Tuesday, February 18, 2014

4 - Astronomy & Astrology: Space, Stars and Indians


The nakshatras are listed in Sanskrit along with Malayalam names. The star names are given with the following information:

Long genitive name, short genitive name (Bayer), popular name (if available) and distance in Light Years (LY) from the Earth.

Although a comment or two on the characteristics of a nakshatra are mentioned (collected from various astrological sources), the emphasis is on the physical features of stars. There is no astrological analysis of nakshatras. The brief write-up on each star ends with its rank in the list of 500 bright stars (referred to as the '500 club' in this article) that can be seen at night with naked eye.

Description of each nakshatra (asterism) ends with a list of stars which are traditionally accepted by Indians. This is followed by a ‘Single Star (Expert’s Opinion)’ that mentions which star can singly represent a nakshatra if at all anybody wants to have such information. This information  is also the result of a study of the works of many learned authors.

In images, the equator (celestial equator-blue line) and ecliptic (the Sun’s apparent path-red line) are shown. The equator always runs east-west.

In Stellarium, enable the Ecliptic, the Equator and Equatorial Grid to see the Moon’s path. Then use the ‘increase time’ or ‘decrease time’ button to simulate the lunar movement. The Moon’s path is above or below the Ecliptic (or over it very briefly when it crosses from above/below the Ecliptic). For those who are not IT-savvy, a few images are pasted here showing the Moon’s position. However, I repeat, please keep in mind that the Moon travels on either side of the Ecliptic. Astrologers knowing Astronomy are concerned with the closeness of the Moon to the stars as seen from the Earth. When we say 'the Moon is close to a star', it is with reference to the plane of view.

The criteria in simple words for finalizing a Cha(a)ndra rashi (Lunar Mansion) are:

  1. The star should be visible to the naked eye (The apparent visibility rating should be +6 or below. If the star's rating is over 6+ it means human eyes cannot see it even in moonless, dustfree nights. Click on the star and read the value against 'Magnitude' that Stellarium gives)
  2. The star should be on or near the Ecliptic. That is, it should be within about 7 degrees (this is subjective; some scholars take only 5 degrees)  on either side the Ecliptic (Activate the Equatorial Grid in Stellarium to get the position in degrees. You can arrive at an approximate value  of distance from the Ecliptic in degrees)
  3. The selected stars should be in rashis that are about 13.3 degrees apart because in a day the Moon travels 360 degrees through all the 27 lunar mansions
Stellarium Grab showing Sunrise (at author's location). Ecliptic is the red line. Blue line is Equator.
Originally, Krittika/Karthika was the first nakshatra and Bharani (Apabharani) was the last. The modern list of nakshatras starts with Ashwini/Ashwathi and ends with Revati/Revathi . The change was first noticed in Aryabhatta’s works.


The asterism has the power of healing! People born under this nakshatra s are passionate and extravagant.

All the stars - Hamal, Sheratan and Messathim that form a triangle - associated with Ashwini/Ashwathi come from Aries (Mesha/Medam). Sheratan and Mesarthim are considered as Ashwins by some writers. 

Aries: Ashwini/Ashwathi

Alpha Arietis or α Arietis (α Ari/Hamal/ 66 LY):  In Arabic, Ras Al Hamal means ‘lamb’. The brightest in the constellation, it is an orange giant, 15 times bigger than the Sun and about 100 times brighter. Between 2500 BCE and 300 BCE, Hamal was at the March Equinox. It is located on the tip of the left horn of the ram (in Stellarium images).

Hamal is the 60th brightest star that we can see naked eyes in the night sky.

Beta Arietis or β Arietis (β Ari/Sheratan/60 LY)The name is Arabic - Al Sheratan which means ‘two signs’, indicative of its old position during March Equinox along with Mesarthim (see below). It is a double-star system. The main star, a white Main Sequence Star (MSS), is 22 times brighter than the Sun and 2 times larger.  The companion star too is a Main Sequence Star like our Sun but barely 1.3 times brighter.

Sheratan is the 105th brightest star of the night sky.

Gamma Arietis or γ Arietis (γ Ari/Mesarthim/165-200 LY): Pronounced ‘may-shaar-thim’. No one knows how this star was named Mesart(h)im. Yet it sounds like the Arabic word Al Muthartim (the ram). It was spotted as early as in 1664 by Robert Hooke (Britain) as a double-star; Mesarthim is

Aries: Another Image

therefore named Gamma-1 Arieties and its companion, Gamma-2 Arietis. A third companion star orbits the two stars. Along with Sheratan, Mesarthim formed the ‘two signs’ or 'two horns'. Mesarthim is twice as large as the Sun and 56 times brighter. Originally it was the closest star to the vernal equinox and was hence called ‘the first star of Aries’. Its partner also is said to be about 50 times brighter than the Sun. Gamma 1 is not yet an ‘adult’. It is a yellow dwarf.

Mesarthim is ranked very low in brightness; in the night sky it is the 456th bright star.

Traditional Stars: All the three mentioned above are traditionally accepted as Ashwini/Ashwathi, though some astrologers omit  Hamal, the brightest in Aries.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): By virtue of its position, Hamal is the star that can independently represent the nakshatra. Mesarthim is marginally closer to the Moon’s track, but it is 2 to 3 times farther away than Hamal and Shertan are (check distance in Light Years).

Note: The Ashwini/Ashwathi nakshatra is immediately followed by the Revati/Revathi of the last lunar house Pisces (Meena/Meenam). The circle on the left shows Bharani housed in Aries itself. Ashwini/Ashwathi is located almost exactly between Revati/Revathi and Bharani. This distance between the previous nakshatra and succeeding nakshatra is an important factor for selection of the stars for a nakshatra.

Bharani or Apabharani/Bharani

Those born under this nakshatra are fantastically romantic, says an astrologer! Attractive personalities, says another!! Forget and forgive is not their policy; that is till they become more religious towards the latter half of their lives.

The nakshatra from Aries is an asterism of three stars – 35, 39 and 41 Arietis. Dictionaries mention Bharani as ‘the last lunar mansion’, because the list of mansions started with Krittika/Karthika till about 5th or 6th century BCE. Bharani means balance, equations, deals and agreements. Apa-bharani stands for ‘the waters that carry everything away’ or ‘the power to destroy everything’. Mahashraddha is the rite for ancestors on Bharani day during pitrupaksha.

41 Arietis or c Arietis (160+ LY) : In Arabic, it is called Nair Al Butain (the belly). The binary star, located between Hamal (west) and Pleiades (est), does not have a Greek letter to show its rank as
The Bharani Triangle
per Bayer designation, nor is there any common name in English. 41 Arietis, a blue Main Sequence Star and the 4th brightest in the constellation, appears on the tail (or on the belly depending on the diagram you get) of the ram with about 100 times the glow of the Sun. Conservative thinking is that, along with 35 Arietis and 39 Arietis, it forms the Bharani triangle. The three stars were regarded as subgroup called Musca Borealis, the Northern Fly, but the asterism has since been discarded.  This is the brightest among the trio and 2.5 times larger than the Sun. It has a small companion.

41 Arietis is the 328th brightest star of the night sky.

39 Arietis (160+ LY): 39 Arietis is a ‘red clump’ or Orange Giant. It is 56 times brighter and 11 times larger than the Sun.

It looks very dim for us and does not find a place in the list of top 500 bright stars of the night sky.

35 Arietis (160+ LY) It is a blue white star 870 times brighter than the Sun. It is also a binary system and has radius 2 to 4 times that of the Sun.

35 Arietis is another dim star that does not find a place in the list of top bright stars of the night sky.

Traditional Stars: 35, 39 and 41 Arietis – all together form the traditional nakshatra especially when you have the Bharani triangle in mind.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): 41 Arietis is closer to the Moon’s path when viewed from the Earth.  It is the right candidate for being identified as Bharani, according to ‘single star’ enthusiasts.


Pleiades from Taurus is the lone claimant to the ‘post’. Associated with the Hindu god Kartikeya, son of Siva and the chief of divine army, Hindus believe that the nakshatra lavishly showers glory upon people born under it, though sarcasm, lack of emotions, lack of analytical skills, anger and aggressiveness dilute their grace.

Taurus: Pleiades Cluster (Above the Ecliptic)

Pleiades Cluster (Seven Sisters/350-410 LY): Pron. Plee-ah-dees. Pleiades is referred to as Bahulaa (meaning ‘many’) too in Sanskrit. Hence the Hindu god Kartikeya is called Baahuleya. Karthikeya (Skanda) was looked after six divine maids called Krittikas who appear in the asterism.

In Greek, Pleiades means ‘to sail’.

This bluish cluster, found on the left shoulder (appears to be  on the left side of its belly?) of the bull, is called Ath-Thuraiyya in Arabic. With naked eye you may find a cluster of seven stars almost above your head around 9 PM – about a dozen on a closer look, north-west of Aldebaran (Rohini)
Pleiades Cluster_NASA Image
during winter. Pleiades looks like a sickle or question mark. Indians often mistake it as the Seven Sages (Saptarshis). In fact, the sages are nowhere near this cluster. Pleiades is ment`ioned in Chinese records of 2357 BCE. After about 250 million years gravitational interactions among the cluster stars will disperse them. There are 9 of them worth mentioning. The seven sisters in Greek mythology are: Sterope, Merope, Electra, Maia, Taygeta, Celaeno and Alcyone. Their parents are also included in the cluster – Atlas and Pleione. The stars are about 1 Light Year apart. The leading star is Alcyone (Eta Tauri). The Seven Sisters are also called M45 after Messier nomenclature. Cave paintings of Taurus and Pleiades have been found in Lascaux, southwestern France – the paintings are dated circa 15,000 BCE.

There are over thousand stars in the cluster, all of them young blue giants and hardly 50-100 million years old.

Eta Tauri or η Tauri (η Tau/Alcyone/404 LY) from Pleiades: It is 2,400 times more luminous than our Sun. The radius of the star is about 8 to 10 times that of the Sun. Alcyone (pron. Al-syo-nee) is referred to as ‘Alcyone A’ because it has three dwarf companions – Alcyone B, Alcyone C and Alcyone D. Alcyone, some western astrologers say, is associated with homosexuality1.
Alcyone, all the four components appearing as one as seen from the Earth, is the 144th brightest star in the sky.

Traditional Stars: The whole Pleiades cluster is considered as Krittika/Karthika.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Krittika/Karthika is represented by Alcyone under the single star concept because it is the most prominent star in the cluster.


Come what may, Rohinians, a la Rohini, will get whatever they want, even the Moon! Luxury is their weakness. Brain, beauty, sagacity and love of arts – these are their tools, goes the two other Hindu belief. Obviously this has to be the birth star of Krishna. Surabhi and Kamdhenu are names of Rohini. Since Brahma is one of the ruling deities of Rohini, it is also called Braahmi.

Rohini, in Hindu mythology, is the daughter of Daksha, a prajapati (progenitor), and wife of Chandra, the Moon God, who was so obsessed with her seductive charms that he often ignored other wives who were also daughters of Daksha. The dismayed co-wives complained to their father who cursed Chandra to be sick briefly every month. This is why the Moon ‘waxes and wanes’.
Rohini: Aldebaran (Taurus) and Bellatrix (Orion). Alnath is also shown.
In the Hindu epic Ramayan, King Dasrath learns that Saturn (Shani, a lesser god entrusted with causing obstacles and hardships) is about to cross the path of Rohini. The royal astrologers predict disaster for his kingdom Ayoddhya. The furious king travels to the heavens to destroy Shani but pardons him after extracting a promise that he will not cross the path of Rohini in future.

There are two stars from Taurus and Orion for consideration as Rohini.

Alpha Tauri or α Tauri (α Tau/Aldebaran /66 LY): Draw a line from the three belt stars of Orion in the north-west direction and you reach Aldebaran, the reddish-orange star in Taurus, the ‘right eye’ of the bull.

Of all the stars in 27 lunar mansions of Indian astrology, Aldebaran is the brightest. It is also called Braahmi in Sanskrit. In Arabic, Aldebaran means ‘the follower’ – one who follows the seven sisters (Pleiades).  Rohini is applied to the whole constellation in certain contexts.

The young star is also referred to as Sataves in India, claims an article but the word is probably Iranian meaning ‘leader of the west’. For Zoroastrians, Sataves was Venus.

Other names of Aldebaran are: the Eye of Revelation, Star of Illumination, Eastern Royal Star and Buddha’s star. Rise of Aldebaran marked the vernal equinox about 5,000 years ago.

Aldebaran is the brightest star in Taurus and the bull’s ‘right eye’. It is about 45 times the size of the Sun and over 425 times brighter.

In the sky, it can be seen north-west of Bellatrix of Orion constellation. Aldebaran is a red giant. 'Interestingly, in about two million years, the American space probe Pioneer 10, now heading out into deep space, will pass Aldebaran'2. Till a few decades ago Hyades cluster, west of Aldebaran, was considered Rohini. The main stars of Hyades cluster are Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Theta Tauri. These four, along with Aldebaran, form the lower portion of the ‘V’. But the four lie much farther in space than Aldebaran is.

