Equatorial Constellations

Among the important equatorial constellations are the twelve 'zodiacal' constellations that lie on the ecliptic. The Zodiac is an imaginary zone on the celestial sphere, about 8° wide on each side of the ecliptic which forms the background for the motions of the Sun, the Moon and the planets wherever they may be in orbit. The Zodiac is divided into 12 sections, each identified with a constellation called a zodiacal constellation, or rashi in Indian astronomy, and represented by a zodiacal sign. (Of course, there is no scientific basis to relate the zodiacal sign, or birth sign, of a person to his or her personality or fortune as is made out by practitioners of astrology.) The twelve zodiacal constellations (rashis) are: Aries, the Ram (Mesha), Taurus, the Bull (Vrisha), Gemini, the Twins (Mithuna), Cancer, the Crab (Karkata), Leo, the Lion (Simha), Virgo, the Virgin

The Zodiac is an imaginary circular band on the celestial sphere divided into 12 parts.


The Zodiac is an imaginary circular band on the celestial sphere divided into 12 parts.


The apparent movement of the Sun through the zodiacal constellations.

(Kanya), Libra, the Scales (Tula), Scorpius, the Scorpion (Vrishchika), Sagittarius, the Archer (Dhanu), Capricorus, the Sea Goat (Makara), Aquarius, the Water-bearer (Kumbha) and Pisces, the Fishes (Meena).

During its passage along the ecliptic, the Sun appears to move from one zodiacal constellation to the next in course of about a month, transiting through all the 12 of them in

Passage of the Sun through the Zodiac


The Sun Transits


April 10 to May 14


May 15 to June 20


June 21 to July 20


July 21 to August 10


August 11 to September 16


September 17 to October 30


November 1 to November 24


November 25 to December 17


December 10 to January 19


January 20 to February 16


February 17 to March 11


March 12 to April 18

one year. The zodiacal constellations are important because the planets are seen only in the background of these constellations and nowhere else in the sky. So we need not scan the whole sky if we are looking for a planet. Actually the planets never move beyond 8° on either side of the ecliptic. This is because the greatest inclination of any planetary orbit (except that of Pluto) to Earth's orbital plane is about 8°.

Was this article helpful?

+1 0

Post a comment