How To Learn The Zodiac Signs Constellations!

Explore the fascinating world of the Zodiac and its constellations. Discover the origins, meanings, and mythological connections

Video of the day January 16th 2020

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The Zodiac plays a big part in the world, especially in pop culture, astrology, and even mythology. But how much do you actually know about the Zodiac? Join us as we dive deep into it all!

What Is The Zodiac?

There are actually quite a few Zodiacs out there, including one referencing the Greeks (which is what we’ll be referring to here) and the Chinese Zodiac (for which they label a year after whatever animal is next in the Zodiac). But for the Greek one, what does it reference, what does it all mean?

To keep it very basic, the Zodiac is a series of 12 constellations that are in ecliptic, or the path of the sun, our sun. So thus these 12 are seen as special because the sun passes by them when it moves. Or at least, that’s how we perceive it here on Earth (as we’re technically the ones moving).

Now, as for where the word “Zodiac” comes from, that would be the Greek word “Zodiakos” which means “circle of animals”. Which is poetic because all of the constellations (save for one) represents living animals in our world today.

And because there are 12 constellations in the Zodiac, and 12 months of the year, we’ve assigned special dates to them based on the position of the sun when it passes through them and thus we get the ‘signs’. Which eventually led to horoscopes…and that’s another list entirely.

So, knowing all of that, shall we get started on the significance and details of each constellation?

Aries

Not to be confused with the Greek God Ares, Aries is a ram, and is passed by the sun between April 19th till May 13th. As for the stars that make it up, that would be Hamal, Sheratan, 41 Ari, Botein, HD 20644, ε Ari, 35 Ari, and γ2 Ari. Yeah, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?

The constellation is quite a ways away, such as with its brightest star, Hamal, which is 66 light years away from where Earth it. Yet that proves how bright it is so that we can see it from Earth itself.

Aries the ram is depicted many different ways across many different mythologies, including ones in both western, Egyptian, and the Greek. In terms of Greek mythology, the ram known as Aries was one with a golden fleece, one that helped save a son from being sacrificed by his father after a conspiracy had been hatched to kill them. The ram was later sacrificed to Zeus, and the fleece was given to him as a tribute, who later gave it to others, who then hung it in a cave guarded by a dragon.

Also though, for those who know their Greek tales, you’ll know that the Golden Fleece was the goal/reward of Jason and Argonauts, and they were able to steal it successfully.

Taurus

Is anyone feeling rather bullish today? You know…because is a bull…nevermind. In terms of the path of this constellation, it is crossed by the sun between May 14th till June 19th. The stars that make it up include Aldebaran, Elnath, Alcyone, ζ Tau,  and θ2 Tau2. Try saying some of those names 5 times fast.

Taurus is actually quite far away from Earth, almost 400 light years away, so don’t expect to see it up close.

Not unlike Aries, there are many different depictions of Taurus the Bull in both mythologies aboard and Greek mythology itself. For example, there are many references to the bull being Zeus, who was known to shapeshift all the time to be close to his many mistresses. One story even states that he turned one of this mistresses to a bull to hide her from Hera (who was known for jealously and lashing out at said mistresses). Others though believe that it could be a reference to the Cretan Bull that Heracles had to deal with in one of his many labors.

Either way, the bull became not just a constellation, but a figure of many different mythologies, including ones worshiped to this day.

Gemini

Ok, how many twins in the house? No, really, I’m curious, and it’s poetic because Gemini is a term that is used in pop culture and culture the world over to talk about the “twins” of the world. Including a recent movie “Gemini Man”.

As for the stars, there are 85 stars that technically make up the constellation, but the main ones are Pollux, Alhena, Castor A, Tejat Posterior and Castor B…to name a few. Again, there’s 85 of them and that’s just the ones that we can see!

In terms of distance, the closest star of the constellation Tejat Posterier is 230 light years from Earth.

Going to the Greek Mythology texts for the origin of the twins…well let’s just say it’s a bit…messy. You see, while they were twins, each boy, Pollux and Castor, had a different father. I’m not saying a word…

Anyway, their mother was Leda, but Zeus was the father of one, and the Spartan King Tyndareus. Again, I’m not going there. The problem here was that because Pollux was a demigod, that made him immortal, but Castor was mortal thanks to his human father. Thus, when Castor died, Pollux implored Zeus to let him live forever. So the two were put together in the sky.

Cancer

No, I’m not going to ask the obvious question. That would be insensitive! However, I will say that Cancer is without a doubt one of the most known constellations if for no other reason than it’s a crab, and people just connect to it for some reason. It appears with the sun from July 20 to August 9.

Some of the stars in the constellation include Al Tarf, Assellus Australis, Acubens, Assellus Borealis and more. It’s also about 131 light years from Earth in regards to its closest star.

Remember when I said people just related to Cancer? Well, here’s why, it’s story is very…sympathetic. So, you remember the beast known as Hydra right? Well, after Heracles slew the monster, a crab named Cancer came around and bit Heracles on the foot. Not taking kindly to that, Heracles killed the crab. End of story…right? Not so much, Hera (who if you recall I said was the jealous type) decided to spite Heracles by taking the crab and putting him in the sky for all to see.

Leo

Lions across the world are part of many mythologies, including being the symbols of strength, power, courage, and more. So it would’ve honestly been odd if there WASN’T a lion constellation in the sky. I’m just saying.

Anyway, the constellation known as Leo passes by the sun from August 10th till September 16th, and is made up of many stars including Regulus, Denebola, Zosma, Algeiba and Ras Elased Australis. Oh, and it’s 247 light years from Earth to its closest star.

