Looking up at the night sky is a mesmerizing experience, especially when you start recognizing the patterns of the stars. Zodiac constellations are the most well-known sky patterns. In short, they are twelve star groupings that align with the ecliptic – the Suns’ path across the sky. Each constellation is associated with a specific astrological sign and has a fascinating story from mythology behind it. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the stories and characteristics of each of the zodiac constellations, from Aries to Pisces, and explore the brightest stars within them. Join us on a journey through the stars and discover the mysteries of the zodiac constellations.
(Mar 21-Apr 19)
Many centuries ago, the Aries constellation contained the vernal equinox. That is to say, when the Sun crossed over the celestial equator from north to south. Currently, this happens in the Pisces season.
In Greek mythology, cloud nymph Nephele sent the ram with golden wool to save her children – Phrixus and Helle. Indeed, their step-mother’s devious plan to falsely sacrifice them to the Gods had to be stopped. What is more, she had ruined the crops and bribed the oracle at Delphi. All done, to convince the king to sacrifice his own children to save his kingdom from famine.
On the sacrifice day, a flying ram with a golden wool picked-up the children and carried them to Colchis. On the journey Hella fell off into Dardanelles and drowned, it was named in her honor – Hellespont.
Once arrived, Phrixus sacrificed the ram and gave the golden fleece to the king Aeëtes of Colchis. In return he offered his daughter’s Chalciope’s hand to Phrixus.
The same golden fleece later was featured in the story of Jason and the Argonauts.
Hemal is the largest star in the Aries constellation. It is an orange giant that is about twice as big as the Sun. It is 66 light years away. In Arabic, Hemal means lamb and is derived from a phrase ‘rās al-ħamal’ meaning ‘head of the ram’.
Find out more about Aries here.
(Apr 20-May 20)
Taurus constellation is one of the oldest of them all, it dates back to the Early Bronze Age. About 15,000 BC the Taurus constellation marked the start of the spring equinox.
In Greek mythology, the taurus was associated with one of Zeus transformations. In this instance, he chose to turn into the most beautiful bull in Pheonician King Agenor’s kingdom. He caught the eye of the king’s daughter Europa. When she got on Zeus disguised as a bull, they rode away to the island – Create. As always, against the will of the princess.
Once at the island, Zeus showered Europa with presents. Together they made three children and one of them was called Minos, who became the king of Create.
Aldebaran is the brightest star in the Taurus constellation and the 13th brightest in the sky. It is 65.1 light years away from us.
Find out more about Taurus here.
(May 21-Jun 20)
By Greek mythology, Pollux and Castor were inseparable twin brothers. It so happens that these are also the names of the brightest stars in the Gemini constellation.
Their mother, Leda the queen of Sparta was forcefully seduced by Zeus. This time, he turned into a swan to carry out his intent. She gave birth to Pollux and Helen.
Pollux was immortal as he was Zeus’s offspring. Castor came from another set of twins and was mortal. His father was Tyndareus the ruler of Sparta and Leda’s husband. Leda bestowed her husband with Castor and Clytemnestra.
Castor was an excellent fighter and even taught Heracles how to fence. But it was not enough. In the twins final fight, Castor died while fending off the two men who took interest in their sweethearts.
Pollux begged Zeus his father to let him share his immortality with his dead brother Castor. Zeus agreed and placed the brothers in the sky, where they till this day remain the Gemini constellation.
The Gemini constellation is made out of two brightest stars for each twin’s heads – Pollux and Castor.
Pollux is 33 light years away from earth with a surface color that is a light yellowish orange. And the star is twice as massive as our Sun. Castor is 51 light years away and is a blue main sequence star. Also, it is about 2.7 times bigger than our Sun. The rest of the fainter stars make up the body of the Gemini constellation.
Find out more about Gemini here.
(Jun 21-Jul 22)
The Cancer constellation represents the giant Crab that Hercules killed in one of his 12 labors. In fact, it was sent by a jealous goddess Hera. Hoping to hinder his chances of winning the fight with the water serpent-like monster Hydra. Alas, Hercules was able to kill it by whacking it so hard with his club it flew to the sky. Till this day, the crab remained there as the Cancer constellation.
It is the faintest constellation out of all the zodiac constellations. Often it is very hard to notice with the naked eye. The overall shape for the cancer constellation is an upside down letter ‘Y’.
The brightest star is Al Tarf (Beta Cancri), which in Arabic means ‘the eye’. And it’s approximately 290 light-years away.
Find out more about Cancer here.
