Many moons ago, I wrote an article about the 12 Zodiac Signs, their meanings, and how to determine your own based on your birthday. Since then, I’ve gotten a lot of email about the subject so I thought I’d expand on it a bit.
The article was popular enough that a few people asked for a book detailing all the information so they could refer to it whenever the mood struck. Which is awesome, because now you can have one in your hands (in e-book form) with the click of a button. I’ll include some cool links to purchase it from my blog as well.
What is the Astrolabe?
The Astrolabe is a bit of an umbrella term for a group of instruments used to measure the positions of the Sun and the Moon, commonly used in navigation. It was named after the 17th century French navigator, Jean Astrolabe. The word ‘astrolabe’ is derived from the Arabic term ‘al-jamla’, which means ‘the lamp’ or ‘the light.’
Astrolabes were first manufactured in the 16th century and were widely used in navigation because of their effectiveness in calculating the position of the Sun and the Moon (and other planets). They were also quite small and portable, and could easily be carried by travelers and solderers of the time. From there, they spread throughout Europe and the rest of the world, reaching as far as the Pacific Ocean. Since then, they’ve been used for similar purposes, especially during World War II when they were necessary for keeping track of time in areas where electricity wasn’t readily available. They’re also commonly found in navigation devices used by mariners and other vessels at sea. These days, astrolabes are commonly used for scientific research, meteorological and astronomical measurements. They are also popular among science fiction and fantasy fans who use them to depict the celestial objects that they’re obsessed with.
What is the Difference between the Sun and the Moon?
Let’s begin with the basics. The Sun is the star at the centre of the solar system. The star that we see in the sky and around which everything orbits is technically called the ‘Sun’. Our planet Earth orbits the Sun once every year, which is why we have seasonal changes and why the Sun is sometimes referred to as ‘the lifebringer’ or ‘the star.’ If Earth were at the centre of the solar system, things would be a lot different – the Sun would never set and there would be no seasons. Instead, we’d have 24 hours of sunlight every day, with no signs of night or darkness.
The Moon is the closest planet to Earth. It orbits around the Sun once every month. This is why the Moon appears to change shape – as the Sun moves across the sky, the illuminated portion of the Moon reveals itself to be full or crescent, depending on its phase. The Moon is also responsible for the tides in our oceans, as well as causing the phases of Venus and Mercury. The word ‘moon’ comes from the Old English term ‘Moena’, which means ‘the month’ or ‘the season of the month.’
As the Moon orbits the Sun, it travels in an arc, which is why we have the phrase ‘moonlight’ to describe anything emanating from the Moon. Similarly, when something is referred to as ‘full moon’, this usually means that it is at its brightest and largest. Since the Moon never gets as bright as the Sun and never gets closer than about ten million kilometers to us, this makes it easy to identify when the Moon is full and when it is new. One of the best times to view the Moon is between one and three days before or after the date of the full Moon. As the Moon gets closer to the Earth, the effects of its gravity become more noticeable, causing a sort of slowing down of the Earth’s rotation. For those interested in astronomy or astrology, the Moon is a really interesting object to study.
What is the Zodiac?
Just like the Sun and the Moon, the Zodiac is a group of twelve constellations that extend from the southern hemipshere to the other extreme of the sky. The Zodiac is commonly used in astronomy to determine the seasons and when to plant or harvest certain types of crops. In classical Greek mythology, the twelve signs of the zodiac were represented by twelve animals. These days, the Zodiac is mostly used to describe astrological signs, with each sign’s corresponding animal or creature representing the qualities and characteristics associated with that sign (see table below).
The zodiac signs aren’t aligned with the constellations in the sky, but they are so called because they were first used to define seasonal changes and were later applied to individuals as astrological indicators of character and temperament.
How is the Zodiac determined?
The year is divided into four seasons, each of which is associated with a different zodiac sign. The four seasons are: Spring, Summer, Winter, and Autumn. During the year, the Sun moves through these signs in order from Spring, through Summer, Winter, and finally to Autumn. When the Sun is in a specific zodiac sign, the weather will reflect that. For example, when the Sun is in the sign of Taurus, spring is associated with fresh new growth and tender green shoots. In contrast, when the Sun is in the sign of Aries, spring is associated with bright light and warming weather. The twelve signs of the zodiac are as follows: