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There are 12 zodiac symbols, which correspond with 12 different constellations. These constellations comprise a circle that represents the Sun’s path along the ecliptic – the route of the Sun through the sky over the course of a year. The constellations are not just comprised of the stars, but also refer to the general region in which they are situated. That is why astronomers say that meteor showers and comets are located in different zodiacs. In order, the twelve symbols are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.
Aries is the Ram from the Greek myth of the Golden Fleece. It is located between Pisces in the west and Taurus in the east. In Western astronomy, Aries is the vernal equinox and located at 0° longitude.
Taurus has a rich history. The Bull, it is linked to a variety of cultures throughout history. The 13th brightest star that can be seen from Earth is part of Taurus. It is known by different names to different cultures. The Arabs called it Al Dabaran, “the Follower.” In Old English, it was known as Oculus Tauri, “the Eye of Taurus.”
Gemini is the symbol of the Twins. This constellation comes from the Greek myth of the two brothers Castor and Pollux who were turned into a constellation by Zeus. The two main stars of the constellation – the Alpha and Beta stars that represent Pollux and Castor – are the only ones easy to distinguish.
Cancer is the Crab, but it does not hold a very important place in Greek mythology. It was sent by Hera to distract Hercules during his 12 labors. The crab was quickly killed by Hercules and was put into the sky. The Egyptians saw the constellations as a scarab. The constellation is a small and dim one.
Leo is the largest of the zodiac constellations. Unlike some of the constellations, Leo actually looks like what it is named after.
Virgo represents the Virgin, but who this is in mythology is unclear. Sometimes it was associated with the Greek goddess of wheat because a wheat sheaf is sometimes identified next to her. However, she is also linked to the Roman goddess of justice. This constellation is the only female one and the second largest of the zodiac constellations.
Libra is very hard to see. This may be also due to the fact that its two main stars used to belong to the Scorpio constellation. It stands for the scales of justice held by the Roman goddess of justice, Astraea.
Scorpius is located between Libra and Sagittarius. There are many legends about Scorpius. One of the most popular ones say that Scorpius battled with the hunter Orion, and then Zeus placed both of them in the sky.
Sagittarius is a famous constellation with many legends about it. It is the Centaur – the half man, half horse mythological being. This constellation is sometimes portrayed as an archer trying to shoot Scorpius.
Capricornus , or Capricorn, is the Sea-goat. It is located in what is known as the Sea or Water section of the zodiac because these signs are all related to water. In Sumerian mythology, this was associated with the god Enki who came out of the sea to give culture to humanity.
Aquarius is an ancient constellation, which is known as the Water Bearer or Carrier. Several of the stars represent the water jug he is supposed to carry. While some say that this is Zeus’ cupbearer, it is also included in other legends. It is located in the Sea region of the zodiac.
Pisces is a constellation of two fish bound together with a rope or string. One Greek myth says it represents the goddess Aphrodite and her son Eros who turned into fish to escape Typhon. The rope was to make sure they did not get separated.
Astronomy Cast has episodes on constellations.