Far Eastern star legends: the princess and the herdsman

Whenever I give star talks, either under the artificial sky of a planetarium or from a dark, rural location where the actual nighttime firmament can be seen in all of its glory, I recite to my audience words that were penned by the 19th-century American philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson: “If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown!”

In other words, if the stars were to appear for just a single night in a millennium, how likely would extensive preparations be made for viewing such an amazing sight — and what stories would later be told of this magnificent view?

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