The Zodiac Constellations & Their Visibility in the Sky

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  • 0:01 The Ecliptic
  • 0:41 The Zodiac & Horoscope
  • 1:44 The Origin of the Zodiac
  • 3:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
The zodiac is a concept that spans thousands of years. You'll learn how the zodiac and the ecliptic are related, as well as the origin of the horoscope, in this lesson.

The Ecliptic

The ecliptic is the apparent path of the sun against the background of stars. Our Earth's orbit is almost a perfect circle. As the Earth moves around the sun, it appears as if the sun moves against the background of stars. That is to say, if in the daytime you could see stars, you would see the sun crossing in front of them. Basically, the ecliptic is the projection of Earth's orbit on the sky. Because a full circle is 360 degrees and there are 365.25 days in the year, it's easy to understand that the sun moves about one degree on the ecliptic every day.

The Zodiac & Horoscope

There is a band around the sky that is nine degrees above and below the ecliptic and it is called the zodiac. Ancient astrologers divided the zodiac into 30 degrees. Since there are twelve 30-degree sections in the circle, each section was given a sign. Each sign was named after an important constellation appearing along the ecliptic thousands of years ago. These ancient constellations include:

  • Aries
  • Taurus
  • Gemini
  • Cancer
  • Leo
  • Virgo
  • Libra
  • Scorpio
  • Sagittarius
  • Capricorn
  • Aquarius
  • Pisces

These names should be familiar to horoscope readers. A horoscope is a diagram that shows the location of the planets, moon, and sun around the ecliptic, as well as their position above or below the horizon for a specific date and time. The horoscope and the signs of the zodiac are not important in modern astronomy.

The Origin of the Zodiac

The history of the zodiac is quite interesting as it is a very important ancient concept, despite its uselessness today. It was in ancient Babylon that the concepts of a modern horoscope were born. The division of the zodiac into 12 equal regions was an important prerequisite for a belief in the predictive capabilities of horoscopic charts and diagrams.

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