Fixed star:  ALTAIR  "Al Nasr al Tair"
Constellation:  Alpha (α) Aquila
Longitude 1900:  00AQU22 Longitude 2000:  01AQU47
Declination 1900:  +08.36' Declination 2000:  +08.52'
Right ascension:  19h 50m Latitude:  +29.18'
Spectral class:  A7 Magnitude:  0.77

The history of the star: Altair

from p.59 of Star Names, Richard Hinckley Allen, 1889.
[A scanned copy can be viewed on this webpage]

AltairAlpha (α) Aquila, Altair, is a pale yellow star in the neck of the Eagle.

Altair is from a part of the Arabic name for the constellation; but occasionally is written Althair, Athair, Attair, and Atair; this last readers of Ben Hur will remember as the name of one of the shaykh Ilderim's horses in the chariot race at Antioch. And the word has been altered to Alcair, Alchayr, and Alcar.

In the Syntaxis it was Aetos (Greek for "eagle"), one of the second-century Greek astronomer Ptolemy's few stellar titles, probably first applied to this star alpha (α), and after the formation of the figure (constellation Aquila) transferred to the latter, as in other instances in the early days of astronomy. Even six or seven centuries before Ptolemy it was referred to as Aietos (Greek for "eagle") where the chorus in the Resos (Rhesus), until recently attributed to Euripides, says:

"What is the star now passing?"

the answer being:

"The Pleiades show themselves in the east,

The Eagle soars in the summit of heaven."

It is supposed that long antecedent to this it was the Euphratean Idχu, the Eagle, or Erigu, the Powerful Bird, inscriptions to this effect being quoted by Brown, who thinks that it also was the Persian Muru, the Bird; the Sogdian Iranians Shad Mashir, and the Khorasmian (east of Persia) Sadmasij, the Noble Falcon.

In Mr. J. F. Hewitt's Essays on the Ruling Races of Prehistoric Times it is asserted that later Zend mythology knew Altair as Vanant ["In Zoroastrian tradition Vanant is considered to a guardian of goodness. An invocation of the Vanant Yasht is believed to be a potent remedy for fighting evil." - - Wikipedia], the Western Quarter of the heavens, which earlier had been marked by our Corvus.

Alpha (α Altair), with beta (β Alshain), and gamma (γ Tarazed) constituted the twenty-first nakshatra (Hindu Moon Mansion) Çravana, the Ear, and probably was at first so drawn, although also known as Çrona, Lame, or as Açvattha, the Sacred Fig Tree, Vishnu being regent of the asterism; these stars representing the Three Footsteps with which that god strode through the heavens, a Trident being the symbol.

{p.60} In China alpha (α Altair), beta (β Alshain) and gamma (γ Tarazed) were Ho Koo, a River Drum.

In astrology Altair was a mischief-maker, and portended danger from reptiles.

It marks the junction of the right wing with the body of the eagle.

5° to the eastward of Altair lies the radiant point of the Aquilids, the meteor stream.

[Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning, Richard Hinckley Allen, 1889].

The Lunar Mansions

Alpha (α Altair), with beta (β Alshain), and gamma (γ Tarazed) constituted the twenty-first nakshatra (Hindu Moon Mansion) Çravana, the Ear, and probably was at first so drawn, although also known as Çrona, Lame, or as Açvattha, the Sacred Fig Tree, Vishnu being regent of the asterism; these stars representing the Three Footsteps with which that god strode through the heavens, a Trident being the symbol. [Star Names, Allen, p.59.]

Influences of the 21st Hindu Moon Mansion Çravana: Ruled by the Moon. A mutable asterism belonging to the lowest caste and favorable for commencing work of an impermanent or moving character. Those born on the lunar day will be cunning, active, bold, truthful, virtuous, religious and skilful. With Moon here at birth native will be rich, learned, famous, and have a good wife. Rules parade grounds and private parts. [Robson*, p.84]

The astrological influences of the constellation Aquila

Legend: Originally called Vultur Volans or the Flying Grype, Aquila represents the Eagle, thought to be Jupiter himself, that carried Ganymedes to heaven (see Aquarius). [Robson*, p.29.]

Influences: According to Ptolemy the influence of Aquila is similar to that of Mars and Jupiter. It is said to give great imagination, strong passions, indomitable will, a dominating character, influence over others, clairvoyance, a keen penetrating mind and ability for chemical research. It has always been associated with the sign Scorpio, and by the Kabalists with the Hebrew letter Vau and the 6th Tarot Trump "The Lovers." [Robson*, p.29.]