It is the 14th brightest star in the Earth’s night sky.

Gamma Orionis or γ Orionis (γ Ori/Bellatrix/250 LY): The Latin word Bellatrix means Female Warrior, its root being the Arabic word ‘Al Najd’ (the conqueror). In Sanskrit, it is baahu, hand or the forearm of the deer. Kartikeya is the name found in certain ancient texts, though it is not a widely known proper name of the star.

Bellatrix is about 20 million years of age, located on the left shoulder of the hunter. Some astrologers consider this to be Mrigaseersha/Makayiram. It is 6 times larger and 6,400 brighter than the Sun. In a few million years it will become an orange giant on its way to being a white dwarf.

It is the 27th brightest star in our sky.

Traditional Star: That Aldebaran is Rohini is not disputed because the contestant star Bellatrix is far away from the lunar path.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): In addition to its nearness to the Moon, distances from Krittika/Karthika and Mrigaseersh/Makayiram also favour Aldebaran to be considered as Rohini.


Saumya (personable) is a synonym for Mrigaseersha/Makayiram. People who belong to this nakshatra are a pleasant lot with a permanent interest in the affairs of other people. Experts in communication, they are eternal searchers. They are also skilled in music and arts.

Again Taurus and Orion push in a candidate each.

There is a confusion and dispute over the stars here. The traditional star from the constellation of Orion has been displaced. Orion itself is out of modern Indian astrology. The throne has gone to another star from the constellation of Taurus.

Lambda Orionis  or λ Orionis (λ Ori/Meissa or Al Haka or Heka/1055 LY): This is the head of the hunter. Meissa means the ‘shining one’ in Arabic (from Al Maissan); the name was originally meant for Al Hena (Alhena) in Gemini. Al Haka is the Arabic for ‘white spot’.

Meissa, a double star located in a region called Lambda Orionis cluster, is 65,000 brighter and 5-10 times bigger than our Sun. It is a blue giant about 5 million year old. Meissa is believed to have survived a supernova when its former partner exploded 300,000 years ago. The partner spends time as a neutron star – probably Geminga in Gemini.

Meissa is the 253rd brightest star in the sky.

Beta Tauri or β Tauri (β Tau/Alnath or Elnath/134 LY): Alnath in Arabic means ‘the butting’ (horn).  
This is another contestant for Mrigaseersha/Makayiram; however, Meissa still commands support of a good majority of Indians who follow the traditional star positions.

It is on the tip of the left horn of the bull. Zeta Tauri occupies the tip of the other horn.

Alnath or Elnath is the 2nd brightest star in the constellation and its luminosity is 700 times the Sun’s. It is regarded as a double star because of a faint companion star.

Alnaath is a blue giant with a companion star. Its diameter is about 6 times that of the Sun. Under the redundant Bayer classification, it was referred to as Gamma Aurigae but its place in Taurus is confirmed now; Alnath is no longer a dual citizen. Having passed its phase as a Main Sequence Star, in about a million years it is expected to become a red giant.

It is the 28th brightest star in the sky.

Traditional Star: Mrigaseersha/Makayiram is Meissa.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Meissa is probably no longer in the position where it was when our ancient ancestors viewed it. The actual Mrigaseersha/Makayiram is not even in Orion. Alnath in Taurus is ideally positioned to represent Mrigaseersha/Makayiram. (If you check with Stellarium, you will find Alnath closer to the Moon’s track).

Alnath, Meissa and Betelgeuse

This is the star of hope for Indians. Always energetic and helpful, some peculiar position of the Moon can make them the cruelest on earth!  Rudra, a form of Siva as storm god, having chased away the evil prajapati, looks forward to new challenges and constructive roles.

 Just two contenders – the traditional one and the right one!

Alpha Orionis or α Orionis (α Ori/Betelgeuse/600 LY): Pron. Beetle-juice. This very massive dying star seems to have got its name from B’t al-Jaswa’ in Arabic.  Ibt or B’t or Bet means ‘armpit’, the star’s location in most diagrams.  El or Al Jaswa stands for Orion, the hunter. Till the end of 19th century, the name was spelt Betelgeux.

In Sanskrit, it is Ardra (wet/moist). Bāhumoolam (literally base of arm/armpit) is another Sanskrit name. Betelgeuse and Antares (Jyeshtha/Ketta) lie at opposite ends of the sky.

It is also referred to as Ishana. Rudra is another name in ancient Sanskrit texts, though it is mostly associated with Sirius, the Dog Star.  The ‘right shoulder’ in the diagram is the main star Betelgeuse. It is one of the corner stars of Orion rectangle. Clearly a reddish yellow supergiant star at the northernmost corner of the quadrangle, it is over 1,000 times bigger and over 100,000 times more luminous than the Sun. It lies inside the Winter Hexagon (Rigel, Aldebaran, Capella, Pollux, Procyon and Sirius3).

Since 1993 Betelgeuse has been shrinking. It has shrunk by over 15% of its original size in 20 years. It might expand again due to its busy unstable gaseous atmosphere. It also oscillates in a 420-day cycle. Two companion stars have been found to orbit Betelgeuse.

Hardly 10 million year old, it will have only a million years more (a short period in Universe) to die as a supernova. The last moments could be seen from the Earth because the spectacle will be as bright as a full moon – even from a distance of about 570-600 Light Years. And then what all left will be a small neutron star 20 km in diameter!
Betelgeuse is the 2nd brightest star in the constellation (Rigel, the Baanraja is the brightest) and the 10th brightest in the night sky.

Is Betelgeuse the nakshatra we call Ardra/Athira? Yes, it was - once upon a time for the ancient Indians. Not now. Read on.

Gamma Geminorum or γ Geminorum (γ Gem/Alhena/105 LY): The name Alhena derives from the Arabic word Al Han’ah, meaning ‘a mark on the neck of a horse or camel’. Almeisan (the shining one) is another word used by Arabs for this star.

Alhena is a white subgiant.
Alhena and Betelgeuse
Alhena is found between Pollux-Castor and Betelgeuse. It is located on the foot of one of the twins.

For brightness, Alhena is ranked 44th in the Earth’s sky.

Traditional Star: Betelgeuse

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Betelgeuse is a very bright star in the night sky. But check the Moon’s path which is close to the Ecliptic. As it passes through the mansion, it is close to Alhena while Betelgeuse is far away. At times, the Moon passes by almost exactly between the two. That’s not enough to save the traditional star. Betelgeuse! You have to pass on the band to Alhena, which is now Ardra/Athira.


Punarvasu means restoration. It was the birth star of Rama. Virtuosity, magnanimity and purity are associated with Punarvasu people. They will go to any extent to uphold truth.

Ramayan tells how Brahma and other devas delayed the marriage of Rama and Sita. They were supposed to get married on Punarvasu/Punartham day in Karkataka lagna because a couple getting married during the said muhurta (auspicious period) would remain bonded throughout their life without getting separated. Rama’s separation from Sita was a must to get Ravan, the demon king, killed. Worried gods sent Chandra, the Moon god, to perform an enchanting dance (sammohana nritta). Forgetting the marriage ceremony, all were glued to the dance recital and by the time they realized their lapse, the muhurta was over. The wedding ceremony, however, went smoothly immediately. The inseparability of the couple was thus broken. (ref. Krittivas Ramayana).

There is no confusion here. The two stars mentioned below constitute Punarvasu/Punarvatham.

Alpha Geminorum or α Geminorum (α Gem/Castor/50 LY): Arabic, Castor is called Al Ras al-Taum al-Muqadim, a long name which means ‘the head of the foremost twin’. This should have been the Beta star because it is the second brightest star after Pollux in Gemini but its alpha label has been intact since Bayer introduced his system of numbering. Castor is about 2.5 times the size of the Sun and 60 times brighter.

Castor is a blue-white giant.

It has five companions one of which is considered a twin star. It is thus a sextuple star system. Two of the five companions are larger than the Sun. The main star and one of its companions orbit each other.
Pollux and Castor: Punarvasu/Punartham

Castor in the night sky is ranked 24th in brightness.

Beta Geminorum or β Geminorum (β Gem/Pollux/33 LY) : Al Ras al-Taum al-Mu’akhar is the Arabic name of the star meaning ‘the head of the second twin’. In 2006, a planet – named ‘Pollux b’ - was discovered orbiting Pollux in 590 days. Pollux, an orange giant, is 46 times brighter than the Sun. It is about 10 times the size of the Sun.

For the naked eye, Pollux is the 17th brightest star in the Earth’ sky.

Traditional Stars: Punarvasu/Punartham is formed by both stars mentioned above.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): The Moon appears to be nearer to Pollux which is also brighter of the two. As a single star, Pollux can be considered to represent Punarvasu/Punartham.

Pushya or Pushyami or Tishya/Pooyam

This is the birth star of philosophers and highly religious people. But once they go astray, it difficult to get them on track.

All the stars here come from Cancer. We will consider 4 stars for Pushya (flowered) or Tishya (pleased).

Delta Cancri or δ Cancri (δ Cnc/Asellus Australis/140 LY): Asellus Australis in Latin is ‘Southern Donkey’. This orange giant star is the brightest of the lot. Its Babylonian name is the longest of all known star names – Arkushanangarushashutu. The Southern Donkey is 53 times brighter than the Sun and about 11 times larger. Its position is near the behind the left eye of the crab.  It is the 2nd brightest in Cancer.
Stars from Cancer: Pushya/Pooyam
It is also mentioned as another potential Aslesha/Ayilyam!

At 140 Light Years away, its brilliance is not noticeable enough.

Gamma Cancri or γ Cancri (γ Cnc/Asellus Borealis or Northern Donkey/181 LY) : This is 38 times brighter and 2.3 times bigger than the Sun. It is a triple star system. The main star is a white subgiant. It is the 5th brightest in Cancer.

It is rather dim and kept out of the 500 bright stars of the night sky.

Theta Cancri or θ Cancri (θ Cnc/.. /500 LY): This double-star does not have any popular name. The main star is an orange giant. Other details are not available.
Some consider Delta, Gamma and Theta Cancri together with the Beehive cluster as Pushya/Pooyam. For Keralites the Beehive cluster alone is the Pooyam star. There is an Indian belief that the three stars make up Pushya/Pooyam, the Beehive having no role.

There is yet another star in Cancer to which Pushya/Pooyam is ascribed by modern analysts. It is Al Terf or Al Taraf. 

Beta Cancri or β Cancri (β Cnc or Al Taraf/../300 LY): The Arabic word Al Tarf or Al Terf or Al Taraf or simply Taraf means ‘glance’ or ‘the eye of (Leo)’. This orange giant, at the tip of the left middle leg, also has another Arabic meaning – ‘the end’ or ‘the tip’. Although ranked Beta, it is the brightest in the constellation and should have been the alpha star. It is about 50 times the size of the Sun 660 times brighter. Al Taraf has a distant red dwarf as companion.

It is ranked 298 in brightness when viewed from the Earth.

Traditional Star: Pushya/Pooyam is the asterism of Gamma (Asellus Borealis), Theta and Beta Cancri (Al Taraf). According to some, Delta Cancri (Asellus Australis) is also a strong candidate.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Which single star would you pick as Pushya/Pooyam? If you follow the Moon, it has to be Al Taraf (Beta Cancri).


The stars considered are from Cancer and Hydra.

Hydra is not near the Ecliptic which is its handicap. When the Moon travels close to the Ecliptic or north of it, the five traditional stars on the head  of Hydra are far away from it.
This is a businessman’s star – wealth and success are their birthright. Those who humiliate Ashlesha/Ayilyam people, suffer in the long run, says an astrologer. This is a gandamoola nakshatra.

There are about 6 stars that form the traditional Aslesha/Ayilya. Most of them do not have proper names.
Delta Hydrae or δ Hydrae (δ Hya/../160 LY) : For Arabs, this is Lisan al Shudja, tongue of the snake. It is 1.5 times the size of Sun and 17 times brighter. Jim Kaler states this is 2.6 times larger than the Sun with a luminosity of 47 Suns. Delta Hydrae has three companions. It is still a white main sequence star with enough hydrogen to burn for over 600 million years. Delta Hydrae is the 14th brightest in Hydra.

It does not find a place in the list of top 500 stars of the night sky.

Epsilon Hydrae or ε Hydra (ε Hya/../130 LY): This is a 4-star system with ε Hydrae A as the main star. B, C and D are the other stars. An additional star E is also surmised to be in existence. A and B are binary stars. In brightness, the main star equals 57 to 67 Suns. It is a giant yellow-white star. This happens to be the brightest star on the serpent’s head and a potential candidate for the title of Aslesha/Ayilyam. It is the 6th brightest in the constellation.

