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The Constellations The Zodiac
Zodiac Calendar

A calendar to print, read, and color.

The Zodiac is a family of constellations that lie along the ecliptic (the plane in which most of our Solar System lies). Usually, 12 constellations are listed in the Zodiac, but there is actually a thirteenth constellation that crosses the ecliptic, Ophiuchus (between Scorpio and Sagittarius).

The 12 Constellations of the Zodiac

Aquarius, the water bearer
Aries, the ram
Cancer, the crab
Capricorn, the goat
Gemini, the twins
Leo, the lion
Libra, the scales
Pisces, the fish
Sagittarius, the archer
Scorpius, the scorpion
Taurus, the bull
Virgo, the virgin

The Constellations of the Zodiac:


ARIES

[Abbreviation: Ari] Aries (the ram) is a constellation of the zodiac located along the ecliptic between Pisces and Taurus. This tiny, faint constellation is seen just north of the ecliptic. The brightest star in Aries (Alpha Ari) is Hamal, the second-brightest star (Beta Ari) is Sharatan, the third-brightest star (Gamma 2 Ari) is Mesarthim, and the fourth-brightest is Botein (Delta Ari).


TAURUS

[Abbreviation: Tau] Taurus (the bull) is a constellation of the zodiac. This constellation is seen along the ecliptic between Aries and Gemini. The brightest star (Alpha Tau) in Taurus is Aldebaran, which is one of the bull's eyes (Aldebaran is the 13th brightest star in the sky). The second-brightest star in Taurus (Beta Tau) is Alnath, the third brightest (Gamma Tau) is Hyadum I.


GEMINI

[Abbreviation: Gem] Gemini (also known as "The Twins") is one of the constellations of the zodiac, located along the ecliptic between Taurus and Cancer. The brightest stars in Gemini are Castor (a sextuple star - three double stars) and Pollux (a 1st magnitude yellow star). The star cluster M30 is in Gemini. The open cluster M35 also is located in Gemini. The Geminid meteor shower seems to radiate from Gemini.


CANCER

[Abbreviation: Cnc] Cancer (the crab) is a very faint constellation of the zodiac that is shaped like a crab. Cancer is seen along the ecliptic and is located between Leo and Gemini. At the center of the crab's shell is a huge open cluster, the Beehive cluster, also known as Praesepe (M44). The open cluster M67 is nearby. The brightest star in Cancer is Acubens (meaning claw); the second-brightest is Al Tarf (meaning tip).


LEO

[Abbreviation: Leo] Leo (the lion) is a constellation of the zodiac that is shaped like a lion. Leo is seen along the Milky Way in the Northern Hemisphere along the ecliptic between Virgo and Cancer. The brightest star (Alpha Leo) in Leo is Regulus (meaning "little king"). The second-brightest star (Beta Leo) is Denebola (meaning "tail of the lion"), and the third-brightest star (Gamma 1 Leo) is Algieba (meaning "forehead"). The spiral galaxies M65, M66, M95, M96, and the elliptical galaxy M105 are nearby.


VIRGO

[Abbreviation: Vir] Virgo (the virgin) is a constellation of the zodiac. It is located along the ecliptic between Leo and Libra. Virgo is seen along the ecliptic. The brightest star in Virgo is Spica (meaning "ear of wheat"). Virgo is the second-largest constellation (of the 88 constellations), after Hydra.


LIBRA

[Abbreviation: Lib] Libra (the balance) is a constellation of the zodiac. Libra is seen along the ecliptic between Virgo and Scorpius. The brightest star (Alpha 2 Lib) in Libra is Zuben Elgenubi, the second-brightest star (Beta Lib) is Zuben Elschemali, the third-brightest star (Gamma Lib) is Zuben Elakrab, and the fourth-brightest star (Delta Lib) is Zuben Elakribi


SCORPIUS

[Abbreviation: Sco] Scorpius (the scorpion) is a constellation of the zodiac. This constellation is seen along the ecliptic between Libra and Sagittarius. The brightest star in Scorpius is Antares, a red supergiant star that is about 500 light-years away from Earth and is about 230 times as big as the Sun. The second-brightest (Beta 1 Sco) is Graffias.


SAGITTARIUS

[Abbreviation: Sgr] Sagittarius is the ninth constellation of the zodiac. To the ancients, it represented a centaur (half-man, half-horse) archer who was aiming at the Scorpion (the next constellation) which bit Orion. Its central section (the archer's chest) also resembles a teapot. The center of the Milky Way Galaxy is in the direction of Sagittarius. Many meteor showers, including the Sagittariids, seem to radiate from Sagittarius. The brightest star in Sagittarius (Alpha Sgr) is Rukbat (which means "knee" in Arabic).


CAPRICORNUS

[Abbreviation: Cap] Capricornus (the goat) is a constellation of the zodiac. Capricorn is seen along the ecliptic between Sagittarius and Aquarius. The brightest stars in Capricornus are Prima Giedi (Alpha 1 Cap) and Secunda Giedi (Alpha 2 Cap). The globular cluster M30 is in Capricorn.


AQUARIUS

[Abbreviation: Aqr] Aquarius (the water bearer) is a constellation of the zodiac. This faint constellation is seen along the ecliptic. The sun passes through Aquarius from mid-February until mid-March. There are many interesting celestial objects in this large constellation, including globular clusters (M2 and M72), planetary nebulae (NGC 7009 and NGC 7293), the star group M73, a double star (zeta Aqr). Aquarius is the radiant for the meteor showers: March Aquarids, Delta Aquarids, Eta Aquarids, and Iota Aquarids. Alpha Aquarii (the brightest star in Aquarius) is called Sadalmelik (meaning the Lucky One of the King) and beta Aquarii (the second-brightest star in Aquarius) is named Sadalsuud (meaning the Luckiest of the Lucky); they are twin supergiants.


PISCES

[Abbreviation: Psc] Pisces (the fish) is a faint equatorial constellation of the zodiac. Pisces is seen along the ecliptic between Aries and Aquarius. The brightest star in Pisces (Alpha Psc) is Al Rischa (or Alrisha), the second-brightest-star (Beta Psc) is Fum al Samakah. The spiral galaxy M74 is in Pisces.




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