Antinous is now taken as part of this constellation. [Altair is said to be included and those stars south of Altair are; beta (Alshain), gamma (Tarazed), iota, eta and lambda]. Antinous lies just south of Altair in Aquila. No astrological influences were suggested for this constellation by the ancients, but it seems to have been associated with the ideas of passion, love and friendship, for certain of its components stars were named Alkhalimain or Al Halilain, the "Two Friends", by the Arabs, and the Kabalists associated it with the Hebrew letter Vau and the 6th Tarot Trump "The Lovers." It has also been said to give a love of swimming, and to be connected with certain sex irregularities [catamite-pedophilia associations, involving young boys and older men, see the Aquila constellation page for the related myths and stories], the latter probably being greatest in that part of the constellation lying in Capricorn. [Robson*].

The astrological influences of the constellation Aquila given by Manilius:

"The Eagle, soars to the heights, the bird of mighty Jupiter carrying thunderbolts, it is a bird worthy of Jupiter and the sky, which it furnishes with awful armaments. This bird brings back the thunderbolts which Jupiter has flung and fights in the service of heaven. He that is born on earth in the hour of its rising, will grow up bent on spoil and plunder, won even with bloodshed; he will draw no line between peace and war, between citizen and foe, and when he is short of men to kill he will engage in butchery of beast. He is a law unto himself, and rushes violently wherever his fancy takes him; in his eyes to show contempt for everything merits praise. Yet, should perchance his aggressiveness be enlisted in a righteous cause, depravity will turn into virtue, and he will succeed in bringing wars to a conclusion and enriching his country with glorious triumphs. And, since the Eagle does not wield, but supplies weapons, seeing that it brings back and restores to Jupiter the fires and bolts he has hurled, in time of war such a man will be the aide of a king or of some mighty general, and his strength will render them important service". [Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD, book 5, p.341.]

The astrological influences of the star Altair

Opinions are divided as to the exact nature of this star. Ptolemy gives Mars and Jupiter, Wilson, Saturn and Mercury; Simmonite, Uranus; and Alvidas, Uranus and Mercury in sextile to the Sun. It confers a bold, confident, valiant, unyielding, ambitious and liberal nature, great and sudden but ephemeral wealth, and a position of command, makes its natives guilty of bloodshed, and gives danger from reptiles. [Robson*, p.135.]

Associated with immoderate ambition. [Larousse Encyclopedia of astrology].

Tied up with benefic stellar bodies, Altair is credited with bestowing hardiness, courage and generosity, especially if on the Ascendant. If Mercury and Moon are positioned here, this will make people as bold as brass and foolhardy in order to assert themselves. Near the upper Meridian (MC) and in good aspect, Altair promises rise in life and honors. The native tries with sincere conviction to reach out for his aims with utmost will-power. He will avoid nothing in order to achieve them. Altair is good for advancement of lawyers and military men. [Fixed Stars and Their Interpretation, Elsbeth Ebertin, 1928, p.67.]

With Sun: Public honor, notoriety, favors from superiors, many friends and some envious ones who cause trouble through writings, some ill-health and losses, danger of bites from venomous animals. [Robson*, p.135.]

With Moon: Interest in a strange or ancient discovery, disappointment and loss over property and gain, some profit and preferment, friends become enemies, trouble through companies or public affairs, difficulties through or misfortune to children. [Robson*, p.135.]

With Mercury: Many difficulties, misfortunes, and strange experiences. Disappointment on long journeys, bad for partnership, loss of a relative under strange circumstances. [Robson*, p.135.]

With Venus: Unfavorable for love affairs. Strange and peculiar attractions, bad for children and gain, losses through friends. [Robson*, p.135.]

With Mars: Sharp mind, trouble through friends, society and companies but eventual gain. [Robson*, p.135.]

With Jupiter: Real or pretended religious zeal, hypocrisy, trouble through legal and church matters, and with relatives, disappointment over inheritance. [Robson*, p.135.]

With Saturn: Sorrow and disappointment, mental disturbance necessitating asylum or hospital treatment and probably death there, separation from family or parents, danger of accident involving inability to work or lifelong affliction. [Robson*, p.136.]

With Uranus: Cautions, spiritual, sensitive, sympathetic though sometimes abrupt, just, idealistic, interested in occultism but skeptical in religion reverence for early memories, disappointments throughout life, good mind, considerable gain, faithful literary friends of a Gemini type, some domestic affliction, natural death at a very advanced age. [Robson*, p.136.]

With Neptune: Over-sensitive, distasteful environment, high ideals, mystic, drifts without personal effort, secret enemies and trouble through occultism, domestic disharmony, sudden and unexpected death. [Robson*, p.136.]


*[Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, Vivian E. Robson, 1923].