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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What's my sign?

Babylonian astronomers at some point during the 1st millennium BC divided the ecliptic into twelve equal zones of celestial longitude to create the first known celestial coordinate system.

I believe that this was when the concept of astrology was developed. The basis for determining a person's zodiacal sign was the location of the sun on the day of a person's birth. By my reasoning this was calculated based on charts of the heavens since it it is quite difficult to see the constellations during the daylight hours.

It was the Greeks--from the time of Alexander the Great to their conquest by the Romans--who provided most of the fundamental elements of modern astrology. The spread of astrological practice was checked by the rise of Christianity, which emphasized divine intervention and free will. During the Renaissance, astrology regained popularity, in part due to rekindled interest in science and astronomy. Christian theologians, however, warred against astrology, and in 1585 Pope Sixtus V condemned it. At the same time, the work of Kepler and others undermined astrology's tenets. Its popularity and longevity are, of course, irrelevant to the truth of astrology in any of its forms.

We have since divided up the sky into hours, minutes, seconds, and degrees.  Instead of 12 divisions, we now have 24 circling our view of the heavens which correspond to the longitude marks of our earth. The 12 Babylonian divisions and our hourly divisions do not correlate well.

Since that time millennia ago, the seasonal constellations have changed significantly. How does this happen? Our ancestors determined the celestial sphere was everlasting and unchanging. But as we now know, the universe is anything but static. Our planets move, our sun moves, our solar system moves, even our galaxy is racing away in space. Everything is in a constant state of motion in relation to everything else. We further complicate our view of the universe by the movement of our earth about it's axis. Because of the precession of the equinoxes, the equinox and solstice points have each moved westward about 30 degrees in the last 2,000 years. That is at least the width of one of the ancient Babylonian wedges. The bottom line is that the night sky we see is not the same as what our ancestors observed so many thousands of years ago when astrology was invented. This is NOT a result of the evolving boundary lines.

I find it interesting that although the sky has changed, astrology has not kept up to date. The sun now travels through different constellations in relation to the dates of the year. Yet the old Astrology date table has remained static.

The constellation boundaries were drawn up by Eugène Delporte in 1930. But his divisions recognized common accepted boundaries for the constellations. They may tread on the Babylonian twelve zones some, I will admit.  But the fact remains that the constellations are now several degrees off what they were in ancient times.

I have determined the apparent location of the sun in each constellation throughout the year based upon the division allocated by Delporte and now accepted by the Astronomical Union.

Dec 18 - Jan 19  Sagittarius

Jan 20 - Feb 15  Capricornus

Feb 16 - Mar 11  Aquarius

Mar 12 - Apr 18  Pisces

Apr 19 - May 13  Aries

May 14 - Jun 21  Taurus

Jun 22 - Jul 20  Gemini

Jul 20 - Aug 10  Cancer

Aug 11 - Sep 16  Leo

Sep 17 - Oct 30  Virgo

Oct 31 - Nov 22  Libra

Nov 23 - Nov 29  Scorpius

Nov 30 - Dec 17  Ophiuchus

Note that there are 13 constellations through which the sun travels.  The additional constellation to the original 12 is "Ophiuchus".  Ophiuchus is one of the largest constellations in the sky and this wedge into the standard signs of the zodiac is interesting.

If our lives depend on the true location of the sun in one of the constellations, we should get this information updated!

I know that many of us read our horoscope for fun and some of us are true believers. Here are some things to ask yourself:

- Which sign of the zodiac do you now use knowing this?
- Why are the initial conditions more important than all subsequent conditions for one's personality and traits?
- Why is the moment of birth chosen as the significant moment rather than the moment of   conception?
- Why aren't other initial conditions such as one's mother's health, the delivery place conditions, forceps, bright lights, dim room, back seat of a car, etc., more important than whether Mars is ascending, descending, culminating, or fulminating?
- Why isn't the planet Earth—the closest large object to us in our solar system--considered a major influence on who we are and what we become?
- There were some really major planets discovered after the invention of astrology, namely Uranus and Neptune... how do these fall into play?
- Other galaxies exert significant gravitational influence on our own. Is this taken into account in astrology?  If so, how are the hundreds of billions of variables taken into account?  (we can hardly get a handle on these things with advanced celestial mechanics)

Here's an interesting activity. Get any copy of the daily horoscope for any day of your choosing. Make a copy.  Have someone cut out the horoscopes and separate them from the zodiac reference so that you don't know which belongs to which. Mix them up and see which applies best to you.  Check it against the original list. Do it for several days. How good are the predictions?

Copyright 2007 by Cindi Jones, Author of  Squirrel Cage