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