Aquarius has instant recognizability to most people thanks to its status as a zodiac constellation. Its association with astrology also shares instant recognizability. That said, there’s more to Aquarius than just a collection of stars and an omen in fortunetelling. Its stars have stories of their own, which vary around the world and across history. People born under Aquarius have also earned places in history! Read all about them with these 50 Aquarius facts.
- Twelve stars traditionally form the constellation Aquarius.
- Astronomers have since discovered that Aquarius actually includes a total of 97 stars.
- Interestingly, 12 of the constellation’s stars also have planets orbiting them.
- Beta Aquarii makes up the brightest star in the constellation, with a magnitude of 2.9.
- Astrologers associate Aquarius with people born between January 21 and February 20.
- The Greek astronomer Ptolemy first documented the modern constellation of Aquarius in the 2nd century B.C.
- Lord Rosse studied and named the Saturn Nebula in Aquarius in the 19th century.
- Karl Harding discovered the Helix Nebula also in Aquarius in 1824.
- Scientists confirmed the three-dimensional positions of the stars in Aquarius in 1947.
- They later discovered an ultra-cool dwarf star in the constellation, TRAPPIST-1, in 2000.
- The Chandra X-Ray Observatory detected its first x-rays from Beta Aquarii in Aquarius in the early 2000s.
- Scientists first detected planets orbiting stars in Aquarius in 2011.
- They also measured TRAPPIST-1 rotational period in 2016.
- NASA confirmed in 2017 the discovery of rocky planets around TRAPPIST-1 in Aquarius.
- As of 2020, scientists still remain unsure if any of TRAPPIST-1’s planets even have atmospheres.
- Aquarius means either “water-carrier” or “cup-carrier” in Latin.
- Astrologers associate Aquarius with the classical element of air.
- They also associate it with the planets Saturn and Uranus.
- Aquarius supposedly weakens the Sun when it passes through Aquarius in the sky.
- Similarly, Neptune supposedly weakens Aquarius when it passes through Aquarius in the sky.
The modern constellation of Aquarius has its roots in an ancient Greek legend.
Aquarius actually refers to the legend of Ganymede, one of the sons of Tros of Dardania, who later founded the city of Troy. Although he lived a humble life as a shepherd, Ganymede grew up to become the most handsome man to ever live. So handsome, in fact, that Zeus took a personal interest in him and decided Ganymede would only waste his life living as a mortal.
Zeus thus took Ganymede back to Mount Olympus, where he took Hebe’s place as the gods’ cupbearer after her marriage to Hercules. In return for his service, Ganymede not only gained immortality but a literal place in the heavens. Zeus personally rearranged the stars in the night sky, forming the constellation of Aquarius in Ganymede’s honor.
The Babylonians saw Aquarius differently.
They actually arranged the stars into a similar shape, that of a man pouring water from a container down to the ground. However, while the Ancient Greeks associated Aquarius with a simple man who ascended to personally serve the gods, the Babylonians associated Aquarius with a god directly.
They named the constellation GU.LA, literally meaning “The Great One”, a title that belonged to the god Ea, also known as Enki. A member of Mesopotamia’s Divine Triad, Enki created humanity, patronized craftsmen, and ruled over knowledge and water. In fact, the Mesopotamians saw him as the Father of Civilization. Ironically, Babylonian astrologers saw their version of Aquarius as a bad omen, hinting at terrible floods to come.
The Chinese also had their versions of Aquarius.
It has more complex patterns too, linking 48 stars together into several different constellations in Aquarius’ place. These include the Army of Yu-Lin, meaning “feathers and forests”, referencing the vast armies of Northern China. There’s also the Leibizhen, the celestial wall defended by the Army of Yu-Lin, as well as the ax-shaped constellation Fuyue.
Other stars also form Tienliecheng, the 13-star castle, as well as Fenmu, or the constellation of the tomb. Nearby stars similarly form Xiuliang, representing the Emperor’s mausoleum, as well as Ku and Qi, small constellations that refer to forms of mourning. Other constellations here include Nu, Xu, and Wei, each of which represents a Lunar mansion that helped Chinese astronomers properly prepare traditional calendars.