Epsilon Hydrae is the 251st brightest star of the night sky.

Rho Hydrae or ρ Hydra (ρ Hya/../360 LY): This star, located on the right eye of the serpent, is a white main sequence star. Rho Hydrae seems to be a pariah for scientists and science-journalists! No details are available about it! There is a report which claims its apparent magnitude is 4.34. It is the 18th brightest star in the constellation.

This too is a dim star; hence not ranked among the 500 brilliant stars of the sky.

Eta Hydrae or η Hydrae (η Hya/../600 LY): Although Eta Hydrae is only 5 times larger than the Sun, it is 2500 times brighter, but because of the distance it looks faint. It is a blue-white giant and ranked 16th brightest in the constellation.

Like Rho Hydrae, its brightness is not good enough to be on our list of 500 bright stars.

Sigma Hydrae or σ Hydrae (σ Hya or Minchir or Minaruja/350 LY) from Hydra:

The word Minchir is Arabic. coming from the name Minkhir Al Shuja (Nostril of Hydra). Apparent magnitude is about 4.3.

It is another dim star missing a place in our 500-club.
Delta Cancri or δ Cancri (δ Cnc/Asellus Australis /140 LY): See also Pushya/Pooyam. The details are again mentioned below.

Asellus Australis in Latin is ‘Southern Donkey’. This orange giant star is the brightest of the lot. Its Babylonian name is the longest of all known star names – Arkushanangarushashutu. The Southern donkey is 53 times brighter than the Sun and about 11 times larger. Its position is near the right claw.  It is the 2nd brightest in Cancer.

At 140 Light Years, its brilliance is not noticeable enough.

[The lead star in Hydra is Alpha Hydrae (Alphard):

The Arabic word Alphard means ‘the solitary one.’ This orange giant can be seen on the belly of the serpent. It is 40 times larger and 400 times brighter than the Sun. Alphard is 175 Light Years away from us. It is the 49th brightest star in the sky].

Alpha Cancri or α Cancri (α Cnc/Acubens/180 LY) : Acubens (Arabic) means ‘Claw’ because the star is positioned on the left claw of the crab. It is the 4th brightest in Cancer and a dwarf Main Sequence Star. As big as the Sun, it is but 23 times brighter. Recent observations have shown that α Cancri is a system of 4 stars.

Alpha Cancrii: Ashlesha / Ayilyam in CancerA: The Moon is below the Eclipti. B: The Moon is above the Ecliptic
It is not a bright star to qualify for the membership in the 500 club.

Traditional Stars: Delta, Epsilon, Rho, Eta and Sigma (Minchir) from the constellation of Hydra are considered Aslesha/Ayilyam.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): None of the stars above fits the bill of Aslesha/Ayilyam except Alpha Cancri (Acubens). See the positions below (A) and above the Eclitptic. It is closer or covers Acubens.


This is the most auspicious star for women, according to a widely held belief in Kerala, albeit under some conditions. It stands for aristocracy. This is a gandamoola nakshatra.

There are six stars in all in this nakshatra. But traditionalists believe there are only three.

Alpha Leonis or α Leonis (α Leo/Regulus/80 LY) : The name Regulus comes from Latin, meaning ‘little king’. A pumpkin-shaped star because of its fast rotation, it is the brightest in the constellation. It is Qalb Al Azad (Heart of the Lion) for Arabs.  While for Indians it is Māgha (the plentiful), for Persians it was Magh (the great). The main star is the size of 3 Suns. It is almost 300 times brighter too. It is a young Main Sequence Star, hardly 250 million year old, and is categorized as dwarf.

Other names of Regulus are Raphael and the Healing Archangel.

It is found that a tiny mass, suspected to be the remnant of an old giant star, is orbiting Regulus. Scientists believe the giant star was brighter than Regulus. It might have lost much of its mass to Regulus through tidal pull. If this hypothesis is correct, the entire system must be at least a billion years old! Regulus has two other companion stars. Therefore, the main star Regulus has to be referred to as Regulus A. The companion stars, named Regulus B and C, are dimmer and smaller than our Sun. Regulus is thus considered a quadruple system.

Regulus is the 22nd brightest star of the 500 Club.

Gamma Leonis or γ Leonis (γ Leo or Algieba/130 LY): Though the word Algieba means ‘forehead’ (of the lion’, the star is actually on the mane or nape of the lion and is called Gamma Leo A because it has a companion (Gamma Leo B), just over 1/3rd of its size. The main star is 285 brighter than the Sun and 29 times larger. The smaller partner is 72 times brighter and 12 times bigger than the Sun. Both are giant orange stars formed over 500 million years ago. Gamma Leo A has a planet, 9 times bigger than our Jupiter but it is thought to be a brown star, that is, a failed star.

Purists of single star concept would vouch for Regulus as Māgha /Makam because its position is more close to the Moon.

Algeiba, the 2nd brightest in Leo, is the 51st brightest of our sky.

Eta Leonis or η Leo (η Leonis/../1260 LY): In the diagram, you will find it on the neck of the lion. It is a white super giant. Nearly 30 times larger than the Sun, it shines with the brilliance of 5,600 Suns! Though suspected to be a double star, proofs are yet to come. The age of the star could be 35 million years.
Eta Leonis is the 278th brightest star in the night sky.

Mu Leonis or μ Leonis (μ Leo/Ras al Azad Al Shamaliyy/130 LY): The Arabic name stands for ‘Northern Part of Lion’s Head’. Rasalas is the short name normaly used. Being the northern most star of the diagram, it is also called Rasala Borealis. Al azad is written in many ways: elasad, alasad etc.

13 times bigger and 65 times brighter than the Sun, it will become as bright as Spica (Chithra/Chithira) or Antares (Jyeshtha/Ketta) in about 50-55 million years. It is said to be a double-star system. The main star could be an orange giant.

It is the 457th brightest star in the night sky.

Epsilon Leonis or ε Leonis (ε Leo/Algenubi/250 LY): Algenubi, an Arabic word, is short for Al ras Al Asad Al Janubiyah, the Southern Star in the Lion’s head.

The 5th brightest in the Leo constellation, Algenubi is 360 times brighter and about 25 times bigger than the Sun. It is a yellow giant about 165 million years old.

It is 165th brightest star of the night sky.
Leo: Magha/Makam (1 to 6) and P. Phalguni /Pooram (7 and 8)
Zeta Leonis or ζ Leonis (ζ Leo/Adhafera/275 LY): Adhafera means ‘the lock of the hair’ in Arabic. It is a white giant that is fast on its way to be an orange star. It is 205 times brighter and 10 times bigger than the Sun.

Adhafera is the 269th brightest star of the Earth’s night sky. It will be much brighter like Pollux when it comes near the Sun at 94 Light Years’ distance. It will happen only after about 3.5 million years from now.

Traditional Star(s): Many consider all the six stars mentioned above – Alpha, Eta, Gamma, Zeta, Mu and Epsilon of Leo - to be the traditional nakshatra-Magha/Makam. When the Moon moves north of the ecliptic, the stars on the head of the lion or sickle are close to it. Algieba too can be added at times. The whole area housing these stars falls under the Magha/Makam nakshatra. If the Moon’s path is considered only 50 on either side of the ecliptic, only two stars fall within it – Regulus and Eta Leonis. Others need not be considered at all, in a way. But respect the tradition and accept all the six. The deficiency of Eta Leonis is that it is far off at over 1200 Light Years. Others are all within a distance of 300 Light Years. Distance, however, was not counted by ancient Indians.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Regulus is Magha/Makam. Whether the Moon is to the north of the ecliptic or south of it, Regulus is always close to it.

Poorva Phalguni/Pooram

(See the image above)

People born in this nakshatra are art lovers; no wonder if you find their houses well-decorated. Success is only occasional. They keep away from conflicts among friends and relations, but are confirmed liars of the highest order.

There are only two stars for this nakshatra.

Delta Leonis or δ Leonis (δ Leo or Zosma or Duhr/58 LY): In Greek, Zosma is ‘hip’, alluding to its position on the hip of the lion. Duhr in Arabic means ‘the lion’s back’. Just twice the size of our Sun, it is but 23 times brighter and a white subgiant. It is about 600-700 million years old and is a Main Sequence Star. High speed of rotation has given Zosma a pumpkin shape. It is a multiple star with two components.

It is the 97th brightest star in the sky and has about 600 million years’ left to become a red giant.

Theta Leonis or θ Leonis (θ Leo or Chort or Chertan or Coxa/165 LY) : The root of the Arabic name is Al Kharat (small rib) and Al Kharatan (two small ribs). Coxa from Latin means ‘hip’. Chort is a white subgiant Main Sequence Star about 500 million years old.

It is as bright as 120-140 Suns. It has a radius over 4 times the Sun’s.

Chort is the 243rd brightest star in the sky.

Tradional Star(s): Both Zosma and Chort constitute the nakshatra.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Theta Leonis (Chort/Chertan)’s proximity to the Moon makes it Purva Phalguni /Pooram in the ‘single star system’.

I found Chertan about 11 degrees above the Ecliptic. If you apply the criterion of 5 degrees, the star cannot be called a nakshatra. Moreover, Sigma Leo,  close to the Ecliptic and visible to naked eye is a better candidate. It lies almost between Regulus and Porrima (the next nakshatra). No article has discussed this star which is obviously out of favour.

Uttara Phalguni/Uthram

The ‘natives’ of Uttaraphalguni/Uthram are the most miserly. But they have a tender heart with an inclination for learning science. They are loved by everybody and none has their dharmabodha (sense of righteousness) and karmabodha (sense of wise acts)!

There was only one star for consideration, but scientific observation brings in another candidate.

Beta Leonis or β Leonis (β Leo/Denebola/36 LY): Denebola is the short name for Al Deneb Al Assad (tail of the lion) in Arabic. Assad or Asad is ‘Lion’ in Arabic. Denab or Dhanab is ‘Tail’.

Denebola, is located on the tail of Lion. It is over 1.5 times the size of the Sun and 15 times brighter. It is a bluish white Main sequence Star born about 400 million years ago. Astronomers believe the belt or disk of dust around the star is conducive to the formation of planets….millions of years from now, that is. It is the third brightest in Leo, despite being given Beta prefix. It is also the 62nd brightest in the sky. In the 19th century, three distant and faint ‘companions’ were observed of which one has mysteriously disappeared!

It is the 63rd brightest star in the sky.

There is another candidate for Uttara Phalguni/Uthram from Virgo - Zavijava.

Beta Virginis or β Virginis (β Vir or Zavijava/35 LY): The name Zavijava in Arabic is of debatable origin. A group of stars in Virgo was called ‘awwa’ (kernel and barking dog), which now is stuck on Beta Virginis. Though titled Beta, it is not the second (fifth in some listings) brightest in Virgo either. It lies to the south of Denebola in Leo. It is a faint star compared to Denebola. Zavijava, a pale yellow star, is 1.6 times bigger than the Sun and hardly 3.5 times brighter.  

Virgo and Leo: Uttara Phalguni / Uthram
Zavijava’s rise to fame is due to Einstein using it during the solar eclipse of September 21, 1922 for determining the speed of light. Another notable feature is that it may have 2 or 3 planets.

It is the 320th brightest star in our night sky. 

Zavijah and Alaraph are the other names of Zavijava.

Traditional Star(s): Denebola has been in the throne for millennia. Many still believe it is Uttara Phalguni/Uthram, may be because it is the brightest in the mansion.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Beta Virgins (Zavijava)’s position in relation to Moon’s path has endeared it to modern analysts. If a single star has to be considered as Uttara Phalguni/Uthram, it is Zavijava, they say. You can run Stellarium to see how close it is to the Moon during its journeys. Zavijava is very close to the ecliptic too. Denebola is not even in the picture. Leo (the lion) is no longer associated with Uttara Phalguni/Uthram. This is questionable; if a star (Chertan) as far as 11 degree is taken as Poorva Phalguni/Pooram, Denebola, a bright star at the same distance can also be approved as Uttara Phalguni/Uthram. But we will go ahead with the expert opinion. You may draw your own conclusions.


Hastians are as cool as cucumber. They prefer intellectual pursuits, but need somebody to push them in to doing things. Women are more active than men!

Five stars from the constellation Corvus and one from Virgo are the stars to be considered for this nakshatra.

Alpha Corvi or α Corvi (α Crv/Alchiba or Al Xiba or Alchita/40 LY): Alchiba is Arabic for ‘tent’. It is brighter than the Sun by 4 times. This is the fifth brightest star in Corvus and should have been called Epsilon Corvi. The exact radius of the star is not available, but it is believed to be as big as the Sun (?). Alchiba is expected to ‘live’ for a billion years or so.

It looks faint from the Earth and does not make it to the list of 500 bright stars.

Beta Corvi or  β Corvi (β Crv or Kraz/145 LY): A yellow-white star, how it got the name Kraz is not clear. It is said to mean ‘the claw’.

