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(săjĭtâr`ēəs) [Lat.,=the archer], constellationconstellation,
in common usage, group of stars that appear to form a configuration in the sky; properly speaking, a constellation is a definite region of the sky in which the configuration of stars is contained.
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 lying on the eclipticecliptic
, the great circle on the celestial sphere that lies in the plane of the earth's orbit (called the plane of the ecliptic). Because of the earth's yearly revolution around the sun, the sun appears to move in an annual journey through the heavens with the ecliptic as its
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 (the sun's apparent path through the heavens) between Scorpius and Capricornus; it is one of the constellations of the zodiaczodiac
[Gr. zoion=animal], in astronomy, zone of the sky that includes about 8° on either side of the ecliptic. The apparent paths of the sun, the moon, and the major planets all fall within this zone.
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. It is traditionally depicted as a centaur drawing his bow to release an arrow. The constellation contains a configuration of stars known as the Milk Dipper. It also contains the Lagoon, Horseshoe, and Trifid nebulae. The center of our galaxy, the Milky WayMilky Way,
the galaxy of which the sun and solar system are a part, seen as a broad band of light arching across the night sky from horizon to horizon; if not blocked by the horizon, it would be seen as a circle around the entire sky.
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, lies in Sagittarius, and Sagittarius A*, a compact radio source at the galaxy's center, is believed to be a supermassive black hole. The constellation reaches its highest point in the evening sky in August.
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(saj-ă-tair -ee-ŭs) (Archer) A large zodiac constellation in the southern hemisphere near Scorpius, lying partly in the Milky Way. The brightest stars are the 1.8-magnitude Kaus Australis (∊) and 2.0-magnitude Nunki (σ) with several others of 2nd and 3rd magnitude. The center of the Galaxy lies in the direction of Sagittarius. Although this region is obscured at optical wavelengths by considerable dark nebulosity, observations at other wavelengths have revealed very complex phenomena (see galactic center; Sagittarius A). The constellation contains star clouds, many nebulae, including the Omega, Lagoon, and Trifid nebulae, many globular clusters, including the bright ones M22 (NGC 6656) and M55 (NGC 6809), and some open clusters, including M25 (IC 4725). Abbrev.: Sgr; genitive form: Sagittarii; approx. position: RA l9h, dec –30°; area: 867 sq deg.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006
Enlarge picture
The constellation Sagittarius in a late 18th-century engraving by Montignot. Reproduced by permission of Fortean Picture Library.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Sagittarius, the ninth sign of the zodiac, is a mutable fire sign. It is a positive, masculine sign, ruled by the planet Jupiter (although some astrologers would say that it is ruled or coruled by the planetoid Chiron). Its symbol is the centaur (sometimes, the archer) and its glyph is an arrow, denoting the arrow in the bow that the centaur is holding. It takes its name from the Latin word for arrow, sagitta. Sagittarius is associated with the hips, thighs, and liver, and individuals with a Sagittarius sun sign are susceptible to hepatitis and other liver problems. The key phrase for Sagittarius is “I see.”

Unlike many other members of the zodiac, Sagittarius has a complex mythology. Symbolically half human and half animal, the alternative mythical figures for this sign also tend to place Sagittarius between the poles of animal brutality and high refinement. Chiron, the son of Philyra and Chronos, was a highly learned and refined centaur. A wise teacher who tutored Aesculapius, Jason, Achilles, and Hercules, Chiron’s vast knowledge encompassed hunting, ethics, music, medicine, and the martial arts. Wounded by a poison arrow, he was unable to heal himself. He gave his immortality to Prometheus so that he could die and put an end to his own misery. Out of pity, Zeus is said to have transformed Chiron into a constellation. The figure of the kindly Chiron, however, is somewhat at odds with the image in the constellation Sagittarius, which points its drawn bow menacingly at Scorpio. Thus, an alternative image for Sagittarius is as an average, nondivine centaur with all the impulsive, savage brutality normally attributed to this mythical species.

