Nakshatra in Autum

Composer: Ralf Kannenberg

Nakshatra: Lunar mansions in the Indian tradition of the first Autumn constellations

The Nakshatra of the autumn contain less bright stars than the Nakshatra of the other seasons, but they contain the oldest constellations as their ascendance heralded the fertile season with rain bringing life back again to earth. The main constellations of this period are Capricorn and Aquarius. The Arabian tradition using groups of nearby stars instead of the larger constellations of today called these star groups Sadal-stars, where Sadal means "good fortune)". There are 10 such Sadal-stars.

All religious information is taken from the English Wikipedia.

1 Dhanishta: the Dolphin

Eagle and Dolphin
The first Nakshatra of the autumn is Dhanishta. This means the "most famous". This Nakshatra is also called Shravishtha, which means "swiftest".

It consists of the Dolphin which is located east of the line of the last Nakshatra Sravana comprising of the Eagle stars Tarazed, Altair and Alshain.

The Dolphin looks like a rhombus with a handle and contains two stars of nearly third magnitude and three stars of fourth and nearly fourth magnitude. Its brightest star is beta Delphini, the star is on the side of the rhombus with the handle. The principal star of the Dolphin, alpha Delphini, is of the same brightness and is on the northern side of the middle of the rhombus. Beta Delphini is a white star 80 lighyears away and alpha Delphini is a bluish star at a distance of 240 lightyears.

Continuing the line southwards of the last Nakshatra Sravana with the stars Tarazed, Altair and Alshain leads to the star theta Aquilae and then, carrying on as far again a little offset to the right, to the two stars Algiedi and Sadaldabih, both belonging to Capricorn. All three of them are of third magnitude.

Theta Aquilae is a bluish star almost 300 lightyears away, Algiedi - this means "goat" - is like our sun a yellow star at a distance of 110 lightyears and Sadaldabih, this means "the lucky stars of the slaughterer", is a Red Giant star 350 lightyears away. In the Arabian tradition, both Algiedi and Sadaldabih form the group Sadaldabih.

Continuing this line into the other direction leads to the very bright star Vega, which is the second brightest star of the northern hemisphere. Both Vega and Altair symbolise Eagles, with Altair meaning "the flying Eagle" and Vega meaning "the swooping Eagle" as it tries to catch some prey. Vega is the principal star of the constellation Lyra and it is a white star 25 lightyears away.

Going upwards from Sadaldabih to Algiedi and travelling with the eye three times as far and then at a rightangle to the east, brings you to the star Sadalbali, which is almost as bright as Algiedi. It belongs to Aquarius and is a white star more than 200 lightyears away. Sadalbali means "the brightest of fortune of the swallower".

Its Lord is Mangala represented by Mars, its Symbol is a drum and a flute and its Deities are eight vasus, the deities of earthly abundance.

2 Shatabhisha: Capricorn and Aquarius

The next Nakshatra of the autumn is Shatabhisha. This means "Comprising a hundred physicians".

Going from Nunki in Sagittarius to Algiedi and Sadaldabih and the same distance again leads to a third magnitude star, Sadalsuud, the brightest star of Aquarius. Sadalsuud means "luckiest of the lucky stars". Carrying on further the same distance, the principal star of Aquarius is seen, Sadalmelik, which means "the lucky stars of the king". Both stars are yellow stars like our sun , Sadalsuud being 600 lightyears away and Sadalmelik 750 lightyears away. Proceeding a little further and then south, the star Sadalachbia is seen, which means "lucky stars of the tents". It is a white star about 150 lightyears away and forms this Nakshatra. It has the same magnitude as the two brightest stars of the Dolphin from the last Nakshatra.

Taking the line Nunki, Algiedi and Sadaldabih further to Sadalsuud and Sadalmelik, two further stars of Capricorn can be observed by turning at a rightangle to the south of Sadalsuud. The left star is the brightest of Capricorn, Deneb Algedi, and the right star is Sadnashira. Deneb Algedi means "Tail of the Goat" and Sadnashira means "the lucky stars bringing good tidings". Both are white stars respectively 40 lightyears and almost 150 lightyears away. In the Arabian tradition, both stars form the group Sadnashira.

