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Denebola (Uttaraphalguni) and Deneb (?)

I am on the trail of the 7500 year old supernova explosion near Cygnus.

Caution : Deneb in Cygnus is not Denebola in Simha. They are not even physically close. There are many Denebs. (They are qualified as Deneb Al This or That.)

  • While Cygnus is translated as Swan — Cygnus pronounced as Signus is a variant of Signah or Singah (Simha).
  • Interestingly again, the nakshatram identified below as Denebola, UttaraPhalguni, is in Simha and Kanya Rasis.
  • It has been associated with bad luck in some astrological systems as indicated by source A below.
  • Source B connects Deneb with Cygnus.


  • Source A: “Denebola — sometimes Deneb (meaning “tail”) — is the modern name for this star, abbreviated from Al Dhanab al Asad, the Lion’s Tail,
  • the Greek Alkaia (meaning ‘Mallow’);
  • the 17th century German astronomer Bayer gave it as Denebalecid and Denebaleced;
  • English writer on globes John Chilmead (circa 1639), as Deneb Alased; and the 17th century German astronomer and ephemeris creator Schickard, as Dhanbol-asadi. The Italian astronomer Riccioli (1598-1671) omitted the first syllable of the original, and called the star NebolellesedNebollassid “of the Nubian astrologers,” and Alazet apud Azophi, his title from the 10th century Persian astronomical writer Al Sufi. Elsewhere it is Nebu-lasit and Alesit; the Alfonsine Tables have Denebalezeth and the very appropriate Dafira, from the similar Arabic term for the tuft of coarse hair at the end of the tail in which the star lies. The English astronomer Proctor (1834-1888) called it Deneb Aleet, and there may be other degenerated forms of the original. The 13th century Persian astronomical writer Al Kazwini cited Al Aktab al Asad, the Viscera of the Lion, or Al Katab, a Small Saddle: inappropriate names, the German astronomer Ideler (1766-1846) said, and inferred that they should be Al Kalb, which in the course of time might have wandered here from Regulus, the genuine Kalb, or Heart, of the Lion.
  • It marked the 10th manzil (Arabic Moon Mansion), Al Sarfah, the Changer, i.e. of the weather, given by the 15th century Tartar astronomer Ulug Beg as the star’s individual title; and the Persian astronomer Al Biruni (973-1048 A.D.) wrote of it: “The heat turns away when it rises, and the cold turns away when it disappears.” English writer on globes John Chilmead (circa 1639) cited Asumpha, which he attributed to Alfraganus; Baily called this Serpha; and the 17th century English orientalist Thomas Hyde changed it to Mutatrix.
  • With the 4th-magnitude Fl. 93, it constituted the 10th nakshatra (Hindu Moon Mansion), Uttara Phalguni, and was the junction star with the adjacent Hasta; the regents of this and the next asterism, the Purva Phalguni, being the Adityas, Aryaman and Bagha. The Persian astronomer Al Biruni (973-1048 A.D.), however, said that Hindu astronomers pointed out to him a star in Coma Berenices as forming the lunar station with Denebola; and they claimed that the great scientific attainments of Varaha Mihira were due to his birthday having coincided with the entrance of the moon into Uttara Phalguni.
  • The Chinese knew it, with four small neighboring stars, as Woo Ti Tso, the Seat of the Five Emperors, surrounded by twelve other groups, variously named after officers and nobles of the empire. In Babylonian astronomy it marked the 17th ecliptic constellation, Zibbat A., the Tail of the Lion, although the German orientalist Epping gives this with considerable doubt as to its correctness. Other Euphratean titles are said to have been Lamash, the Colossus; Sa. Blue, the Assyrian Samu; and Mikid-isati, the {p. 259} Burning of Fire, which may be a reference to the hot season of the year when the sun is near it.
  • The Sogdians (an Iranian people) and Khorasmians (east of Persia) had a similar conception of it, as shown in their titles Widhu and Widhayu, the Burning One; but the Persians called it Avdem, the One in the Tail. Hewitt writes of it as, in India, the Star of the Goddess Bahu, the Creating Mother. With theta (θ Coxa), it was the Coptic people of Egypt Asphulia, perhaps the Tail; but Kircher had a similar (Greek) Aspolia, in Virgo, as from Coptic people of Egypt.
  • Denebola was of unlucky influence in astrology, portending misfortune and disgrace, and thus opposed to Regulus in character as in position in the figure.
  • It comes to the meridian on the 3rd of May, and, with Arcturus and Spica, forms a large equilateral triangle, as also another similar with Arcturus and Cor Caroli, these, united at their bases, constituting the celebrated Diamond of Virgo.Several small stars, some telescopic, in its immediate vicinity, are the Companions of Denebola. [Star NamesTheir Lore and Meaning, Richard Hinckley Allen, 1889].”