Like the worst centaurs, Sagittarians can be crude, wild wanderers, always seeking adventure and freedom from all restraint. They can be reckless, irresponsible, and excessively blunt. Positively, natives of the sign are humorous, entertaining, and optimistic. Like Chiron, they prize wisdom and make inspiring teachers. All Sagittarians strive upward. For the less evolved, this may mean social climbing; for the more evolved, a striving toward higher wisdom and spiritual insight. Like all fire signs, they are fond of physical and social activity.

The sign that the Sun was in at birth is usually the single most important influence on a native’s personality. Thus, when people say they are a certain sign, they are almost always referring to their sun sign. There is a wealth of information available on the characteristics of the zodiacal signs—so much that one book would not be able to contain it all. Sun-sign astrology, which is the kind of astrology found in newspaper columns and popular magazines, has the advantage of simplicity. But this simplicity is purchased at the price of ignoring other astrological influences, such as one’s Moon sign, rising sign, etc. These other influences can substantially modify a person’s basic sun-sign traits. As a consequence, it is the rare individual who is completely typical of her or his sign. The reader should bear this caveat in mind when perusing the following series of sun sign interpretations.

One traditional way in which astrologers condense information is by summarizing sign and planet traits in lists of words and short phrases called key words or key phrases. The following Sagittarius key words are drawn from Manly P. Hall’s Astrological Keywords:

Emotional key words: “Proud, zealous, energetic, hail-fellow-well-met, buoyant, openhearted, amiable, tender, idealistic, sincere, speculative, daring, impatient, not domestic, self-indulgent.”

Mental key words: “Jovial, progressive, philosophic, intellectual, eclectic, frank, just, good-tempered, intrepid, punctilious, oratorical, prophetic, curious, altruistic, extremely ambitious, financially inclined.”

At present, there are various astrology report programs that contain interpretations of each of the 12 sun signs. A selection of these for Sun in Sagittarius has been excerpted below:

You are known for being idealistic, generous, sociable, cheerful and very positive. Full of spirit, you have a huge reservoir of energy within you that demands to be released. Exercise, either physical or mental, is thus a necessity. Gregarious, you enjoy being with other people, although you tend to avoid emotionally restrictive or overly intimate relationships. You are constantly curious about the broader issues of life, but can be careless and sloppy about details, and may leap to conclusions before all the facts are in. You are probably an avid reader and gatherer of knowledge, and once a subject catches your interest, your enthusiasm for learning all about it is boundless. (From “Professional Natal Report.” Courtesy of Astrolabe [].)

You are a gambler and an adventurer at heart, one who loves to take risks, to discover and explore new worlds, and to take the untried path rather than the safe, reliable one. You are an independent soul, freedom-loving, and often very restless. You need a lifestyle that provides opportunities for travel, movement, change, and meeting new people. A steady routine which offers much in the way of security but little in the way of space and freedom is odious to you.

To you, life is a journey, an adventure, endlessly interesting and rich with possibilities, and it may be difficult for you to decide where to focus your attention and efforts. You probably traveled around and experimented with many different paths before you settled on a particular career. Or you may go from one project to the next, for once the challenge and vital interest is gone, you are very quick to move on. Commitment, discipline, focus, and concentration are not your strong points. You can be irresponsible and disinclined to take on the burdens and limitations of adult life.

An incurable optimist, you have big dreams, aspirations, and hopes for the future and are usually pursuing some distant goal. You have a great deal of faith and trust in life and failures don’t crush your spirit. You always bounce back from disappointments, often with another bright dream or scheme. You have a sporting, playful attitude toward life and are philosophical about your mistakes. You have the ability to sense future trends, to see the big picture, and you like to theorize and speculate. However, attending to all of the details and practical requirements of implementing your theories is bothersome to you.