Only 164 Suns can match Kraz’s brightness, though it is only 16 times bigger than the Sun. Interestingly Kraz has 7 planets and a moon.

In brightness, it is ranked 108 in the Earth’s night sky.

Gamma Corvi or γ Corvi (γ Crv/Gienah/154 LY): ‘The right wing of the crow’ is the meaning of the Arabic word Gienah. The star is 1260 times brighter than our Sun and the brightest in Corvus with a diameter 5 times the Sun’s.

It has a companion star. In western astrology, crookedness and greed are associated with this blue subgiant star.

It is the 101st brightest star in the night sky.

Delta Corvi or δ Corvi (δ Crv/Algorab/87 LY): Algorab is ‘crow’ in Arabic. It is a double star. In brightness, the lead star (Algorab A) is equivalent to 48 Suns and the 3rd brightest in Corvus. It is over 250 million years old.

A is a white giant is double the size of our Sun while B, the companion, is an orange star with 1/3rd brightness of the Sun.

Algorab is the 164th brightest star in the sky.
Epsilon Corvi or ε Corvi (ε Crv/Minkar/318 LY): Minkar, meaning ‘beak or nostril’ in Arabic, is the 4th brightest in Corvus.

Minkar (not to be confused with Menkar from the constellation of Cetus), an orange giant, is 52-57 times bigger than the Sun. It is 930 times brighter too.

It is the 181st brightest star of the night sky.

Gamma Virginis or γ Virginis (γ Vir/Porrima or Antevorta/Hasta/Atham/39 LY):   Porrima (from Virgo) is the name one of the goddesses of ancient Romans. The Arabs called it Laouiyet al Aoua (the angle of the barker). Porrima along with Eta, Delta and Epsilon of Virgo form ‘Awwa’ (the barker) in Arab astronomy. It is  the second brightest in Virgo and located near the left hand of the Virgin in the image below. (The position of the star in images may vary depending on drawings).

Corvus, Enlarged (L); Porrima (R). See the position of the Moon.
Porrima is a double-star, aged about 1.7 billion years; both are white Main Sequence Stars. Both are 1.2 times bigger than the Sun. Their brightness too is only slightly marginal (1.5 times the Sun’s). In the image, the Moon is below the Ecliptic but closer to Porrima than the stars of Corvus are. When the Moon travels above the Ecliptic, Porrima is almost in its path.

Together they appear to be the 122nd brightest star in the sky.  

Traditional Star(s): The five stars from Corvus have been the stars that were identified long ago. Astrologers still persist with them.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Proximity to the Moon makes the double star Gamma Virginis (Porrima A and Porrimma B) system the strongest candidate for being Hasta/Atham. The constellation of Corvus has no place in the calculations of a modern analyst.


Chitrites go step by step, very meticulously, like an old school teacher, till their work is completed. They love nature and are perhaps the most practical people around. Short temper and revenge may take some sheen out of them.

Alpha Virginis or α Virginis (α Vir/Spica/260 LY): In Latin, Spica Virginis means ‘Virgo’s ear of grain’. There are many names in Arabic; Alarph (the grape gatherer) and Sumbalet (the corn ear) being two of them.

Spica is a 2-star system so close that each component cannot be seen separately with an ordinary telescope. Being the 15th brightest star in the sky and the brightest in the in constellation, it makes night sky beautiful. The primary star is 7.5 times bigger than the Sun and 12000 times brighter. Its partner is 3.7 times bigger and 1500 times brighter than the Sun. Both are blue subgiants, rotating each other in just 4 days. There is evidence that there are three other faint star companions.

The magnificent Spica: Chitra/Chithira
In western folklore, Virgo is Mother Mary and Spica, Jesus Christ. In a few articles on Hindu astrology, Spica (Chitra means bright/distinguished) was referred to as Sree Krishna’s mother, but there is no mention about this any purānās. This might have been obtained from Sanskrit-English dictionaries. There are a number of characters with the name Chitra in purānās. There are even snakes and plants.

Traditional Star:  Spica is the lone star to represent Chitra/Chithira.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Spica is the only candidate for being designated as Chitra/Chithira.


Natives of this nakshatra are some of the polished characters on the planet. They will be known for their erudition, commitment and hard work to fulfill their promises. Rest assured, they will not breach any code of conduct or law. Richard Allen mentions Nishtya (outcast) as another name for Swati/Chothi.

We have the magnificent Arcturus in Bootes constellation which is the traditional Swati/Chothi. Syrma from Virgo too deserves a look.

Alpha Bootes or α Bootis (α Boo/Azimak Ar Ramih/Arcturus/37 LY): In Greek, Arcturus means ‘bear-keeper’; the Arabic word Azimak Ar Ramih means ‘leg of the lance-bearer’. It is the brightest star north of the celestial equator.
Swati/Chothi: Arcturus and Syrma

Bootes constellation lies to the north of Virgo. On the north-east, there is Big Dipper (Saptarshis).

Arcturus is an orange giant. It is the brightest in the constellation and also the 3rd brightest in the night sky. It is 113 times brighter than the Sun. Arcturus is the size of 26 Suns. It is said to be moving fast @ 122 kmps or 76 miles per second, perpendicularly through the Milky Way’s galactic disk. 4000 years from now it will be slightly closer to the earth than it is today. Millions of years later, Arcturus will not be visible to the naked eye.

All these credentials are of no use, because many scholars are convinced that Arcturus is too far away from the Moon to be called Swati/Chothi. Moreover, Bootes does not appear in Indian zodiac. The chosen one is Syrma in Virgo itself; see the star on the shin of the Virgin in the image above. The distance between Spica and

In about a million years Arcturus will move away from us to a point where man will not be able to see it with naked eye.

Arcturus is the 3rd brightest star in the night sky, after Sirius (Rudra) and Canopus (Agastya).

Iota Virigins or ɩ Virigins (ɩ Vir/Syrma/70 LY) from Virgo: Syrma is a Greek term, meaning ‘train (arrangement or embellishment or jari) of a dress (skirt)’. It could be Surma for Arabs. In some drawings, the Virgin has a long skirt with shiny objects fitted on it. One of these shiny objects is Syrma. Swati means ‘very charitable’.

Very little information is available on Syrma which is 2.5 times bigger and about 9 times brighter than the Sun. It is a white giant almost 2 or 3 billion years old and probably a dying star. Syrma is the 11th brightest in Virgo.

It is probably between 500 and 550 in ranking for brightness in the night sky.

Traditional Star: Arcturus is the confirmed one for traditionalists.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Since Nishtya (outcast) is another name for Arcturus, it is clear that even for the ancient Indians it was a rank outsider and was brought in to the lunar zodiac for its sheer brilliance. The lovely dazzler is no longer part of our tradition and beliefs. Scholars have identified Syrma as Swati/Chothi since it is closer to the Moon. This is evident if you run Stellarium. Besides, the distance between Swati(Chothi) and Vishakha is also a factor.

Late addition: https://earthsky.org/brightest-stars/bright-orange-arcturus-use-the-big-dipper-to-find-it?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=d2c016a5ca-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_02_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-d2c016a5ca-395361253


The Vishakha(m) people are known for their manipulatory skills. They believe every action should benefit them financially – in family or outside. Amassing wealth, influencing through unfair means, love for art, excellence in education and craving for power are their natural traits. The nakshatra is considered to be masculine; suitable for men.

In all there are four stars from Libra that make up this nakshatra.

Alpha Librae or α Librae (α Lib/Zubenalgenubi/75 LY): In Arabic, Al Zuban Al  Janubiyya means ‘southern pan’. The word should be correctly written as Zuben Al(El) Genubi. Arabic word ‘(Al) Kiffa Australis’ has also the same meaning. (Zuben=Claw).

The stars here were once grouped under Scorpius. The word ‘claw’ (of Scorpius) is still used despite shifting the stars to Libra constellation. Zuben Al Genubi  is comprised of two stars – Alpha 1 and Alpha 2. The latter is the brighter of the two, the predominance coming from its westerly position. Recent studies show this star itself is a double-star. Both α 1 and α 2 are about 75 LY away from the Earth. The distance between them is 0.74 Light Year!

Alpha 1 is a blue subgiant while Alpha 2 is a white subgiant. The twin star is located at the tip of the holder of the beam of the balance.

The twin stars together form the second brightest object in Libra, although they are ranked Alpha.

Zubenalgenubi is the 125th brightest star in the sky.

Beta Librae or β Librae (β Lib/Zubeneschamali/160 LY): The Arabic word Zuben Eschamali (pron. Zuben Es-shamali) means ‘northern claw’. Zubeneschamali can be seen at the northern tip of the beam of the balance.

This is a blue subgiant variable star 130 times brighter and 5 times bigger than the Sun. According to ancient astronomer Ptolemy (90-1368 CE), Zubeneschamali was brighter than Antares (Jyeshtha/Ketta). In all probability, Antares became brighter in the last 2000 years.

In the night sky, it is ranked 103 for brightness.
Libra: Vishakha
Sigma Librae or σ Librae (σ Lib/Zubenelakrab or Brachium/163 LY): Zubenelakrab or Zubenehakrab or Zuben Al Akrab (‘Scorpion’s claw’) is Arabic. Westerners are not comfortable with Asian names.
Zubenelakrab or Zubenehakrab or Zuben Al Akrab (shears of the scorpion), the 3rd brightest star of the constellation, was mapped under Scorpius till 19th century and was numbered Gamma Scorpii (γ Sco). But after grouping it under Libra, it was numbered Sigma Librae. It is the opposite number of Zubeneschamali, i.e., it sits on the other end of the beam. It is also spelt Zubenelakrabi.

It is 1900 times brighter and 110 times bigger than the Sun.

It is a yellow giant and 472nd brightest star of the Earth’s sky.

(Another star Eta Librae was wrongly referred to as Zubenelakrab in early 18th century by astronomer Burrit).

Iota Librae or ɩ Librae (ɩ Lib/../379 LY) : There is no proper name for this star located almost at the centre of the beam. Initially Iota Librae was considered as a blue double star – Iota A and Iota B.

It was later found that Iota A is also a double star – Iota Aa and Iota Ab. Both are about 3 times larger than the Sun. They are brighter than the Sun by 149 and 94 times respectively.

Subsequently, Iota C too was discovered. The combined luminosity of Iota B and C is 1.7 times the Sun’s.

The Iota star system is very faint. It is its location that gave it some sort of reckoning. Close to the ecliptic, it is occulted (covered) by the disk of the Moon quite often over a period of time. There are more stars in Libra, but Indians had focused only on the four mentioned above in relation to the Moon’s movement.

Traditional Star(s): The four stars mentioned above form the traditional Vishakha/Vishkham.
Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): For proponents of single-star system, Zubenalgenubi 2 (Alpha 2 Librae), the second brightest star of the constellation, is Vishakha/Vishkham because it is closer to the Moon than others when the Moon visits the house. (Zubenalgenubi 1 and 2 are shown together in the image above).


This is the star of creativity, self-interest and migration. They appear to prosper through sobre thoughts and actions because of their firm belief in the almighty. But deep inside one can detect their deceitful nature too.

In Sanskrit, Anuradha means causing prosperity, follower of Radha, lotus etc.

There are three stars from the constellation of Scorpius for consideration. All appear on the right claw in the image.

Scorpion: Anuradha/Anizham
Beta Scorpii or β Scorpii (β Sco/Graffias or Akrab/530 LY): Graffias means claw; Akrab means scorpion. It is only the sixth brightest in Scorpius. 

It was considered a double star – comprising Beta 1 Sco and Beta 2 Sco, orbiting each other. Beta 1 itself is a double star with a companion. Beta 2 has a dim companion. Thus, Graffias is a bluish white 5-star system. The brightest or the lead star from Beta 1 is so bright it will need 20,000 Suns to match it. Further data is not available.

The whole Graffias system is the 98th brightest star in the Earth’s sky.

Delta Scorpii or δ Scorpii (δ Sco/Dschubba/400 LY) from Scorpius: It all depends on how the Scorpion is drawn. In the image shown here it is on the right claw but could be placed on the head if drawn in a different way. Dschubba, an Arabic term, means ‘the forehead’. It is pronounced Jubba, Jooba, Dszuba, Joo-buh, Dzubba…

It is 5th brightest in Scorpius. It is a multi-star system with the main star being 14,000 brighter than the Sun and 5 times larger. It has two companions, both brighter than the Sun. The main star is a bluish subgiant expected to die in 15 million years from now.

Dschubba is the 77th brightest ‘star’ in the night sky.

Pi Scorpii or π Scorpii (π Sco/Iclil/ 520 LY) from Scorpius: Iclil is the Arbaic term for jewel or ornament. The Corona constellation, incidentally, is called by the same name. Pi Scorpii, therefore, is not referred to as Iclil by many scientists and science journalists.

