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Zodiac

Zodiac

The zodiac, literally the circle of animals, is constituted by the 12 stellar constellations through which the Sun appears to pass in its annual movement through the heavens. The 12 constellations form a belt across the night sky some 8 to 9 degrees on either side of the solar orbit. The Moon and the planets of this solar system also move within that belt. The path of the Sun is called the ecliptic as eclipses occur when the Moon's orbit crosses the Sun's path.

The idea of a zodiac is relatively complex, and long-term observation of planetary motion is quite possible without it. The idea of naming the various constellations in the sky for gods and animals is ancient; the singling out of the 12 constellations that constitute the zodiac goes back at least to the second millennium B.C.E. in ancient Mesopotamia. The zodiac as it appears in modern astrology was certainly in use by the sixth century B.C.E. Each culture gave the constellations of the zodiac different names, the modern Western zodiac being derived from the Greeks. The designation of 12 constellations, a worldwide phenomenon, relates to the division of the year by the Moon's 12 complete orbits through the zodiac in each solar year.

In modern astrology, two different zodiacs are popularly recognized. The sidereal zodiac reflects the actual location of the constellations in the night sky. Practitioners of Vedic astrology use this zodiac. The position of the constellations relative to the beginning of the years shifts slightly each year due to the phenomenon known as the procession of the equinoxes. Most Western astrologers use the tropical zodiac as defined by Ptolemy in the second century C.E. According to Ptolemy, the astrological year would begin each spring equinox and it would assume that the sun was at 0 degrees Aries. Due to the progression of the equinoxes, the sun at the spring equinox is close to 0 degrees Pisces. Much of the symbolism of the signs of the zodiac in Western astrology is tied to the seasons of the year. That symbolism would be lost with the acceptance of the sidereal zodiac.

The 12 signs of the zodiac are: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.

(See also Astrological Houses ; Astrological Planets ; Astrological Signs ; Astrology )

Sources:

Brau, Jean Louis, Helen Weaver, and Allen Edwards. Lau-rouse Encyclopedia of Astrology. New York: New American Library, 1980.

Cirlot, J. E. A Dictionary of Symbols. New York: Philosophical Library, 1971.

McCaffery, Ellen. Astrology: Its History and Influence in the Western World. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1942.

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zodiac

zodiac (zō´dēăk) [Gr. zoion=animal], in astronomy, zone of the sky that includes about 8° on either side of the ecliptic. The apparent paths of the sun, the moon, and the major planets all fall within this zone. The zodiac is divided into 12 equal parts of 30° each, each part being named for a constellation, each of which is represented by a sign and many of which have animal names. The constellations and their corresponding symbols and dates are listed in the table entitled The Signs of the Zodiac. The zodiac serves as a convenient means of indicating the positions of the heavenly bodies. When the constellations of the zodiac were named about 2,000 years ago, the vernal equinox coincided with the beginning of the constellation Aries. For this reason, the first 30° section of the zodiac is called Aries; it extends eastward 30° from the vernal equinox, which is therefore called the first point of Aries. However, because of the precession of the equinoxes, the vernal equinox has moved westward about 30° and now lies in the constellation Pisces; the zodiacal constellations thus no longer correspond to the segments of the zodiac represented by their signs. The constellations will again coincide with the sections of the zodiac in about 25,800 years. The zodiac probably had its origins among the Assyrians or Chaldaeans, although it may have originated among the Babylonians as early as 2000 BC It is of importance in astrology.

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zodiac

zodiac a belt of the heavens within about 8° either side of the ecliptic, including all apparent positions of the sun, moon, and most familiar planets, which is divided into twelve equal divisions or signs (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces). The supposed significance of the movements of the sun, moon, and planets within the zodiacal band forms the basis of astrology. However, the modern constellations do not represent equal divisions of the zodiac, and the ecliptic now passes through a thirteenth (Ophiuchus).

Owing to precession, the signs of the zodiac now roughly correspond to the constellations that bear the names of the preceding signs.

The word is recorded from late Middle English and comes via Old French and Latin from Greek zōidiakos, from zōidion ‘sculptured animal figure’, diminutive of zōion ‘animal’.

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"zodiac." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Zodiac

712. Zodiac (See also Astrology.)

  1. Aquarius water-bearer (Jan. 20Feb. 18). [Astrology: Hall, 314]
  2. Aries ram (Mar. 21Apr. 19). [Astrology: Hall, 314]
  3. Cancer crab (June 21July 22). [Astrology: Hall, 314]
  4. Capricorn goat (Dec. 22Jan. 19). [Astrology: Hall, 315]
  5. Gemini twins (May 21June 20). [Astrology: Hall, 314]
  6. Leo lion (July 23Aug. 22). [Astrology: Hall, 315]
  7. Libra balance (Sept. 23Oct. 22). [Astrology: Hall, 315]
  8. Pisces fishes (Feb. 19-Mar. 20). [Astrology: Hall, 314]
  9. Sagittarius archer (Nov. 22Dec. 21). [Astrology: Hall, 315]
  10. Scorpio scorpion (Oct. 23Nov. 21). [Astrology: Hall, 315]
  11. Taurus bull (Apr. 20May 20). [Astrology: Hall, 314]
  12. Virgo virgin (Aug. 23Sept. 22). [Astrology: Hall, 315]

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zodiac

zodiac (Gk. ‘circle of animals’) Belt on the celestial sphere that forms the background for the motions of the Sun, Moon, and planets (except Pluto). The zodiac is divided into twelve signs, which are named after the constellations they contained at the time of the ancient Greeks: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. The constellations inside the Zodiac do not now correspond to those named by the ancients, because precession of the Earth's axis has meanwhile tilted the Earth in a different direction. To modern astronomers, the zodiac has only historical significance. See also astrology; astronomy

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zodiac

zo·di·ac / ˈzōdēˌak/ • n. Astrol. a belt of the heavens within about 8° either side of the ecliptic, including all apparent positions of the sun, moon, and most familiar planets. It is divided into twelve equal divisions or signs (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces). ∎  a representation of the signs of the zodiac or of a similar astrological system. DERIVATIVES: zo·di·a·cal / zōˈdīəkəl/ adj.

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zodiac

zodiac belt of the celestial sphere within which the apparent motions of celestial bodies take place, divided into 12 ‘signs’ named after the 12 constellations. XIV. — (O)F. zodiaque — L. zōdiacus — Gr. zōidiakós, f. zṓidion sculptured figure (of an animal), sign of the zodiac, dim. of zôion animal, f. zōós living; see -AC.
So zodiacal XVI. — F.

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Zodiac

Zodiac

a recurrent series; a round; a set of twelve.

Examples: zodiac of the twelve apostles, 1631; of my expectations, 1609; of fcasts, 1856; of life, 1560; of learned lives, 1742; of wit, 1586.

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zodiac

zodiacaback, alack, attack, back, black, brack, clack, claque, crack, Dirac, drack, flack, flak, hack, jack, Kazakh, knack, lack, lakh, mac, mach, Nagorno-Karabakh, pack, pitchblack, plaque, quack, rack, sac, sack, shack, shellac, slack, smack, snack, stack, tach, tack, thwack, track, vac, wack, whack, wrack, yak, Zack •cardiac • zodiac •haemophiliac (US hemophiliac), necrophiliac, sacroiliac •umiak •bibliomaniac, dipsomaniac, egomaniac, kleptomaniac, maniac, megalomaniac, monomaniac, nymphomaniac, pyromaniac •insomniac • celeriac • Syriac •hypochondriac • Mauriac • theriac •amnesiac •aphrodisiac, Dionysiac •Dayak, kayak •Kerouac • bivouac

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