The Constellation Sagittarius, the Archer
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Sagittarius is a centaur, with the torso of a man atop the body of a
horse. Unlike the wise and peaceful centaur Chiron (Centaurus
Sagittarius is aiming his giant bow at his neighbor, Scorpius
. While this is a very large
constellation, its stars are relatively faint and most people easily
recognize just the central asterism which resembles a teapot with a
lid, handle, and spout.
Looking into Sagittarius, you are looking directly at the center of
our Galaxy through its disk, and many varieties of astronomical
treasures can be found there. More than a dozen Messier objects
reside in Sagittarius, including globular clusters M69, M70,
and M54 which lie along the bottom of the teapot. Recently,
astronomers have discovered a small galaxy in Sagittarius that is
crashing through the Milky Way.
Exactly who is Sagittarius? The Mediterranean people viewed him as Enkidu,
the close friend of Gilgamesh, believed to be represented by Orion.
Greek mythology associates Sagittarius with Crotus, the son of the
goat-god Pan and Eupheme, the nurse of the Muses. He grew to be a
skilled hunter, as well as a man with an artistic soul. The Muses,
with whom he was raised, begged Zeus to honor him with a constellation
equal to his great talents.
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