World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Traditional Chinese star names

Article Id: WHEBN0003654207
Reproduction Date:

Title: Traditional Chinese star names  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Lupus (constellation), Lists of stars, Chinese constellations, List of proper names of stars, Chinese astronomy, Alpha Lupi, Outline of astronomy, Chinese star maps, Bond (Chinese constellation), Proper names (astronomy)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Traditional Chinese star names

Traditional Chinese star names (Chinese: 星名, xīng míng) are the names of stars used in ancient Chinese astronomy and astrology, whence they influenced Chinese religion, mythology, folklore, and the geomantic practice of feng shui. The names appear extensively in Chinese culture, including literature, historiography, and opera. These traditional names sometimes differ from modern names influenced by the official designations of the International Astronomical Union. For those stars whose catalog designation employ English names, Chinese astronomers use traditional Chinese names.


Chinese astronomy was advanced in classical times and, being located further south, had noted five times as many stars as were described by Ptolemy. In 1875, Gustav Schlegel made a complete survey of the star names which appeared in ancient works. His Uranographie Chinoise correlated 760 star names with those used in western astronomy.[1]

Star names and their constellations

Ancient Chinese astronomers designated names to the visible stars systematically, roughly more than a thousand years before Johann Bayer did it in a similar way. Basically, every star is assigned to an asterism. Then a number is given to the individual stars in this asterism. Therefore, a star is designated as "Asterism name" + "Number". The numbering of the stars is not based on the apparent magnitude of this star, but rather its position in the asterism and this numbering sometimes changed over the course of Chinese history.

For example, Altair is named 河鼓二 (Hégǔ Èr) in Chinese. 河鼓He Gu is the name of the asterism (lit. "Drum at the River"). 二 is the number designation ("two"). Therefore, it literally means "the second star in the Drum at the River". (Bayer might have called Altair "Beta Tympani Flumine" if he had been cataloguing Chinese constellations.)

Some stars also have traditional names, often related to mythology. For example, Altair is more commonly known in China as 牛郎星 (Niúlángxīng) or 牵牛星 (Qiānniúxīng) after Niulang, the cowherd who fell in love with the daughter of the Jade Emperor. The one night a year they can be together, the Night of Sevens, was thought to exhibit a dimming of the Milky Way, removing the barrier between Altair and Vega.

If the same name has been used multiple times for unrelated objects, a red question mark ? is appended to the name until the ambiguity can be resolved.

Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Romanization Translation Western name Comments
鱉一 鳖一 Biē Yī Softshell Turtle I α Telescopii Link 1, 2
飛魚一 飞鱼一 Fēiyú Yī Flying Fish I α Volantis Link
飛魚二 飞鱼二 Fēiyú Èr Flying Fish II γ² Volantis
飛魚三 飞鱼三 Fēiyú Sān Flying Fish III β Volantis
飛魚四 飞鱼四 Fēiyú Sì Flying Fish IV κ¹ Volantis
飛魚五 飞鱼五 Fēiyú Wǔ Flying Fish V δ Volantis
飛魚六 飞鱼六 Fēiyú Liù Flying Fish VI ζ Volantis
鉤鈐一 钩钤一 Gōuqián Yī ω¹ Scorpii Also known as the West Gouqian Star (鉤鈐西星, Gōuqián Xī Xīng), Link
鉤鈐二 钩钤二 Gōuqián Èr ω² Scorpii
鶴五 鹤五 Hè Wǔ Crane V γ Tucanae
六甲六 Liù Jiǎ Liù Six Jias VI κ Pictoris?
婁宿增六 娄宿增六 Lóusù Zēng Liù α Trianguli Also known as Tianhunxinanxing (天溷西南星, Tiānhùn Xīnán Xīng)
內階一 内阶一 Nèi Jiē Yī Inner Steps I ο Ursae Majoris Link
內階二 内阶二 Nèi Jiē Èr Inner Steps II 16 Ursae Majoris
內階三 内阶三 Nèi Jiē Sān Inner Steps III 6 Ursae Majoris
內階四 内阶四 Nèi Jiē Sì Inner Steps IV 23 Ursae Majoris
內階五 内阶五 Nèi Jiē Wǔ Inner Steps V 5 Ursae Majoris
內階六 内阶六 Nèi Jiē Liù Inner Steps VI 17 Ursae Majoris
內階增七 内阶增七 Nèi Jiē Zēng Qī π² Ursae Majoris
內階增九 内阶增九 Nèi Jiē Zēng Jiǔ π Ursae Majoris
鳥喙一 鸟喙一 Niǎohuì Yī Beak I α Tucanae
鳥喙二 鸟喙二 Niǎohuì Èr Beak II δ Tucanae
鳥喙三 鸟喙三 Niǎohuì Sān Beak III HD 224361
鳥喙四 鸟喙四 Niǎohuì Sì Beak IV β Tucanae
鳥喙五 鸟喙五 Niǎohuì Wǔ Beak V ρ Tucanae
鳥喙六 鸟喙六 Niǎohuì Liù Beak VI ζ Tucanae
鳥喙七 鸟喙七 Niǎohuì Qī Beak VII ε Tucanae
齊增五 齐增五 Qí Zēng Wǔ α Vulpeculae
三角形一 Sānjiǎoxíng Yī Triangle I γ Trianguli Australis
三角形二 Sānjiǎoxíng Èr Triangle II β Trianguli Australis
三角形三? Sānjiǎoxíng Sān? Triangle III α Trianguli Australis Also known as Shaofu (少辅,? Shǎofǔ)
天弁一 Tiān Biàn Yī α Scuti Link 1, 2
天弁二 Tiān Biàn Èr δ Scuti
天弁三 Tiān Biàn Sān ε Scuti
天弁四 Tiān Biàn Sì β Scuti
天弁五 Tiān Biàn Wǔ η Scuti
天大將軍九 天大将军九 Tiān Dàjiāngjūn Jiǔ Celestial General IX β Trianguli Also known as the Great Southern Star (天大将军南大星, Tiān Dàjiāngjūn Nán Dàxīng) and Fuzhizhongbeixing (鈇鑕中北星, Fūzhìzhōngběixīng)
天大將軍十 天大将军十 Tiān Dàjiāngjūn Shí Celestial General X γ Trianguli
天大將軍十一 天大将军十一 Tiān Dàjiāngjūn Shíyī Celestial General XI δ Trianguli
天牢一 Tiān Láo Yī Celestial Prison I ω Ursae Majoris? Link
天牢二 Tiān Láo Èr Celestial Prison II 57 Ursae Majoris
天牢三 Tiān Láo Sān Celestial Prison III 47 Ursae Majoris
天牢四 Tiān Láo Sì Celestial Prison IV 58 Ursae Majoris
天牢五 Tiān Láo Wǔ Celestial Prison V 49 Ursae Majoris
天牢六 Tiān Láo Liù Celestial Prison VI 56 Ursae Majoris
天相一 Tiān Xiàng Yī 17 Sextantis Link 1, 2
天相三 Tiān Xiàng Sān ε Sextantis
尾宿一 Wěi Sù Yī Tail I μ¹ Scorpii Also known as the West Tail #2 Star (尾宿西第二星, Wěisù Xi Dì'er Xīng) and the Weisujuxing (尾宿距星, Wěisù Jù Xīng); possibly also the Waterwheel Star (s 水车星, t 水車星, Shuǐchē Xīng) and Ta-che-xing (s 踏车星, t 踏車星, Tàchēxīng); Link 1, 2
尾宿二 Wěi Sù Èr Tail II ε Scorpii Also known as the West Tail #1 Star (尾宿西第—星, Wěisù Xi Dìyī Xīng)
尾宿三 Wěi Sù Sān Tail III ζ¹,² Scorpii
尾宿四 Wěi Sù Sì Tail IV η Scorpii
尾宿五 Wěi Sù Wǔ Tail V θ Scorpii Also known as Tail #5 Star (尾宿第五星, Wěisù Dìwǔ Xīng)
尾宿六 Wěi Sù Liù Tail VI ι¹ Scorpii
尾宿七 Wěi Sù Qī Tail VII κ Scorpii Also called Tail #7 Star (尾宿第七星, Wěisù Dìqī Xīng) and San Shi (三师, Sān Shī)
尾宿八 Wěi Sù Bā Tail VIII λ Scorpii Also called Tail #9 Star (尾宿第九星, Wěisù Dìjiǔ Xīng)
尾宿九 Wěi Sù Jiǔ Tail IX υ Scorpii Also called Tail #8 Star (尾宿第八星, Wěisù Dìbā Xīng) and the Great Xuanyuan Star (轩辕大星, Xuānyuán Dàxīng)?

See also


  1. ^ Xiaochun Sun, Jacob Kistemaker (1997), The Chinese sky during the Han, p. 8, ISBN  

External links

  • China Stars (Chinese)
  • AEEA astronomy education information network (Chinese)
  • The spring night sky (Chinese)
  • Constellation and its main stars of the list (Chinese)
  • Jiang Da Che-hung academic research (Chinese)
  • Traditional Chinese star names (Chinese)
  • Supplement based on Yale bright star V5, selection 3134 named stars from
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.