The pretty constellation of the Swan is situated between the flying Eagle Altair and the swooping Eagle Vega and can now be seen in the north-east. The Swan looks like a cross with its brightest star Deneb, another first magnitude star, forming an impressive right-angled triangle with Altair and Vega. Often this triangle is called the "Summer Triangle". Deneb is on the other side of the line Altair - Vega than Ras Alhague, the principal star of the Serpent-Bearer Ophiuchus. Deneb is a very distant bluish star over 3000 lightyears away and means "Tail (of the Swan)". In the middle of Altair and Vega, a fraction towards Deneb, the head ot the Swan is seen, this is the third magnitude star Albireo. Albireo means "Bird" and is a very beautiful star for the telescope as it consists of a bluish and an orange star nearly 400 lightyears away.

In the middle of the Swan is its second brightest star Sadir. It is of second magnitude and like our sun, is a yellow star 750 lightyears away. Sadir means "Breast (of the Swan)". Gienah is the star at the right wing and delta Cygni is the star at the left wing. Gienah means "Wing (of the Swan)", it is a Red Giant star more than 70 lightyears away and delta Cygni is a bluish star at a distance of 170 lightyears.

The Lord of Shatabhisha is Rahu, represented by the north lunar node, its Symbol is an empty circle, 1000 flowers and stars and its Deity is Varuna, the god of cosmic waters, sky and earth.

3 Purva Bhadrapada: Pegasus

The fertile trepezium between Pegasus and Aquarius
The next Nakshatra of the autumn is Purva Bhadrapada. This means "the first of the blessed feet".

Starting at Nunki in Sagittarius via Algiedi and Sadaldabih in Capricorn and then Sadalbali in Aquarius to Sadalsuud and Sadalmelik brings you to the star Sadalachbia with its neighbouring stars. This is the "Fertile Line". Sadalsuud and Sadalmelik form the bottom of the "Fertile Trapezium". The top consists of two stars of the constellation Pegasus. The star to the right is of second magnitude, this is the brightest Pegasus star Enif. The star to the left is Sadalbaham, a third magnitude star.

Enif, meaning "Nose (of the Horse)", is a Red Giant star 700 lightyears away, and Sadalbaham meaning "lucky stars of the young beasts". It is a white star almost 100 lightyears away. Enif can also be found with the help of the Summer Triangle: mirroring the swooping Eagle Vega at the line Deneb, the principal star of the Swan, and the flying Eagle Altair, leads the gaze to Enif. The Summer Triangle and Enif form a parallelogram.

Using the "Fertile Trapezium" by tracing from Sadalmelik to Sadalbaham and then veering right leads to Enif. When veering left, however, it leads to another third magnitude star called Sadalhomam, which is a bluish star 200 lightyears away. Carrying on as far again leads to the principal star of the Pegasus, Markab, which is as bright as Enif. Markab is a bluish star at a distance of almost 150 lightyears. Sadalhomam means "lucky star of the high minded" and the principal star Markab means "Shoulder (of the Horse)".

With the help of the Summer Triangle a further star of Pegasus can be found: mirroring the swooping Eagle Vega perpendicular at the line Deneb - Altair, (i.e. next to Deneb), the second magnitude star Scheat is seen. Scheat meaning "Leg (of the Horse)" is a Red Giant star 200 lightyears away, and is as bright as Enif and Markab. It is located within a small regular triangle, where the right corner is composed of 2 stars.

The star at the top of this triangle is Sadmatar whilst the inner and brighter star of the right corner is Sadalbari. Both are of third magnitude. Sadmatar means "lucky star of rain" and is a yellow star like our sun at a distance of more than 200 lightyears. Sadalbari means "lucky star of the splendid one" and is a Red Giant star more than 100 lightyears away. In the Arabian tradition, both stars at the right edge form the group Sadalbari.

This Nakshatra is formed by the principal Pegasus star Markab and Scheat.

