The Real Solar Zodiac - Sun Signs



Definition: [Zodiacs] The thirteen signs / constellations against which the Sun is seen to move, as seen from the Earth.

Real Solar Zodiac Dates - Sun Sign Dates:










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This table is accurate for 2002 AD.

* Conventional if you follow the Western Tropical Zodiac, not the Eastern Sidereal Zodiac.

NB If you were born on the cusp of a Real Solar Zodiac sign you should note that these dates vary - by a maximum of a day - within the four yearly leap year cycle.

The Real Solar Zodiac dates also move forward by about one full day every 70 years because of the Movement of the Ages.

If you follow conventional Western astrology, the Tropical Zodiac dates on the right of the table will form the Zodiac Wheel you are used to. Unfortunately the dates are not correct. The real Sun Sign dates are given on the left hand side of the table. As you can see there is not much overlap between the two. In fact for 326 days each year the Sun does not appear against the constellation that the Tropical Zodiac says it is in.  If you always felt that your Sun Sign doesn't really describe you, there is an  89% chance that you are right! This also means that the Moon and Planets are not usually in the sign that the Tropical Zodiac says they are, and that Rising Signs are inaccurate 326 times out of every 365 if the Tropical Zodiac is used to find them. 

Why are there Two Zodiacs in the Table and Why is One Real?: To answer that question I'll define exactly what the Real Solar Zodiac is. As to why it is described as real, this is because it is based on an accurate description of the heavens as seen from Earth.

What is the Real Solar Zodiac?: The heavens contain many constellations. Many of the ones we use today were originally mapped, perhaps three millennia ago, by the Ancient Greeks. The Sun, as seen from Earth, passes in front of thirteen of these constellations in one year. So the wheel of the Real Solar Zodiac contains these thirteen signs: the real Sun Signs. The sign we are not used to seeing in the Tropical Zodiac Western tradition is Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, 30 Nov to 17 Dec.

Why are the Dates so Different Between Reality and the Tropical Zodiac?: There are three reasons for this.

Firstly, the Greek constellations - the figures the Greeks saw in the stars - are all different shapes and sizes. Hence these thirteen constellations are not all the same size. Scorpius, for example, is very small and the Sun takes only seven days to pass across it, as seen from the Earth. Virgo is much larger.

Secondly, because of the Movement of the Ages, the Tropical Zodiac is now shifted by almost a month in comparison to the heavens - the Tropical Zodiac is tied to the calendar.

Thirdly, the Babylonians never included Ophiuchus within their Zodiac. See the Zodiac Wheels link for a description of how the Zodiacs evolved.

Two zodiac wheels: inner wheel - tropical zodiac; outer wheel - the real solar zodiac.


Two Zodiac Wheels. The inner wheel is the Tropical Zodiac, the conventional Zodiac in Western Astrology. The outer wheel is the actual Zodiac: the real Sun Signs. There is little agreement between them: only 39 days out of 365. The Vernal Equinox is marked at the top. In the Tropical Zodiac this is traditionally the start of Aries. In fact, the Sun can be seen against the sign of Pisces at Vernal Equinox. Hence we are in the Age of Pisces.  [Oph. = Ophiuchus]

The "Signs and Constellations are not the Same" and Other Arguments: All of the above has been known for a long time. So why do most of we Western astrologers continue to use the inaccurate Tropical Zodiac?

Good question. I think the answer is simply tradition. We've been using it for a long time. However, many of us are aware that tradition is not a very good argument. It doesn't stand up against the fact that if you look at the night sky the Tropical Zodiac is obviously wrong. The Sun Signs are not where the Tropical Zodiac indicates them to be.

If you look around the web you will, however, find a statement along the lines of "the constellations and the signs are not the same". This is meant to be an answer to the question. However, it doesn't actually help very much. The Tropical Zodiac signs and the real Sun Signs do not have the same Solar Zodiac dates, but this is simply because the signs in the Tropical Zodiac are inaccurate.

I can not imagine what exactly the signs are meant to be if they are not constellations: all that is left for them to be is dates - a set of twelve dates used to mark the year. There is, however, an answer to this question also to be found on the web. It is that signs are just a "short hand to describe degrees of Ecliptic" e.g. Aries is 0 to 30 degrees of the Ecliptic.