You express yourself in a very open, direct, and straightforward manner and are often blunt and tactless as well. Because you do not take yourself too seriously, you may not realize how deeply your candid statements can wound more sensitive souls. In fact, though you may not realize it, your insensitivity and lack of understanding regarding others’ feelings is probably one of your worst faults.

You do enjoy friendship and camaraderie, but you need freedom also and do not do well with a possessive, clinging, or emotionally demanding partner. You are quite generous yourself, and heartily dislike pettiness in others. Someone who shares your ideals, your sense of fun, and your zest for life would be the right companion for you. (From “Merlin,” by Gina Ronco and Agnes Nightingale. Courtesy of Cosmic Patterns [].)

To the medieval astrologer, there were three kinds of Sagittarian: the gypsy, the scholar, and the philosopher. They’re all legitimate, healthy parts of the picture. Sagittarius represents the urge to expand our horizons, to break up the routines that imprison us. One way to do that is to escape the bonds of the culture into which we were born—that’s the gypsy. Another is to educate ourselves, to push our intelligence beyond its customary “position papers”—the way of the scholar. Finally, our intuition can stretch outward, trying to come to terms with cosmic law, attempting to grasp the meaning and purpose of life. That’s the philosopher’s path.

To keep your Sagittarian energies healthy, you need to feed them an endless supply of fresh experience. Travel. Take classes. Learn to scuba dive. Amazement feeds the Archer the same way protein feeds your physical body. Conversely, if there’s a cardinal sin for Sagittarius, it is to consciously, willingly allow yourself to be bored.

With your Sun in Sagittarius, freedom is the most precious arrow in your quiver. You thrive on experience. Your heart beats faster at the sight of a far horizon. Your life is a quest … for adventure, for experience, ultimately, for meaning. The Gypsy, the Scholar, and the Philosopher all play major roles in your interior existence … and need to have major input into your existential shopping list! There’s a Gypsy-like destiny element in your life that presents you again and again with culture shock, like travel or working with people from different backgrounds. The Scholar manifests as your lifelong desire to learn, to break up your mental routines. And you’ve been a Philosopher ever since you were born—you popped out of your mother’s womb wondering, “Why am I here?” (From “The Sky Within,” by Steven Forrest. Courtesy of Matrix Software [] and Steven Forrest [http://www.].)

Among its several natal programs, Matrix Software created a unique report based on the published works of the early twentieth-century astrologer, Grant Lewi (1901–1952). Lewi’s highly original delineations were recognized as creative and insightful by his contemporaries. One measure of the appeal of his work is that his books Astrology for the Millions and Heaven Knows What are still in print. The following is excerpted from the report program “Heaven Knows What”:

If there were no God, it would be necessary to invent him. (Voltaire, born in Sagittarius, November 21, 1694.)

There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval. (George Santayana, born in Sagittarius, December 16, 1863.)

The miracles of the Church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power, coming suddenly near to us from afar, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears hear what is there about us always. (Willa Cather, born in Sagittarius, December 7, 1876.)

The expansion of the ego to the uttermost bounds of human thought, experience and knowledge motivates the Sagittarian, who rushes out eagerly to greet life, equipped with a radiant nature, abundant vitality and a keen, alert mind eager for the fellowship of earth and willing to extend his knowledge to last limits of heaven. The approach to life is straightforward, for the aim is not subtle: it is to experience, to know, to try, to adventure. As a result, the Sagittarian goes far, literally and figuratively. He travels, either geographically or in thought, or both; and however he travels he likes to go fast. If he finishes things at all, it is because he is quick, not patient; life is too short for him to bother with details, and he feels that he will learn more, see more, know more if he goes more. He can thus be superficial, but is rarely shallow, for his sincerity goes right down into his marrow, and a platitude on his lips can become a great truth because of the wholeheartedness with which he believes it.

