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A clear night sky with bright stars is and has always been an object of fascination for mankind. One can probably see about 10,000 stars though millions exist. In this computer era, humans have lost the awe of the objects in the sky due to astonishing advances in science through modern astronomy, human visits to Moon, remote robotic visions of Mars, and views of galaxies through the Hubble telescope. Humans feel a sense of control and omnipotence about their future. However astronomical events listed below makes one wonder.

1. The Shoemaker-Levy comet’s earth size impact on Jupiter in 1994
2. The Siberian comet impact of 1908's.
3. The alleged comet impact on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico resulting in extinction of Dinosaurs.

The helplessness and insignificance of human power in the face of even minor cosmic events becomes apparent. These events put in to perspective the historical respect and reverence past human societies have had for possible devastation from the sky.

Observation of precise cyclic movement of bodies in the skies formed the basis for calendars and almanacs throughout human history. Relation of apparent motion of Sun, Moon, planets and stars observed from earth, to the solar year with its different seasons controlling weather and agriculture was well known to most older societies (Ref-9). Many societies independently fitted the observed heavenly body motion in to different almanacs with major religious and cultural components in the past. Some are known and certainly many are lost. Even today, such almanacs exist and are used for religious and cultural identity. These almanacs are solar pointer, lunar pointer or a combination of these types. Amongst these, the European Julian solar calendar system modified by Rome's pope Gregory in October 1582 AD, has displaced all other almanacs and is in universal use throughout the world presently. The Gregorian calendar has no lunar components whatsoever.

In the vedic literature, Bharateeya's have the oldest continuing culture running for thousands of years. Pre-vedic culture understood the motions of the bodies in skies and evolved a moon pointer calendar, moon pointing to daily stars in the skies. Various stars in the moon path and a few others were given proper names many thousand years ago. Some notable proper names from veda's assigned to stars are the 27 or 28 daily stars Ashwini to Revati, the saptarishis (Ursa major for Rishis Marichi,Vasishta,Angirasa,Atri,Puslastya,Pulaha,Karatu or Gautama, Bhardwaja, Vishvamitra, Kashyapa, Jamdagni, Vasishtha and Atri), Dhruva (Polaris) and Arundhati. Chandramana or Moon pointer almanac has been extensively used during and since Vedic period. The thousands of year old lunar almanac system is an integral part of traditional Bharateeya’s, who probably have a birth horoscope where in an important parameter is the birth Nakshatra and birth Rashi. While many Bharateeya’s know that nakshatra's refer to objects in the sky, not many can point to the night sky and identify these Nakshatra's by their names.

This article aims identify the Nakshatra’s referred to by Bharateeya vedic culture, and to provide present day alternate names from other cultures, including modern astronomical identities from star catalogs.



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