moon stations

In the same way that the passing of a year is tracked by noting the sun's passage through the 12 constellations of the zodiac, the movement of the moon in the course of a lunar period (a month) can be tracked by imagining it to pass through 27 or 28 “moon stations” along the ecliptic. The Pleiades, for example, is one such station. Some of the names given to the moon or lunar stations are:

menazil” or “manzilâ” Arab world
nakshatra India, literally, “star”
hsiu China, literally “night inn”

As happened with the constellations of the solar zodiac in the West, the names of the nakshatra originally denoted groups of stars, but later meant one of 27 segments 13° 27′ wide on the ecliptic. In the process, one of the groups, Abhijit, was discarded. The list originally began with Krtittikâ, the Pleides. Later Asvini was made the first station, but for calendrical, not religious, purposes.

Authorities differ on whether the Arab and Hindi stations have a common origin, but their similarities are certainly striking.

  Prominent stars Arab name Hindi name
1 β, γ Arietis Alsharatan (the “two signs”) Asvini
2 ε, δ, π Arietis Albutain (“little womb”) Bharani
3 the Pleiades Althurayya Krtittikâ
4 α Tauri Aldabaran Rohini
5 λ, φ′, φ″ Orionis Alhaka Mrigasiras or Agrahâyani
6 γ, ξ Geminorum Alhan’a Ardrâ (alpha of Orion)
7 α, β Geminorum Aldhira Punarvasu (Pollux)
8 Cancri Alnathra Pushya or Tishya
9   Altarf Aslesha (epsilon of Hydra)
10 ζ, γ, η Leonis Aljabha Magha (Regulus)
11 δ, θ Leonis Alzubra Purva-Phalguni
12 β Leonis Alsarfa Uttara-Phalguni (Denebola)
13 β, δ, ε, γ, η Virginis   Hasta (delta of Corvis)
14 Spica Alsimak Ala’zal Chitrâ
15 ι, κ, λ Virginis Alghafr Svâti (Arcturus)
16 α, β Librae Alzubana Vishhâkhâ
17 β, δ, π Scorpii Al’iklil Anurâdha
18 α Scorpii Alkalb Jyeshthâ
19 λ, υ Scorpii Alshaula Mula
20 δ, ε, φ, γ, η, σ, τ, ζ Sagittarii Alna’a’im Purvâ-Shâdhâ (delta of Sagittarius
21 a desert Albalda Uttarâ-Shâdhâ (sigma of Sagittarius)
      Abhijit (discarded when the stations were redefined as 13° 27′ wide segments of the ecliptic)
22 α, β Capricorni Sa’d-Aldhabih Sravana (Altair)
23 ε, μ, ν Aquarii Sa’d-Bula’ Dhanistha or Sravishtha
24 β, ξ Aquarii Sa’d Alsu’ud Satabhishaj or Satarârakâ
25 γ, η, π, ζ Aquarii Sa’d Al’akhbiya Purva-Bhâdrapada (markab)
26 α, β Pegasi Alfargh Al’awwal Uttara-Bhâdrapada (Alpherat)
27 γ Pegasi, α Andromedae Alfargh Althani Revati (Zeta of Pisces)
28 β Andromedae Batn-Alhut  
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