Constellations of the Zodiac

zodiac constellations

WHAT ARE THE ZODIAC CONSTELLATIONS?

   The most commonly known of all the 88 constellations are those of the Zodiac. The Zodiac is a family of constellations that lie along the ecliptic, a narrow path in the sky that the sun, moon and planets follow through the year. Ancient people quickly realized that the seven MOVING lights in the sky (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter & Saturn – which is how we got the 7 days of the week) all moved in this narrow path of sky. That narrow path of sky went right through the same 12 constellations- Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius and Capricorn.

   The signs of the Zodiac – or zodiacal constellations – were probably   among the first to be recognized inter-culturally. The Zodiac constell-ations form a belt around the earth. As the earth revolves around the sun, a different part of the sky becomes visible until, after a year, the earth has completed one trip and starts again. Each month, one of the 12 constellations appears above the horizon in the east to begin its march across the sky. Night after night, the constellation appears to move across our sky until it disappears below the horizon in the west and the next constellation appears in the east. 

   The concept of the zodiac has been around for centuries and was developed during the Babylonians probably during the seventh century BC. According to the Babylonian calendar, each constellation stood for a month. Additionally, they created the first celestial coordinate system by assigning each of the coordinates to a section of the sky. Other civiliza-tions continued to use the zodiac system including the Hindi, the  Greeks, and the Romans. Throughout the centuries, the zodiac also made its way into astrology of different cultures including Hindi and Egyptian astrology. The zodiac was also used by the Chinese and by other Asian cultures.

THE 13TH ZODIAC CONSTELLATION

   Contrary to popular belief, there are actually 13 constellations that align the earth in conjunction with the equator that make up the astrological signs as we know them. The lost constellation that was left out resides between Scorpio and Sagittarius and is actually quite large, larger and brighter then the constellation of Scorpio. The missing constellation that completes the astrological signs is Ophiuchus. So the question poses if this constellation is bigger and brighter why did they choose the constellation Scorpio over Ophiuchus.

   Ophiuchus, known as the serpent healer is and always has been the 13th constellation making up the astrological signs, but astrology can be dated back to the time of the Ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and as far back as the Sumerians. Now all of these ancient civilizations recorded the night sky and looked for signs within the heavens, and were known as the forefathers of astrology and were on the frontier of this ancient secret. An interesting fact to mention here is that all of these ancient civilizations recorded time on a 13 month calendar and not 12 as there are actually 13 full moons a year, yet there were still only 12 constellations used. This then posed the next big question. If these constellations were to reside over the months of the year and astrology is dated back to a time when 13 months were used, why was Ophiuchus left out?

   Ophiuchus is the serpent bearer or serpent holder otherwise known as Asklepios. The story goes that Asklepios was the first doctor. The beginning of his medical mastery came about when he was visiting a friend and a snake entered the room. Asklepios killed it, but then another snake entered carrying an herb in its mouth and immediately revived the first snake with it. Asklepios took the herb and thus began his medical career. He became more masterful with this and other herbs, able to bring people back from death, such as Hippolytus (by ‘gluing him back together’).

   Hades was not thrilled about losing all those souls and perhaps being out of a job, so he talked to his brother Zeus. Eventually, he argued, all mankind would be immortal, which should only be a privilege of the gods. Zeus agreed with him and struck Asklepios dead with a thunderbolt. He honored Asklepios’ talent, though, by placing him in the stars. We humans have honored him as well, in our well known symbol Ophiuchus symbolof medicine, the rod of Asclepius (right), which is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the Caduceus.

   Ophiuchus is situated on the ecliptic, the path the Sun, Moon, and all the planets follow across the sky. There are 13 constellations that lie on the ecliptic, and the Sun, Moon and planets pass through all of them. These are the constellations of the zodiac, which figure so prominently in the pseudo-science of astrology. However, for some reason astrology only recognizes twelve of these constellations. Even though the bodies of our solar system spend more time in Ophiuchus than in many of the other constellations, it is not included in the classic twelve “signs” of the zodiac. This fact, combined with the phenomenon of precession, means that horoscopes and other astrological predictions cannot possibly be accurate, and remain nothing more than entertaining fantasies.

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