Following four times further along the line from Scheat to both Sadalbari stars also leads to the brightest Pegasus star Enif.

Its Lord is Guru represented by Jupiter, its symbols are swords, two front legs of a funeral cot and a man with two faces and its Deity is Ajikapada, an ancient fire dragon.

4 Uttara Bhadrapadi: Autumn Quadrangle

The next Nakshatra of the autumn is Uttara Bhadrapada. This means "the second of the blessed feet".

This Nakshatra consists of the stars Algenib and Sirrah, which form a quadrangle together with the stars Markab and Scheat of the last Nakshatra Bhadrapadi. This quadrangle is called "Autumn Quadrangle". Sirrah at the northern corner is a second magnitude star, it is a white star 100 lightyears away, Algenib an almost second magnitude star is a bluish star at a distance of almost 500 lightyears.

Sirrah is the principal star of the Andromeda and means "Navel (of the Steed)", which refers to the Horse Pegasus, Algenib belongs to Pegasus and means "the Flank (of the Horse)".

Going down the right side of the Autumn Quadrangle three times its height to the south leads to the first magnitude star Fomalhaut, which is the principal star of the constellation Southern Fish. Going down the left side of the Autumn Quadrangle twice its height to the south leads to the brightest star Deneb Kaitos of the constellation Cetus. Cetus is a sea monster in Greek mythology and was supposed to eat Princess Andromeda, who then was saved by the hero Perseus.

Fomalhaut is a white star 25 lightyears away and means "Mouth of the (Southern) Fish". Deneb Kaitos is a second magnitude star, a Red Giant star almost 100 lightyears away and means "Tail of the Beast".

The Lord of Uttara Bhadrapada is Shani represented by Saturn, its symbols are twins, the back legs of a funeral cot and a snake in the water, its Deity is Ahir Budhyana, a serpent or dragon of the deep.

5 Revati: Pisces

Last autumn Nakshatra: Revathi
The next Nakshatra of the autumn is Revati. This means "prosperous".

The Autumn Quadrangle can be imagined as a house lying on its side with a roof almost double the height of the house itself, i.e. the quadrangle. In this visualization, the bottom of this house is formed by the Nakshatra Purva Bhadrapada, consisting of the stars Markab and Scheat. The upper edge of this house is formed by the Nakshatra Uttara Bhadrapada consisting of the stars Algenib and Sirrah.

The star at the roof of this house is a bright as Sirrah: this is Hamal, the principal star of Aries, the Ram. A little south of it in the direction of Algenib is Sheratan, a star as bright as Algenib. Hamal originates from ras-al-hamal meaning "the Head of the Ram" and Sheratan means "The two Signs (Pisces and Aries)". Hamal is a Red Giant Star 75 lightyears away and Sheratan is a white star at a distance of 60 lightyears.

Going from Hamal to Sheratan and then three times further leads to the almost third magnitude star Alpherg, the brightest star of Pisces. Alpherg means "Horse", a reference to nearby Pegasus, and is a yellow star like our sun at a distance of nearly 300 lightyears. Alpherg also is found by following the line from Markab to Algenib the same distance again.

This Nakshatra consists of a star of only 5th magnitude which is in the area reached by continuing from Hamal and Sheratan to Alpherg and then the same distance beyond and a little to the southeast. Lord of Revati is Budha represented by Mercury, its Symbol is a fish or a pair of fish and a drum and its Deity is Pushan, the nourisher or the protective deity.

6 Ashvini: Aries

The next Nakshatra of the autumn is Ashvini. This means "wife of the Ashvins".

This Nakshatra consists of the star Sheratan and its neighbour star, both in Aries. They are the stars right of its principal star Hamal.

The Lord of Ashvini is Ketu, represented by the South lunar node, its Symbol is a Horse's head and its Deity are Ashvins, the horse-headed twins who are physicians to the gods.

7 Bharani: the Northern Fly

The next Nakshatra of the autumn is Bharani. This means "the bearer".

