8.25.2004

Precession of the Equinoxes

Fancy name, huh? I think so, anyway.

It is what they call the fact that the constellations move slowly around in relation to Earth. For example, the constellation of Pisces is where Aries was 2,000 years ago. Astronomers refer to this movement as sidereal time. Skeptics refer to it as proof that astrologers don't know anything about actual science, because that means if you were born in what astrologers call Pisces now, the Sun would actually be in front of Aquarius.

"So which is it? Huh? Huh? Pisces or Aquarius? 'Cause you can't refute this, this is scientific fact!" (so sayeth my Platonic ideal of an immature, ignorant skeptic who is eager to prove just how little he knows about astrology by laying his mind at the altar of scientific arrogance).

It's Pisces. Yes, the sun was in front of the constellation of Aquarius. Too bad for the entire precession argument that the constellations have absolutely zero bearing on astrology. Want to know why it's Pisces and not Aquarius? Because a few millenia ago it was an obvious way to name the segments of the circle.

Maybe you're wondering what circle that is. Maybe not, but I'm going to tell you anyways. It's the circle that once was thought to be the sun moving around the earth, but which is now known to be the earth moving around the sun. Geometrically, either one is 360 degrees. Each of the 12 signs takes up a 30 degree segment. Twelve 30-degree segments make up a full circle, or one complete revolution of the earth around the sun. Known in the vernacular as a year.

The sun, the earth, degrees in a circle and yearly revolutions...well, how about that? No constellations in sight.

Ever wonder why the signs started on some weird day in the middle of the month rather than starting nice and neat on the first of each month? Well, there is another phenomenon that is timed in the exact same way, although it divides the year into 4 segments instead of 12.

(Here's a not-much-fun fact: Western astrology is also called Tropical astrology, and also called seasonal astrology.)

Aries is the first sign (not January 1st's Capricorn). Aries starts right along with spring, and so far the "first day of spring" has defiantly refused to get with the program and conveniently start on the 1st of April instead of a week and half earlier in late March.

Astrology uses those same natural cycles. Back in the day, if you woke up on the first day of spring and looked at the sun...well, you could go blind. But before you went blind you'd be sure the sun was in front of the constellation of Aries. Now it's in Pisces on the first day of spring, but astrologers never changed the names to keep up with constellations that didn't have much to do with the study in the first place. Is that rude or what?

Don't get me wrong. I like the stars. They just don't tell me anything.

4 Comments:

Blogger VW said...

Interesting information. Not just this blog entry but the others as well. Thanks for keeping me informed.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Lasciate said...

Thank you, as well. I appreciate knowing I'm not talking mostly to myself. Helps me feel less crazy.

Seriously, thanks.

10:13 PM  
Blogger VW said...

Hello, you don't have an email address, so I'm posting this to you. Would you mind if I made a link to your Blog from mine? I prefer to ask before doing things of this nature. I am just getting started and not many people read my Blog other than family and friends. Doubt it will be more than that anyways since most of my stuff is about family. :-) But my family and I have always been open to the other things in life; like we all have read up on Edgar Cayce. So I when you started the blog entry about constellation of Pisces being where Aries was 2000 years ago, it sound familiar. Though you are much better informed. Ok, I seem to have gotten carried away. Please just let me know if you find it acceptable for me to link here. Thanks!

8:39 AM  
Blogger Lasciate said...

I don't mind at all if you do, but thank you for asking first anyways.

9:13 AM  

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