The purpose of these collected notes is to provide myself source material for article I am writing about God’s Clock, but also just to provide information in general about astronomy. As I correct, refine, and rewrite these notes I’ll be adding material to that other article. These notes should not be considered a reliable source of information until they are complete and in their final draft.
The Zodiac: The twelve constellations which align with the ecliptic are called the Zodiac. The word zodiac is from the Greek ζωδιακος κυκλος meaning “circle of animals” since the signs of the zodiac are represented by animals.
The ecliptic is the line or course in which the sun and (also the planets and moon more or less) travels across the sky. The ecliptic (the sun’s path) is closely aligned with our equator but depending on the time of the year the sun will be higher or lower in latitude creating seasons as the sun is above or below the equator causing greater or lesser heat in either hemisphere respectively.
Each zodiac (unlike the official boundaries of their constellations) divides the sky into exactly thirty degree divisions of a three-hundred and sixty degree circle.
That causes the zodiac to pass over at a rate of one sign every two hours allowing a full rotation of them in twenty four hours. The tracking of the zodiac or a star in it gives us the ability to divide the day into two twelve hour periods for a total of twenty four.
The rotation of the zodiac overhead is nearly synchronized with the sun, but not quite, so that the sun drifts from one constellation to another. The rate is slow taking approximately one month for the sun to pass from one to another. This movement of the sun from month to month is why we divide the calendar into twelve months and why the zodiac corresponds to the months of a calendar. The progress of the sun through the zodiac signs is in the order they are normally listed Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc. which means that the sun from month to month essentially travels backwards (see Explanation of the Sun’s Progression through the Zodiac in second paragraph below).
The constellation in which the sun is currently residing and those adjacent to that can not be seen as the light of the sun makes those stars invisible, but the zodiac we consider to be present is the one identified by the presence of the sun in it. Even though invisible the zodiac in which the sun is residing can be known for it is the constellation opposite of the one seen at solar midnight (the twelve zodiac forming a circle around the earth). Solar midnight is twelve hours after noonday when the sun is at its highest point in the sky.
Explanation of the Sun’s Progression through the Zodiac through the year or shall we say from month to month: For purposes of illustration imagine a moment of time wherein you are standing someone in the northern hemisphere and facing south at noonday. The sun is mostly above you but slightly to the south as you are above the equator (and so the sun is not immediately overhead, but more or less so to the south of that depending on the season and your exact distance from the equator), but the sun in the middle of the sky in terms of left and right as it is solar noon. At this imaginary moment the sun is in Aries which is invisible because of the light of the sun. To the left of Aries is Taurus, also invisible. A month from that imaginary moment the sun will be in Taurus and Aries will be to the right of the sun’s position, and the next month the sun will be in Gemini which is to the left of Taurus and Taurus will be to the right of the sun’s position, etc.
The point of Aries then is the position of the sun along the ecliptic during the exact moment it crosses the celestial equator (our equator projected outward in an infinite virtual circle) which is the moment of the vernal (march) equinox. In 2016 this occurred on March 20, 04:20 AM Greenwich Mean Time according to official numbers (4:20:23 according to Stellarium.org simulator checking the position of the sun on the Ecliptic longtitude J2016.2 giving a latitude of -0.0.09.6″). The solstice June 20th 22:34 time. The Autumnal Equinox September 22, 14:21. And the winter solstice December 21, 10:44 time.
The boundary of the zodiac in astrology is called a sign (houses are a different concept, but use the same names as the signs; houses are more of an astrological concept than an astronomical) and they are different from the official scientific boundaries of the constellation. The astrological division between the signs is always as a division of the sky surrounding the earth into thirty degrees (twelve parts), whereas the official boundaries of the constellation are irregular when compared to each other as they vary depending on the shape of the constellation and its neighbors (like the shape of States in the United States).
In astrology the coordinates for the signs are calculated with longitude originating at the vernal equinox and the ecliptic for the origin of latitude. And the progress of the procession of the equinox is identified by the sign which appears behind the sun at the vernal equinox at sunrise.
Secular scholars assign say that astrological system has been in place since Babylon, but the names of the signs of the zodiac have changed. The sign Aries however is still considered the first month in astrology as that is the sign which the sun was in at the vernal equinox during that age. Side Note: My computer indicates that the vernal equinox during the age of Eden (approximately 4000 BC) would have been in Taurus near but below Pleiades.
The signs with their names, respective animals, symbols, and hexcodes, and html code for typing the symbols are…
Aries, the Ram, ♈, 2648, ♈
Taurus, the Bull, ♉, 2649, ♉
Gemini, the Twins, ♊, 264A, ♊
Cancer, the Crayfish (or crab), ♋, 264B, ♋
Leo, the Lion, ♌, 264C, ♌
Virgo, the Virgin, ♍, 264C, ♍
Libra, the Balances (or the Scales), ♎, 264E, ♎
Scorpio, the Scorpion, ♏, 264F, ♏
Sagittarius, the Centaurian Archer,♐, 2650, ♐
Capricorn, the Goat, ♑, 2651,♑
Aquarius, the Water Bearer, ♒, 2652, ♒
Pisces, the Fish, ♓, 2653, ♓
The signs of the Zodiac were recorded in a woodcut shown here from a wikicommons file as a source, but in this listing Aquarius appears first. In our calender the bulk of the days in January correspond to the sign of Capricorn beginning actually in late December and Aquarius overlaps that month beginning in late January.
