Wonder and Mystery
Constellations exist only in the minds of human beings. They are
projected onto random groups of stars to create a picture story. These pictures
have appeared in the sky every year at the same time for thousands of years.
From very early in recorded history, the stars were important to
people in their daily lives. The stars assisted the ancients in planning for the
planting of their crops, guiding navigators on their many adventures, and as a
way of telling time. Much wonder and mystery was associated with the stars, and
the people of ancient times began to place a grander, often divine, meaning on
the majestic heavenly bodies.
Two Sisters Grown Apart
Astronomy is the mother of science and mathematics.
In the beginning, Astrology and Astronomy were sister sciences,
and developed side by side for Millennia. At first, astrology was the more
important of the two. However, in modern times, the science of astronomy
has shown conclusively that astrology, while based on sound astronomical
principles, is useless when it comes to analyzing personalities and predicting the
future. Nevertheless, many people today still choose to believe in astrology,
and there is big business in casting horoscopes. For that reason, we present
here the Signs of the Zodiac, the 12 Zodiacal Constellations, to give you a
chance to learn more about these constellations and the beautiful myths associated with
them. You will also be able to learn about the important astronomical
objects which can be found in these constellations with a telescope, a pair of
binoculars, or even the naked eye.
According to astrology, the period of the year which each
sign of the zodiac dominates is determined by the time in which the Sun is
"in" its corresponding constellation. For that reason, it is not actually possible
to observe a zodiacal constellation in the night sky during the time its sign is
dominant. Instead, look for your constellation in the exact opposite time of the
year. For example, Sagittarius is designated as from November 22 to December 21.
However, if you want to observe Sagittarius, you will have to wait until
Summer to see it. Instead, spend your observing time viewing Taurus.
Astronomy and Astrology
It is a shame that many people cannot distinguish the words
Astronomy and Astrology as used in the English language. From a merely logical
point of view, the name of the science which studies the material universe
beyond the earth's atmosphere should be named astrology, and thus be consistent
with such words as biology, ecology, and the names of other sciences. However,
language is not science, and is often not logical. The
correct term is astronomy, and we should all strive to make a distinction
between astronomy and astrology in general conversation.
When misunderstandings about word usage come up, the best course of action is to check the dictionary and look up the etymology
or history of the words in question.
According to Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, astronomy was a word that was first used in the Middle ages. The definition is:
"the study of the material universe beyond the earth's atmosphere."
The root components of this word are ASTRO- and -NOMY, both Greek roots.
Astro- means "stars" and -nomy means "measurement", "distribution" or "arrangement." This root word can also be found in such words as Economy. Thus Astronomy is the arrangement of the stars.
The word Astrology, on the other hand, combines the Astro- root with -OLOGY, a Greek
word which means "knowledge" or "science". Thus Astrology means Knowledge from the Stars. The dictionary definition of Astrology is "the study of the stars in an attempt to determine their influence on human affairs." This word in English also dates from the middle ages, and was also once an alternative for astronomy.
Of course, in our time, Astronomy is a science and Astrology is
The Signs of the
and the 12 Zodiacal Constellations
Mar. 21 - April 19
Aries the Ram is an Autumn constellation, and can be best viewed in
the night sky during the month of November.
April 20 - May 20
Taurus the Bull is an Autumn constellation, and can be best
viewed in the night sky during the month of December.
May 21 - June 21
Gemini the Twins is a Winter constellation, and can be best viewed in
the night sky during the month of January.
June 22 - July 22
Cancer the Crab is a Winter Constellation, and can be best viewed in
the night sky during the month of February.
July 23 - Aug. 22
Leo the Lion is a Winter constellation, and can be best viewed in
the night during the month of March.
Aug. 23 - Sept. 22
Virgo the Virgin is a Spring constellation, and can be best viewed
during the month of April.
Sept. 23 - Oct. 23
Libra the Scales is a Spring constellation, and can be
best viewed in
the night sky during the month of May.
Oct. 24 - Nov. 21
Scorpio the Scorpion is a Spring constellation
with an astronomical name of Scorpius, and can be best viewed
in the night sky during the month of June.
Nov. 22 - Dec. 21
Sagittarius the Archer is a Summer constellation, and can be best
viewed in the night sky during the month July.
Dec. 22 - Jan. 19
Capricorn the Sea Goat is a Summer
constellation with an astronomical name of Capricornus, and can be best viewed
in the night sky during the month of August.
Jan. 20 - Feb. 18
Aquarius the Water Bearer is an Summer constellation, and can be best viewed
in the night sky during the month of September.
Feb. 19 - Mar. 20
Pisces the Fishes in an Autumn constellation, and can be best viewed in
the night sky during the month of October.