Chinese constellations

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Chinese constellations are the way the ancient Chinese grouped the stars. They are very different from the modern IAU recognized constellations. This is because the IAU was based on Greco-Roman astronomy instead of Chinese astronomy.

Ancient Chinese skywatchers divided their night sky into 31 regions, namely the Three Enclosures (三垣 sān yuán), and Twenty-eight Mansions (二十八宿 èrshíbā xiù) in twelve Ci (十二次).[1] The Three Enclosures occupy the area close to the North Celestial Pole. The stars in the Three Enclosures can be seen all year around.

The Twenty-eight Mansions occupy the zodiacal band. They can be considered as the equivalent to the 12 zodiacal constellations in the Western Astronomy. In contrast to Western astronomy, the Twenty-eight Mansions reflect the movement of the Moon in a lunar month rather than the Sun in a solar year.

Contents

Three Enclosures

The Three Enclosures are the Purple Forbidden enclosure (紫微垣, Zǐ Wēi Yuán), the Supreme Palace enclosure (太微垣, Tài Wēi Yuán) and the Heavenly Market enclosure (天市垣, Tiān Shì Yuán). The Purple Forbidden Enclosure occupies the northernmost area of the night sky. From the viewpoint of the ancient Chinese, the Purple Forbidden Enclosure lies in the middle of the sky, and is circled by all the other stars.

The Supreme Palace Enclosure lies east and north to the Purple Forbidden Enclosure, while the Heavenly Market Enclosure lies west and south. The Three Enclosures are separated by "walls", which are asterisms with their shapes resembling their namesakes.

The Twenty-Eight Mansions

The zodiac is listed below,

The Southern Asterisms (近南極星區)

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