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The zodiac is a concept that spans thousands of years. You’ll learn how the zodiac and the ecliptic are related, as well as the origin of the horoscope, in this lesson.

The Ecliptic

The ecliptic is the apparent path of the sun against the background of stars. Our Earth’s orbit is almost a perfect circle. As the Earth moves around the sun, it appears as if the sun moves against the background of stars. That is to say, if in the daytime you could see stars, you would see the sun crossing in front of them. Basically, the ecliptic is the projection of Earth’s orbit on the sky. Because a full circle is 360 degrees and there are 365.

25 days in the year, it’s easy to understand that the sun moves about one degree on the ecliptic every day.

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The Zodiac & Horoscope

There is a band around the sky that is nine degrees above and below the ecliptic and it is called the zodiac. Ancient astrologers divided the zodiac into 30 degrees.

Since there are twelve 30-degree sections in the circle, each section was given a sign. Each sign was named after an important constellation appearing along the ecliptic thousands of years ago. These ancient constellations include:

  • Aries
  • Taurus
  • Gemini
  • Cancer
  • Leo
  • Virgo
  • Libra
  • Scorpio
  • Sagittarius
  • Capricorn
  • Aquarius
  • Pisces

These names should be familiar to horoscope readers. A horoscope is a diagram that shows the location of the planets, moon, and sun around the ecliptic, as well as their position above or below the horizon for a specific date and time. The horoscope and the signs of the zodiac are not important in modern astronomy.

The Origin of the Zodiac

The history of the zodiac is quite interesting as it is a very important ancient concept, despite its uselessness today. It was in ancient Babylon that the concepts of a modern horoscope were born.

The division of the zodiac into 12 equal regions was an important prerequisite for a belief in the predictive capabilities of horoscopic charts and diagrams.People’s birth charts didn’t began to appear until the second half of the first millennium BC. This was an important shift in thought because, prior to this, astrologers simply watched the sky for some kind of omen or warning for some sort of event.

But with advancements in science and math, the astrologers became active in calculating what planets would go where among the stars at what time. This allowed them to try and predict things on-demand, like astrologers do today.In order to perform all of this, ancient astrologers, ironically, had to use the most advanced scientific and mathematical methods of their day. We should not get ahead of ourselves and think that modern astrologers use the most advanced scientific and mathematical methods of our day, though – that’s far from the case.

In fact, zodiacs are not very consistent. This is due to two main things. First of all, each culture and tradition may have their own zodiacal constellations and interpretations.

Secondly, the Earth itself contributes to changes with respects to the zodiac owing to the inevitable wobble around its axis with time.

Lesson Summary

The ecliptic is the apparent path of the sun against the background of stars. To put it another way, the ecliptic is the projection of Earth’s orbit on the sky. There is a band around the sky that is nine degrees above and below the ecliptic and it is called the zodiac.

The zodiac includes signs like Aries, Cancer, and Scorpio.Horoscope readers are surely familiar with them. A horoscope is a diagram that shows the location of the planets, moon, and sun around the ecliptic, as well as their position above or below the horizon for a specific date and time.

Ancient Babylon gave rise to what we now know as a horoscope.

Learning Outcomes

You may realize these goals after completing this video lesson:

  • Define the zodiac and the ecliptic
  • Identify the constellations of the zodiac
  • Understand the origins of the zodiac

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