Aquarius can be found in the SE sky in autumn, especially October. A dark night is especially helpful because many faint stars make up Aquarius.  This will help to make the fainter stars stand out because it’s hard enough to see a shape in Aquarius.  Up and to the west of aquarius, pegasus can be found.  Down and to the east of aquarius, capricorn can be found. Aquarius portrays a man or boy spilling water from an urn.  Aquarius is identified with Ganymede, a beautiful young shepherd who was abducted by Zeus and taken to Mount Olympus to be the cup bearer for the gods.


  • Sadalmelik:  Arabic for “lucky one of the king”.  It lies just off the celestial equator.
  • Sudalsud:  It means “luckiest of the lucky” in Arabic.  It is the brightest star in the constellation
  • Sadachbia:  Arabic for “lucky star of hidden things” or ” lucky star of the tents.”  This makes up part of the asterism sometimes called the tent, but is usually called the urn referring to Aquarius.
  • Skat or Scheat:  It comes from the Arabic word for shin and it dates back to the translation of Ptolemy’s Almagest.
  • Albali:  The name comes from the Arabic, which means “swallower”; no one really knows why the star got this name
  • Situla:  This name comes from Latin and means “well bucket”.  Situla was the original Arabic name for the entire constellation Aquarius.

There are three star clusters contained in Aquarius.  M2, which was discovered in 1764, is one that can be seen with a small telescope.  A larger telescope is needed to make out the individual stars.  M72 is another cluster that is located southeast of Albali and isn’t far from the Saturn Nebula.  NGC 7492 is the third cluster and is located east of Skat.

Aquarius also has two nebulae in it.  It is called the Saturn Nebula because it resembles the rings on Saturn.  A very large telescope is needed to see its rings.  It was discovered in 1782 by William Herschel.  In small telescopes it will appear as faint disks of fuzzy light.  It lies southeast of Albali near the cluster M72.  Its central star can be spotted with a large telescope.  The other nebula, NGC 7923 is southwest of Skat and is a well known Helix Nebula.  It is brighter than NGC 7009, the Saturn nebula, but has a fainter central star.

There are five galaxies in Aquarius but they only appear as fuzzy patches in amateur telescopes.  They are: NGC 7184, NGC 7606, NGC 7721, NGC 7723, and NGC 7727.

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