extend further to the southeast and northwest. The head of the eagle stretches off to the southwest.

A challenging open cluster can be found in Aquila, a few degrees southwest of the northernmost wingtip of the eagle. The stars in this cluster are so faint that they cannot be resolved with binoculars, but instead appear as only a light smudge. Two dark nebulae form a shape known as "Fish on the Platter". They are located about 1.5 degrees west of the star just north of Altair.

To the ancient Greeks, Aquila was the servant of Zeus who held the god's thunderbolts and performed errands for him. He may also be the great eagle who devours Prometheus' liver as punishment for giving fire to humans. The line of three stars which includes Altair is revered by Indians as the footprints of the god Vishnu. Some Asian traditions see the bright star Vega as the Weaving-Princess star who marries a shephard, the star Altair.

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