Source B  : “September night sky for mid northern latitudes

On a weekend or on a holiday if you have a good sunshine you might as well take out your binoculars and telescopes and give them a bit of a sunshine so that if some moisture is trapped then it would evaporate. Long spell of rains have washed out the dust in the atmosphere and if the sky clears up one has a crystal clear sky.

You can start with southeast where Scorpius, the Scorpion [Vruschik] is still well above the horizon. This is one of the constellations that quite resembles its name. The brightest star in this constellation is Antares (Jyestha).

Sagittarius [Dhanur] is following Scorpius. Center of milky way lies in this constellation. This region between Scorpius and Sagittarius contains number of clusters and nebulae and it is worth sweeping this with a good pair of binoculars. Look for M6 and M7, the best one is M22 a globular cluster. This cluster resembles a comet that is just discovered. It appears a fuzzy patch of light through a pair of binoculars.

Turn to west Arcturus, (Swati) is still above the horizon. Turn further right to northwest. Only the tail of Ursa Major, Great Bear is now above the horizon. Look for the second last star in the tail Mizar. This star is visual binary. It has a companion Alcor. Both the stars can be be seen if you have good eyesight. In Indian astronomy Mizar is Vashishtha and Alcor is Arundhati.

Well above the western horizon, above Bootes, you can trace out Hercules [Shauri]. The object to be looked for is M13 a globular cluster. This is a compact cluster of stars.

To its north is Draco, the Sea Dragon (Kaliya). It winds quite a bit through different right ascensions.

Right overhead is (almost) a right angled triangle of three bright stars. The stars belong to three different constellations. Altair [Shravan] in Aquila, the Eagle [Garuda] and Deneb in Cygnus, the Swan [Hans] are almost aligned on the north south line. To there is Vega [Abhijit], in Lyra, the Lyre [Swaramandal].

This group of stars was named summer triangle by Patrick Moor. All the stars are the brightest stars in their respective constellations. Vega which is the brightest star in the northern hemisphere. The second brightest of the summer triangle is Altair. Shravan is 22nd Nakshatra.

Look for Albeireo and M39 in Cygnus. Alberieo is a beautiful binary star whose one component is red and the other is blue. 5 inch mirror will split them. M39 open cluster or galactic cluster. Easy object for binoculars.

Well above the eastern horizon is one of the ‘land marks’ of the night sky is Great Square of Pegasus, the Winged Horse [Maha-ashwa]. You just cannot miss it. The sides of the square are almost aligned north-south and east-west. The stars on the western arm of the square make our 25th nakshatra Purva Bhadrapada and those on the eastern arm are of 26th nakshatra Uttra Bhadrapada. Purva and Uttara are in the sense of earlier and later respectively, in their movement in the sky and not in the sense of direction.
Halfway between Pegasus and the horizon is Cassiopeia [Sharmishata]. This is a constellation in ‘M’ shape with its right leg pulled too much to right. You might recall that Saptarishis are used for finding north direction in the night. This constellation can be used for finding north when Saptarishis are below the horizon. Take the first three stars of ‘M’ which make an equilateral triangle. Now take perpendicular bisector of the first and star. This line, when extended towards horizon will go through the Polaris [Dhruva], Pole Star. Using a pair of binoculars if you scan on the line joining third and fourth stars of Cassiopeia and extending to east you will reach a binary open cluster of stars h & c. These are lovely pair of star clusters.

The material here can be used freely.
It is, however, expected that the source may be acknowledged.
Credit : Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune.)

The site is created for the Public Outreach Programme, IUCAA
Arvind Paranjpye – arp@iucaa.ernet.in +91 20 2560 4601
Samir Dhurde – samir@iucaa.ernet.in +91 20 2560 4603

Page created June, 2007 and Updated Sep, 2007″

“The star map above is drawn for September 15, at 21:00 hours Indian Standard Time (IST) for the central station of India. The map shows slightly more sky than that will be visible from this station such a way that the map can be used elsewhere in India at 21:00 hers.  The map can be used at 22:00 hrs. in early at 20:00 hrs. later this month.  Use a flash light covered with red gelatine paper to read in the night.”

Credit : Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune.

Note on Uttara Phalguni : Two stars are at same time distance from Poorva Phalguni. If a single star has to be identified as Uttara Phalguni, then, as per Dr. Balakrishna, 94 bLeo/SAO 119076 / HD 102870 is the best candidate, despite Denebola being brighter. Reason is that Denebola is about 5 diameters out of Moon traverse band while Zavijava is in the moon traverse band. Uttara Phalguni, is also called Zavijava by Arabs.

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December 2, 2009 at 8:20 am

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