The creative urge is strong; thus does the ego expand and perpetuate itself in its expanded state. Idealism is powerfully marked, as are religious and philosophic tendencies. Sagittarians take naturally to serious thought and, even if uneducated in the formal sense, are at home with abstract ideas, principles, beliefs. They have little use for dogma, and are not conventional in thought, though they are so straightforward that their actions are generally unimpeachable. A low-type Sagittarian is a rara avis. The worst the sign usually gets is mediocre and bromidic. Abūndant energy and natural good spirits preserve them from the worst that life throws up. The better types, eagerly questing in the geographical and spiritual world, lead the abundant life up to the hilt. They leave the world better than they found it by the happiness they bring to others, if not indeed by some special contribution to philosophy, religion or science, in which they are especially likely to shine. (Courtesy of Matrix Software [].)

The following excerpt comes not from a natal report program, but from David Cochrane’s recent book, Astrology for the 21st Century. Based on lessons for astrology students, it approaches the signs of the zodiac from a somewhat different perspective than the other short delineations cited here:

Sagittarius is the archer shooting for a goal. With eyes on the distant horizon, Sagittarius seeks a lofty goal or grand vision. Sagittarians do not get bogged down with details; they understand the overall situation and they travel, negotiate, socialize, and explore on a large scale that provides them the information, contacts, and resources to pursue large scale projects. Because Sagittarians have a broad spectrum of experiences, they tend to avoid getting stuck in a situation; they find another route around the problem and they have enough contacts and alternative resources to find a viable alternative to their current situation. Another trait that helps the Sagittarian is that they rarely take things personally. Their broad view of life allows them to see criticisms or insults from others in proper perspective, and their feelings are rarely hurt. They also often do not realize that others are more sensitive to personal criticism than they are, and consequently can say something without tact and thereby appear to be either insensitive or extremely blunt. (Courtesy of Cosmic Patterns [] and David Cochrane [].)

A number of specialized report programs has been developed that offer useful supplements to the generic delineations of general reports. The following sun sign interpretation has been drawn from a program written by Gloria Star (originally part of her book, Astrology: Woman to Woman) that generates a specialized report for women:

With your Sun in Sagittarius you are a woman who thrives on the grand adventure of life. You may feed this urge through travel or education, but you also fulfill it through your spiritual quests. Your enthusiasm is difficult to miss, and you can inspire others to reach beyond their limitations through the example of your own life. But you can also be difficult to follow, and may head into a new territory before you’ve even warmed your chair.

Since you’ve always wondered about everything, a certain level of personal assertiveness has always been part of your personality. Your Sagittarius Sun energy is a powerful driver, stimulating your sense of adventure and endless questioning and giving you an air of excitement. You’re the woman who has been comfortable venturing out on your own, particularly if you have a strong interest driving you. As a young girl your experience of your father may have been especially connected to his interest in learning or his philosophical or religious teachings may have been a stronghold in your life. But you may also have a desire to develop these elements of your life in your own way, and in searching for the truth of yourself are likely to discover some differences from your upbringing. Developing your individual identity may be easier said than done because you may always have a tendency toward extreme reverence for your teachers and may take the teachings too literally. Task one: separating the teacher from the teaching will allow you to gain confidence in your individual ability to develop a connection to divine truth. Then, as you explore the vast nature of spirituality, you may discover a path which is uniquely your own. This in turn influences your sense of who you are, not just as a woman, but as a human being on a quest for the ultimate.

You’re probably pretty intelligent, like learning, and have an adventurous drive with your Sagittarius Sun. But you may be afraid of success. It’s that unknown question about where to aim. If you aim for your high ideals, you could possibly fall short, so you might compromise for something else, just because it’s quickly reachable. Then what’s that yearning in your heart? Could it be the desire for something more!? There is your drive to success, and it’s the adventure itself which gives you the feeling that makes the light in your eyes. After all, when you do reach that pinnacle, you’ll just aim for something new! (From “Woman to Woman,” by Gloria Star. Courtesy of Matrix Software [] and Gloria Star [].)

