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Thread: Welcome to the age of Aquarius?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012

    Welcome to the age of Aquarius?

    I have been playing with astronomy programs (cybersky) and thinking about the origins of the zodiac. It would make sense if the original zodiac was referenced to a prominent star on the ecliptic (the path of the sun across the sky). The two most popular candidates would be Spica in Virgo and Regulus in Leo. These two prominent stars have always been associated with their respective constellations and are now about 54 degrees apart and since the zodiac is divided into 12 units of 30 degrees and leo and virgo are adjacent constellations, Spica must have always been in the eastern part of Virgo and Regulus in the western part of Leo. There is a Hindu zodiac which uses Spica for a reference point but I will focus on Regulus because it is timely now.

    Regulus would be closest to the actual path of the sun, and one of the ancient names of it is Rex, or the law giver, interpreted by some as setting the starting place of the zodiac. The Sphinx is thought by some to be associated with Leo, and Regulus would have been at the zero point of ecliptic longitude in 8884 BC at the end of the age of Leo (the Sphinx faces east, greeting Regulus at sunrise and may date back to this time). The beginning of the age of Leo would have been about 2160 years earlier.

    If we accept that Regulus was used as the western boundary of Leo, then the eastern boundary of Aquarius would be 150 dgrees of ecliptic longitude west of Regulus. The beginning of the Age of Aquarius would then be that time when Regulus would be at 150 degrees of ecliptic longitude, which just happens to be right now. The traditional interpretation of the ages of the zodiac begins when the vernal equinox enters the constellation, so we may have to wait until spring for the real celebration to begin. If you would rather conclude that Spica is the original reference point , then you will have to wait until 2262.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    And? What is the ATM idea here?
    I'm not a hardnosed mainstreamer; I just like the observations, theories, predictions, and results to match.

    "Mainstream isn’t a faith system. It is a verified body of work that must be taken into account if you wish to add to that body of work, or if you want to change the conclusions of that body of work." - korjik

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    I have no interest in astrology, but only in how ancient astronomers used the sky to plot the seasons and their position on the earth. It seems logical that the earliest division of the ecliptic into 12 equal division would have used a bright star on ecliptic as a reference point. Regulus fits this role very well, and I can find some internet references to ancient zodiacs using Regulus as a starting point to divide the ecliptic into 12 parts. I would like to know if anyone else has any references or thoughts on this.

    Its significance to the beginning of the age of Aquarius I consider a curiosity, and if we use Regulus as a reference point as the western boundary of Leo, then the point of the vernal equinox would have crossed into the constellation Aquarius on November 30, 2011 when the ecliptic longitude of Regulus exceeded 150 degrees. This would then be the beginning of the Age of Aquarius which has popular interest and would fit with the earliest versions of the zodiac.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    New Zealand
    Moved from ATM to Q&A (for now this seems a better fit). As long as this remains a question, not an assertion, it doesn't need to be in ATM. (If it's more of a discussion than a question, it could be moved again.)

    tick54 - please (re)read the rules and the advice threads.

    (John Mendenhall... not very useful. When someone with so few posts, posts, you might expect that they are not so familiar with how things work at BAUT. You could have helped more had you reported that post rather than making the blunt question/demand.)
    Measure once, cut twice. Practice makes perfect.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Doesn't the date that the equinox enters a certain constellation all rather depend on where one sets the borders of the constellations (I have no idea how those are actually defined, but it seems somewhat arbitrary to me - from what I've seen on software such as Celestia, the borders aren't nice squares around the constellations, they're rather irregular looking).
    General request: If I ask a question, I'd like people who know about the subject to answer it with factual answers (preferably with references). Saying we don't know is fine if that's the case. However, I'm not really interested in guesses or personal opinions. Thanks!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Falls Church, VA (near Washington, DC)
    Quote Originally Posted by EDG View Post
    Doesn't the date that the equinox enters a certain constellation all rather depend on where one sets the borders of the constellations (I have no idea how those are actually defined, but it seems somewhat arbitrary to me - from what I've seen on software such as Celestia, the borders aren't nice squares around the constellations, they're rather irregular looking).
    They are arbitrary. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) adopted standardized boundaries for the whole sky in 1930, following up on earlier publications for the south circumpolar constellations that had been created during the previous few decades. These boundaries were drawn to keep the familiar bright stars in the same traditional constellations to which they had belonged since antiquity, with a few exceptions. Thus the irregular boundaries. They were arcs of declination and right ascension in epoch 1875 coordinates, to match the original south circumpolar work. As a result of precession they are now slightly skewed.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004

    I believe that tick54 is determining the boundaries of the
    constellations of the zodiac by starting with the most likely
    starting point that the ancients might have used, and dividing
    the ecliptic into 12 equal parts. Modern-day boundaries aren't
    relevant. I'm wondering whether the divisions should be equal,
    though, since the Sun does not move through the zodiac at a
    uniform speed: It is moving fastest right now, today, while the
    Earth is at perihelion, the point in its orbit that it is closest to
    the Sun. I wonder if the ancients debated whether to divide
    the zodiac into 12 equal segments, 12 segments which fit the
    motion of the Sun, or 12 segments which fit the familiar star

    By coincidence, early this morning I listened to the song!