(Jul 23-Aug 22)
In Greek mythology, the Leo constellation is related to the mighty lion called Nemean from a town named Corinth. Due to it’s impenetrable skin it was undefeatable. The first labour Heracles had to complete was the slaying of the lion. He could not use arrows or swords to inflict pain onto the lion. So, he trapped him in a cave and fought with him until exhaustion.
He used the beast’s own claws to skin the lion. Later, he wore it as a cape and used the lion’s head as a hood. This protected Heracles and intimidated his opponents in the labours to come.
Every one thought of the lion as the king of the beasts. This landed himself a place in the sky.
The Leo constellation has 11 stars with known planets. Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation. It is composed of two star pairs that rotate around each other.
One pair of stars complete their rotation around one another in 40 days, the other pair take 2,000 years. The main star is only a few million years old and has a fast rotational speed. It takes 15.9 hours to rotate on its own axis, which gives it its oval overall shape. If it was 16% faster, it would not be able to hold itself together.
Find out more about Leo here.
(Aug 23-Sep 22)
By Greek mythology, Virgo constellation is represented by a goddess of justice – Dike. Daughter of Zeus and Themis – Greek titans. Dike was placed on earth as a human in the Golden Age to rule over human justice. Golden age was a time of everlasting spring and people didn’t know old age.
When Zeus overthrew his father, he fulfilled the prophecy that marked the start of the Silver Age. Four seasons were introduced and people turned old and grey. Hence, Dike urged people to return back to the ideals of their predecessors as the worst is yet to come. Eventually, she gave up and flew up in the mountains, turning her back onto humans. Bronze and Iron Age followed, which made humans weary. Under those circumstances, Dike left the earth and flew to the skies.
Virgo is the largest zodiac constellation and consists of 20 stars with known planets, more than any other constellation.
Brightest star Spica is 15th brightest star in the sky. Also, it is 260 light years away from the solar system and is classed as the Type II Supernova.
Find out more about Virgo here.
(Sep 23-Oct 22)
Libra is the seventh constellation in the zodiac. Its name is Latin for “scales”, and it is commonly represented by two scales. The constellation containts HD 140283. Known as Methuselah Star, one of the oldest recorded stars.
This constellation was seen when the days and nights were equal. Incidently this is the only zodiac not represented by a living creature.
Libra has been associated with Astrea, the Virgo character who was said to have invented scales to weigh justice. By the way she was a virgin as well. The scales used to be part of Scorpio. This signified power and lawlessness but eventually it was separated into Libra and Scorpio as we know them today.
The mythological depiction of Libra involves a group of witnesses. Like jury, they were supposed to be judging whether or not someone has committed an act of injustice.
The goddess Astrea became so concerned about the poor souls that she turned herself into a constellation. So that, she could continue to fight for them from above.
Find out more about Libra here.
(Oct 23-Nov 21)
Scorpio in Greek means “the scorpion”. There are many myths about this creature. But the most famous one involves Orion – the hunter. Subsequently, Orion was very proud of his hunting skills and claimed he could kill any animal with his arrows. Orion was eventually killed by a giant scorpion sent by Gaia (Mother Earth). To this very day, the scorpion is still chasing Orion in the sky.
The Scorpius constellation is in the southern hemisphere. Therefore it is visible mainly in summer. It contains two star clusters and many interesting deep sky objects.
Scorpius contains the asterism Antares, one of the brightest stars in the night sky. It has an orange color and it is a double star. The name Antares comes from the Greek meaning ‘Rival of Mars’.
The brightest star in the constellation is called Graffias, which means ‘the claw’. The second brightest star is called Acrab or Azrabyeti, meaning ‘the armpit’ in Arabic. Both Graffias and Acrab are triple stars. These contain two hot blue giants, one white dwarf and another star orbiting around each other.
Find out more about Scorpio here.
(Nov 22-Dec 21)
It is thought that the Sagittarius constellation is of Sumerian origin which predates the Greek tales. The Greek have adopted Sagittarius into the night sky and there are a few myths associated with the constellation. Mostly, using their centaur representatives.
It is speculated that the Sagittarius is not a half-man half-horse creature. But, a two legged being with the tail of a satyr who rode the horse and shot with a bow and arrow. Further assumed, this figure was Crotus, son of Eupheme. Crotus was said to have invented archery and often went hunting on horseback. He lived on Mount Helicon among the Muses, who enjoyed his company. They sang for him, and he applauded them loudly. The Muses requested that Zeus place him among the stars, where he is seen demonstrating the art of archery. In the sky he was given the hind legs of a horse because he was a keen horseman.
