The original Song of the Sky Pacers (步天歌, 보천가 or 舊法步天歌, 구법보천가, Gubeop Bocheon’ga) consists of heptasyllabic poems and is attributed to either Danyuanzi (丹元子, 단원자) of the Sui dynasty (隋, 수, 589-618) or Wang Ximing (王希明, 왕희명) of the Tang Dynasty (唐, 당, 618-907). It was realized later that there were discrepancies between the text and the newer star-charts, causing confusion to those taking examinations for selecting astronomers for the Chosun Royal Observatory (觀象監, 관상감). In response, in 1862, Yi Junyang (李俊養, 이준양, ?-?), a Jung’in class (中人, 중인) astronomer of the Royal Observatory, updated the song using Western astronomy and published the Song of the Sky Pacers, Adapted to New Methods (新法步天歌, 신법보천가). The following is an excerpt concerning the Dipper Mansion constellation (斗宿, 두수, Dusu), also known as the Southern Dipper, which is shown above:
The Southern Dipper
The six red stars and their shape are similar to the Northern Dipper (斗, 두, Du).
Above the first star of the Northern Dipper (魁, 괴, Goe), the Establishment constellation (立, 입, Ip) is red and consists of three stars and face each other.
The Market Officer constellation (天弁, 천변, Cheonbyeon), above the Establishment constellation, in pairs of three, consist of nine red stars.
Below the Northern Dipper, round and red are the fourteen stars;
Although their name is River Turtle (鼈, 별, Byeol), their shape is a threaded rope.
The Celestial Cock (天鷄, 천계, Cheon’gye), behind the Establishment constellation, consists of two dark stars.
The Celestial Keyhole (天鑰, 천약, Cheon’yak), in front of the Handle of the Dipper (柄, 병, Byeong), consists of eight yellow spirits.
The Dog Territory (狗國, 구국, Guguk) is four dark stars and forms below the Celestial Cock.
The Celestial Spring (天淵, 천연, Cheon’yeon) are ten yellow stars, on the eastern edge of the River Turtle.
Again, two dark stars of the Dog Territory are in front of the first star of the Northern Dipper.
The dark star of The Elder of the Farmer’s House (農家丈, 농가장, Nong’gajang) rests below the Dog Territory.
The Celestial Spring consists of ten yellow stars and the color of Dog Territory is dark red.
- For equivalent constellation names under Western asterism, refer to Wikipedia page concerning the Southern Dipper constellation. For more information on Korean asterism in general, read this blog post.
- The Establishment Constellation is also referred to as 建(건).
- 農家丈(농가장) is more commonly referred to as 農丈人(농장인).
- 魁(괴) – First star of the Northern Dipper constellation (별이름).
- 鼈(별) – Terrapin or turtle (자라).
- 鑰(약) – Padlock (자물쇠).