Aquarius’ neighboring constellations also have an aquatic theme.
These include Cetus to its west, literally meaning “whale”, and referencing a monstrous whale that took the combined efforts of Perseus and Hercules to kill. Aquarius’ fellow member of the zodiac, Pisces the Twin Fishes stands to its northwest. There’s also Eridanus the river constellation, named after a small river that flows through Athens. The constellation of Eridanus starts at the west of Cetus, with its stars going south and then southeast, to the southwest of Aquarius.
The aquatic theme of this region of the sky has led astronomers to call it the Sea or the Water. Other constellations here include another member of the Zodiac, Capricorn, along with other non-Zodiac constellations. These include Delphinus the Dolphin, Hydra the Water Serpent, and Piscis Austrinus the Southern Fish.
Various meteor showers appear to fall from Aquarius.
These include three major regular meteor showers, the Eta Aquariids, the Delta Aquariids, and the Iota Aquariids. Of these three, the Eta Aquariids form the most spectacular, starting around April 21 every year, although it can start as late as May 12. Usually, though, the meteor showers peak between May 5 and 6, with up to 35 meteors falling into the Earth’s atmosphere every hour.
As for the Delta Aquariids, it has the unusual distinction of peaking twice, first around July 29 and again around August 6. The first peak can see up to 20 meteors burning up in Earth’s atmosphere every hour, which drops to only 10 meteors in the second peak. In contrast, the Iota Aquariids aren’t as spectacular, and even get overshadowed by the Delta Aquariids thanks to sharing August 6 at its peak date. Up to eight meteors burn in Earth’s atmosphere during the Iota Aquariids’ peak.
Astronomers have also observed various deep space objects in Aquarius’ direction.
These include Messier 2, a globular cluster or dwarf galaxy orbiting our own Milky Way Galaxy around 55,000 light-years from Earth. There’s also Messier 72, another globular cluster located also around 55,000 light-years. Then there’s Messier 73, a group of four stars around 2,700 light-years away from Earth.
Astronomers have also spotted NGC 7727 through the constellation, located an estimated 76 million light-years away. NGC 7727 has drawn much attention from astronomers, thanks to the presence of two supermassive black holes in the galaxy. Normally, a galaxy only has one supermassive black hole, which forms the galaxy’s core. NGC 7727’s unusual possession of two supermassive black holes has led astronomers to think that it resulted from two galaxies merging into a single galaxy around 1 billion years ago.
Aquarius’ brightest star, Beta Aquarii, also has the name Sadalsuud.
It means “luck of lucks”, referencing the star’s reputation as a good omen in Arabic astrology. It also has another Arabic name, Kakkab Nammax, or “Star of Mighty Destiny”, which led to its Latin name for Western astrologers: Fortuna Fortunarum.
Aside from Arabic, Beta Aquarii also has various other names in other languages. In Chinese, it has the name Xu Su yi, meaning “First Star of Emptiness”, referencing its pairing with Alpha Equulei as Xu Su, or “Emptiness”.
In Hindi, Beta Aquarii has the name Kalpeny, referencing the Jyotisha Veda, an ancient socio-religious discipline centered around time-keeping. This also references the star’s inclusion in the 23rd Nakshatra Shravishtha, a Lunar mansion ruled by eight “deities of earthly abundance”.
Its neighbor Alpha Aquarii also has an Arabic name, Sadalmelik.
It literally means “luck of the king”. However, the origins of this name have become lost to historians and scientists alike. It also once shared the name Rucbah with the star Delta Cassiopeiae, leading to some controversy over the proper categorization of names.
This controversy ended in 2016 when the International Astronomical Union formed the Working Group on Star Names (WGSN). The WGSN designated Sadalmelik as the internationally-recognized name of Alpha Aquarii, with Delta Cassiopeiae keeping the name Rucbah. Aside from Arabic, Alpha Aquarii also has the name Wei Xiu yi or “First Star of Rooftop” from how it forms Wei Xiu or “Rooftop” with the stars Theta Pegasi and Epsilon Pegasi.
