A constellation is a group of stars. Each year the sun moves through a special group of 12 constellations in the sky. This circle of 12 constellations is called the Zodiac (meaning a zoo full of animals). It comes from the greek phrase "zodiakos kykclos" meaning "circle of animals".
7 Cancer - crab
8 Leo - lion 6 Gemini - twins
9 Virgo - virgin 5 Taurus - bull
10 Libra - scales 4 Aries - ram
11 Scorpio - scorpion 3 Pisces - fish
12 Sagittarius - archer 2 Aquarius - water carrier
1 Capricorn - goat
The Zodiac circle begins with CapricOrn, the gOat, whose letter "O" looks like a round pond of water. The next position is a lady (named Aquarius) who is carrying water from the pond. Beside the lady is her husband, Pisces, the fisherman, who has just caught 2 fish that are flying through the air. These fish scared Aries, the ram, who is chasing the bull, Taurus, who is chasing the Gemini twins. These twins had found a crab, named Cancer, and a baby lion, named Leo, that they gave to their sister, Virgo. She used her Libra scales to weigh her pet scorpion, named Scorpio, that had a pointed tail shaped like an arrow. Her brother, Sagittarius, the archer, used his bow to shoot Scorpio's tail (like an arrow) at the "O" on the side of CapricOrn, the gOat (which is swimming in the pond in the first position of the Zodiac.)
When astrologers began using the Zodiac to tell fortunes, the Sun always entered Capricorn on Dec 22, just after the longest night of the year. Nowadays (2500 years later) the Sun enters Capricorn on Jan 16. When the sleeping Sun is in Capricorn, the constellation above our heads (around midnight) is, of course, Cancer. The Sun takes an average of exactly 1 month to move through each sign of the Zodiac. The moon travels around the whole Zodiac (the whole sky) in a little less than a month.
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Revised May 9, 2014