It is very close to Ophiuchus and a blue Main Sequence Star. It has a companion star. The main star is 10,000 times brighter and 5 times bigger than the Sun. The companion star is 3,000 times brighter and 4 times larger. The two stars together light up the area around them up to 80 million light years across. A pair of distant stars has also been found to make it a 4-star system.

Pi Scorpii, a variable star, is the 156th brightest star in the sky.

Traditional Star(s): All the three ‘claw’ stars form the traditional Anuradha/Anizham nakshatra. Their distances over 400-530 Light Years from us raise doubts though.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Among the three stars referred to above, Delta Scorpii (Dschubba), being the closest to the Moon during its visit to the lunar house, can be treated as the single star eligible to be called Anuradha/Anizham. (There are ones who root for Omega2 Scorpius -ω2 Sco- which can be seen south-east of Graffias almost on the ecliptic and is much closer at 290 Light Years. Omega1 is too far away to be in our list. The Omegas are not bright stars).

Jyeshtha/Ketta or Thrikketta

Here you have a bunch of crisis managers-always good at it. Prone to short temper, they are but efficient in job, sincere in relationships. This is a gandamoola nakshatra!

Jyeshtha (means ‘elder female’), in Hinduism, is a goddess of chaos, misfortune and calamity. Poor thing! She did not choose them; they were thrust upon her by the trinity of Hindu pantheon. But she has got nothing to do with the Jyeshtha asterism.

The asterism of Jyeshtha/Ketta comes from Scorpius.
Alpha Scorpii or α Scorpii (α Sco/Antares or Qalb Al Aqrab/600 LY): Antares is pronounced ‘an-taar-eez’. Ares is the Greek god of war. It means ‘like or in the manner of Mars’ (in appearance). Ares (pronounced air-eez) was identified with Mars by the Romans. Another meaning is ‘rival of Mars’. Mars (Mangal or Angaaraka, Sansk.) too looks reddish. Antares is located on the head of the Scorpion but is also called ‘heart of scorpion’ which is what Qalb Al Aqrab in Arabic means.

Antares is the brightest in Scorpius.

Antares and Alniyat of Scorpius: Jyeshtha/Ketta
Anatres and Companion Star
It is a red supergiant cooler than the Sun, but 10,000 times brighter (up to 60,000 times based on infrared-adjusted calculations) and about 800-900 times larger than it. When placed at the centre of our solar system, Antares, a variable star, would reach beyond the orbit of Mars. It is surrounded by dust which reduces its brightness. Had the cloud been absent, Antares, now only 12 million years old, would have been 90,000 brighter than the Sun. It has a bluish white companion 150 times brighter than the Sun. The massive star and companion are called Antares A and Antares B respectively.

Any time in about one million years from now, there will be a spectacular super-explosion in space (or supernova) signifying the death of Antares! The small companion, however, will attain nirvana as a white dwarf.

Antares is the 16th brightest star of the Earth’s night sky.

Sigma Scorpii or σ Scorpii (σ Sco/Alniyat/735 LY) from Scorpius: If Antares is the heart of the scorpion, there should be arteries as well! Two stars above and below Antares have been named ‘the arteries’ or Al Niyat by the Arabs. They are numbered Sigma and Tau; for our convenience, Alniyat 1 and Alniyat 2 (see image).

Alniyat or Alniyat 1 is what Indians are concerned with. It is a double star, Sigma A Alniyat and Sigma B Alniyat. A is 65,000 times and B is 27,000 times brighter than the Sun. They revolve around each other in 33 days. There are two more stars attached to this double star.

Sigma Alniyat is a bluish white star. This is the eighth brightest star in Scorpius. Radius is not mentioned in most articles that have been referred to.

It is ranked 158 for brightness in the Earth’s sky.

Traditional Star(s): Antares with Alniyat 1 forms Jyeshtha/Ketta.

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Although the two stars Antares and Alniyat are traditionally the Jyeshtha/Ketta star, nearness to the Moon makes Antares the single star for this mansion.

Mula or Vichhruta/Moolam

This is a gandamoola nakshatra. People born under the nakshatra, being very gregarious, are assured of popularity. Very good in unbiased management, they are very religious and erudite. They put dharma and karma over everything.

If you look at the image from lower back to the tip of the tail of the scorpion there are 9 stars that deserve our attention. At the top of this asterism is Epsilon Scorpii followed by Mu, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota, Kappa, Lambda and Upsilon. These stars form the traditional Moola or Mula/Moolam. For Indians this is the star of Asuras (demons), the perpetual enemies of the divine beings in the heaven. Kamsa/Kans, the maternal uncle of Hindu deity Krishna is also known metaphorically by another name Mooladeva, lord of demons.

Mula/Moolam is also called Vichhruta nakshatra or (shining) embellishment due to its ornament-like arrangement.

Mula/Moolam: Theta Ophiuchus and Scorpion Stars
Epsilon Scorpii or ε Scorpii (ε Sco/../64 LY) from Scorpius: No English or Arabic or Indian proper name exists. Epsilon Scorpii is an orange giant located on the lower back of the scorpion. It is about 15 times larger and 72 times brighter than the Sun. It is as old as the Sun – about 5 billion years. Wei, a proper name wrongly borrowed from Chinese, is no longer accepted. It is the 5th brightest star of the constellation.

Epsilon Scorpii is the 78th brightest star in the sky.

Mu Scorpii or μ Scorpii (μ Sco/../820 LY): In the past Mu-1 Scorpii and Mu-2 Scorpii were considered as close pair. But they are actually apart by over 300 LY. Mu-1, a blue-white super giant, is therefore, our star in the Moola/Moolam group.

Mu-1, which has a very close small companion, is 28,000 brighter than our Sun. It is also 13 times bigger. The close companion is 16,000 times brighter and 8 times bigger than the Sun. The small star was once bigger than Mu-1, but in the last 10 million years or so, it has been losing it materials to Mu-1. It is predicted that as Mu-1 becomes larger and larger a stage will come when it will reverse the process - the companion will start growing! Nothing can be said about their future! Mu-1 is a blue subgiant.

Mu-1 and Mu-2 rank 13 and 16 respectively for brightness among the stars of the constellation.

Mu-1 Scorpii is the 176th brightest star of our sky and Mu-2 Scorpii, the 310th.

Zeta-1 Scorpii or ζ-1 Scorpii (ζ1Sco/../2600 LY): There are two stars: Zeta-1 and Zeta-2. They are unconnected. Zeta-1 is one of the grandest stars, says Jim Kaler. According to Wikipedia, this star is 5700 LY away. It is the 29th brightest star of the constellation.

Zeta-1 Scorpii is a large star as brilliant as about 1 million Suns; in size – equal to over 100 Suns. But in the night sky of the Earth, being far away it looks dimmer, not finding a place among the 500 bright stars. Even among the Scrpius stars, it is ranked 29 for brightness.

Zeta-2 Scorpii or ζ-2 Scorpii (ζ2 Sco/../151 LY): It is an orange giant. Though much less luminous than Zeta-1, it is much closer and looks brighter to us. It may be 21 times bigger than the Sun.

Zeta-2 is the 17th brightest in Scorpius.

In the light sky, it is ranked 336 in brightness.

Eta Scorpii or η Scorpii (η Sco/../72 LY): This is a white subgiant roughly 18 times brighter than the Sun and the 15th brightest in the constellation. It is 1.8 million year-old and about 3 times the Sun’s size.

Eta Scorpii is the 239th brightest star of night sky.

Theta Scorpii or θ Scorpii (θ Sco/Sargas or Girtab/272 LY): A proper name at last; the names Sargas and Girtab are of Sumerian (Mesopotamia, Iraq) origin. They mean ‘scorpion’. ‘No people have contributed to the culture of mankind than the Sumerians’, says Sumerologist Samuel Noah Kramer! Thank you, Kramer. Sargas, a light bluish white giant, is the 3rd  brightest star of the constellation.

It is as bright as over 950 Suns and as big as 26 Suns. It will become a red giant in less than a million years and its brightness will equal 5000 Suns.

Being a southerly star, it will not be visible to people north of 470 latitude (in the northern hemisphere). 

Sargas’s ranking in brightness is 41 in the night sky. 
Iota-1 Scorpii or ɩ1 Scorpii (ɩ1 Sco/../1800 LY): Iota  Sco is a double-star, Iota-1 and Iota-2. The distance may not be correct. It could be 125 times bigger and 29,000 brighter than the Sun. It is a true white-yellow giant and potential supernova object at the end of its adult phase. It has a smaller companion estimated to be larger the Sun. It is the 12th brightest in the constellation.

Iota-1 Scorpii is the 171st star in the night sky.

Iota-2 Scorpii or ɩ2 Scorpii (ɩ2 Sco/../3700 LY).:This supergiant and partner of Iota-1 Scorpii is too faint to be seen with naked eye although it appears to us as the 30th brightest star in Scorpius. It is a multiple star system - 60 times bigger and 21,000 times brighter than our Sun.

Iota-2 has a companion star thought to be smaller than the Sun. It may explode and become a heavy dwarf after billions of years.

It is not a member of our ‘500’ club. 

Kappa Scorpii or κ Scorpii (κ Sco/../483 LY): Though this star does not have any proper name, Girtab (mentioned above) is the name that used to be applied to an asterism including Kappa Scorpii. 

Kappa Scorpii is a double star – Kappa A and Kappa B. 

Kappa A is 7 times larger than the Sun and a blue giant. Kappa B is 6 times the size of the size of the Sun. 

Kappa A is about 12,000 and B about 3600 times brighter than our Sun. Together they are over 15,000 times brighter than the Sun and they make the 6th brightest object in the constellation. 

In the night sky, they form the 84th brightest object among stars. 

Lambda Scorpii or λ Scorpii (λ Sco/Shaula/360 LY): Shaula or Sawla means ‘stinger’ or ‘raised (tail)’ in Arabic. It is the second brightest in the constellation after Antares. It looks very close to Lesath, the last star on the tail, but they are about 160 LY apart. Shaula, a blue giant, is a 3-star system. The distance to this star system has been reported from 360 to 700 Light Years. All the three stars are about 12 million years old. 

Shaula A is a blue subgiant 11 times brighter and 6 times bigger than the Sun. For Shaula B, corresponding figures are respectively 5.5 and 5,000. The third star is named Shaula Ab which might be a neutron star created by a supernova. 

The Shaula system appears as the 26th brightest ‘star’ in the sky. 

Upsilon Scorpii or ν Scorpii (ν Sco/Lesath/575 LY): Arabic Lasa meaning ‘bite of poisonous animal’ is the root of the term Lesath. It is a blue subgiant.  

Lesath is 6 times larger and 12,300 brighter than the Sun. It is the 8th brightest star in Scorpius and thought to be about 20 million years old. 

The rank for brilliance in the night sky is 115. 

Two more stars should be considered from the constellation of Ophiuchus. 

Theta Ophiuchi or θ Ophiuchi (θ Oph/../436 LY): It does not have a proper name. Theta Oph is a 3-star system. 

Currently a variable blue subgiant born 20 million years ago, it has the brightness of 5,000 (11,500 says Jim Kaler) Suns and equals 6-7 Suns in size. 

Theta Oph is the 227th bright star in our night sky.  

Epsilon Ophiuchi or ε Ophiuchi (ε Oph/Yed Posterior/106 LY): Arbaic Yed is ‘hand’. The star nearest to it is the Yed Prior (‘the one in front’). Yed Posterior (‘the one behind’). The names suggest their position when they move from east to west. 

Epsilon Oph is a yellow giant and the 7th brightest star in the constellation. It is 10 times bigger than the Sun and the 216th brightest star in the sky. 

Traditional: All the stars mentioned above from Scorpius are considered Mula/Moolam. 

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Although both stars from Ophiuchus are candidates for the single-star concept, it is still debated as to which of them could be considered as Moola/Moolam. Many have thrown their lots with Theta Ophiuchi which is very close to ecliptic. Lambda Sco (Shaula) has a sizeable number of supporters; but the Moon goes nowhere near it. 

Purva Ashadha/Pooradam 

The natives of this nakshatra have shades of anarchy in their character. One proverb they do not mind is: Look before you leap. They think after the leap. They take note of the behaviour of other people with a view to settling scores later. But they are very efficient. 

In Sanskrit, Ashadha means ‘unconquered’. In English, Purva and Uttara Ashadhas are found to have been referred to as ‘Former’ and ‘Latter’ Ashadha respectively (ref. Star Names and Their Meanings by Richard Allen).

The three stars of the asterism come from Sagittarius. 
P. Phalguni/Pooradam from Sagittarius
Epsilon Sagittarii or ε Sagittarii (ε Sgr/Kaus Australis/145 LY): Kaus is Bow, in Arabic. Australis is Latin for ‘southern’. Its location is at the bottom end of the bow (or the lower right star of the Teapot).  

It is the brightest in the constellation and has the brightness of 375 Suns. In size it equals 7 Suns. Kaus Australis is a white giant in to its final years. In cosmic terms, its demise will occur only millions of years later. It may be a multi-star system. 

It is 36th brightest star in the night sky. 

Delta Sagittarii or δ Sagittarii (δ Sgr/Kaus Media/347 LY): Media in Latin is, of course, Middle. It lies at the centre of the arrow. 

It is the 4th brightest in Sagittarius. An orange giant, it equals 1,180 Suns in brightness and is 62 times larger than the Sun. Since measuring data is difficult due to interstellar dust, it could actually be 1500-1600 times brighter and 67 times bigger than the Sun. It is believed to have 3 companion stars.
Delta Sagittarii is the 117th brightest star in the sky. 

Modern measurements do not approve these two stars as Poorva Ashadha/Pooradam, as they are far away from the Moon’s path. Nunki (Sigma Sagittarii) gets the nod because of its closeness to the Moon’s path. 

Sigma Sagittarii or σ Sagittarii (σ Sgr/Nunki /228 LY): The term Nunki is of Babylonian origin, but its meaning is unknown. 

It is 630 times brighter than the Sun but with adjustments for ultraviolet emission it could be as bright as 3,300 Suns. It is the 2nd brightest star in the constellation and about 5 times the size of the Sun. Categorized as a blue Main Sequence Star, Nunki will become a white dwarf in about 50 million years.  

In the night sky its excellent brightness makes it the 53rd brightest star. 

Traditional Stars: Delta and Epsilon Sagittarii (Kaus Media and Kaus Australis resp.) are the ones that traditionalists stick to.  

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Sigma Sagittarii (Nunki) is Purva Ashadha/Pooraadm. It is the closest among the three to the Ecliptic. 

Uttara Ashadha/Uthradam 

Blissful matrimony and this nakshatra go hand in hand! Natives of this mansion are so soft and altruistic. They do well in their profession. 

There two stars from Sagittarius and two from Capricorn(us) for consideration.

Debate continues here. Nunki is here too. There is also debate for selecting a candidate under the single star system. 

Sigma Sagittarii or σ Sagittarii (σ Sgr/Nunki/Pooradam/228 LY), discussed above, was included under Uttara Ashadha/Uthradam by traditionalists. Some still continue to do so, but other stars in contention are: 

Zeta Sagittarii or ζ Sagittarii (ζ Sgr/Ascella/89 LY) from Sagittarius:  Ascella in Latin is armpit where the star is located in the diagram – slightly down in our diagram from Stellarium. 

Ascella is a white Main Sequence Star with a close white subgiant companion. They are respectively 31 and 28 times brighter than the Sun. A third small dwarf is also suspected to be part of this asterism. The radius of any of these stars is not available. 

Ascella is the 3rd brightest in the constellation and 102nd brightest in the sky. 

Alpha-1 Capricorni or α1 Capricorni (α1 Cap/Algedi or Algiedi or Giedi Prima/690 LY) from Capricornus:  The name is Arabic (Jadi or Jady), meaning the ‘kid’ (small goat). This is the third brightest star of the constellation, but carries the alpha tag because of its westerly position. It is on the right horn of the kid. 

It looks like a double star, but the other star, Giedi Secundor (Alpha-2 Capricorni) or simply Geidi, being only 105 Light Years away, has got nothing to do with the main star Algiedi (Alpha-1 Capricorni). Such pairs are called ‘optical pairs’ i.e. visually they look like a pair. They were much closer hundreds of years ago. 

Algedi, a yellow supergiant, is 40 times bigger and 930 times brighter than the Sun. Giedi, is 8 times bigger and about 45 times brighter than the Sun. 
U Ashadha/Uthradam (Caprocorn)

Algedi, also called Prima Giedi, is not in the list of 500 club. Giedi Secunda, being closer, ranks 316 in brightness in the night sky.  

Beta Capricorni or β Capricorni (β Cap/Dabih or Dahib /340 LY) from Capricornus: Not much is known about the star. The meaning of the Arabic name too is not convincingly explained. Al Sa’d Al Dabih in Arabic means ‘the lucky star of the slaughterer’ which refers to both alpha (Algieb) and beta (Dabih) stars of the 20th lunar mansion of the Arabs. 

Dabih is a 5-star system. The main star is Dabih Major A, a red giant; its companion is Dabih Minor or Beta 1, a blue giant.  

Dabih Major is itself a double star, with its hotter partner having its own companion. Thus, the Major consists of 3 stars. With 35 times the size of the Sun, the main star of Dabih Major System has the brilliance of 600 Suns. Dabih Minor is as bright as 40 Suns. The Minor has an invisible companion. There could be more stars in Dabih system. Interestingly, Debih Major is called Beta-2 and Dabih Minor, Beta-1. Stellarium does not seem to agree with this. 

Dabih is the third brightest star of Capricornus. 

It is a complex asterism. Dabih could well make an astronomer’s lifetime study, says Jim Kaler, astronomer and science writer. 

In the night sky, Dabih is the 186th brightest star. 

Traditional Stars: Zeta (Nunki) and Sigma (Ascella) stars from Sagittarii together form the nakshatra. 

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): There are supporters for both Alpha-1 Cap (Algedi) and Beta Cap (Dabih). Both are at the same distance from the previous nakshatraUttara Ashadha/Uthradam - and the succeeding nakshatraSravana/Thiruvonam. Dabih is closer to the ecliptic and the Moon’s path which makes its candidacy stronger. [Dabih, incidentally, is the choice of some as Sravana/Thiruvonam]. 

Srona or Sravana/Thiruvonam 

The mythological character Sravan Kumar, famous for his commitment to his parents, is represented by the mansion. Eponymously, the natives of this mansion are simple, humble and dutiful. Good health and prosperity seek them, not vice versa. 

Srona means ‘lame’ in Sanskrit and Sravana is ‘ear’. There are six stars to be considered for this nakshatra. Three stars in Aquila form the traditional Shravana/Thiruvonam. The term Shraavana is the genitive/adjective of Shravana. The month when full Moon appears near the star-trio also is called Shraavana. Indians depicted this lunar mansion as ear in diagrams. The three stars are believed to be the three footsteps that took Vamana, an incarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu, to the heavens. 

Thiruvonam’ in Malayalam stands for ‘Sravana’. Often Malayalis use the wrong word ‘onam’ to refer to this nakshatra. The conventional meaning of ‘thiru’ is divine as in ‘thiru-ananthapuram’. But here ‘thiru’ is a corrupt form of ‘Sra’. Therefore, Thiruvonam, a single word, cannot be split in to two: thiru and onam. Kerala’s yearly festival is not ‘onam’, but ‘thiruvonam’. 

There are three stars from Aquila and three from Capricorn that vie for being the nakshatra.

Alpha Aquilae or α Aquilae (α Aql/Altair/17 LY) from Aquila: Altair (also spelt as Al Tayer) is the short form of Al Nasr Al Tair or Al Nasr Attair. This means ‘flying eagle’, which is also meaning of the word Aquila. 

Altair is a white Main sequence Star 11 times brighter and twice bigger than the Sun. It has three visual companion stars but they are not connected with Altair. 

Altair, Vega and Deneb (constellation of Cygnus, the swan or Northern Cross) make the Summer Triangle. 

It is the brightest star in the constellation and 12th brightest in the night sky.

Beta Aquilae or β Aquilae (β Aql/Alshain/Shravana 2/Thiruvonam 2/45 LY) from Aquila: The Arabic word means ‘scale/balance’ while in Persian the word was applied to Alpha, Beta and Gamma stars of the constellation. 

Though the ‘beta’ designation indicates it to be the second brightest in Aquila, it is actually the 4th brightest. Just 3 times bigger and 6 times brighter, it is somewhat like the Sun. Alshain is a yellow subgiant. 

It is the 367th brightest star in the night sky. 

Gamma Aquilae or γ Aquilae (γ Aql/Tarazed/395 LY) from Aquila: For the Persians it was Sahin Tarazu, beam of the scale. The name was applied to all the three stars – alpha, beta and gamma of Aquila. Sahin means ‘royal falcon’ too. For the Arabs, it is Menkib Al Nasr (the eagle’s shoulder).

This is an orange giant, second to Altair in brightness.

Tarazed is 110 times bigger and almost 2500-3000 times brighter than the Sun. 

It is the 118th brightest star in the night sky. 

All these three stars are not near the Moon’s path, say modern observers. There are three other candidates – Delta Capricorni (Deneb Algedi), Zeta Capricorni and Gamma Capricorni (Nashira). 

Delta Capricornii or δ Capricorni (δ Cap/Deneb Algedi/39 LY) from Capricornus: Deneb Algedi means ‘Tail of the Goat’ in Arabic. It is on the edge on of the Capricorn’s tail. This appears to be a star system of 4 stars. Two of them (Aa and Ab) ‘make a tight pairing’. 

The primary star, Delta-Aa Deneb Algedi is a white giant approximately twice the size of the Sun. The component star is Delta-Ab Capricornii. Two more faint companions have been found. The combined brightness of the primary star is equal to the brilliance of 8.5 Suns. Viewed from the Earth, it is the brightest system in the constellation. The stars are believed to be 600 million years old. 

In the night sky it is the 146th brightest star.  
Sravana / Thoruvonam: Sagittarius and Capricornus
Zeta Capricorni or ζ Capricorni (ζ Cap/Marakk /122 LY) from Capricornus: The word Marakk means ‘loin’. This is a double star. It too appears on Capricorn’s tail. (The distance is mentioned as 385 LY in www.astrostudio.org). 

490 times brighter than the Sun, it is also 29 times larger. The main star is a yellow supergiant less than 200 million years old. Its companion is a white dwarf. It is the 5th brightest in the constellation.

Marakk is the 385th brightest star in the sky. 

Gamma Capricorni or γ Capricorni (γ Cap/Nashira or Scheddi/139 LY) from Capricornus:  Nashira (from Arabic Sa’du Nashirah) means ‘bearer of good news’ or ‘the lucky one’; Scheddi, another Arab word comes from Deneb al Chedi, which however seems to be a corrupt version of Deneb Algedi (discussed above). 

Nashira is a blue-white giant 47 times brighter the Sun. How big it is compared to the Sun is not known. It is the 4th brightest in Capricornus. 

Nashira is the 358th brightest star in the sky. 

Traditional Star(s): The Shravana/Thiruvonam asterism comprises the three stars from Aquila mentioned above. (But remember, Aquila is far north (about 30 degrees) off the Eciptic and about 25 degrees away from the Moon's path. How come stars from Aquila were chosen by ancient Indians is a mystery - may be because it outshines the stars closer to the Moon’s track). 

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): We have so far seen 6 stars/asterisms connected with Shravana/Thiruvonam. When the Moon visits this mansion, Delta Capricornii (Deneb Algedi) is the closest to it. For single-star lovers, Deneb Algedi is Shravana/Thiruvonam. Check the distance between the next nakshatra (Uttara Ahashadha/Uthradam) and the previous nakshatra (DhanishthaI/Avittam) in Stellarium. Deneb Algedi gets the nod. Beta Capricorni or β Cap, mentioned under Uttara Ashadha/Uthrada, is also a candidate but scholars say Deneb Algedi is the relevant star here. 


Dhanishta means richest. The people under this nakshatra are workaholics. Normally docile they throw tantrum at times. They are very good managers and do not snoop in to affairs of others. They lead a good life through dedicated work. 

Seven stars from Delphinus and Aquarius are there for our scrutiny. 
Alpha Delphini or α Delphini (α Del/Sualocin/240 LY) from Delphinus: The name, as mentioned earlier (in previous articles), comes from Nicolaus, read right to left.  It is as bright as 175 Suns with a companion that is 17 times brighter than the Sun. 

Sualocin is a blue subgiant. Though termed alpha, it is the second brightest in the constellation after Rotanev. 

In the night sky, it is the 395th brightest star. 

Beta Delphini or β Delphini (β Del/Rotanev/97 LY) from Delphinus: The origin of the name Rotanev is from Venator, read from right. Refer to previous articles. The Beta, gamma and delta stars are together called Al Ukud in Arabic. 

This is brightest star in the constellation. 

Rotanev is a double; the larger of the two is as bright as 18 Suns. Its companion star is 8 times brighter than the Sun. Both are yellow subgiants. The double stars are believed to be around 1.8 billion years old. The stars are usually referred to as Beta Delphini A and B respectively. 

The Rotanev system appears to be the 339th brightest ‘star’ in the night sky. 

Gamma Delphini or γ Delphini (γ Delphini/../104 LY) from Delphinus: This has no proper name. 

Gamma Delphini is a double and the pair is the 3rd brightest in the constellation. 

Dhanishta/Avittam: Delphinus
Gamma Delphini-1 is 2.5 times bigger and 7.5 times brighter than the Sun. It is a yellowish white giant. The other, gamma delphinus, the brighter of the two, is 7.5 times larger and 26 times brighter. It is an orange giant. Gamma-1 appears to be farther than Gamma-2 by about 20 LY. 