The brightest star in Sagittarius constellation is Kaus Australis, which means “southern bow”. The constellation’s other major stars are Kaus Media (meaning “middle bow”) and Kaus Borealis (meaning “northern bow”).
Sagittarius is one of the biggest constellations, stretching 90 degrees across the sky from east to west.
Although a faint constellation, it has one of the oldest mythological associations. Its story dates back to the Middle Bronze Ages, when Babilonians used it to represent the Sumerian god Enki. Enki, later known as Ea, was one of the Anunnaki Gods. He was a god of creation, intelligence, crafts, water, seawater, lakewater, fertility, semen, magic and mischief.
Find out more about Sagittarius here.
(Dec 22-Jan 19)
Capricornus means “the goat” in Latin. The constellation represents a sea goat, which was the symbolism used for the Sumertain god Enki.
In Greek mythology, the Capricornus constellation is represented by the forest deity Pan. In short, he was a half-man, half-goat creature who saved Zeus and other gods from losing battles with monsters.
The faint, but distinctive star pattern of Capricornus resembles a goat’s head and neck. The constellation is one of the oldest constellations and spans a large area between Aquila, Sagittarius and Pisces.
Delta Capricorni is the brightest point of light in Capricornus. It is a multiple star system with an apparent magnitude of 2.81. It is located at a distance of 38.70 light years from Earth. The star is a fast spinner, with a projected rotational velocity of 105 km/s.
Find out more about Capricorn here.
(Jan 20-Feb 18)
Aquarius is depicted as a young man pouring water from an amphora into the mouth of the Southern Fish. Which is represented by the constellation of Pisces.
The Aquarius constellation is usually associated with Ganymede, the son of King Tros, in Greek mythology. Ganymede was a beautiful Trojan youth who caught Zeus’ eye. In turn, this prompted the god to disguise himself as an eagle and carry him off to Olympus. There the youth served as a cup-bearer to the gods. Ganymede was rewarded for his service as the cup-bearer, by being made immortal and forever remembered in the sky.
Aquarius constellation is the 10th largest constellation in the sky, occupying an area of 980 square degrees.The best time to observe Aquarius is during the month of November when it becomes visible around midnight. The whole constellation can also be seen from locations between the latitudes 95°N and 65°S.
Sadalsuud is the brightest star in Aquarius. It belongs to a rare class of stars, the yellow supergiants.
Sadalisuud has an apparent magnitude of 2.87 and is approximately 540 light years distant. Its name comes from the Arabic phrase sa’d al-suud, meaning the “luck of lucks”. This star has a mass that is six times that of the Sun. Also, it is 2,200 times more luminous than the Sun.
Sadalmelik is also a yellow supergiant, approximately 800 light years distant. It is 3000 times more luminous than the Sun and has an apparent magnitude of 2.950. Its name is derived from the Arabic phrase sa’d al-malik, which means “luck of the king.”
Find out more about Aquarius here.
(Feb 19-Mar 20)
Pisces constellation is of Babylonian origin. The Babylonians saw it as a pair of fish joined by a cord. The constellation is usually associated with the Roman myth of Venus and Cupid. They had tied themselves with a rope and transformed into fish to escape the monster Typhon. What’s more, Typhon was the scariest monster the world had ever seen. He had a hundred dragon’s heads, with fire blazing from all his eyes.
Eta Piscium is the brightest star in Pisces. It lies approximately 350 light years away. It is 457 times more luminous than the Sun and it has an estimated age of 220 million years.
Gamma Piscium is the second brightest star in Pisces. It has an apparent magnitude of 3.699 and is approximately 138 light years distant. The star is ten times the size of the Sun and 61 times more luminous. It is believed to be about 5.5 billion years old.
Find out more about Pisces here.
To conclude the topic on constellation:
Astrology has been around for thousands of years. And has been used by many cultures as a way to understand and interpret the movements of celestial objects. However, many people are skeptical about the accuracy and validity of astrology, often viewing it as a pseudoscience.
While astrology may not have a solid scientific basis, it’s been shown some correlations with personality traits and behaviors. Studies have found that certain astrological signs may be more likely to exhibit certain personality traits or engage in certain behaviors. Although these correlations are not always consistent across different studies.
Additionally, astrology can offer a way for people to gain insight into their emotions, relationships, and overall sense of self. Many people find comfort and a sense of connection with the universe through astrology. And it can provide a way to understand and make sense of the world around us.
In conclusion, while astrology may not have a strong scientific foundation, it can still offer guidance to those who practice it. None the less, astrology can be a powerful tool for personal growth and reflection. Whether it’s a way to gain insight into oneself or simply a way to feel connected to the universe.