Sunday, 13 April 2014

Tamil New Year - Chitra Pournami

Night sky over Madras, 9pm April 14 2014

Tomorrow April 14, 2014 is the Tamil New Year Day. It is also Chitra pournami. A rare combination. The full moon will be near the star Spica, called Chitra in Indian astronomy. A third coincidence is that the planet Mars can also be seen near the moon and Spica.

In Indian astronomy, the day beginning at sunrise is called solar or savana day, the day beginning at moonrise is called thithi or lunar day and the day beginning with star rise is called nakshathram or stellar day.

On April 14, the Moon will rise at sunset, so Pournami begins at sunset, until then it is Chathurdashi. Since the moon will be next to Chitra, the stellar day is Chitra. The solar day is Chaitra 1, the start of the new month and year. The lunar day is Pournami, since it is a full moon. Further down towards the eastern horizon, the planet Saturn can be seen as a bright dot. If buildings block the view, you can wait until 10 or 11 pm when the stars and planets will be higher up in the sky.

The picture above, from Stellarium software, shows what the sky over Madras will look like at 9pm on April 14, 2014. The picture below, shows the night sky on April 18, when the moon will be near Antares, called Kettai in Indian astronomy. The planets and stars will not have moved much relative to each other.

Night sky over Madras, 9pm April 18
Addendum Michel Danino reminds me by email that there was also a lunar eclipse last night. It was not visible in India but could be seen in North America.


  1. Thanks to you I have taken up star / planet gazing. A week ago I took my daughter to the Marina, very early morning. I spotted Venus. Thanks Google Sky Map. I am hooked to it now. When I had to catch a flight very very early in the morning. I could not help pulling out my mobile and holding it up before I got into the cab

  2. I am glad the blog and star chart were useful and provoked curiosity and interest.