Astrological Signs or Sunsigns (Zodiac Signs)
In astrology, the Signs of the Zodiac represent twelve equal segments or divisions of the zodiac.
According to astrological theory, celestial phenomena reflect or govern human activity on the
principle of "as above, so below", so that the twelve signs at the same time are held to represent
twelve basic personality types or characteristic modes of expression.
In Western and Indian astrology, the twelve signs are associated with constellations, while in
Chinese astrology there is no connection with constellations, as it is simply the line of the
equator that is divided into twelve equal segments.
In Western and Indian astrology, the emphasis is on space, and the movement of the sun, moon and
planets in the sky through each of the zodiac signs. In Chinese astrology, by contrast, the
emphasis is on time, with the zodiac operating on cycles of years, months, and hours of the day.
A common feature of all three traditions however, is the significance of the ascendant or rising
sign, namely the zodiac sign that is rising (due to the rotation of the earth) on the eastern
horizon at the moment of a person's birth.
In Western, and (via Indo-Greek transmission in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC) Indian, astrology,
the zodiac divides the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun through the heavens) into twelve
astrological signs of equal length.
The Western tropical astrology starts with the first point of Aries, which is defined as the
point at which the ecliptic crosses the celestial equator at the spring equinox. It is
important to note that the tropical zodiac signs at this stage no longer bear any relationship
to the astronomical constellations after which they were originally named, due to a phenomenon
known as the precession of the equinoxes which produces a slow change of the time of year when
constellations are visible in the night sky over a 25,000 year cycle.
Western sidereal astrology and Indian Indian astrology use signs which more or less coincide
with the stellar constellations of the same name, although this involves adjustments to allow
for the precession of the equinoxes.
Because the calendar is defined by the movement of the Earth around the Sun, and its orbit is
very nearly circular, the sign in which the Sun falls on any day of the year is fairly
predictable, though it will vary a little due to the effect of the extra day in leap years.
These dates are given in the article that deals with each sign individually. To determine the
sign in which the moon and other planets fall on any given day, it is necessary to consult an
ephemeris or use an astrological computer program which will have a built-in ephemeris; these
computer programs make it quick and easy to calculate the natal chart (also called horoscope)
so that the astrologer can spend more time interpreting the chart rather than actually
|Western (lunar) Sign
||Oriental (solar) Sign
(as of CE 1977)
||March 21 (Spring equinox) – April 20
||April 14 – May 14
||April 19 – May 14
||April 21 – May 21
||May 15 – June 14
||May 14 – June 21
||May 22 – June 21
||June 15 – July 16
||June 21 – July 21
||June 22 (Summer solstice) – July 22
||July 17 – August 16
||July 21 – August 11
||July 23 – August 23
||August 17 – September 16
||August 11 – September 17
||August 24 – September 23
||September 17 – October 17
||September 17 – October 31
||September 24 (Autumn equinox) – October 23
||October 18 – November 16
||October 31 – November 23
||October 24 – November 22
||November 17 – December 15
||November 23 – November 29
||November 23 – December 21
||December 16 – January 14
||December 18 – January 19
||December 22 (Winter solstice) – January 20
||January 15 – February 12
||January 19 – February 16
||January 21 – February 19
||February 13 – March 14
||February 16 – March 12
||February 20 – March 20
||March 15 – April 13
||March 12 – April 19
The "tropical" zodiacal dates (those that divide the zodiac starting with the northern hemisphere
vernal equinox) are used primarily in the United States and western Europe. The "sidereal"
dates (those that divide the zodiac starting with the alignment of the Sun with a distant star in Aries)
are used primarily in India.