Alpha Aquarii and Beta Aquarii have distinctive positions.
They actually share this with the star Epsilon Pegasi from the neighboring Pegasus constellation. The positioning of the three stars makes them perpendicular to the galactic plane as they orbit the galactic core.
Astronomers have also discovered that both Alpha and Beta Aquarii have smaller stars nearby. These stars also shine less than either star, making them difficult to see even with a telescope. In fact, they’re invisible to the naked eye, hence their discovery only taking place in modern times. Alpha Aquarii has one companion star, designated by scientists as UCAC2 31789179. In contrast, Beta Aquarii has two companion stars, designated by scientists as Beta Aquarii B and C.
Gamma Aquarii also has an Arabic name, Sadachbia.
It means “luck of the tents”, referencing its closeness to Alpha and Beta Aquarii, as well as its relationship with other stars. Specifically, together with Pi, Zeta, and Theta Aquarii, it forms the Arabic constellation of al Ahbiyah, meaning “the Tent”. Sadachbia would also become translated into Latin as Prima Tabernaculum, meaning “First of Luck of the Tents”. This name remains used by Western astrologers today, while scientists either use Gamma Aquarii or Sadachbia.
In Chinese, Gamma Aquarii has the name Fen Mu er, meaning “Second Star of Tomb”. This references how it forms the constellation of the tomb, Fen Mu, with Zeta, Eta, and Pi Aquarii. Other names for the star include Satabhishaj or “a hundred physicians” in Hindi, as well as Sadhayam in Tamil.
Several other stars in Aquarius have Arabic names.
Delta Aquarii, for one, has the name Skat, derived from al-saq, meaning “shin” in Arabic. There’s also Epsilon Aquarii, which has the name Albali, derived from al Bula, meaning “swallower” in Arabic. This later evolved into the Latin name Lucida Fortunae Dissipantis, meaning “Brightest of Luck of the Swallower”.
Both Delta and Epsilon Aquarii also have Chinese names of their own. Delta Aquarii has the name Yu Lin Jun ershiliu, meaning “Twenty-Sixth Star of Palace Guard”. Similarly, Epsilon Aquarii has the Chinese name of Nu Su yi, meaning “First Star of Girl”. In both cases, their Chinese names refer to the constellations they’re part of, the Palace Guard and the Girl, respectively.
Zeta Aquarii forms a binary star system in Aquarius.
This means that instead of planets orbiting a star, the system has two stars orbiting each other. Zeta Aquarii A actually shines less than Zeta Aquarii B. Zeta Aquarii A has a magnitude of 4.42 against Zeta Aquarii’s magnitude of 4.51. They orbit each other at a rate of one complete orbit every 587 years and currently measure 92 light-years away from Earth.
Today, scientists remain unsure about who actually discovered Zeta Aquarii, with William Herschell claiming to have done so in 1779. However, Christian Mayer made the first official record of the star in 1784, leaving its historical status unclear. Zeta Aquarii has the Arabic name of Achr al Achbiya, meaning “End of Luck of the Tents”.
Theta Aquarii has a Latin name, Ancha.
It means “the Haunch”, referencing the part of Aquarius’s body that the star shines in. In Chinese, it has the name Qi er, meaning “Second Star of Weeping”, with Theta Aquarii forming Qi with Rho Aquarii.
Scientists estimate that Theta Aquarii is currently 437 million years, making it much younger than the Sun. That said, they also estimate that it’s also much bigger than the Sun, up 2.78 times as big, even. Naturally, it also shines between 72 and 83 times as bright as the Sun, but ironically has a lower surface temperature. Scientists estimate that Theta Aquarii has a surface temperature of 4,864 Kelvin, in contrast to the Sun’s surface temperature of 5,778 Kelvin.
Kappa Aquarii also has a Latin name, Situla.
It means “water jar”, referencing the part of the constellation that the star shines in. In Chinese it has the name Xu Liang san, meaning “Third Star of Temple”, with Kappa Aquarii forming Xu Liang with 44 and 51 Aquarii, as well as HD 216718.
