Al·​tair | \ al-ˈtī(-ə)r How to pronounce Altair (audio) , -ˈter, ˈal-ˌtī(-ə)r, -ˌter \

Definition of Altair

: the brightest star in the constellation Aquila

First Known Use of Altair

1730, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Altair

borrowed from New Latin, shortened from Arabic al-nasr al-ṭāʼir "the flying eagle," a name for the line of stars Alpha, Beta and Gamma Aquilae

Note: According to Paul Kunitzsch, Arabische Sternnamen in Europa (Wiesbaden, 1959), the Arabic name (with many variants) was applied to the single star Alpha Aquilae for convenience in astrolabe manuals. In Arabic star nomenclature, al-nasr al-ṭāʼir, "the flying eagle" in Aquila was opposed to al-nasr al-wāqiʻ, "the falling eagle," applied to the three stars Alpha, Epsilon and Zeta Lyrae.

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Cite this Entry

“Altair.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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