Again, how can the amount of degrees along an imaginary line marking the Sun's path as seen from Earth have any significance, if not related to anything else out there? Like the stars for instance! Imagine an ancient Babylonian priest-astrologer going to see his king. "I have invented a great new system of divination, my King" he says. "Forget the stars completely. [You know, the things we've spent the last one and a half thousand years carefully observing.] All we have to concern ourselves with is the number of degrees away from the Vernal Equinox that the Sun is in the heavens. That controls everything!" The king would doubtless soon be looking for a new priest-astrologer. No priest-astrologer ever did any such thing of course.  They were star-gazers, looking at the real sky.

Ignace-Gaston Pardies' drawing of Ophiuchus, 1674 AD.


The Sun Sign Ophiuchus. A star chart of Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer - here called Serpentarius - in Ignace-Gaston Pardies' Globi Coelestis in Tabulas Planas Redacti Descriptio, Paris, 1674. The lower black and white line is the ecliptic. Ophiuchus holds the Serpent, for which he is named. Beneath him the head of Scorpius clearly crosses the ecliptic making it a Solar zodiac sign. However, so do the feet of Ophiuchus - clearly making the Serpent Bearer a Solar zodiac sign.

Libra, the Scales, is to the right of Scorpius. The tip of the arrow of Sagittarius, the Archer, is to the left of Ophiuchus' left foot. It is also very clear from this representation of the heavens, how different the sizes of the signs can be. Libra is notably smaller than Ophiuchus.

Click on the above picture for a larger version 191 kB.

What Would the Real Solar Zodiac Look Like from Another Planet, Venus for Example?: The constellations are so far away that being on another planet would make us virtually no nearer to them. Therefore, the lengths of the thirteen constellations, in degrees of Ecliptic, would be virtually the same.

However, the Sun Sign dates of the real solar zodiac are geocircumspectus, i.e. only as seen from the view point of the Earth. When the Sun or a planet would be seen against a constellation could be completely different from the point of view of, for example, the planet Venus.  The difference in view point would depend on where Venus was in its path, relative to the Earth, in its orbit around the Sun.

This is illustrated below for the inner solar system Real Solar Zodiac chart using the example of the moment of Prince William's birth. From Earth the Sun is on the Taurus-Gemini border. From Venus, at the same moment,  the Sun is seen against the constellation of Virgo. It will be several months before Venus changes its position - to the same angle with the Sun that the Earth had at William's birth - to make the Sun appear on the Taurus-Gemini border from the Venusian point of view.

Solar system zodiac chart from the view point of an inhabitant of the planet Venus.


Venusian Astrology.  The Venusian view of Prince William's Inner Solar System Chart at the time of his birth. [The Solar System viewed from above the Celestial North Pole.] The rings on the chart are the paths of the planets around the Sun. The 'pie segments' of the chart show which constellation a planet is seen against as seen from Venus. The Earth and the Moon are in the sign of Libra. Mercury and the Sun, as seen from Venus, are transiting Virgo. As Venus orbits the Sun in 224 days, rather than the Earth's approximately 365 days, the Sun would be seen to transit each sign in about two-thirds the time it would take as seen from the Earth. [Note: the orbits have been scaled slightly to separate out the planets. The positions of the planets in their orbits are accurate.]

Solar system zodiac chart from the point of view of an inhabitant of the planet Earth.


Earth Astrology.  The Earth view of Prince William's Inner Solar System Chart at the time of his birth. [The Solar System viewed from above the Celestial North Pole. The Vernal Equinox is at the 12 o'clock position.] The rings on the chart are the paths of the planets around the Sun. The 'pie segments' of the chart show which constellation a planet is seen against as seen from Earth. The two inner planets, Mercury and Venus, are seen from Earth against the constellation Taurus. The Sun is on the cusp between Taurus and Gemini. The Moon is seen against the constellation of Gemini. Click on the chart above to see the Outer Solar System Chart for Prince William. [Note: the orbits have been scaled slightly to separate out the planets. The positions of the planets in their orbits are accurate.]

The Zodiac and Astrology:

01:  What is a Zodiac? What are Zodiac Wheels?
02:  Galactic Zodiac
03:  Real Solar Zodiac and Zodiac Charts
04:  Tropical Zodiac
05:  Sidereal Zodiac [Vedic Zodiac]
06:  Comparison of Tropical and Sidereal Solar Zodiacs
07:  Examples of Tropical and Sidereal Zodiac Wheels for Prince William's Horoscope
08:  Planetary Zodiac
09:  Lunar Zodiac and Lunar Mansions
10:  Chinese Zodiac
11:  Celtic Zodiac
12:  The Non-Zodiac Stars and Constellations

© Dr Shepherd Simpson, Astrological Historian


Historical Astrology

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