Scientists think that Kappa Aquarii has exhausted the hydrogen in its core, and now burns helium as fuel instead. This made the star swell into an orange giant, shining up to 60 times as bright as the Sun. Ironically, it has a lower surface temperature than the Sun, estimated at only 4,581 Kelvin.
In contrast, Lambda Aquarii has a Greek name, Hydor.
It means “water”, with the star also having the alternate Greek name of Ekchusis, meaning “outpouring”. Both names refer to Lambda Aquarii’s location in Aquarius, specifically the water pouring from its jar. In Chinese, the star has the name Lei Bi Zhen qi, meaning “the Seventh Star of the Line of Ramparts”.
Scientists estimate it has a distance of 310 light-years away from Earth, as well as massing 3.6 times more than the Sun. They also think the star’s age has left it with a layered core, starting with an outer core fusing hydrogen into helium, then an inner core fusing helium into carbon and oxygen. This has caused the star to swell up into a giant 44 times as big as the Sun, while also causing its surface to cool to a temperature of only 3,835 Kelvin.
Xi Aquarii also has the unusual distinction of a Persian name, Bunda.
It refers to a Lunar mansion that Persian astronomers used to prepare traditional calendars. In Chinese, the star has the name Tian Lei Cheng yi, meaning “First Star of Celestial Ramparts”. Scientists have also since discovered that Xi Aquarii actually forms a binary star system, and have thus renamed it Xi Aquarii A.
The Xi Aquarii system lies an estimated 179 light-years away from the Earth. Xi Aquarii A appears to mass around 1.9 times more than the Sun. It also has a hotter surface temperature of 7.691 Kelvin. In contrast, scientists have thus far gathered only limited data on Xi Aquarii B, but what data have seems to indicate either a red or white dwarf star.
Pi Aquarii has the rarely-used proper name of the Seat.
The Dutch academician Grotius gave it that name in the 17th century, but scientists rarely use that name. The Chinese also have their own name for the star, Fen Mu si, “the Fourth Star of Tomb”, referencing the constellation it’s part of.
Scientists estimate that Pi Aquarii has a distance of 780 light-years away from the Earth. They also estimate it has a mass 11 times that of the Sun, while also measuring six times as big as the Sun. This also makes Pi Aquarii brighter and hotter, with a brilliance up to 7,300 times greater than the Sun. Scientists estimate its surface temperature at around 27,094 Kelvin. Based on its size and intensity, scientists think that Pi Aquarii may eventually explode as a supernova in the distant future.
The star Gliese 876 lies in Aquarius.
Gliese 876 has become notable as one of the closest stars with a planetary system of its own. Scientists estimated that it has a distance of 15 light-years away, with at least four planets orbiting the star. As a red dwarf star, Gliese 876 has a mass of only around 37% of the Sun’s own, while also shining only around 1.24% as bright as the Sun.
Scientists designate its known planets as Gliese 876 d, c, b, and e, in order away from the star. Of these planets, only Gliese 876 d isn’t a gas giant. Instead, it’s a rocky planet with a mass 5.88 times greater than the Earth’s own. Gliese 876 c, b, and e all have the status of gas giants. Gliese 876 c, in particular, appears to have the same size as Jupiter. In contrast, Gliese 876 b masses twice as much as Jupiter, while Gliese 876 e appears to mass only as much as Uranus does.
Gliese 849 also lies in Aquarius.
Like Gliese 876, Gliese 849 makes up one of the closest stars with planets of its own. Scientists estimate Gliese 849 lies 28.7 light-years away from Earth, with at least two planets orbiting the star. While also a red dwarf star itself, Gliese 849 actually masses more than Gliese 876, at around half the Sun’s mass. This also makes it brighter, but still shining only around 2.8% of the Sun’s own brightness.
As for its known planets, Gliese 849 b orbits closer around its star than Gliese 849 c. Scientists think Gliese 849 b has a size similar to Jupiter. However, they don’t have any data to make any conclusions about Gliese 849 c yet.
