Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Numbering the Degrees of the Zodiac

I had a question on my discussion group asking whether one should round off to the nearest degree, when considering the degrees of the Zodiac.

Let's talk a bit about the the Zodiac. The Zodiac is a circle, composed, as circles are, of 360 degrees. It is divided into 12 signs, corresponding to the 12 constellations that lie in the ecliptic, the path of the Sun. Each sign, therefore, is composed of 30 degrees. Each degree is subdivided into 60 minutes and each minute into 60 seconds.

Degrees are like your birthday, you don't round them off. No matter how close you are to be 25 years old, even on 24 years and 360 days you still refer to yourself as 24 years old!

In traditional texts, they typically refer to the degrees as the first degree, second degree, etc. Now, keep in mind that the sign begins at 0 degrees and 0 minutes. That means that the very first degree of the sign extends from 0 degrees 0 minutes to 0 degrees and 59 minutes. So if you are at 1 degree 37 minutes, for example, you are in the second degree of the sign.

Normally nowadays, if we are at 1 degree 37 minutes, we tend to call that "1 degree". Be careful not to confuse this with the "first degree"

Just like the numbering of centuries. It is 2009, but we are in the 21st century

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