Altair is the brightest star in the constellation Aquila (Latin, "eagle") and the twelfth brightest star in the night sky. Altair rotates rapidly, with a velocity at the equator of approximately 286 km/s. A study revealed that Altair is not spherical, but is flattened at the poles due to its high rate of rotation.
Altair is located 16.8 light-years from Earth and is one of the closest stars visible to the naked eye. Along with Beta Aquilae and Gamma Aquilae, it forms the well-known line of stars sometimes referred to as the Shaft of Aquila.
The name Altair has been used since medieval times. It is an abbreviation of the Arabic phrase النسر الطائر, an-nasr aṭ-ṭā’ir ("The flying eagle"). This name probably goes back to the ancient Babylonians and Sumerians, who called α Aquilae the eagle star.
The Koori people of Victoria also knew Altair as Bunjil, the Wedge-Tailed Eagle, and β and γ Aquilae are his two wives the Black Swans. The people of the Murray River knew the star as Totyerguil. The Murray River was formed when Totyerguil the hunter speared Otjout, a giant Murray Cod, who, when wounded, churned a channel across southern Australia before entering the sky as the constellation Delphinus.
In astrology, the star Altair was ill-omened, portending danger from reptiles. See also Wikipedia: Altair in Fiction.