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Altair is the brightest star in the constellation Aquila and forms a vertex of the Summer Triangle. It is an A type or white star located just 17 light years away from Earth. The name "Altair" is Arabic for "the Flying".

Altair is most notable for its extremely rapid rotation; by measuring the width of its spectral lines, it was determined that its equator does a complete rotation in about 6.5 hours. As a result of this rapid rotation, Altair is oblate - its equatorial diameter is at least 22% greater than its polar diameter.

Altair - September 2007 - (c) Solar Worlds

The bright star's impressive diffraction spikes were generated by placing a piece of string in front on the scope during two exposures. Normally these spikes are an artefact of some telescope designs which use spider vanes to hold the secondary mirror in place.

(c) 2008 Solar Worlds - All rights reserved. Last updated 30 September 2008. Tell a friend