Nakshatra in Summer

Composer: Ralf Kannenberg

Nakshatra: Lunar mansions in the Indian tradition

As our planet Earth moves around the Sun, from Earth there is the impression that the Sun is moving leftwards in front of the stars. As the lunar orbit around Earth geometrically closely falls into the same plane, the Moon seems to move in front of the same stars like the Sun. As the stars passed by the Moon can be observed easily during the night, the Indian tradition and later also the Arab tradition used lunar mansions for their calendar and related them to Godesses and Deity. The lunar mansions of the Indian tradition are called Nakshatra and the next section will describe the stars within each lunar mansion and nearby bright stars.

All religious information is taken from the English Wikipedia.

Nakshatra: Lunar mansions in the Indian tradition of the Summer constellations

The Nakshatra of the spring do not contain stars as bright as the Nakshatra of the winter. However there are still some very famous stars within the Nakshatra or nearby involved. All religious information is taken from the English Wikipedia.

1 Visakha: the constellation Libra

The first Nakshatra of the summer is Visakha. This means "forked, having branches"; it is also known as radha, "the gift".

Arcturus is found following the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper. Starting from Arcturus almost at a right-angle to the east a further handle-like group of stars can be observed with Arcturus in the first position, the star Mirak in the middle and the star Gemma at its end. Both Mirak and Gemma are of second magnitude. Mirak belongs to the same constellation as Arcturus and means "the loins"; it is a Red Giant star almost 200 lightyears away. Gemma is the main star of Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown, and means "jewel", it is a white star 80 lightyears away.

Mirroring Mirak at the line Arcturus - Gemma but three times further away is a star of nearly second magnitude named Unuk, "the Serpent's Neck". Unuk is a Red Giant star almost 75 lightyears away. Passing from Mirak to Unuk and half as far again, further two stars are visible, the first is another almost second magnitude star and the second just a little beyond it, is a third magnitude star. They are at the border of the constellations Serpent and Ophiuchus, the Serpent-Bearer. Their names are Yed Prior and Yed Posterior. Yed means "the hand" and the Latin attributes 'prior' and 'posterior' indicate the foremost and the furthermost location in the Serpent-Bearer's Hand. - Yed Prior is a Red Giant star 170 lightyears away and Yed Posterior a yellow star like the sun over 100 lightyears away.

Following the line from Mirak and Unuk to Yed Prior and Yed Posterior and then going perpendicular to the west, another star of almost second magnitude is seen, called Zuben-el-schemali. Continuing along this line, another almost second magnitude star is seen, called Zuben-el-genubi.

Zuben-el-schemali is a bluish star 120 lightyears away and Zuben-el-genubi is a white star nearly 80 lightyears away. Their meaning is "The Northern Claw" and "The Southern Claw", both referring to the nearby constellation Scorpio.

The star Brachium is of third magnitude and forms a wide triangle with Zuben-el-schemali and Zuben-el-genubi where Brachium is at its southern corner. Brachium means "arm" and is a Red Giant star nearly 300 lightyears away. These are the three brightest stars of the constellation Libra, representing the Weighing Scales.

The Nakshatra Visakha consists of Zuben-el-schemali and Zuben-el-genubi together with two other fourth magnitude stars forming a parallel line halfway south of them, north of Brachium.

Its Lord is Guru, represented by Jupiter, its symbol is a triumphal arch and a potter's wheel, and its Deities are Indra, the chief of the Gods, and Agni, the God of Fire.

2 Anuradha: the northern part of the Scorpion

Scorpio and Libra
The next Nakshatra of the summer is Anuradha. This means "following radha", which was the last Nakshatra.

Continuing the line from Mirak through Unuk, Yed Prior and Yed Posterior a further almost second magnitude star can be seen, named zeta Ophiuchi. Continuing on a slight curve leads to Sabik, a second magnitude star. Originally, both stars were called Sabik, with zeta Ophiuchi known as "as-sabiq al-awwal" and Sabik as "as-sabiq at-tani", meaning "the first preceding one" and "the second preceding one". - Zeta Ophiuchi is a bluish star nearly 500 lightyears away and Sabik is a white star about 80 lightyears away.

