Sagitta, "The Arrow", while small and
insignificant, is a constellation known to the Greeks. Some
references believe that Sagittarius, the Archer, shot the arrow
(apparently without a known target); others talk about Cupid, and
Heracles, and Apollo. The point is, there isn't any established
myth associated with Sagitta.
The constellation has a number of interesting items, including several
multiple binary systems and a Messier object.
The Bayer stars range from 3.5 to 6.5. Note
that the brightest star here is gamma Sagittae.
Zeta Sge (Struve 2585) is a close binary with 22.78 year orbit; it's
also a multiple system:
AB: 5.5, 6.5; PA 180º, 0.2"
C: 9; PA 311º, 8.0"
D: 11; PA 247º, 75".
Theta Sge (Struve 2637) is also a multiple system:
AB: 6.6, 8.9; PA 332º, separation 11.5"
C: 7, PA 223º, separation 84".
S Sagittae is a fairly bright cepheid, ranging from 5.5 to 6.2
every 8.38 days.
To locate S Sge, drop three degrees south of gamma Sge. The bright star here is 11 Sge. S Sge is in the same field, just to the west-southwest.
U Sagittae is a well-known Algol-type eclipsing variable, suitable or small telescope or binoculars.
Use the nearby star just to the NE (Struve 2504, visual magnitude 7.9) as a comparison; U Sge is slightly brighter than this star at its regular brightness, then dips far below (to about 9.2) every 3d9h8m5s as the larger companion completely eclipses the primary. This lasts for about 1h40m, then the star rapidly regains its brightest magnitude.
U Sagittae is five degrees west of alpha Sge, and
1.75 degrees to the north. It forms an equilateral triangle with two brighter stars, 1 Vulpeculae and 4 Vulpeculae. (Note: on Tirion's Sky Atlas, U Sge appears to have the label "OU" due to the size of the star itself.)
Deep Sky Objects:
M71 (NGC 6838) is classified as a globular cluster, but it looks
much more like an open cluster. It's found just between delta and gamma
Sagittae and slightly south.
For a more detailed appreciation of Sagitta visit the Binocular Section.
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