Responding to the revival of interest in pre-twentieth-century astrology, J. Lee Lehman developed a report program embodying the interpretive approach of traditional astrology. The following is excerpted from her book Classical Astrology for Modern Living and her computer program “Classical Report”:

You have quick apprehensions, but you are changeable in your opinions. You are fearless, good-natured, high-minded, crafty and ingenious, proud, quick to anger, but soon you are over it. You are stouthearted, valiant, and witty. You aim at great things, but you can be too severe in the exercise of power. This does not prevent you from achieving success.

You are a Fire Sign, which means that you are “hot” and “dry.” The “dry” component means, among other things, that you see distinctions easily, and that you are more swayed by intellectual argument than by passion. Being “hot,” you react to things quickly: by expressing your anger strongly and immediately, you don’t tend to harbor a grudge. You may be perceived by others as angry, but that’s only if they are not “hot” as well. You will be perceived as having high energy levels, and yet you are aware of a curious stillness amidst the seeming activity. You may need more sleep than colder types in order to recharge your batteries.

You are mutable, which means that you adapt easily to change. However, you adapt so easily compared to others that they may wonder if you are capable of maintaining a permanent stance about anything.

Being a four-footed sign, you have a strong sex drive. This also means that you can be vicious or violent if angered. One of the dangers of the Sun in the signs of Jupiter is Jupiter’s mythological interest in love affairs, especially when the solar person is perceived as being in a position of power or authority. (Courtesy of J. Lee Lehman, Ph.D., copyright 1998 [].)

Readers interested in examining interpretations for their Chinese astrological sign should refer to the relevant entry. A guide for determining one’s sign in the Chinese system is provided in the entry on the Chinese zodiac.


Cochrane, David. Astrology for the 21st Century. Gainesville, FL: Cosmic Patterns, 2002.
Forrest, Steven. The Inner Sky: How to Make Wiser Choices for a More Fulfilling Life. 4th ed. San Diego: ACS Publications, 1989.
Green, Landis Knight. The Astrologer’s Manual: Modern Insights into an Ancient Art. Sebastopol, CA: CRCS Publications, 1975.
Hall, Manly P. Astrological Keywords. New York: Philosophical Library, 1958. Reprint, Savage, MD: Littlefield Adams Quality Paperbacks, 1975.
Lehman, J. Lee. Classical Astrology for Modern Living: From Ptolemy to Psychology & Back Again. Atglen, PA: Whitford Press, 1996.
Lewi, Grant. Astrology for the Millions. 5th ed. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1978.
Lewi. Heaven Knows What. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1969.
Star, Gloria. Astrology & Your Child: A Handbook for Parents. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 2001.
Star. Astrology: Woman to Woman. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1999.
The Astrology Book, Second Edition © 2003 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(or Archer), a zodiacal constellation (seeZODIAC). The visual magnitudes of the brightest stars in Sagittarius are 1.8 and 2.0. The center of the Milky Way Galaxy lies in the constellation, and the winter solstice is near its border. Sagittarius contains the globular cluster M55, which is visible to the naked eye. The best conditions for observing Sagittarius are in June and July. The whole constellation can be seen in the southern regions of the USSR; part of it is visible in the central regions. (SeeSTELLAR SKY.)

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A constellation whose major portion lies in the Milky Way; right ascension 19 hours, declination 25° south. Also known as Archer.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


the Archer of the Zodiac; used occasionally to symbolize hunting. [Astrology: Payton, 594]
See: Hunting


archer (Nov. 22–Dec. 21). [Astrology: Hall, 315]
See: Zodiac
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. Astronomy a large conspicuous zodiacal constellation in the S hemisphere lying between Scorpius and Capricornus on the ecliptic and crossed by the Milky Way and containing the galactic centre
2. Astrology
a. the ninth sign of the zodiac, symbol ♐, having a mutable fire classification and ruled by the planet Jupiter. The sun is in this sign between Nov. 22 and Dec. 21
b. a person born when the sun is in this sign
3. Astrology born under or characteristic of Sagittarius
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005