Various other stars in Aquarius have planets of their own.
There’s 91 Aquarii, also known as Pi Aquarii, a triple star system composed of the stars 91 Aquarii A, B, and C. The system has at least one planet, 91 Aquarii b, a Jupiter-like planet orbiting the star 91 Aquarii A.
Then there’s WASP-6, which has at least one planet, the “Hot Jupiter” WASP-6 b. Hot Jupiters refer to strange gas giants which orbit close to their stars, a phenomenon not yet completely understood by scientists today.
There’s also WASP-47, a Sun-like star orbited by at least four planets, with the second another Hot Jupiter named WASP-47 b. Of the other planets in the system, WASP-47 c makes up the only other gas giant in the system, while WASP-47 e and d have rocky features with only thin atmospheres.
Astrologers associate various traits with people born under Aquarius.
They claim that those born under Aquarius’ influence tend to become clever, self-reliant, and optimistic people with exceptional talents. Some of them might become enthusiastically active, while others prefer to stay calm and sensitive to other people.
Astrologers also claim that people born under Aquarius tend to get drawn toward fun and innovative things, while also having a desire for positive reinforcement. They also claim that those born under Aquarius quickly become bored and uninterested without positive reinforcement. People under Aquarius supposedly like showing off their creativity and individuality, even if it makes them look strange and unusual in the eyes of other people.
Astrology also has the popular concept of the Age of Aquarius.
An astrological age supposedly begins when the Sun reaches its zenith during the equinoxes in a different constellation of the zodiac. Each age lasts for 2,160 years, the approximate amount of time it takes for the solar system’s movement around the galaxy to change the positioning of the stars in the sky.
That said, astrologers remain unclear whether or not the Age of Aquarius has already begun. Those that believe it has already begun claim that it began in the 18th century. They point to such things as the American and French Revolutions, the Industrial Revolution, and the triumph of democracy against fascism and Communism as proof.
Other astrologers, however, believe that the Age of Aquarius won’t begin until the 24th century. They also believe that the Age of Aquarius will prove a dark age marked by atheism, consumerism, and war.
The famous basketball player Michael Jordan is an Aquarius.
He was born on February 17, 1963, in the Brooklyn area of New York City. Several years later, Michael Jordan would become one of the most famous basketball players in history, with his name becoming iconic for the sport.
Jordan made his career playing for the Chicago Bulls, participating in 15 NBA tournaments and winning the championship in six of those. He became especially famous for pulling off slam dunks all the way from the free-throw line. This earned him the nickname Air Jordan, which inspired the Nike shoe line of the same name. He later went on to play basketball for the USA in the 1992 Olympics, as part of the Dream Team.
In addition to his successful basketball career, Jordan also became a successful businessman. Even before retiring from playing basketball, Jordan already began building connections, starting with advertising deals with Nike. All these achievements would lead to Jordan’s biographical description of the greatest basketball player of all time.
Galileo Galilei was also an Aquarius.
Born on February 15, 1564, in the city of Pisa in Italy, Galileo fell under the influence of Aquarius. He’s certainly among the most famous of them all, with titles such as the Father of Observational Astronomy, and even of modern physics. His association with modern physics results from his many contributions to the field. These include studies into the nature of speed and velocity, as well as the concepts of gravity and free fall. He even developed ideas that would eventually lead to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Galileo also pioneered the practical applications of the pendulum, as well as the principles of hydrostatic balance.
However, his greatest fame lies in his contributions to the field of astronomy. In fact, Galileo discovered the four largest moons of Jupiter: Callisto, Europa, Ganymede, and Io. Scientists even call those four moons the Galilean Moons in his honor. Galileo also first theorized that the Earth and other planets orbited the Sun, instead of the Sun and other planets orbiting the Earth. This caused such a controversy that the Inquisition arrested Galileo on the charges of heresy. In the end, Galileo recanted but privately observed that words did not change reality.
Former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt was an Aquarius.
