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FIXED STARS IN THE ZODIAC

 

        Astronomy

Our earliest ancestors thought that the stars were holes in the firmament, pinpricks that let the light in from beyond. They couldn’t know that the part of the universe they could observe was actually a hundred thousand million million million miles across - surely far enough for anyone to want to see - or that the universe is infinite. Stars are in reality balls of gas with a solid core, born in swirling gas clouds that react when they become sufficiently dense in their core for nuclear fusion to take place, the burning of hydrogen to become helium. This causes heat and light, and makes the star “shine”. The speed of light is 186,282.397 miles per second, and a light year is the equivalent of nearly 6 million million miles. Some stars are so distant that their light takes thousands of millions of years to reach us. The nearest known star is 4.3 light years away.

The oldest stars are up to 12 billion years old, and the universe itself was calculated to be at least the same age. However, as the universe is now found to be expanding at an increasing rate, thanks to studies of supernova, it must have been expanding more slowly in the beginning (Einstein’s cosmological constant parameter), making it 10% older, around 14 billion years old. A galaxy appears to be moving 160,000 mph faster for every 3.26 million light-years distance from Earth.

Star births can now be seen using infrared light and it is thought that most stars are born as twins, with 60% plus forming binary systems. It isn’t known why this is, but one theory is that the shape of the gas cloud could determine it. It is thought that stars are generally formed in clusters that stay together for about 10 million years. According to Dr Cathie Clark of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, using her colleague Dr Ian Bonnell’s computer calculations, stars in the centre of a cluster get larger as a result of “dogfights” with their neighbour stars for scraps of matter. The larger star then attracts more material, so continues to get bigger and to dominate its star zone.

About 3,000 years ago the Babylonians divided the ecliptic into the twelve signs of the zodiac, each named to coincide with the constellation through which the sun appeared to pass. They observed the skies so that they could estimate the seasons and regulate their crops, and also to draw up horoscopes, believing they could predict events of the future from the positions and movements of celestial bodies. This was significant in the history of astronomy, since the closely observed record of the motions in the sky resulted in a technique of observation that was adopted by astronomers.

The zodiac represents the twelve divisions of the skies set along the ecliptic. It reached 8° above the ecliptic and 8° below, and included all the known planets. When the Babylons formulated the system the vernal equinox (the point where the ecliptic intersects the equator) was in Aries so the zodiacal New Year begins with Aries, on or around March 21, marking the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Each division of 30° contains a major constellation through which the sun appears to pass in the course of a year. The zodiac then was a fixed or sidereal zodiac, measured from a chosen star, known as a fiducial.

The Babylonians and the Egyptians measured their longitudes from a number of “fixed stars” in the heavens. These fiducials were the Pleiades, in those times to be found around 5° TA, Aldebaran at 15° TA, Regulus at 5° LE, Spica at 29° VI, and Antares at 15° SC. The Roman people also took up sidereal astrology at a popular level, which was developed to new heights, though their government did not encourage astrology. The first major astrologer was Nigidius Figulus, a student of Posidonius (135-51 BC).

Manilius (approx. 48 BC-20 AD) wrote his famous Astronomica c. 14 AD. In this he observed the Greek tradition of assigning a constellation for each of the principal Olympian deities to inhabit (quite distinct from rulership), so that “a living presence might lend majesty to abstract qualities”. These were Aries (Minerva), Taurus (Venus), Gemini (Apollo), Cancer (Mercury), Leo (Jupiter), Virgo (Ceres), Libra (Vulcan), Scorpio (Mars), Sagittarius (Diana), Capricorn (Vesta), Aquarius (Juno), Pisces (Neptune).

Nowadays, a tropical or moving zodiac is more commonly used, based around the Sun’s yearly return to the vernal equinox, and the solar monthly progress is measured through the signs along the ecliptic, divided into twelve equal divisions. The fixed zodiac and the tropical zodiac coincided in 221 AD, when the Vernal Point had retrogressed to the exact conjunction with its sidereal counterpart. They are currently about 24° apart, as a result of precession (the gradual turning of the Earth’s axis around the pole of the ecliptic), and so the signs of the zodiac no longer coincide with the constellation bearing their name. The vernal-equinoctial point slips back at a rate of 1° in 7½ years. The Earth’s axis and the celestial Poles rotate round the poles of the ecliptic in circles 23½° distant from them in a period of 25,800 years, so that the vernal equinox, for instance, is presently in Pisces. Arguably, when it reaches Aquarius the so-called Aquarian Age will begin.

