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Sagittarius is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for the archer, and its symbol is ( ), a stylized arrow. Sagittarius is commonly represented as a centaur drawing a bow. It lies between Ophiuchus to the west and Capricornus to the east.


Sagittarius as depicted in Urania's Mirror, a set of constellation cards published in London c.1825.
The Teapot asterism in Sagittarius.
constellation's brighter stars (from left to right on the map: τ, ζ, σ, φ, λ, ε, δ, η and γ2 Sagittarii) form an easily recognizable asterism known as 'the Teapot'. The stars δ Sgr (Kaus Media), ε Sgr (Kaus Australis), ζ Sgr (Ascella), and φ Sgr form the body of the pot; λ Sgr (Kaus Borealis) is the point of the lid; γ2 Sgr (Alnasl) is the tip of the spout; and σ Sgr (Nunki) and τ Sgr the handle.

The constellation as a whole is often depicted as having the rough appearance of a stick-figure archer drawing its bow, with the fainter stars providing its horse body.

Notable features


α Sgr (Rukbat) is not the brightest star of the constellation, having a magnitude of only 3.96 (not shown on the main map as it is located below the map's southeastern corner, north is up).

This constellation contains the most stars with planets; 14 of its stars are known to have planets.

Deep-sky objects

The Milky Way as seen from the Earth is at its densest as it passes through Sagittarius, as this is where the galactic center lies. Consequently, Sagittarius contains many star clusters and nebulae. One of the brightest of the star clusters is Messier 55, about 7.5° west of δ Sgr.

The constellation contains nebulae such as the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8), near λ Sagittarii, the Omega Nebula (Messier 17), also known as the Swan or Horseshoe Nebula, near the border with Scutum; and the Trifid Nebula (Messier 20), a large nebula containing some very young, hot stars. The grouping of Lagoon Nebula, Trifid Nebula, and NGC 6559 is often called the Sagittarius triplet.

In 1999 a violent outburst at V4641 Sgr was thought to have revealed the location of the closest known black hole to Earth, but later investigation increased its estimated distance by a factor of 15. The complex radio source Sagittarius A is also here. Astronomers believe that one of its components, known as Sagittarius A*, is associated with a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. The Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy is located just outside the Milky Way.


The Babyloniansmarker, identified Sagittarius as the god Pabilsaĝ, a centaur like creature with wings, two heads, one panther head and one human head, aiming a bow. The figure pretty much reminds of modern depictions of Sagittarius.

In Greek mythology, Sagittarius is identified as a centaur, half human, half horse. In some legends, the Centaur Chiron was the son of Philyra and Saturn, who was said to have changed himself into a horse to escape his jealous wife, Rhea. Chiron was eventually immortalised in the constellation of Centaurus, or in some version, Sagittarius .

The arrow of this constellation points towards the star Antares, the 'heart of the scorpion'.


, the Sun appears in the constellation Sagittarius from December 18 to January 18. In tropical astrology, the Sun is considered to be in the sign Sagittarius from November 23 to December 21, and in sidereal astrology, from December 16 to January 14.


  2. A Black Hole in the Superluminal Source SAX J1819.3-2525 (V4641 SGR), 2001: "Finally, we find a distance in the range 7.40 ≤ d ≤ 12.31 kpc (90% confidence), which is at least a factor of ≈ 15 larger than the initially assumed distance of ≈ 500 pc."
  3. page 15 of Origins of the ancient constellations: I. The Mesopotamian traditions, by J. H. Rogers


  • Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion (2007). Stars and Planets Guide, Collins, London. ISBN 978-0007251209. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN 978-0691135564.

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