The line of the Earth's orbit around the Sun is called the ecliptic. The zodiacal constellations are located on this line. Every 12 constellations, the Sun passes at the same time every year. This circumstance was extremely important for agricultural work in the ancient world. Therefore, the signs of the zodiac were known not only by priests and learned astrologers, but also by ordinary people. In the Middle Ages, calendars of the passage of the Sun and Moon along the ecliptic were in great demand among the literate part of the population. Thus, the great astronomer and astrologer Kepler lived by creating and selling such calendars.
The zodiacal constellations in astrology do not coincide with the astronomical zodiacal constellations. In ancient times, when astronomy did not exist, and astrology was needed by everyone from kings to shopkeepers, the ecliptic line was divided into equal sections of 30 degrees, corresponding to 12 constellations. Ophiuchus was not included in the calculations, because it began to cross the ecliptic plane only at the end of the 19th century. This fact split astronomers, most believe that the combination of stars crossing the ecliptic should be 13, but there are enough conservatives among astronomers who believe that there are only 12 constellations of the ecliptic. Their number must necessarily correspond to the number of months in a year.
Over time, there is a constant shift of the equinox along the ecliptic line by 1 degree every 70 years. This shift led to the fact that the coincidence of the zodiac constellations with the signs of the zodiac in astrology is partially lost.
The number of stars in separate groups on the ecliptic varies greatly:
Aries contains 20 stars, the brightest of which are Mesartim and Sharatan. In ancient times, the bright star Hamal served as a navigational star for sailors. The name Aries appeared because the cult of the lamb in the Ancient World was inherent in all religions.
Taurus consists of 130, the brightest stars are Aldebaran and Nat Aldebaran has also been an important navigation star in nautical affairs. In very ancient times, when cattle breeding was just developing, Taurus was the main constellation, spring began with him.
Gemini has 70 luminaries, the brightest of them are Castor and Polluk, from which this combination of luminaries got its name. These are the names of the children of Zeus, who did not want to part after the death of one and asked their father to kill the other. In ancient Greece, Gemini was considered the patron saint of sailors. And in ancient Rome there was even a coin of Dioscurus, this is the middle name of these children of Zeus.
Cancer has 60 stars, Altarf stands out. Two and a half thousand years ago, the solstice point fell on the time of this cluster of stars, which gave it great importance in the ancient world.
The brightest star of the group cluster on the Leo ecliptic is Regulus, the "royal star" as it was called in the Middle Ages. Four and a half thousand years ago, the solstice point was in Leo, so this sign personified the Sun and heat. At this time in ancient Egypt, lions came en masse from the deserts to the Nile Valley, this is another reason why this sign received such a name.
Virgo has 160, the brightest Spica. When she appeared in the sky in those days, harvesting and other important agricultural work began, therefore the virgin is always depicted with an ear.
Libra, the only "inanimate" sign of the Zodiac, consists of 84 luminaries. The word Zodiac itself, translated from the ancient Greek language, means "animal belt". It was named so because the time of the autumnal equinox, the equality of day and night, is convenient for reminding about the equality of laws. The symbol of Zeus' daughter Themis - Libra, has become a symbol of the zodiac sign and a reminder of justice.
Scorpio consists of only 17 luminaries. This is a sign of death, because during the late autumn, nature dies.
Sagittarius has the largest number of luminaries - 116. The number of bright stars is also very large - 14. In this combination of stars is the center of our Galaxy. The centaur was made the symbol of Sagittarius.
Capricorn has 86 luminaries. His symbol was made a half animal, half fish. It is believed that the reason for this was the finding here of the point of the winter solstice.
Aquarius is so named because in ancient times it was the rainiest time of the year on the territory of the Tigris and Euphrates. The ancient Sumerians called this time the month of the "water curse".
Pisces consists of 74 luminaries. It is believed that the origin of this name is Phoenician. They had the richest fishing at this time.
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