Some constellations presently cross the Celestial Equator. These are Pisces, Aquarius, Opiuchus, Serpens Cauda, Aquila, Virgo, Leo, Sextans, Hydra, Canis Major, Monoceros, Orion and Cetus.

 

        Astrology

Stars (called Fixed Stars by ancient astrologers, to differentiate them from planetary bodies, which were called Wandering Stars) are considered by those who use them to be relevant in a natal chart when the stars are conjunct by natal planets, angles, nodal points, and so on. Traditionally no orbs were used, though some astrologers have adopted a system of orbs. Morin de Villefranche determined an orb of stars related to their brilliance: 6 (1st magnitude), 5 (2nd magnitude) and so on, but these would now be considered far too wide. Magnification is given in the table below, V being Variable and C denoting a Cluster. Unlike that of a planet, the influence of a fixed star was generally thought to be dramatic, sudden, and violent. About 3,000 stars are visible to the naked eye (of Magnitude 6 or higher), though not all at the same time, but from a powerful telescope like that of Mount Palomar, stars of Magnitude 23 come into view, bringing the total of visible stars to over 1,000 million.

As the zodiacal positions are subject to correction for precession and for rounding off, they have been amended here for 1985. The mean annual motion of a star is 50.25”. Therefore it will take 71.6418 years on average for a star to travel 1°. To find a star position for any year other than 1985, multiply the number of years before or after 1985 by its annual motion, as listed in the table, and subtract or add the result.

Many medieval star-list compilers paid special attention to 15 stars, which were accorded special places in relation to the lore of magical gems and talismans, used for amuletic and therapeutic magic. These are given below in capital letters, giving first the modern name, with the most frequently used medieval term in brackets.

 

ARIES

AR 02    Deneb Kaitos or Difda                    2         45.1  Saturn

AR 09    Algenib                                        3         46.3  Mars/Mercury

AR 14    Alpheratz                                     2         46.5  Jupiter/Venus

AR 22    Baten Kaitos                                       44.4  Saturn

AR 27    Al Pherg                                       4         48.1  Saturn/Jupiter

AR 30    Mirach                                         2         50.2  Venus

 

 

TAURUS

TA 04    Sharatan                                      3         49.6  Mars/Mercury

TA 08    Hamal                                         2         50.7  Mars/Saturn

TA 14    Alamac or Almach                          2         55     Venus

TA 14    Menkar                                               46.9  Saturn

TA 27    ALGOL                                         V         58.6  Saturn/Jupiter

TA 30    ALCYONE (in Pleiades)                   3         53.4  Moon/Mars

 

GEMINI

GE 06    Primum Hyadum                            4         51.1  Saturn/Mercury

GE 10    ALDEBARAN                                  1         51.6  Mars

GE 17    Rigel                                           1         43.2  Jupiter/Mars

GE 21    Bellatrix                                       2         48.3  Mars/Mercury

GE 22    CAPELLA (Hircus)                           1         66.4  Mars/Mercury

GE 22    Phact                                           2         32.5  Venus/Mercury

GE 23    El Nath                                        2         56.8  Mars

GE 23    Mintaka                                       2         45.9  Saturn/Mercury

GE 24    Alnilam                                        2         45.6  Jupiter/Saturn

GE 25    Al Hecka                                      3         53.8  Mars

GE 29    POLARIS (Cauda Ursae)                  2         450.6 Saturn/Venus

GE 29    Betelgeuse                                   1         48.7  Mars/Mercury

GE 30    Menkalinan                                   2         66     Mars/Mercury

 

CANCER

CN 03    Tejat                                           3         54.3  Mercury/Venus

CN 05    Dirah                                           3         54.4  Mercury/Venus

CN 09    Alhena                                         2         52     Mercury/Venus

CN 14    SIRIUS (Canis Major)                     1         39.6  Jupiter/Mars

CN 15    Canopus                                      1         18.3  Saturn/Jupiter

CN 19    Propus                                         4         53.6  Mercury/Venus

CN 19    Wasat                                         3         55.9  Saturn

CN 20    Castor                                         2         57.4  Mercury

CN 23    Pollux                                          1         55.2  Mars

CN 26    PROCYON                                     1         47.1  Mercury/Mars

 

LEO

LE 08     Ascelli: N Ascellus/                        5         52.3  Mars/Sun

LE 09     S Ascellus                                    4         51.1  Mars/Sun

LE 14     Acubens                                       4         49.2  Saturn/Mercury

LE 15     Dubhe                                         2                 Mars

LE 21     Algenubi                                      3         51.1  Saturn/Mars

LE 28     Al Jabha                                       3         49     Saturn/Mercury

LE 28     Alphard                                        2         44.2  Saturn/Venus