Both are not bright enough for eyes to be included in the ‘500 club’. 

Delta Delphini or δ Del (δ Del/../203 LY) from Delphinus: This star does not have a  proper name. It’s a white Main Sequence Star. 

A double star, the brightness is 25.5 times the Sun’s. It is larger than the Sun by 3.5 times and the 5th brightest in Delphinus. 

Delta Delphini is not a member of the ‘500 bright stars’ club. 

In addition to the three Dhanishtha/Avittam stars above, there are again four more candidates in Aquarius. 

Zeta Aquarii or ζ Aquarii (ζ Aqr/Altager/103 LY) from Aquarius: Altager comes from the Arabic word Sa’d Altajir means ‘luck of the merchant’.  

There are two stars Zeta Aquarii A and Zeta Aquarii B. (The stars can also be referred to as Zeta-1 and Zeta-2 respectively). B is brighter than A. 

Zeta B is 15 times brighter than the Sun and Zeta A, 12 times. Their sizes are not available. The stars could be as old as over 1 billion years. Both are white giants and the pair appears to be the 4th brightest in the constellation. 

An interesting fact about the star system is that in 2003-2004 it crossed in to the northern hemisphere from the southern hemisphere. Precession or wobble of the Earth is the reason behind this shift. 

Zeta Aquarii A is the 344th brightest star in the sky (www.astrostudio.org), but this is in conflict with Jim Layer’s opinion. 

Pi Aquarius or π Aquarius (π Aqr/ Wasat al Achbiya/780 LY) ) from Aquarius:  The Arabic name Wasat al Achbiya (middle of luck of the homes) does not seem to be popular. 

Pi Aquarius, a blue giant, is the 28th brightest star in the constellation and shines with the brightness of 7,300 Suns. It is over 6 times bigger than the Sun. 

This is a binary system. 

Being a distant star with low visibility, it is not in the list of top 500 bright stars. 

Eta Aquarii or η Aquarii (η Aqr/Hydria/170 LY) : Hydria is the Greek for water jar. The name is very rarely used. It is a blue Main Sequence Star - the 10th brightest in the constellation. 

Approximately 175 million years old, Hydria is over 2.5 times the size of the Earth. It has the brightness of 104 Suns. 

By October 2022 Hydria will cross in to northern hemisphere, like Zeta Aquarii. 

Hydria is the 10th brightest in the constellation. 

This is not among the 500 bright stars of the night sky. 

Wait, let us see one more candidate – Xi Aquarii. 

Xi Aquarii or ξ Aquarii (ξ Aqr/Bunda/178 LY) : This is an argument I had come across a few years ago. Xi Aquarii is just near the armpit of the water-bearer. (Xi is pronounced ‘k-see’ or ‘ks-eye’). Bunda is the 22nd Moon mansion containing Sadalsuud and Xi Aquarii in ancient Persian astronomy5. Whether Xi Aquarii can singly be called Bunda is debatable. 

Xi Aquaria, Sadalsuud (Beta Aquarii) and 46 Capricorni form the asterism ‘luck of lucks. Xi Aquaria is called Thanih Saad al Saaoud in Arabic (the second luck of lucks). The wiki write-up on it says it has about 1.9 times the mass of the Sun. Not much has been written about the star, unfortunately. 

Xi Aquarii, the 22nd brightest star of Aquarius, is a Main Sequence Star with an invisible binary partner, which may be a red or white dwarf. 

It just failed to enter the list of 500 bright stars, though visible to naked eye. 

The claim that this star can be Dhanishtha/Avittam can be ignored because it is not even mentioned in the writings of many astronomers and astrologers. 

Traditional Star(s): The four stars from Delphinus are the ones for Indian astrologers. They are but nowhere near the Moon’s track! Should they consider them as Dhanishtha/Avittam 

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Alpha Delphini is a candidate for some. But like Aquila, the constellation is far away from the Moon’s path. Delphinus should be ignored totally.  Zeta Aquarius is the closest to the Moon. This can be considered as Dhanishtha/Avittam. (See the image of Aquarius).

The brighter nearby Alpha-star called Sadalmalik should have been the ideal choice. Ancha (Theta Aquarii) is also a better choice than Zeta Aquarius.
Note: There is an old school of thought that all the stars on the horn of Capricorn (the goat-fish) form the asterism Dhanishtha/Avittam which is ratified by many because this asterism has to be in Makara(m) and that is where it is. Yet the stars in the constellation of Delphinus (discussedabove) seem to be the right candidates for traditionalists. The Moon's trajectory does not allow one to drop Capricornus. Yet it does not figure in the traditional charts. 

Shatabhishaj or Shatabhishak/Chathayam 

Either a dud; or a scholar - that is all one can say about these people. Absent-mindedness and poor logic often land them in trouble. Not born achievers. They may lead quite an ordinary life, unless strongly supported by certain elements in the horoscope. They are very religious. 

The word Shatabhishak in Sanskrit means ‘requiring 100 physicians’. Indian mythology says the deity of medicine Dhanwantari needed the assistance of more physicians and thus a hundred physicians were created.  

We shall see three Aquarian stars and one from Pisces Austrinus (Southern Fish) for this nakshatra.

Gamma Aquarii or γ Aquarii (γ Aqr/Sadalachbia or Sadachbia/165 LY) from Aquarius: Sa’d al Axbiyah, in Arabic, is ‘luck of the homes’. Sadachbia could be the Arabic word formed from Shatabhishak of the Hindu mythology, an indication of Indian astronomy’s influence on ancient Arabs.  

Sadalachbia is a white Main Sequence Star. It is the 8th brightest in Aquarius besides being 3 times bigger and 62 times brighter than our Sun. Details of an invisible companion that is believed to orbit Sadalachbia are not known. It orbits the star every 58 days! 

It is the 448th brightest star of the night sky. 

The common man is always confused because of the modern path of the Moon which differs from the one our ancient people had recorded. That takes us to Phi and Lambda Aquarii. 

Phi Aquarii or ϕ Aquarii (ϕ Aqr/../ 202 LY) from Aquarius: Phi Aquaria is a red giant without a proper name. It is the 13th brightest star in the constellation. 

It is located much below the water pot, almost at the right knee of the water-bearer. 

In spite of being almost of 40 times bigger and 265 brighter than the Sun, it looks dimmer when viewed from the Earth.                                                                                                                                                           
Faintness keeps this 13 billion year old star out of the 500 club. 

Lambda Aquarii or λ Aquarii (λ Aqr/Hydor/ 370 LY) from Aquarius: Hydor is Greek for water.  

Hydor is 123 times the size of the Sun and 2210 times brighter than it. About 440 million years old, it is a red giant and almost on its deathbed in cosmic terms.  

Though a variable (star with fluctuating brightness), it is the 376th brightest star of our sky. 

The votes of purists go to Phi Aquarius for consideration as Shatabhishak/Chathayam in a single-star system.  

We have to drag in another star also - Fomalhaut - from the constellation of Piscis Austrinus (Piscis Australis). There is an argument this star is Shatabhishak/Chathayam. 

Alpha Piscis Austrini or α Piscis Austrini (α PsA/Fomalhaut /25 LY) from Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish: The Arabic name is pronounced ‘fomalo’. It is located on the ‘mouth of the fish’ and that is what the Arabic word refers to.  

Fomalhaut, a white Main Sequence Star, is nearly twice bigger than the Sun and 16 times brighter. It is suspected to have enough materials around it to evolve in to a planetary system. Image of an object believed to be a planet has been captured by Hubble telescope. 

Fomalhaut is called ‘the lonely star of autumn’ because there are no nearby bright stars - no longer so. Researchers at University of Rochester, New York, believe Fomalhaut is a 3-star system – one companion is an orange dwarf while the other is a red dwarf. ‘The age of the trio is about 440 million years’, the scientists say. 

It is very bright and ranked 18th in the night sky for its brilliance.
Fomalhaut was a significant star for Persian royal astrologers. The star, along with Aldebaran, Regulus and Antares, formed a team of ‘guardians of the sky’. Indian astrology is silent on Fomalhaut, but it found some support among a very negligible set of modern Indian astrologers who feel ‘this is Shatabhishak/Chathayam’. The puny support, however, remains ignored.

See the position of the Moon and Eclipse in the two images. Fomalhaut is far off ruling itself out of contention. The competition narrows down to Gamma Aquarii, Lambda Aquarii and Phi Aquarii. 

Traditional Star(s): Gamma Aquarii is the traditional star. 

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Among all the stars considered above, if a single star is to be taken as Shatabhishak/Chathayam it is Phi Aquarii. Distance from Dhanishta/Avittam and Poorva Bhaadrapada/Pooruttathi and the Moon’s position make it the strongest candidate. 

Purva Bhadrapada or Proshthapada/Pooruruttathi

These are the Gandhians of the society. Truth, truth, nothing but truth! Nothing else is important for them. Very kind and always helpful, they are very honest, patient and intelligent.

Proshtha is ‘Ox’ or ‘Stool’ in Sanskrit. Bhadrapada is Sanskrit for ‘auspicious foot’.

There are two stars from Pegasus and two from Piscium that catch our attention.

P. Bhadrapada/Pooruruttathi
Alpha Pegasi or α Pegasi (α Peg/Markab/140 LY) from Pegasus: Markab is the Arab word for ‘the horse’s shoulder/saddle’.

Poorva, in Sanskrit, means ‘former’, a reference to being the first star of the asterism. Bhaadrapada means ‘auspicious foot’. It is also called proshthapada – ox foot. As mentioned earlier, the ancient people noticed the square made by the four stars (that includes one from near-by Andromeda) and called it bedstead or couch, a rest place for the Moon. The regent of Poorva Bhaadrapada is Ajaikapat, son of Vishwakarma. One of the Rudras , sons of Sthanu, is also called Ajaikapat. (Shiva being called Rudra might have been a post-vedic period development).

Markab is the 3rd brightest in Pegasus. It is over 4 times larger than the Sun and 205 times brighter. It is a white giant that is getting ready to be an orange giant.

In the night sky it is the 93rd brightest star.

Beta Pegasi or β Pegasi (β Peg/Scheat/200 LY) from Pegasus: Scheat is Arabic for ‘shin’. It is 400 times brighter than the Sun and almost 100 times bigger. Its brightness can be as high as 1500 times with corrections for invisible infrared. The gas enveloping Scheat contains water vapour!

Scheat, a red giant, is the second brightest star in Pegasus. Its brightness varies irregularly.

It is the 88th brightest star in the Earth’s sky.

(Since Markab and Scheat form Poorva Bhaadrapada /Pooruruttathi, the comments on Ajaikapat are applicable for both).

Unfortunately, there are two rivals – Omega Piscium and Lambda Piscium – according to modern experts and they come from the constellation of Pisces.

Omega Piscium or ω Piscium (ω Psc/../106 LY) from Pisces:  A star without proper name, Omega Piscium was ignored by everybody except the Chinese. But the term ‘Vernalis’ is used to refer to this star in some articles. Even for them it is only part of an asterism, the Thunderbolt. Scientists are still in the process of collecting its details. It is a white Main Sequence Star.

Suspected to be a double star 1.2 billion years old, Omega Piscium is thought to be 20 times brighter than the Sun.

It is not on the list of 500 bright night-sky stars.

Lambda Piscium or λ Piscium (λ Psc/.. /100 LY) from Pisces: Here again, the reference is confined to Chinese asterism Cloud and Rain of which the star is a member.

Lambda Piscium is a bluish white star ‘hotter and brighter than the Sun’.

It is visible to naked eye, but does not have the brightness to find a place among the 500 brightest stars of the night sky.

Traditional Star(s): Alpha (Markkab) and Beta (Scheat) stars of Pegasus are the traditional stars.

Experts’ Opinion: The two stars Omega and Lambda of Pisces are found to be closer to the Moon than other candidates; of the two, Lambda is closer. The title of Purva Bhaadrapada/Pooruruttathi has been conferred on Lambda Piscium. It is also almost equidistant from other nakshatras.

I find that Omega is much brighter than Lambda. Small difference in distance is not a serious defect. Well, leave it to the experts.

Uttara Bhaadrapada or Uttara Proshthapada/ Uthrittathi

The natives of this nakshatra are like the ones from Purva Proshthapada, but with more leadership qualities. Very benevolent and forbearing. Impartial always, they do not bother telling a few lies to prove a point.

We have four stars from Pegasus (1), Andromeda (1) and Pisces (2). 

Gamma Pegasi or γ Pegasi (γ Peg/Algenib/333 LY) from Pegasus: Algenib in Arabic is ‘the side’. It is a corner star of the ‘Great square’ of Pegasus and a variable star. In a reshuffle, it was attached to Andromeda. (There is one more Algenib – the alpha star of Perseus. But it is normally referred to as Mirfak). 

