The Flying Vulture
Star Name

The Flying Vulture

An asterism of the rainy season of fruit harvest

النسر الطائر

Star Names

The Flying Vulture (an-nasr at-ta’ir)

The Flying Vulture is the lower one of the Two Vultures (an-nasran). In modern-day Arabic, the term nasr more commonly indicates an eagle, but this was less common long ago. Back then, nasr designated a class of large birds known for plucking flesh with the curved ends of their otherwise flat beaks. The Egyptians revered the vulture for its utility in eliminating decaying animals, and the Arabs similarly regarded them favorably. The Flying Vulture was so named because the two moderately-bright stars lie in-line with the central brilliant star, like the wings of a vulture that is soaring.

The Flying Vulture (an-nasr at-ta'ir) as it appears setting in the west about 45 minutes before sunrise in mid-August.

The Flying Vulture (an-nasr at-ta’ir) as it appears setting in the west about 45 minutes before sunrise in mid-August. Sky simulations made with Stellarium.


A brilliant star with two less bright stars located close to it in an in-line formation.

Modern Identification

α AQL (Altair), white star, magnitude 0.8
β AQL (Alshain), yellow star, magnitude 3.7
γ AQL (Tarazed), yellow giant star, magnitude 2.7


On account of the precession of the equinoxes, today we can expect to observe the Flying Vulture setting in mid-August and rising in early January, as seen from the latitude of Tucson. (See How to Observe on the About page for more on this topic.)

Rain Stars

In the calendars of Qushayr and Qays, the morning settings of the Two Vultures marked the beginning of the rainy season of fruit harvest (al-kharif).

Lunar Stations

The Flying Vulture is not one of the lunar stations.

 Related Stars and Celestial Complexes

The Flying Vulture is one of the two primary stars of the Two Vultures (an-nasran, النسران) folkloric celestial complex.

 Related Blog Posts

Auspicious Vultures in the Dark Sky