These stars form a nearly straight line consisting of 7 stars, beginning from three stars with Unuk in their middle, followed by the nearby pair of stars Yed Prior and Yed Posterior, and moving along the same distance arriving at the first Sabik-star, zeta Ophiuchi, and then at the same distance again only a little to the north ending up at Sabik. Sabik is the Northern Star of the planet Uranus.

South of the end of the line, the first magnitude star Antares can be seen, which is a Red Giant star representing the heart of the Scorpion. Its Arabian name "Calbalacrab" also means "the Scorpion's heart". Antares means "equal to-Mars", referring to its deep red colour which is easily seen by the naked eye.

Zuben-el-genubi, the middle star of the constellation Libra, is now very easily found in the middle of Spica of the Nakshatra Chitra und Antares.

West of Antares is a handle-like group of three stars which form this Nakshatra; the northern-most star of this group is Acrab, the middle one is Dschubba and the southern-most one is pi Scorpii. Acrab is of second magnitude, Dschubba of nearly first magnitude and pi Scorpii of nearly second magnitude. All of them are bluish stars, Acrab being more than 500 lightyears away and Dschubba 400 lightyears away. Acrab means "the Scorpion" and Dschubba means "the forehead". Pi Scorpii is 450 lightyears away. Currently the 0th magnitude ring-planet Saturn can be seen next to Acrab.

The Lord of this Nakshatra is Shani, represented by Saturn, its symbol is a triumphal archway and a lotus and its Deity is Mitra, one of the Adityas of friendship and partnership.

3 Jyeshtha: Antares and its neighbor stars

The next Nakshatra of the summer is Jyeshtha. This means "the eldest, most excellent".

The principal star of the Scorpion is Antares. It is in the middle of a handle-like group of three stars with sigma Scorpii on the side of the Nakshatra Anuradha and tau Scorpii on the other side. Both sigma and tau Scorpii have the name Alniyat that means "stars to protect the heart (of the Scorpion)", which is Antares. Like the three stars Acrab, Dschubba and pi Scorpii of the Nakshatra Anuradha, both sigma and tau Scorpii are bluish stars, sigma Scorpii being 700 lightyears away and tau Scorpii 430 lightyears away.

Both Nakshatras form the body and the claw of the Scorpion, which is, according to my mind, the most beautiful constellation of all.

Its Lord is Budh, represented by Mercury, its symbol is a circular amulet, an umbrella and an earring, and its Deity is Indra, the chief of the Gods.

4 Mula: the impressive tail of the Scorpion

The Tail of the Scorpion
The next Nakshatra of the summer is Mula. This means "the root".

Following the arc of the handle of the Scorpion's heart with Antares the impressive tail of the Scorpion can be observed starting with the star epsilon Scorpii. By continuing along this path the star Sargas is seen at the curve of the tail and, by continuing to follow the tail to its end, two nearby stars are seen. The brighter one on the left side is Shaula and is of nearly first magnitude and Lesath, on the right side, is of nearly second magnitude. They are sometimes referred to as the Cat's Eyes.

Epsilon Scorpii between the body and the tail of the Scorpion is a second magnitude star and Sargas is another almost first magnitude star.

Epsilon Scorpii is a red giant star at a distance of about 70 lightyears and Sargas is a white star almost 200 lightyears away. The name Sargas is of unknown Sumerian origin. - Shaula means "the raised (tail of the Scorpion)" and Lesath means "pass (or bite) of a poisonous animal"; both are bluish stars. Shaula is more than 700 lightyears away and Lesath 520 lightyears away.

Below Shaula and Lesath the second magnitude star Girtab is seen, it is also a bluish star almost 500 lightyears away. Girtab is the Sumerian word for "scorpion".

Its Lord is Ketu, represented by the south lunar node, its Symbol is a bunch of roots tied together or an elephant goad, and its Deity is Nirrti, the goddess of dissolution and destruction.

5 Purva Ashadha: the Arc of Sagittarius

Finding Sagittarius 2nd possibility
The next Nakshatra of the summer is Purva Ashadha. This means the "first of the asadha", a constellation whose name translates as "the invincible one".

