17 December 2013
The New Year Hunter.
Today marks the day that the Sun passes out of the constellation Ophiuchus and into the constellation of Sagittarius, the hunter. The Sun travels through the constellation for 35 days, including theAbysmal New Year.
Above is the constellation of Sagittarius, with the apparent path of the Sun running across it.
So ends the astronomical year, or the sidereal zodiac as it is sometimes called. I hope this hasn’t been confused with astrology, and is understood as the method of timekeeping that it is.
see you next year.
29 November 2013
Today marks the day that the Sun passes out of Scorpius (phew) and into the constellation of Ophiuchus (erm…). The Sun passes through Ophiuchus in 17 days.
This is considered the 13th sign of the zodiac, although last I checked, he’s been considered a constellation for as long as we’ve been keeping track (at least in the “Western” tradition). He is the serpent-bearer, and is a healer. His symbol is the staff with a single serpent wrapped around it, which is different from the caduceus, the staff with two serpents wrapped around it that Hermes bears with him.
The green lines are the boundaries of the constellation. Sorry I couldn’t find an image with the path of the Sun, but trust me, the Sun passes through there. Surely the world’s astronomers wouldn’t lie to us about that, would they?
23 November 2013
Journey to the Underworld.
Today marks the day that the Sun passes out of Libra, and into the constellation of Scorpius, or Scorpio, the scorpion. It is the shortest of these journeys for the Sun, lasting a mere 6 days. Probably for the best. It also coincides with the first day of Month 12, the last Month of theAbysmal Year. Not sure what that means, but feel free to panic as if it were the end of the world all over again.
The dotted blue line represents the boundaries of the constellation, and the dotted light green line represents the apparent path of the Sun across the sky. Seeing as it just skims through the edge of the constellation, it’s small wonder that it only takes 6 days to pass through.
30 October 2013
The fulcrum of Balance.
Today marks the day that the Sun leaves the long journey through the constellation of Virgo and enters into Libra. The Sun spends 24 days passing through. It also falls on the first day of House 6, the last House of theAbysmal Year. I don’t know what that means, but feel free to make your own associations.
Libra is unique in the signs of the zodiac, in that it is the only inanimate object. Considering that “zodiac” means circle of animals, that makes it even more curious. In the 12 sign astrological zodiac, I had often read that Libra is the midpoint, and as such, is in balance. But hold the phone (another inanimate object, vibrate settings aside). There are 6 signs before Libra, and 5 after. That’s not balanced.
Fortunately, there are 13 constellations, which puts Libra back in balance with 6 signs before, and 6 after. Phew. That only took a few centuries to figure out.
The red line represents the apparent path of the Sun across the constellation.
16 September 2013
The long journey of the misunderstood maiden.
Today marks the day that the Sun leaves the lion behind and moves into the constellation Virgo. Although many call Virgo the virgin, I prefer to call her the maiden. It removes all the uptight sexual mores associated with virginity and all that. The Sun takes 44 days to pass through Virgo, longer than any other constellation. I guess she’s friendlier than the other signs.
The solid green line represents the boundaries of the constellation, the solid red line line represents the apparent path of the Sun across it.
10 August 2013
In like a Lion and out like a lamp?
Today marks the day that the Sun passes out of the constellation of Cancer (phew) and into the constellation of Leo (uh-oh). The Sun runs with the lion for 37 days, so there’s time for a full-on safari.
The dotted dark blue line represents the boundary of the constellation, the dotted light-greenish line represents the apparent path of the Sun across the sky.
20 July 2013
The tumescent crab.
Today marks the day when the Sun passes between the twins of Gemini and enters into the constellation of Cancer. The sun visits with the celestial crab for 21 days.
Although the Tropic of Cancer was named after this constellation, it was so-named because the sun enters the astrological sign of Cancer on the same day that it appears to be directly above the Tropic at noon. This is different from the astronomical system used here. The Sun appears above the Northern Tropic (which I’m now calling it to avoid confusion) on the same day that it passes into the constellation of Gemini. See what I mean about confusion?
The dotted blue line represents the boundaries of the constellation, and the dotted mint-green line represents the apparent path of the Sun across the sky.
21 June 2013
Castor & Pollux salute the Sun.
Today marks the Day that the Sun passes out of Taurus and into the constellation of Gemini. This also happens to coincide with the Northern Solstice, and will continue to do so for another 70 years or so, after which it will occur one day earlier.
Gemini is symbolized by the twins, Castor and Pollux, Greek mythological figures. You can read about their adventures at your local library (or travel to a non-local library, it’s your bus fare).
The Sun takes 29 days to travel through the constellation.
The dotted blue line represents the boundaries of the constellation, and the dotted aqua line represents the apparent path of the sun across the backdrop of Gemini.
13 May 2013
Today marks the day that the Sun passes out of Aries and into the constellation Taurus (or the long-hand version: the day in which the Sun would appear to pass before the arbitrarily determined astronomical boundaries of the constellation Taurus were we able to see it during the daytime). The Sun rides the bull for 39 days, making it the second-largest of the constellations of the zodiac.
The green lines mark the boundaries of the constellation, and the red line marks the apparent path of the Sun.
18 April 2013
Ramming into the New Year.
Today is the day that the Sun enters the constellation of Aries, which is traditionally the first sign of the Western zodiac. We may as well call this the beginning of the Sidereal Zodiac Year, since we’re already using the traditional Western constellation symbols. I mean, if you look at the stars in any given asterism, you could come up with anything. Aries could be a ram, or a paintbrush, or a Keebler Elf kicking up his heels and smoking a pipe filled with cookies.
The dotted blue lines are the boundaries, the dotted turquoise line is the apparent path of the Sun across the constellation (although, it might also be a teal line). It takes the Sun 25 days to pass through Aries. Who knew?
This is a common time for South and Southeast Asian cultures to celebrate New Year, precisely because the Sun passes into Aries. One more reason to celebrate is always welcome.