7.Nakshatra names in English and Sanskrit

The ecliptic is divided into 27 nakshatras, which are variously called lunar houses or asterisms. These reflect the moon's cycle against the fixed stars, 27 days and 7¾ hours, the fractional part being compensated by an intercalary 28th nakshatra. Nakshatra computation appears to have been well known at the time of the Rig Veda (2nd–1st millennium BCE).

The ecliptic is divided into the nakshatras eastwards starting from a reference point which is traditionally a point on the ecliptic directly opposite the star Spica called Chitrā in Sanskrit. (Other slightly different definitions exist.) It is called Meshādi or the "start of Aries"; this is when the equinox — where the ecliptic meets the equator — was in Aries (today it is in Pisces, 28 degrees before Aries starts). The difference between Meshādi and the present equinox is known as ayanāngsha or fraction of ecliptic. Given the 25,800 year cycle for the precession of the equinoxes, the equinox was directly opposite Spica in 285 CE, around the date of the Surya Siddhanta.

The nakshatras with their corresponding regions of sky are given below, following Basham.As always, there are many versions with minor differences. The names on the right-hand column give roughly the correspondence of the nakshatras to modern names of stars. Note that nakshatras are (in this context) not just single stars but are segments on the ecliptic characterised by one or more stars. Hence there are more than one star mentioned for each nakshatra.

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Sanskrit name

Tamil name

Western star name

1

Ashvinī

Aswini

β and γ Arietis

2

Bharanī

Barai

35, 39, and 41 Arietis

3

Krittikā

Kārthikai

Pleiades

4

Rohini

Rōhii

Aldebaran

5

Mrigashīrsha

Mirugasīridam

λ, φ Orionis

6

Ārdrā

Thiruvādhirai

Betelgeuse

7

Punarvasu

Punarpoosam

Castor and Pollux

8

Pushya

Poosam

γ, δ and θ Cancri

9

Āshleshā

Ayilyam

δ, ε, η, ρ, and σ Hydrae

10

Maghā

Magam

Regulus

11

Pūrva or Pūrva Phalgunī

Pooram

δ and θ Leonis

12

Uttara or Uttara Phalgunī

Uthiram

Denebola

13

Hasta

Astham

α, β, γ, δ and ε Corvi

14

Chitrā

Chithirai

Spica

15

Svātī

Swathi

Arcturus

16

Vishākhā

Visakam

α, β, γ and ι Librae

17

Anurādhā

Anusham

β, δ and π Scorpionis

18

Jyeshtha

Kettai

α, σ, and τ Scorpionis

19

Mūla

Mūlam

ε, ζ, η, θ, ι, κ, λ, μ and ν Scorpionis

20

Pūrva Ashādhā

Pūradam

δ and ε Sagittarii

21

Uttara Ashādhā

Uthirādam

ζ and σ Sagittarii

22

Shravana

Tiruvōnam

α, β and γ Aquilae

23

Shravishthā or Dhanishta

Aviṭṭam

α to δ Delphinus

24

Shatabhishā or Shatataraka

Sadayam

γ Aquarii

25

Pūrva Bhādrapadā

Pūruruṭṭādhi

α and β Pegasi

26

Uttara Bhādrapadā

Uttṛṭṭādhi

γ Pegasi and α Andromedae

27

Revati

Rēvathi

ζ Piscium

An additional 28th intercalary nakshatra, Abhijit (α, ε and ζ Lyrae - Vega - between Uttarasharha and Sravana. Last two (third and fourth) Padas of Uttrashada and first two (first and second) Padas of Sravana are considered to be Abhijit. Unless specifically mentioned it is not included in the list of the 27 constellations.

The nakshatra in which the moon lies at the time of sunrise of a day is the nakshatra for the day.

 

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