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Altair is your guide star to two small constellations

The star Altair is located near  two small but distinctive constellations: Sagitta the Arrow and Delphinus the Dolphin.

Tonight for June 26, 2014

Look in the east on a summer evening to locate a sparkling blue-white star not far from the horizon. That’s the star Altair in the constellation Aquila the Eagle. It’s the second brightest star in the Summer Triangle. It’s a wonderful star (read more about Altair here) but for the moment let’s talk about Altair as a guide to two small yet distinctive constellations.

The Dolphin and The Arrow near the star Altair of Aquila the Eagle. Image credit: Wikipedia

Once you’ve found Altair, it’s a short hop to Delphinus the Dolphin and Sagitta the Arrow. Hold your hand an arm’s length away to find both star formations roughly one hand-width away from Altair. On June evening’s, the Dolphin is found to the lower left of Altair, and the Arrow to Altair’s upper left.

Two fingers held at an arm length cover over, or nearly cover over either constellation. Even so, it is surprising how well these little star patterns stand out in a dark country sky. How many Dolphin stars can you see? One story claims that there are nine visible stars in Delphinus, said to represent the nine muses.

Meanwhile, according to Greek sky lore, Sagitta is the arrow used by Hercules to save Prometheus from having his liver torn out by Aquila the Eagle.

Use the bright star Altair to find these two small yet distinctive constellations in the June night sky: Delphinus the Dolphin and Sagitta the Arrow.