Continuing the line from Unuk through Yed Prior and Yed Posterior, then through both Sabik stars, zeta Ophiuchi and Sabik, and carrying on twice as far again as the Sabik stars are apart, brings you to two stars, which belong to the constellation Sagittarius. The first one is Kaus Borealis and the second, brighter one, located within a group of several stars, is called Nunki. Kaus Borealis is a star of almost second magnitude and its name means "northern star of the arc". The name Nunki is of Sumerian origin and means "divine place on earth". Nunki is a bluish star of second magnitude 220 lightyears away whilst Kaus Borealis is a Red Giant star nearly 80 lightyears away. - Moving further to the north of Nunki, another nearly second magnitude star can be seen: this is Albalda meaning "the place", which is a white star about 450 lightyears away. These stars are part of two handle-like groups of stars, where the group with Kaus Borealis forms the arc of Sagittarius, and the group with Nunki and Albalda, which also resembles an arc, forms the body of Sagittarius. Both arcs seem to have a short arrow starting at the middle star each and pointing towards the Scorpion.

South of Kaus Borealis, the northernmost star of the real arc of Sagittarius, two further stars are seen, which are the stars forming this Nakshatra: first Kaus Meridionalis, a little brighter than Kaus Borealis, and then Kaus Australis, which is the brightest star of the constellation and almost of first magnitude. Kaus Australis is a bluish star at a distance of 145 lightyears and Kaus Meridionalis is a Red Giant star more than 300 lightyears away. Their names mean "southern star of the arc" and "middle star of the arc".

South of Nunki the third brightest star of the constellation, Ascella, is seen. This is a white star 90 lightyears away. Ascella is the Latin word for "armpit".

The Lord of Purva Ashadha is Shukra, represented by Venus, its Symbol is an Elephant tusk, a fan and a winnowing basket and its Deity is Apah, the god of Water.

6 Uttara Ashadha: the Body of Sagittarius

The two arcs of Sagittarius
The next Nakshatra of the summer is Uttara Ashadha. This means the "second of the asadha".

The arc of the Sagittarius also has an arrow with the arrowhead being slightly west of the star Kaus Meridionalis; its name is Alnasl, meaning "arrowhead". Alnasl is a Red Giant star of third magnitude at a distance of nearly 100 lightyears.

This Nakshatra is composed of the stars Nunki and Ascella, the middle and the southernmost star of the "second arc", which forms the body of Sagittarius.

In English literature, the Sagittarius stars form the "Teapot": Kaus Borealis, the northernmost star in the arc of Sagittarius, is the apex of the lid; Nunki in the middle of the "second arc", together with the surrounding stars, and Ascella at the bottom of the second arc, form the handle; and Alnasl forms the tip of the spout. The other stars form the body of the pot; only Albalda, the northernmost star of the second arc, is not part of the teapot.

The Lord of this Nakshatra is Surya, represented by the Sun, its Symbol is an Elephant tusk and a small bed and its Deities are Visvedevas, the universal gods

7 Sravana: the Eagle

The next Nakshatra of the summer is Sravana. This means "the hearing".

Continuing the two arcs of Sagittarius to the north leads to an almost 0th magnitude star, which is Atair, the principal star of the Eagle. On either side of Atair is a star: Tarazed to the north and Alshain to the south. Sometimes they are translated as Falcons accompanying the Eagle, which in fact is a mistake: their name originates from "shahin tarazed" which encompassed all three of them, meaning "scale-beam", i.e. the arm of a pair of scales. The first part of the name is nowadays used for Alshain and the second part of the name for Tarazed.

Atair means "the flying Eagle" and is a nearby white star only 17 lightyears away. Tarazed is a Red Giant star of almost second magnitude at a distance of nearly 500 lightyears and Alshain is like our Sun, a yellow star nearly 50 lightyears away. These three stars form this Nakshatra.

As seen before, the brightest star of the northern hemisphere, Arcturus, is found following the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper. Starting from Arcturus almost at a right-angle to the east, a further handle-like group of stars can be observed with Arcturus in the first position, the star Mirak in the middle and the star Gemma at its end. Following the arc of this handle leads to the second magnitude star Ras Alhague, which is the principal star of the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent-Bearer. Ras Alhague is a white star 60 lightyears away. Ras Alhague can also be found in the middle of Gemma and Atair, a little south. Progressing from Ras Alhague to the Scorpion, after two thirds of the way along, both Sabik stars, zeta Ophiuchi and Sabik, are passed by.

The Lord of Sravana is Chandra, represented by the Moon, its Symbol is an Ear or Three Footprints and its Deity is Vishnu, the preserver of the universe.

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