The Zodiac: The Stars Behind the Sun
This semester, I jumped on the opportunity to take a fascinating class called “Astronomy 100: Exploring the Universe”. Not only is my mind being blown about our massively insignificant size in comparison to the rest of the universe, but by other interesting tidbits of information that are a bit closer to home: the night sky.
What’s considered most popular in night sky lore is the Zodiac. Though astrology primarily deals with how one’s sign affects their day’s path, astronomy does have a hand in the scientific portion of the Zodiac. No, it has nothing to do with the gravitational significance of one’s sign. Turns out, the stars an individual is born under have no gravitational effect at all upon said individual. The doctor who delivered them has more gravitational significance than the stars overhead on their birthday.
Where astronomy actually comes into play is in the position of the stars during the time of year. The names of the signs—Capricorn, Leo, Virgo, Scorpio, Libra, etc.—are names of constellations that exist in the Earth’s celestial sphere along the ecliptic. For clarification purposes, Earth’s celestial sphere is the expanse of celestial objects (stars, planets, satellites, etc.) that one can see from the Earth’s surface, and the ecliptic is Earth’s orbit around the Sun translated onto the celestial sphere. In order to make the concept easier to understand, refer to the picture that accompanies this blog.
I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, so this means that if I’m a Virgo, the constellation must’ve been in the sky the night I was born!” That’s not the case. In fact, it’s opposite the case: when someone is born a Virgo, the constellation depicting that sign is actually behind the Sun. The constellation will appear in the night sky roughly six months after your birthday. Seems kind of twisted, doesn’t it?
What’s even more twisted is the fact that there is another sign added to the Zodiac between Scorpio and Sagittarius, called Orphiuchus, making the Zodiac not twelve but thirteen signs. If you’re interested in astrology, check out the new partition dates for your sign to see if you have changed. Don’t worry, though, if you have the new sign doesn’t get incorporated into birthdays before 2011. So, be on the lookout for the birthdays of younger siblings, and perhaps your own future children; they might be Orphiuchuses.