In astrological prediction the procession of ages is thought to correspond to the procession of the months but backwards as the procession of the equinoxes runs backwards from Taurus (the sun was last in Taurus around 4000 BC) to Aries (the sun was fully in Aries around 1 AD) to Pisces (present day), etc.) and astrologers believe the coming or past spirit of the historical ages can be summarized with that sort of method. The problem is there is no agreed upon length of time for each age (nor could there be since it is unknown when the world will end (or begin again as would please the astrologers theosophy a bit more) and so a division of such a cycle of time into twelve parts is impossible), nor is there a single interpretation of the meaning of each symbol that could affect the age’s spirit in any case. This is precisely why astrological fortune telling is forbidden by God as it represents superstition and not the use of the heavenly bodies as time keeping mechanisms.
We know that the return of the equinox to a given starting position takes 25,772 years, but where did it begin? And why would it matter? Why would this time be significant? It wouldn’t as the Biblical time scale is not in tens of thousands, but simply thousands of years for a day is as a thousand years to the Lord and God rested on the seventh day so that a prophetic link would be the seven-thousandth year of earth’s history and we are currently in the six-thousandth give or take a few hundred years error margin.
The procession of the equinoxes from the border of one sign (not constellation boundary, but from the actual beginning on one sign boundary which is 1/12th of the celestial equator or 30 degrees) takes 2,160 years. Webster in his 1828 dictionary says that the procession occurs backwards; that is westward, at the rate of 50” of a degree a year. There are 60 minutes in every degree and 60 seconds in every minute. The calculations for the length of time for the sun to transit 30 degrees is as follows :
30 [degrees] x 60 [minutes] = 1800 which gives us the amount of minutes needed.
60 [minutes] x 60 [seconds] =108000 gives us the amount of seconds needed.
10800 [seconds] / 50 [seconds, 50 seconds being the procession of the equinox in a year] = 2160 years.
And so it takes 2160 years for the equinox to move from the beginning of one sign into another.
I am still investigating contradictory information about the equinoxes as sources are conflicting about when the age of Pisces of Aries began. So I’ve included additional information which is incomplete…
Additional Information and side notes which may be relevant later:
The northern pole points to polaris, in ursa minor, and will point most toward it in 2100 AD. This may be significant for the procession of the equinoxes made it so that in 2000 BC the earth’s northern pole pointed at the star Thuban in Draco, and at 1 AD, during the birth of Christ half way between those two stars.
The equinoxes drift westward along the ecliptic at the rate of 50.3 arcseconds annually as the celestial equator moves with Earth’s precession. (source http://www.britannica.com/topic/precession-of-the-equinoxes).
Equinox and Solstice:
An equinox is when the sun crosses the equator (technically the celestial equator which is just a projection of earth’s equator farther out into space). The vernal equinox begins spring and the autumnal equinox begins fall. The same equinox is called the opposite name by those in the northern and southern hemispheres as their seasons are reversed. The beginning of spring for one is the beginning of fall for the other. In 2016 this occurred at 3:20 AM on the date of March 20th or more precisely at 15:38:58, but the day of the equinox is regarded at sunrise regardless of the actual time during that day the sun crosses the equator. To have seen that equinox along a flat horizon at sunrise you would have had to been in Bintulu, Malaysia. The 24 hour markings of the Right Ascension when set by date are set at the location of the sun in terms of East and West during the equinox. This point is always called the First Point of Aries. Currently that point in Pisces. Right ascension then proceeds eastward from there counting out 24 hours at its return. (Side Note: Meridian is the highest point in the sky).
A solstice is when the sun reaches its highest or lowest point in the sky in relation to the equator. This causes the longest day of the year in summer and the shortest in winter. The summer solstice occurs in June (date of the 20th or 21st) and the winter solstice occurs in December (date of 21st of 22nd). The summer and winter solstices are reversed according to the location of the observer in either hemisphere.
From wikipedia: The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination; that is, the seasonal movement of the Sun’s path (as seen from Earth) comes to a stop before reversing direction.
From wikipedia : “The point where the sun crosses the celestial equator northwards is called the First Point of Aries. However, due to the precession of the equinoxes, this point is no longer in the constellation Aries, but rather in Pisces. By the year 2600 it will be in Aquarius.
Based on the modern constellation boundaries, the northward equinox passed from Taurus into Aries in the year −1865 (1866 BC), passed into Pisces in the year −67 (68 BC), will pass into Aquarius in the year 2597, and will pass into Capricornus in the year 4312. It passed by (but not into) a ‘corner’ of Cetus at 0°10′ distance in the year 1489.”
The problem with that information is that modern constellation boundaries are not relevant to the discussion. More research needed to nail down the dates of the procession as the Babylonians would have recognized it. The site http://www.ancient-wisdom.com/precession.htm gives the dates of 4320-2160 BC for the procession within Taurus (the simulation I ran also showed the vernal equinox within Taurus in the 4000 BCs to the early 2000s so this additional information helps to confirm the boundaries of the constellations as astrologers define them, not astronomers) and 2160 BC to 0 for Aries, and 0 to 2160 for Pisces.
This however conflicts with Webster who says that the vernal equinox is still in Aries and the autumnal in libra. His source appears to be an encyclopedia. Personal Note: take note of the name that encyclopedia and get copy for more research. I suspect he is referring to point of Aries as in 1828 the vernal equinox was in Pisces as it is today.
From Wikipedia: …equatorial coordinates (including right ascension) are inherently relative to the year of their observation, and astronomers specify them with reference to a particular year, known as an epoch. Coordinates from different epochs must be mathematically rotated to match each other, or to match a standard epoch. Right ascension for “fixed stars” near the ecliptic and equator increases by about 3.3 seconds per year on average, or 5.5 minutes per century, but for fixed stars further from the ecliptic the rate of change can be anything from negative infinity to positive infinity. The right ascension of Polaris is increasing quickly. The North Ecliptic Pole in Draco and the South Ecliptic Pole in Dorado are always at right ascension 18h and 6h respectively.