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Learn the Constellations
The First Light Astronomy Kit from David Chandler Company
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Learn the Constellations
The First Light Astronomy Kit from David Chandler Company
Buy it Now or
Find Out More

The Constellation Home Page

Group VII

The 12 Zodiacal Constellations
and the Signs of the Zodiac


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.

The Dictionary Definitions

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 fortune telling.

The Signs of the Zodiac 
and the 12 Zodiacal Constellations

Aries 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.

Taurus 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.

Gemini 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.

Cancer 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.

Leo July 23 - Aug. 22

Leo the Lion is a Winter constellation, and can be best viewed in the night during the month of March.

Virgo Aug. 23 - Sept. 22

Virgo the Virgin is a Spring constellation, and can be best viewed during the month of April.

Libra 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.

Scorpio 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.

Sagittarius Nov. 22 - Dec. 21

Sagittarius the Archer is a Summer constellation, and can be best viewed in the night sky during the month July.

Capricorn 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.

Aquarius 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.

Pisces 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.

The Constellation Home Page

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Home ] The 88 Astronomical Constellations ] The Winter Constellations ] The Spring Constellations ] The Summer Constellations ] The Autumn Constellations ] The Southern Constellations ] [ The 12 Zodiacal Constellations and the Signs of the Zodiac ]


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