V E G A
The name Wega (later Vega) comes from a loose transliteration of the Arabic word wāqi‘ meaning "falling" or "landing", via the phrase an-nasr al-wāqi‘ "the alighting vulture". The constellation was represented as a vulture in ancient Egypt, and as an eagle or vulture in ancient India. The Arabic name then appeared in thewestern world in the Alfonsine Tables, which were drawn up between 1215 and 1270 by order of Alfonso X.
Each night the positions of the stars appear to change as the Earth rotates. However, when a star is located along the Earth's axis of rotation, it will remain in the same position and thus is called a pole star. The direction of the Earth's axis of rotation gradually changes over time in a process known as the precession of the equinoxes. A complete precession cycle requires 25,770 years, during which time the pole of the Earth's rotation follows a circular path across the celestial sphere that passes near several prominent stars. At present the pole star is Polaris, but around 12,000 BC the pole was pointed only five degrees away from Vega. Through precession, the pole will again pass near Vega around AD 14,000. It is the brightest of the successive northern pole stars.
Among the northern Polynesian people, Vega was known as whetu o te tau, the year star. For a period of history it marked the start of their new year when the ground would be prepared for planting. Eventually this function became denoted by the Pleiades.
The Assyrians named this pole star Dayan-same, the "Judge of Heaven", while in Akkadian it was Tir-anna, "Life of Heaven". In Babylonian astronomy, Vega may have been one of the stars named Dilgan, "the Messenger of Light". To the ancient Greeks, the constellation Lyra was formed from the harp of Orpheus, with Vega as its handle. For the Roman Empire, the start of autumn was based upon the hour at which Vega set below the horizon.
In Chinese mythology, there is a love story of Qi Xi (七夕) in which Niu Lang (牛郎, Altair) and his two children (β and γ Aquilae) are separated from their mother Zhi Nü (織女, Vega) who is on the far side of the river, the Milky Way. However, one day per year on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar, magpies make a bridge so that Niu Lang and Zhi Nü can be together again for a brief encounter. The Japanese Tanabata festival, in which Vega is known as orihime (織姫), is also based on this legend. In Zoroastrianism, Vega was sometimes associated with Vanant, a minor divinity whose name means "conqueror".
In Hindu mythology, Vega is called Abhijit. The author of Mahabharat, Maharshi Vyas, mentions in the chapter Vana Parva (Chap. 230, Verses 8–11): "Contesting against Abhijit (Vega), the constellation Krittika (Pleiades) went to "Vana" the Summer Solstice to heat the summer. Then the star Abhijit slipped down in the sky." P. V. Vartak suggests in his book, The Scholarly Dating of Mahabharat, that the "slipping of Abhijit" and ascension of Krittika (Pleiades) might refer to the gradual drop of Vega as a pole star since 12,000 BC.
Medieval astrologers counted Vega as one of the Behenian stars and related it to chrysolite and winter savory. Cornelius Agrippa listed its kabbalistic sign under Vultur cadens, a literal Latin translation of the Arabic name. Medieval star charts also listed the alternate names Waghi, Vagieh and Veka for this star.