It is 4.5 times bigger and 4000 times (12,000 times, according to one version) brighter than the Sun. It ranks 4th in brightness in Pegasus. Though three stars have been found ‘near’ it, they are not, as of now, considered Gamma Pegasi’s companions. 

The blue subgiant is the 138th brightest star in the sky. 

Alpha Andromedae or α Andromedae (α And/Alpheratz or Sirah/97 LY) from Andromeda: The Arabic meaning of Alpheratz is ‘horse’s shoulder’ or ‘navel’. When it was treated as a member of Pegasus, it was called Delta Pegasus. In a reshuffle, it was attached to Andromeda. But the name is still linked to the winged horse Pegasus. 

Alpheratz, a blue Main Sequence Star, is the north-eastern star of the ‘Great Square’ It is a binary system. It is 200 times brighter than the Sun. Its partner is also very bright; it is 20 times brighter than our Sun. 

Alpheratz is the brightest star in Andromeda which lies over 25 degrees north of the Ecliptic.

It is the 55th brightest star in the the Earth’s sky.

As in many other cases two more candidates are considered to be Uttara Bhaadrapada/Uthrittathi – Delta Piscium and Epsilon Piscium.

Uttara Bhadrapada/Uthrattathi
Delta Piscium or δ Piscium (δ Psc/../311 LY) from Pisces: This orange giant does not have any proper name. It lies on the ribbon that binds the two fish of Pisces. Immediately below is Epsilon Pisces. Down a bit further is Zeta Piscium, Revati (see below). 

It is 380 times brighter and over 40 times larger than the Sun. 

Delta Piscium is about 1 billion year old. It may have a companion (Delta Piscium B), but its companion status is yet to be confirmed. 

Delta Piscium is not on the elite list of 500 stars that can be seen with naked eyes at night. 

Epsilon Piscium or ε Piscium (ε Psc/../182 LY). This yellow giant too does not have a proper name. 

Epsilon Piscium is about 10 times larger than the Sun. It is brighter than the Sun, but its luminosity is not available. 

It is just bright enough for our ‘naked eye’ and hence not in the 500 club. 

Traditional Star(s): Alpha Andromeda (Alpheratz) and Gamma Pegasi (Algenib) continue to be the traditional stars. 

Experts’ Opinion: There are 4 stars in all for consideration. As mentioned earlier, Algenib and Alpheratz form the traditional Uttara Bhaadrapada/Uthrittathi. But the pair closer to the Moon during its journey is Delta-Epsilon duo from Pisces. Between the two, Delta Piscium gets the nod from advocates of single star nakshatra system. 

(When you simulate using Stellarium software, you may select Epsilon Psc which is brighter of the two). 


Inveterate job-hoppers, the natives of this nakshatra seem to destroy through hardwork whatever they or others make. Handsome as they are, their interest in opposite sex never wanes. They are prone to minor tiffs inside and outside family circles. The nakshatra is more feminine than masculine. For women, the problems will be fewer. 

Pisces supplies the two stars for this asterism.

Revati/Revathi - Piscum
Zeta Piscium or ζ Piscium (ζ Psc/../146-200 LY): This does not have a popular name. 

There are three stars in Zeta Piscium- carrying the suffix A, B and C. 

B and C orbit each other.  

Zeta Piscium A, a white giant, is at a distance of 146 Light Years from the Earth. B and C are away at nearly 200 Light Years. The 3-star system is seen as 30th brightest object in the constellation.

All are faint stars to the naked eye; they are kept out of the 500 club. 

Eta Piscium or η Piscium (η Psc/Alpherg or Alferg/295 LY): The star is also known as Kullat Nunu, which is of Babylonian origin. Kullat could be ‘cord’ (that binds the two fish). The meaning of Alferg or Alpherg is not mentioned in any artciles on this star. But an internet search shows in Saudi dialect it is 'difference/different'.

The second brightest in Pisces, it is about 316 times brighter and 26 times larger than the Sun. The distance is reported from 295 to 347 Light Years.  Alpherg, a yellow giant, is believed to be a binary star (two stars orbiting each other). 

It is the 333rd brightest star in the sky. 

Traditional Star(s): All go for Zeta Piscium.  

Single Star (Expert’s Opinion): Eta Piscium (Alpherg) is to be treated as Revati. The circle over Aries in image above shows Ashwini/Ashwathi on the left and the second shows Uttara Bhadrapada/Uthrittathi. Eta Piscium is almost exactly in between the two - a crucial factor that helps the selection of Eta Piscium.

Revati: Pi and Omricon Pisces
Why not Pi Piscium or Moicron Piscium, two stars close to the path of the Moon? These two stars also are also in the middle of Ashwini/Ashwathi and Uttara Bhadrapada satisfying the 'distance' criterion. The brightness settles it in favour of Eta Piscium.

The Moon, as we have learnt, travels above the Ecliptic and below it. Whatever its path, the star we pick should be close to it. When the Moon travels above the Ecliptic, below it and over it, Pi Piscium is the ideal one to be chosen as Revati/Revathi. The full Moon can occult Omicron Piscium. So all the three stars - Eta, Pi and Omicron Piscium - fit the bill for Revati/Revathi.  This situation arises in the case of many stars - a reason why our ancient astrologers went for an asterism - more than one star - to represent a nakshatra.

Mercator Chart

The image below shows a Mercator chart of the Indian lunar mansions. The stars are shown in their respective mansions. They are also very close to the Moon's trajectory. Orion, Hydra, Corvus, Bootes, Aquila, Pegasus and Delphinus are excluded because the Sun does not travel through them.

Mercator Chart of all 27 Nakshatras
The names in blue, of course, refer to the selected solar zodiac constellations on the Ecliptic - all the traditional 12 and Ophiuchus - in which the 27 stars supported by many authors are housed. The names in orange refer to the ecluded constellations that are not on the Ecliptic.

The final list of single stars that represent the nakshatras are:

(LY stands for distance from  the Earth in Light Years)

  1. Ashwini/Ashwathi - Alpha Arietis or α Arietis (α Ari/Hamal/ 66 LY)
  2. Bharani/Bharani  - 41 Arietis or c Arietis (160 LY)
  3. Krittika/Karthika - Pleiades Cluster (Seven Sisters/350-410 LY)
  4. Rohini/Rohini - Apha Tauri or α Tauri (α Tau/Aldebaran /66 LY)
  5. Ardra/Athira - Beta Tauri or β Tauri (β Tau/Alnath or Elnath/134 LY)
  6. Mrigaseesha/Makayiram - Gamma Geminorum or γ Geminorum (γ Gem/Alhena/105 LY)
  7. Punarvasu/Punartham - Beta Geminorum or β Geminorum (β Gem/Pollux/33 LY)
  8. Pushya/Pooyam - Beta Cancri or β Cancri (β Cnc or Al Taraf/300 LY)
  9. Ashlesha/Ayilyam - Alpha Cancri or α Cancri (α Cnc/Acubens/180 LY)
  10. Magha/Makam - Alpha Leonis or α Leonis (α Leo/Regulus/80 LY)
  11. Purva Phalguni/Pooram - Theta Leonis or θ Leonis (θ Leo or Chort or Chertan or Coxa/165 LY)
  12. Uttara Phalguni/Uthram - Beta Virginis or β Virginis (β Vir or Zavijava/35 LY)
  13. Hasta/Atham - Gamma Virginis or γ Virginis (γ Vir/Porrima or Antevorta/Hasta/Atham/39 LY)
  14. Chitra/Chithira - Alpha Virginis or α Virginis (α Vir/Spica/260 LY)
  15. Swati/Chothi - Iota Virigins or ɩ Virigins (ɩ Vir/Syrma/70 LY)
  16. Vishakha/Vishakham - Alpha Librae or α Librae (α Lib/Zubenalgenubi/75 LY)
  17. Anuradha/Anizham - Delta Scorpii or δ Scorpii (δ Sco/Dschubba/400 LY)
  18. Jyeshtha/Ketta - Alpha Scorpii or α Scorpii (α Sco/Antares or Qalb Al Aqrab/600 LY)
  19. Mula/Moolam - Theta Ophiuchi or θ Ophiuchi (θ Oph/436 LY)
  20. Poorva Ashasdha/Pooradam - Sigma Sagittarii or σ Sagittarii (σ Sgr/Nunki /228 LY)
  21. Uttara Ashsadha/Uthradam - Beta Capricorni or β Capricorni (β Cap/Dabih or Dahib /340 LY) 
  22. Shravana/Thiruvonam - Delta Capricornii or δ Capricorni (δ Cap/Deneb Algedi/39 LY)
  23. Dhanishta/Avittam - Zeta Aquarii or ζ Aquarii (ζ Aqr/Altager/103 LY)
  24. Shatabhishak/Chathayam - Phi Aquarii or ϕ Aquarii (ϕ Aqr/../ 202 LY)
  25. Poorva Bhadrapada/Pooruruttathi - Lambda Piscium or λ Piscium (λ Psc/100 LY)
  26. Uttara Bhadrapada/Uthrittathi - Delta Piscium or δ Piscium (δ Psc/311 LY)
  27. Revati/Revathi - Eta Piscium or ζ Piscium (ζ Psc/Alferg/146-200 LY)

Punarvasu/Punartham is the closest star at 33 LY away and Jyeshtha/Ketta is the most distant at 600 LY.

Software and Lunar Zodiac

Although India produce a lot of software engineers - some of them with knowledge of astronomy - none has a developed a software of lunar zodiac for educational purposes or professional use. The west has creative people to develop software like Stellarium. There is a Vedic Astronomy mode in Stellarium, but it only shows stars with a few Indian names.

The first problem Indians have is that unlike IAU which defined boundaries for each of the 88 constellations, they have not defined the boundaries for each of the 27 lunar rashis. It is difficult too because there is no consensus among astronomers and astrologers on the area of a lunar rashi. However, a software can take care of this problem by providing it with optional adjustments so that user-defined areas can be created. 2D software are available which is good for plotting the distance between nakshatras. Perhaps there can be a consensus too on the stars to be taken as nakshatras in view of the shift in precession of the Earth and availability of new technology. But if one adds new stars to or remove some of the existing stars from the asterisms, who will define their astrological impact? No living scholar has the ability to link human characteristics to newly added stars. But at least, Hindus can have their calendar errors rectified through such discussions. Why should a Hindu continue to believe that Uttaraayana / Makar Sankranti is on or about January 14 whereas it is actually on December 22-23?

 Astrology...? For What?

I have visited a number of Indian astrologers from the north and south to see how they interpret my birth star based on exact time of birth and location. All of them gave different analyses none of which agreed with my profile.  

Most Indian astrologers do not have the necessary scientific background required for analysis of a Chandra rasi (Lunar Mansion). A famous Indian astrologer’s website says ‘ecliptic’ is the Earth’s orbit around the Sun! The Hindu calendar itself is erroneous as adjustments are not made after periodic study. The changes in equinoxes are an example. Besides, traditional Hindu day is sunrise to sunrise, not midnight to midnight. The balance (time) of a nakshatra carried forward to the next day differs from one astrologer to another! You can have  two birth stars as a result if you were born in that 'fringe' period, depending on whom you consult! Without knowledge of science, an astrologer is a big zero even for those who believe in astrology.

Earth and Moon: Photographed from near Saturn
By Cassini spacecraft - NASA Image
Once you know the criteria for deciding a nakshatra, you can argue with the help of a powerful telescope that there are stars in more ideal positions than the ones prescribed by the traditional astrology. Also, if you know how to measure the sky in degrees, you can increase the area of a rashi and include more stars. But what if there are stars which your telescope cannot detect? To what extent should you widen the area of a rashi? Are 5 or 7 degrees enough? More questions will take you back to what the ancient Indians had decided - take only the most visible stars near the Moon's path. Still you may ask why Arcturus (Swati/Chothi), almost 40 degree away from the Ecliptic or Altair (Shravana/Thiruvonam), almost 30 degrees away from it have become nakshatras. If you check in Stellarium you will find that there no visible stars nearby them. But modern astronomers have been able to identify stars much closer with a new approach as shown in the Mercator chart above. We do not know exactly the old criteria used for identifying and naming nakshatras. Who knows, if the ancient Indians had powerful telescopes, the composition of a nakshatra would have been different

The Earth is not even a speck in the humongous universe (See the NASA image from Saturn). It, like any other object in the universe, is being uninterruptedly bathed in radiation and all types of waves and energy emanating from all existing objects, known and unknown, be they stars or galaxies or any other source. In turn, the occupants of the Earth too 'may' get affected. One cannot say that only the stars belonging to 27 lunar mansions, the other solar planets, the Moon and the Earth itself do have an impact on human beings.

At the end of it all, may one ask: Do you believe in Astrology?

One thing is certain. Nothing replaces hard work. You are the master of your destiny.



1.       http://darkstarastrology.com/pleiades/ (Eta Tauri)

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