    Let the sun shine in!

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis

    "I find astronomy very interesting, but I wouldn't if I thought we
    were just going to sit here and look." -- "Van Rijn"

    "The other planets? Well, they just happen to be there, but the
    point of rockets is to explore them!" -- Kai Yeves

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    I am exploring a theory, perhaps only the possibility of a theory; a theory which I cannot say that I subscribe to , or believe that others should subscribe to. That theory is that, at one time in our ancient past, astronomers divided the ecliptic into twelve equal parts which corresponded to our present day constellations of the zodiac which used Regulus as a reference point at the boundary between Leo and Cancer.

    The significance of this would be that we have now entered the age of Aquarius which has great popular interest, and would serve as a focal point of developing an increased awareness and discussion of astronomy as it affects our own lives and that of our ancient ancestors.

    Any credible references or thoughts on this would be appreciated.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2005
    You're going to need a lot of information between your first and second paragraphs.
    Sure; Ancient astronomers could have chosen the zodiac in that, or many other ways.
    But; how that is relevent to some awareness in our lives needs to be explained.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    The question here is the date of the dawn of the Age of Aquarius. This is a legitimate astronomical question.

    The equinox precessed into the constellation of Pisces in 21 AD. This date is based on when the equinox moved across the orthogonal line of stars that forms the first fish of Pisces. In the traditional figures of the constellations used in astronomy software Skygazer, the constellation Aries is shown extending a foot to this point where the equinox moved into Pisces. My view is that this date makes most sense as what the ancient seers probably actually believed, although other dates are also cited, such as when the equinox aligned to the knot star Alpha Piscis, in about 150 BC, or when the equinox entered the IAU boundary that modern astronomy uses for the constellation.

    A zodiacal age or Platonic Month is conventionally counted as 2160 years, based on 1/12th of the conventional Great Year period of 25920 years, also known as the Platonic Year. However, the actual zodiac age period is more like 2148 years, since the actual period of the return of the equinox to its previous stellar position is about 25765 years. The conventional estimate for the Age is just a 'perfect number' (6x6x6x10), based on the traditional idea that one degree of precession takes 72 years (it is actually about 71.6 years).

    This concept of a zodiac age assumes there is some dynamic meaning (entirely unproven) in the division of the earth's spin wobble period by twelve. In fact this period has no more physical reality than other arbitrary temporal divisions of twelve such as the month and the hour.

    On this basis, we could say that the Age of Aquarius, considered as one zodiac age (2148 years) after the equinox precessed into Pisces (21 AD), should begin in about 2169 AD. So Hair was about two centuries early.

    None of this has any real dynamic meaning, since the moment of the dawn of the Age of Pisces is just an arbitrary stellar alignment and does not reflect any actual event on the earth. If you want to consider precession in terms of its dynamic effect on earth, you have to look at the Milankovitch orbital cycles, whereby precession drives an insolation glaciation cycle with period of about 21,600 years, the time it takes for the solstice to precess around the orbit from perihelion to perihelion. This period is shorter than the precession cycle itself because the whole orbital ellipse of the earth is also spinning against the background stars. There are also orbital cycles of period about 19,000 and 23,000 years as well, and the long term natural climate pattern is also driven by cycles of obliquity and eccentricity in ways that are not yet fully understood.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Yes, this is precisely what I am getting at; the actual boundary of the constellations which would result in twelve equal divisions, and would keep the stars of todays zodiacal constellations in their proper constellation. In this division there would logically be a reference point which serves as a measuring point. Today, that reference point of ecliptic longitude is the point of the vernal equinox which is a calculated position in the sky and some astrologers use a calculated position a few degrees from Regulus or just over a degree from Spica to calculate the boundaries of the constellations of the zodiac, none of these are positions which you can look up and see as an actual physical point. At one time it would make sense that the reference point would be an actual visible star. This would have been of prime importance in calculating the upcoming seasons.

    Regulus falls on the ecliptic closer than any other star, and in 4545 BC it would have been directly on the ecliptic. Our words “regulate” may come from Regulus and it was always considered to be a ruler among the stars. There is an obscure group called the “Hermetic order of the Golden Dawn” which supposedly bases their zodiac in relation to Regulus, but I have not seen where they have placed any significance on the vernal equinox entering Aquarius with the boundary of Aquarius being placed at 150 degrees of ecliptic longitude from Regulus which it should be if Regulus is used as a reference point.

    I am looking for other references or observations which may offer evidence for this notion. Again, this is only to understand how the practical aspects of astronomy (like calculating the seasons) evolved over time. The curiosity of the age of Aquarius being an interesting connection which ancient cultures did place some significance in. If ice ages can be predicted by the precession of the equinoxes, then the position of that cycle that we are in is certainly relevant, and the zodiacal ages, as invented by our ancestors, would have served as the original measuring device.

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