Moving across Aries the other way from Alpherg, i.e. from Sheratan to Hamal and then three times further, leads to the almost third magnitude star Bharani, a little to the south. Bharani used to be the principal star of the constellation "Northern Fly" or "Northern Bee", which nowadays belongs to Aries as well. Bharani is a bluish star 160 lightyears away. This Nakshatra is formed by Bharani and its neighbouring stars.

The Lord of Bharani is Shukra, represented by Venus, its Symbol is Yoni, the female organ of reproduction and its Deity is Yama, the god of Death or Dharma.

8 The big "Southern Route" from Orion to Sagittarius

In the east, the famous constellation Orion is seen. Its left shoulder, Betelgeuse, is a very bright star of 0th magnitude, a red giant star 400 lightyears away and translates as the "Giant's Shoulder". Following the belt of the Orion to the north the main star of Taurus, Aldebaran, can be seen. It is a bright red giant star of nearly 0th magnitude, a distance of 70 lightyears away. Its arab name means "the follower (of the Pleiades)", since Aldebaran is the next lunar mansion rising after the Pleiades.

Aldebaran seems to be located within a group of a star cluster which is called the Hyades about 150 lightyears away. Thus Aldebaran is a foreground star not belonging to this star cluster. The main stars of the cluster and Aldebaran look like a "V" with stars at the top, middle and the bottom of the "V", where the middle of the left fork consists of 2 stars. All these main stars of the cluster appear in the 3rd or nearly 3rd magnitude.

Moving from Betelgeuse to Aldebaran and then following both forks like an arrow three times further points to Deneb Kaitos, a second magnitude star, and continuing one and a half time further, to Fomalhaut, an even first magnitude star. Fomalhaut is a white star 25 lightyears away and means "Mouth of the (Southern) Fish". Deneb Kaitos is a second magnitude star, a Red Giant star almost 100 lightyears away, and means "Tail of the Beast".

Turning at Deneb Kaitos almost at a right-angle to the northeast twice as far as the distance from Betelgeuse to Aldebaran, a big quadrangle nearly like a square is seen, this is the Autumn Quadrangle. The star at the bottom right is Markab, the principle star of Pegasus, and the star at the bottom left is Algenib. Both stars are bluish stars, Markab being almost 150 lightyears away and Algenib 750 lightyears away. Markab means "Shoulder (of the Horse)" and Algenib means "the Flank (of the Horse)".

Moving to Fomalhaut and then almost at a right-angle to the northeast and situated twice as far as the distance from Betelgeuse to Aldebaran, the star Enif is seen. Enif, meaning "Nose (of the Horse)", is a Red Giant star 700 lightyears away. Both Markab and Enif are second magnitude stars and Algenib is an almost second magnitude star. About three-quarters of the way from Fomalhaut to Enif a third magnitude star is seen: this is Sadalmelik, the principal star of Aquarius. Sadalmelik means "the lucky stars of the king" and is a yellow star like our sun, situated 750 lightyears away.

Continuing the line from Algenib to Sadalmelik as far again leads to 2 stars close together belonging to Capricorn; the upper one Algiedi - which means "goat" - is like our sun, a yellow star, at a distance of 110 lightyears away; and Sadaldabih - which means "the lucky stars of the slaughterer" - is a Red Giant star 350 lightyears away. About one third of the way from Sadalmelik to Sadaldabih, another star of the same brightness, Sadalsuud, which is also in Aquarius, can be observed. Sadalsuud means "luckiest of the lucky stars" and is a yellow star like our sun situated 600 lightyears away. Following this line beyond Sadaldabih for the same distance as that between Sadalmelik and Sadaldabih leads to a second magnitude star, Nunki, which is the brightest star of the northern part of Sagittarius, located within a group of several stars. Nunki is a bluish star 220 lightyears away. The name Nunki is of Sumerian origin and means "divine place on earth".

Continuing further for about the same distance as that between both Aquarius-stars Sadalmelik and Sadalsuud leads to another Sagittarius star: this is Kaus Meridionalis, a Red Giant star of almost second magnitude more than 300 lightyears away. Kaus Meridionalis means "middle star of the arc (of Sagittarius)".

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