Two people meet and fall madly in love. Spending all their time together, the two lovers forget their responsibilities and are soon punished with a separation. It's a timeless story -- from Shakespeare to high school -- and Tanabata, the Japanese Star Festival, celebrates the journey taken by the young woman and her lover, Orihime and Hikoboshi, as they struggle to reunite. The punishment for forgetting their responsibilities is severe: They are separated by an astronomical river -- the Milky Way -- and can meet only once a year. The story of the two lovers plays out celestially, with the two represented by a pair of stars, Vega for Orihime and Altair for Hikoboshi.

As the story goes, Orihime was a weaver maiden, or a princess in some versions, and Hikoboshi was a shepherd, according to Katherine Rupp in her book "Gift-Giving in Japan: Cash, Connections, Cosmologies." The two lovers forgot about everything and were punished by the god of heaven for neglecting their chores. "The god of heaven became angry, put a big river between them and decreed that they could meet once a year, but on all other days they had to work as hard as possible," Rupp writes.

For Tanabata, people will write wishes on strips of paper and hang them on bamboo branches, according to Japan Society. There are also streamers and other decorations. "If it rained, the river would flood and the two would not be able to see each other. Therefore, the two would always pray for good weather and if they met successfully, then everyone who made a wish on that day would have their wishes come true," Japan Society explained.

The stars Vega and Altair are easily visible in the night sky. Here are several sky apps that can help you locate the two stars, with Vega being one of the brightest stars in the night sky. To celebrate Tanabata, Slooh, an international astronomical organization, will present a live stream detailing the journey of the two lovers. 

"We look to the stars Vega and Altair and see a very human journey. As Orihime, the weaver, and Hikoboshi, the sheep herder, journey through star clusters, nebulae, and the landmarks of our universe to seek the other, we can look to the sky and imagine that all at once, for a fleeting, ephemeral moment, two star-crossed lovers come together," Eric Edelman, Slooh host, said in a statement.

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