Born on January 30, 1882, in New York City, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the 32nd President of the USA. He was so during a difficult time for the nation, at the height of the Great Depression. Roosevelt proved himself one of the greatest Presidents in US history by leading it on the path to recovery. He put people to work on public works projects, dropped unemployment, and completed the USA’s transition into a modern welfare state.
Even before the USA’s entry into WWII, Roosevelt did everything he could to help his future allies. He allowed them to buy American weapons so long as they carried them on their own ships. Later on, he also donated ships to the British to fight Germany’s submarines. He also blocked Japanese access to American resources, in the hopes that it would end their expansion across Asia. This eventually led to the Attack on Pearl Harbor and the American entry into the war.
Roosevelt became the most ruthless Allied leader in pursuit of victory. In particular, he insisted on the Axis Powers’ unconditional surrender. He believed this would ensure that none of their enemies could deny they had lost the war in its aftermath. Roosevelt, however, struggled with failing health because of old age, and ironically never lived to see either of Germany’s and Japan’s surrenders.
The famous inventor Thomas Edison was also an Aquarius.
Born on February 11, 1847, in the village of Milan in Ohio, USA, Thomas Edison is one of the greatest inventors of the Industrial Revolution. So much so, that his name is almost synonymous with American ingenuity and innovation in the late 19th century.
Edison invented many of the things we take for granted today. These include Direct Current (DC) electrical transmission, lightbulbs, and even motion picture cameras. DC’s development, in particular, started a famous rivalry with fellow inventor Nikola Tesla, who developed Alternating Current (AC) electrical transmission.
Edison also pioneered the recording industry, inventing the phonograph record and record player. These only make up a few of his inventions, with Edison eventually filing patents for a total of 1,093 inventions.
Charles Darwin was also an Aquarius.
Born on February 12, 1809, in the town of Shrewsbury in Britain, Charles Darwin became one of the most famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) biologists in history. This results from his greatest contribution to modern science, the Theory of Evolution. It asserted that all life on Earth shared a common ancestor. It also asserted that life developed via natural selection. Both assertions caused massive controversy among both scientists and society in general.
Many people found themselves insulted at the mere idea of having a relationship with animals. Religious leaders similarly condemned Darwin for disregarding divine intervention as a factor in the creation of life on Earth. The controversy over the socio-religious impact of evolution continues to this day. However, scientists now unanimously agree on the validity of the Theory of Evolution.
Another Charles, Charles Dickens, was born an Aquarius.
Born on February 7, 1812, in Landport in Britain, Charles Dickens is dubbed the greatest novelist of the Victorian Age. His greatest works include A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, and which became so popular it has never gone out of print. In fact, the novella has seen hundreds of adaptations in various forms. These include ballet, comics, film, opera, radio, theater, and television.
Other famous Charles Dickens works include Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and A Tale of Two Cities. A Tale of Two Cities, in particular, became one of the most famous historical dramas ever written, based on the lifestyles prevalent in London and Paris at the height of the 19th century.
The celebrity Oprah Winfrey is also an Aquarius.
Born Orpah Winfrey on January 29, 1954, she eventually used Oprah as people were mispronouncing her original name growing up. Oprah became famous for her Chicago-based talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which aired for 25 years from 1986 to 2011. It is not only one of the longest-running daytime talk shows in history but also the highest-rated daytime talk show in US history.
The show focused on various subjects such as literature, self-improvement, and spirituality. It received various criticisms, however, such as promoting a confessional culture and dependence on emotion-based approaches. Regardless, the show’s success made Oprah the richest African-American of the 20th century, as well as the first African-American billionaire.
Actor Christian Bale is another Aquarius.
Born on January 30, 1974, in Haverfordwest in Britain, Christian Bale is one of the most iconic actors of the 21st century. He became especially famous for his role as the Batman in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy. He also played the role of John Connon in the film Terminator Salvation, and the role of Moses in the Biblical drama film Exodus: Gods and Kings. Bale also played American boxer Dicky Eklund in the biographical film The Fighter, which earned him an Academy nomination and a Golden Globe win. He later earned an Academy Award for his role as Dick Cheney in the satire film Vice.