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Your New Star Sign - Part One
Astrological signs were first recorded in ancient times when astronomy and astrology were still considered one and the same; and not separate as they are today. They originated in Babylonian astronomy during the first half of the 1st millennium BC. The present day zodiac symbols emerged during the Roman Era. During this era the concept of the zodiac which evolved from the Babylonian astronomy was later influenced by Hellenistic astronomy.
The zodiac is the ring of constellations; a group of celestial bodies (usually stars) which appear to form a pattern in the sky. These stars line the ecliptic (the path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year). It is a celestial or ecliptic coordinate system taking the vernal ecliptic as the origin of latitude and the position of the sun at equinox as the origin of longitude. The paths of the Moon and planets also lie roughly within the ecliptic and so are also within the constellations of the zodiac.
The ecliptic, as it’s perceived from the revolving Earth, passes through the constellations which became known as the Zodiac - Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. The early astronomers observed the Sun travelling through the signs of the zodiac in the course of one year. They observed that it was present for about a month in each and so calculated that each constellation extends 30 degrees across the ecliptic.
In the Northern Hemisphere the first day of spring was once marked by the zero point of the zodiac called the vernal equinox (as mentioned above) occurring as the ecliptic and celestial equator, intersect. Around 600 BC the zero point was in Aries and this constellation encompassed the first 30 degrees of the ecliptic; from 30 to 60 degrees was Taurus; from 60 to 90 degrees was Gemini, and so on, for all twelve signs of the Zodiac.
What has become apparent in recent times, however, is that early astronomers may not have been fully aware of the extent of the gravitational attraction of the Moon on the Earth’s equator actually causing the Earth to ‘wobble’ – called precession. The earth continually wobbles around its axis in a 25,800 year cycle and over the past two and a half millennia this wobble has caused the intersection point between the celestial and ecliptic equators to move west along the ecliptic by 36 degrees (almost one tenth of the way around).
This means that the astrological or zodiac signs have changed one tenth or almost one complete month. For example, those born between March 21st and April 20th would consider themselves to be an Aries. Today the Sun is no longer within the constellation of Aries during much of that period. From March 12th to April 18th, the Sun is actually in the constellation of Pisces. Has your ‘star sign’ now changed?