Leo the lion has a prominent place in Greek Mythology, as it was the first of the Twelve Labors of Heracles. Specifically, it was the Nemean Lion that Heracles successfully killed. Oh, and by “killed” I mean that Heracles had to beat it with its bare hands by bending it so far backwards that he brought the lions back. That’s hardcore.

Virgo

Virgo is revered as one of the constellations we can most easily observe in our skies, and it passes by the sun from September 16th till October 30th. Some of its stars include Spica, Vindemiatrix, Heze, Auva, Zavijah and more. It’s also 260 light years away from Earth.

Of all the constellations, Virgo is one that is the most…plentiful in terms of interpretations, even the Greek Mythology texts debate what it is supposed to represent. Including it being the Goddess Demeter, who is the goddess of agriculture. Other interpretations have it as other goddesses, including the one of virgins or of justice itself. Some even think it’s supposed to be a legendary Greek monster.

I’ll take the agriculture goddess….I’m just saying. I mean, would you rather picture a horrifying monster in the skies above looking down on you? Or a goddess that you can pray to for a better harvest? That’s what I thought.

All zodiac constellations | Who invented the zodiac | Are the zodiac signs  changing | Star Walk

Libra

Libra is a constellation that is passed by the sun from October 31st till November 22nd. Its main stars include Zubeneschamali, Zuben Elgenubi, Sigma Librae, and more. Though it’s closer than many other constellations at only 185 light years from Earth.

Libra is technically a person, but over the years, the interpretation of the constellation changes from a person, to scorpions’ claws, to the scales of justice. Or just a regular weighing scale. The reasons are based on the cultures themselves, but one interesting thing to note is that when the sun passes by the constellation, the balance of the days and the nights are equal. Thus, the scales are even. Take of that what you will of course. There are other interpretations you can check out if you feel the need for a better visual.

Scorpio

At one time, Scorpio and Libra were thought to be a part of the same constellation. That’s why Libra was first known as the “Scorpion’s Claws”, which became the scales. Eventually they were separated and Scorpio is now its own thing.

As its own thing, the constellation gets passed by the sun on November 23rd till November 29th, and some of its main stars include Antares, Shaula, Sargas, Dschubba and more. But dear gosh is this one FAR AWAY!!! It’s 5500 light years from Earth! Which should be a signal to you in regards to just how bright and powerful this constellation is.

Now, as noted, there was one time when Scorpio and Libra were one constellation that were a reference to a scale of justice. But, when referring to Scorpio itself, that would tie it to the legends of Orion the Hunter. Once upon a time, Orion stated that it could kill any living creature, so the goddess Gaia sent a scorpion after him with impenetrable armor. You know, she cheated. He did get away from the scorpion, but the goddess Artemis unwittingly struck him down. Another take says that it was Artemis and her mother that sent the scorpion, and the scorpion killed Orion. Zeus saw the battle between the two and decided to raise both of them to the sky to honor them.

Sagittarius 

Sagittarius is a very curious constellation that is up in the sky, mainly because of the form it takes. it’s passed by the sun from December 18th till January 18th. Its main stars include Kaus Australis, Nunki, Ascella, Kaus Medius, Kaus Borealis. It’s also another constellation that is a long way from Earth, over 5000 light years away.

As for what a Sagittarius is, you need only look at what it is in most of its depictions. Meaning, that it’s a centaur. A creature that is half-man and half-horse. Who have a rich history in Greek mythology. Yet curiously, there are two depictions of the Centaur. One of them state him as just a regular Centaur while the other state that it’s an archer, and possibly the father of archery. One of the reasons for this is that one of the stars is said to be the tip of the arrow it’s “drawing”.

Regardless, the creature is a proud member of the Zodiac, and centaurs continue to be used in all sorts of media because of their impressive stature, and some are even shown to be archers.

Capricorn

To be clear, this is a goat, not a ram like Aries, thus this is an entirely different constellation! Ok? We good? Good, I’ll move on then. Capricorn is passed by the sun at January 19th till February 15th, and is made up of stars such as Deneb Algedi, Dabih, Secunda Giedi, Nashira, and more. It’s one of the constellations that is relatively close to Earth, as one of its stars is only 39 light years away. That’s closer than you think.

Like many myths, there are several interpretations to this goat. But one stands out. Mainly, in Greek Mythology it’s said that Capricorn was named Amalthea, and it was her who saved Zeus from being eaten by his father Cronus (who tried to prevent the prophecy of his death by the hands of Zeus). Her doing so set events in motion to let Zeus kill his father, save his siblings, and rule over the world. She was later put into the stars as a tribute.

Aquarius

Known as the “Water-Carrier”, Aquarius is a constellation that has gotten some interesting popularity over the years. Including a song via “Age Of Aquarius”. It’s passed by the sun on February 16th till March 11th, and is made up of stars like Sadalsuud, Skat, Albali, and more. The closest star in the constellation is about 760 light years from Earth right now.

Despite being known as the “Water-Carrier”, Aquarius is not always identified as human. In fact, the first interpretation of the character wasn’t a being at all, but a vase that water flowed out of. Later stories rebuilt Aquarius as a person who built ships, dealt with water, and more.

Pisces

The final constellation in the Zodiac is that of Pisces, the two fish. They get passed by the sun on March 12th till April 18th, and are made up of stars like Torcularis Septentrionalis and many with awkward names that I’m going to spare you from. It’s also 294 light years away from Earth.

The story of the two fish are a bit tricky depending on the story. But the jist of it is that Aphrodite (the goddess of love and beauty) and her son Eros were wandering around one day when the monster Typhon came out and attacked them. To get away, they jumped into a nearby river and shape-shifted into fish to escape. They were “connected” as the constellation shows to ensure they didn’t get separated from one another in the attempt.

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