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Eagle constellation, northern constellation, introduced by Ptolemy, south of Cygnus and Lyra, which is visible to the naked eye the main star Altair, accompanied by two smaller stars and aligned with them. The constellation Eagle is easy to spot, thanks to the bright star Altair, which forms the southern vertex of the Summer Triangle asterism known. The most remarkable feature of the constellation is actually another asterism formed by the same Altair, the more stars β Aquilas and γ Aquilas, located respectively south and north of this, which according to ancient Persian tradition was called “Balance”. The Milky Way runs along the western side of the constellation, including also the dark stripe known as the Fissure of Cygnus, which in this section is known as the Eagle Cleft.
Despite the constellation is crossed by the Milky Way, the background stars visible to the naked eye or with small binoculars are few; this is due to the presence of large amounts of interstellar gas and dust that block the light of stars behind. These benches of dark clouds are placed at an average distance of 650 to 980 light years from the solar system and form the aforementioned Cleft Aquila. The constellation, being the celestial equator, is well observable from both hemispheres, including during the months between June and November; Northern Hemisphere is one of the characteristic figures of the summer sky, while its raised east in the evening sky in the southern hemisphere heralds the arrival of the winter months. Despite the Eagle is crossed by the Milky Way and is therefore rich star fields, there are no bright objects; here in fact the Messier did not find anything to be cataloged, unlike the adjacent minor constellations of the Arrow and the Shield. Among the many planetary nebulae in the constellation, for the most part very weak, the only relief is NGC 6781, which vaguely resembles a miniature of the famous Owl Nebula in Ursa Major.
Eagle constellation, northern constellation, introduced by Ptolemy.
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