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AQUILA, in astronomy, the “Eagle,” sometimes named the
“Vulture,” a constellation of the northern hemisphere, mentioned
by Eudoxus (4th cent. B.C.) and Aratus (3rd cent. B.C.).
Ptolemy catalogued nineteen stars jointly in this constellation
and in the constellation Antinous, which was named in the reign
of the emperor Hadrian (A.D. 117-138), but sometimes, and
wrongly, attributed to Tycho Brahe, who catalogued twelve
stars in Aquila and seven in Antinous; Hevelius determined
twenty-three stars in the first, and nineteen in the second.
The most brilliant star of this constellation, α-Aquilae or Altair,
has a parallax of 0.23″, and consequently is about eight times as
bright as the sun; η-Aquilae is a short-period variable, while
Nova Aquilae is a “temporary” or “new” star, discovered
by Mrs Fleming of Harvard in 1899.
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