Sagittarius (Sgr, archer) is one of the constellations of the zodiac. It is one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy and remains one of the 88 modern constellations. Sagittarius is commonly represented as a centaur drawing a bow. It lies between Scorpius and Ophiuchus to the west and Capricornus to the east.

The Babylonians identified Sagittarius as the god Nergal (The name Nergal, Nirgal, or Nirgali was a deity worshipped throughout Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim), a strange centaur-like creature firing an arrow from a bow. It is generally depicted with wings, with two heads, one panther head and one human head, as well as a scorpion's stinger raised above its more conventional horse's tail. The Sumerian name Pabilsag is composed of two elements – Pabil, meaning 'elder paternal kinsman' and Sag, meaning 'chief, head'. The name may thus be translated as the 'Forefather' or 'Chief Ancestor'. The figure is reminiscent of modern depictions of Sagittarius.

Sagittarius, Uranias-Mirror

In Greek mythology, Sagittarius is usually identified as a centaur: half human, half horse. However, perhaps due to the Greek's adoption of the Sumerian constellation, some confusion surrounds the identity of the archer. Some identify Sagittarius as the centaur Chiron, the son of Philyra and Saturn and tutor to Jason, who was said to have changed himself into a horse to escape his jealous wife, Rhea. However, Chiron is in fact represented by the constellation Centaurus, the other heavenly centaur. An alternative tradition is that Chiron merely invented the constellation Sagittarius to help in guiding the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece.

A competing mythological tradition, as espoused by Eratosthenes, identified the Archer not as a centaur but as the satyr Crotus, son of Pan, who Greeks credited with the invention of archery. According to myth, Crotus often went hunting on horseback and lived among the Muses, who requested that Zeus place him in the sky, where he is seen demonstrating archery.

The arrow of this constellation points towards the star Antares, the "heart of the scorpion," and Sagittarius stands poised to attack should Scorpius ever attack the nearby Hercules, or to avenge Scorpius's slaying of Orion.
Antares, also known by its Bayer designation Alpha Scorpii (abbreviated to α Scorpii or α Sco)

Bordering constellations
Aquila | Scutum | Serpens Cauda | Ophiuchus | Scorpius | Corona Australis | Telescopium | Indus | Microscopium | Capricornus

WallHapp Catalogue (WH)

Lists of stars by constellation
WallHapp Catalogue (WH)