LE 29     Adhafera                                      3         50.1  Saturn/Mercury

LE 30     REGULUS (Cor Leonis)                    1         49     Mars/Jupiter

 

VIRGO

VI 11     Zosma                                         2         47.8  Saturn/Venus

VI 15     Mirak                                                          Mars

VI 22     Denebola                                     2         45.9  Saturn/Venus

VI 27     Benetnash                                    2                 Mars

VI 27     Labrum                                        4         34.5  Venus/Mercury

VI 27     Zavijava                                             46.9  Mercury/Mars

VI 29     Markeb                                               27.9  Saturn/Jupiter

 

LIBRA

LI 05     Zaniah                                         4         46     Mars/Venus

LI 10     Vindemiatrix                                 3         44.8  Saturn/Mercury

LI 10     Caphir                                                45.6  Mercury/Venus

LI 14     ALGORAB (Ala Corvi)                      3         46.5  Mars/Saturn

LI 18     Seginus                                       3         36.3  Mercury/Saturn

LI 23     Foramen                                      V         57.3  Saturn/Jupiter

LI 24     SPICA                                          1         47.4  Venus/Mars

LI 25     ARCTURUS (Alchamath)                  1         41.1  Mars/Jupiter

 

SCORPIO

SC 03    Princeps                                       3         36.3  Mercury/Saturn

SC 07    Khambalia                                    4         47.8  Venus/Mars

SC 12    Acrux                                           1         49.8  Jupiter

SC 12    ALPHECCA (Elpheia)                       2         38.1  Venus/Mercury

SC 15    South Scale (Zubenelgenubi)           3         49.6  Jupiter/Mars

SC 19    North Scale (Zubenelschamali)               48.4  Jupiter/Mercury

SC 22    Unukalhai                                            44.2  Saturn/Mars

SC 24    Agena                                          1         63.1  Venus/Jupiter

SC 30    Rigil Kentaurus                             1         60.9  Venus/Jupiter

 

SAGITTARIUS

SA 03    Yed Prior                                      3         47.1  Saturn/Venus

SA 03    Yed Posterior                                3                 Venus/Saturn

SA 03    Isidis                                           2         53.1  Mars/Saturn

SA 03    Graffias                                       3         52.2  Mars/Saturn

SA 09    Han                                             3         49.5  Saturn/Venus

SA 10    ANTARES                                      1         55     Mars/Jupiter

SA 12    Rastaban                                     3         20.2  Saturn/Venus

SA 18    Sabik                                           2         51.6  Saturn/Venus

SA 23    Rasalhague                                  2         41.7  Saturn/Venus

SA 24    Lesath                                         3         61     Mercury/Mars

SA 26    Aculeus                                        C         58.3  Mars/Moon

SA 29    Acumen                                       C         59.8  Mars/Moon

SA 30    Sinistra                                        3         49.5  Saturn/Venus

 

CAPRICORN

CP 03    Polis                                            4         53.6  Jupiter/Mars

CP 13    Pelagus                                       2         55.8  Jupiter/Mercury

CP 14    Ascella                                        3         57.3  Jupiter/Mercury

CP 15    Manubrium                                          53.6  Sun/Mars

CP 15    VEGA (Vultur Cadens)                    1         30.4  Venus/Mercury

CP 20    Deneb                                         3         41.4  Mars/Jupiter

CP 26    Terebellum                                   6         54.7  Venus/Saturn

 

AQUARIUS

AQ 02    Albireo                                         3         36.3  Venus/Mercury

AQ 02    Altair                                           1         43.9  Mars/Jupiter

AQ 04    Dabith                                         3         50.5  Saturn/Venus

AQ 04    Giedi                                           4         49.9  Venus/Mars

AQ 05    Bos                                             5         51.3  Saturn/Venus

AQ 05    Oculus                                         5         51.4  Saturn/Venus

AQ 13    Armus                                          5         51.1  Mars/Mercury

AQ 14    Dorsum                                        5         50.4  Saturn/Jupiter

AQ 20    Castra                                         5         50.4  Saturn/Jupiter

AQ 22    Nashira                                        4         49.9  Saturn/Jupiter

AQ 24    DENEB ALGEDI                              3         49.6  Saturn/Jupiter

AQ 24    Sadalsuud                                    3         47.4  Saturn/Mercury

 

PISCES

PI 03     Sadalmelik                                   3         46.2  Saturn/Mercury

PI 04     Fomalhaut                                    1         49.8  Venus/Mercury

PI 05     Deneb Adige or Deneb Cygni           1         30.6  Venus/Mercury

PI 09     Skat                                            3         47.8  Saturn/Jupiter

