Everybody at some time or another has read their ‘stars’ in the newspapers and we are all familiar with our own individual star sign, be it Virgo, Gemini, Taurus, Leo etc. But how many people realise that these are all real constellations in the sky?
Since the beginning of time humans have looked up at the moon, planets and stars and, with no better understanding or explanation as to what they could possibly be, they became wrapped in stories and myths. It was also presumed that they must have some supernatural influence on people’s lives. Probably one of the first things that ancient man noticed about the stars what that at different times of the year, as the Earth went around the Sun, different stars were visible. And the Sun, the moon and the five ‘wandering stars’ - which we now know are planets - moved across the sky in a very narrow band. This narrow band is called the ecliptic and with imagination twelve different constellations were picked out and were christened the Zodiac.
It was believed that the position of the Sun, in relation to the signs of the Zodiac on the day you were born, would influence your personality and your life. The position of the stars could also have an outcome on events that were about to happen. People who could study the movements of the stars and planets became in great demand by rulers to help them predict forthcoming events. Virtually every nation had their own Royal Astrologer to help with important decisions. When Halley’s Comet appeared in 1066 it was deemed an omen to William to set off and conquer of Britain.
Some astrologers expanded on their work and studied the sky with great accuracy and so serious astronomy was born, as in-depth complicated mathematical calculations were needed to measure the movements of the moon or a certain planet for a particular date. Today the Astronomer Royal has replaced the Royal Astrologer and Martin Rees now fills that prestigious position in the UK.
The original signs of the Zodiac and the dates they are meant to cover were invented thousands of years ago. Because of movements in the Earth’s orbit (precession), the star sign that you believe is yours is almost certainly not the constellation where the Sun was on the day you were born!