PI 15     Achernar                                      1         33.6  Jupiter

PI 24     Markab                                        2         44.8  Mars/Mercury

PI 29     Scheat                                         2         43.6  Mars/Mercury


The Fixed Stars In Alphabetical Order:

PI 15     Achernar  -57 29

SC 12    Acrux  -62 49

LE 14    Acubens  12 03

SA 26    Aculeus                                                       

SA 29    Acumen

LE 29     Adhafera                                              23 40

SC 24    Agena                                                 -60 08

TA 14    Alamac                                                 42 05

AQ 02    Albireo                                                 27 51

TA 30    ALCYONE (in Pleiades)                           23 57

GE 10    ALDEBARAN                                          16 25

AR 09    Algenib (or Mirfak)                                 49 41

LE 21     Algenubi

TA 27    ALGOL                                                 40 46

LI 14     ALGORAB (Ala Corvi)                             -16 14

GE 25    Alhecka

CN 09    Alhena                                                 16 27

LE 28     Al Jabha

TA 14    Almach

GE 24    Alnilam                                                 -1 14

LE 28     Alphard

SC 12    ALPHECCA (Elpheia)

AR 14    Alpheratz

AR 27    Al Pherg

AQ 02    Altair                                                     8 44

SA 10    ANTARES                                             -26 19

LI 25     ARCTURUS (Alchamath)                          19 27

AQ 13    Armus

CP 14    Ascella                                                -29 57

LE 08.5  Ascelli

AR 22    Baten Kaitos                                        -10 35

GE 21    Bellatrix                                                 6 18

VI 27     Benetnash                                            49 34

GE 29    Betelgeuse                                             7 24

AQ 05    Bos

CN 15    Canopus                                              -52 40

GE 22    CAPELLA (Hircus)                                   45 57

LI 10     Caphir

CN 20    Castor                                                  32 00

AQ 20    Castra

AQ 04    Dabith

CP 20    Deneb

PI 05     Deneb Adige

AQ 24    DENEB ALGEDI                                     -16 21

AR 02    Deneb Kaitos                                       -18 16

VI 22     Denebola                                              14 51

CN 05    Dirah

AQ 14    Dorsum

LE 15     Dubhe                                                  62 01

GE 23    El Nath                                                28 34

PI 04     Fomalhaut                                           -29 53

LI 23     Foramen

AQ 04    Giedi

SA 03    Graffias                                               -42 17

TA 08    Hamal                                                  23 14

SA 09    Han

SA 03    Isidis

SC 07    Khambalia

VI 27     Labrum

SA 24    Lesath                                                -19 20

CP 15    Manubrium

PI 24     Markab                                                 14 56

VI 29     Markeb

GE 30    Menkalinan                                           44 57

TA 14    Menkar                                                  3 54

GE 23    Mintaka                                                -0 20

AR 30    Mirach                                                  35 21

VI 15     Mirak

AQ 22    Nashira                                               -16 53

SC 19    North Scale (Zubenelschamali)               -09 12

AQ 05    Oculus

CP 13    Pelagus

GE 22    Phact                                                  -34 06

GE 29    POLARIS (Cauda Ursae)                          89 02

CP 03    Polis

CN 23    Pollux                                                  28 09

GE 06    Primum Hyadum

SC 03    Princeps

CN 26    PROCYON                                               5 21

CN 19    Propus

SA 23    Rasalhague                                           12 36

SA 12    Rastaban

LE 30     REGULUS (Cor Leonis)                            12 13

GE 17    Rigel                                                    -8 15

SC 30    Rigil Kentaurus

SA 18    Sabik                                                  -15 40

PI 03     Sadalmelik                                            -0 34

AQ 24    Sadalsuud                                             -5 48

PI 29     Scheat                                                 27 49

LI 18     Seginus

TA 04    Sharatan

SA 30    Sinistra

CN 14    SIRIUS (Canis Major)                            -16 39

PI 09     Skat                                                   -16 05

LI 24     SPICA                                                 -10 54

SC 15    South Scale (Zubenelgenubi)                  -15 50

CN 03    Tejat                                                   22 31

CP 26    Terebellum

SC 22    Unukalhai                                               6 35

LI 10     Vindemiatrix                                         11 14

CN 19    Wasat                                                  22 05

CP 15    VEGA (Vultur Cadens)                             38 44

SA 03    Yed Prior                                               -3 34

SA 03    Yed Posterior                                         -4 34

LI 05     Zaniah                                                        

VI 27     Zavijava                                                2 03

VI 11     Zosma                                                 20 00