The constellation Aries “the Ram” lies along the elliptical path of the sun in the Northern hemisphere. It is the 39th largest and the area of this constellation is 441 square degrees. Originally, zodiac signs (also known as sun signs) indicated the stars in the sky behind the sun on the day you are born rather than constellations viewable in the night sky.
Around 2000 years ago the Vernal Equinox was in the constellation Aries, making Aries the first sign of the Zodiac. This, due to the processions of the Equinoxes, is no longer true. The zero point of right ascension, or Vernal Equinox, is now in Pisces.
In about 4500 B.C. Orion marked the Vernal Equinox, which would indicate that the Zodiac was not fully formed or addressed in its present order or selection. There is a 26,000 year cycle, so in another 24,000 years, Aries will again be the number one sign of the Zodiac. Aries was catalogued in the 2nd century by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in his Almagest.
The Aries constellation can be seen in most parts of the world with a viewing area between latitudes between +90° and -60° in the first quadrant of the northern hemisphere (NQ1). It shares a border with neighboring constellations Cetus, Perseus, Pisces, Taurus, and Triangulum.
To find it, look for a crooked line of three brightest stars near the Pleiades star cluster. Basically it lies between the Triangle, Taurus, and Pisces. Aries stars lie along the Zodiac and you can see it across the sky during the year, but it said to be the most visible in November.
There are several annual meteor showers connected to this constellation: the May Arietids, Autumn Arietids, Delta Arietids, Epsilon Arietids, Daytime-Arietids, and Aries-Triangulids.
Right Ascension: 02:21
Diameter (°): 14
Area (square °): 441
Opposition: Oct 31
Size Rank: 39th
Brightness Rank: 41st
Major stars in Aries
Hamal – α Arietis (Alpha Arietis)
Sheratan – β Arietis (Beta Arietis)
Mesarthim – γ Arietis (Gamma Arietis)
Botein – δ Arietis (Delta Arietis)
Bharani – 41 Arietis (c Arietis)
ε Arietis – Epsilon Arietis
Deep Sky Objects in Aquarius
NGC 772 (Arp 78) includes SN 2003 hl, SN 2993 iq, and its satellite galaxy, NGC 770
Mythology of the Constellation Aries
According to fable, this is the ram of the golden fleece who flew Phrixus and his sister Helle from Thesaly to escape the persecution of their stepmother Ino. The speed of the flight made Helle dizzy, and she fell into the sea at a point afterward designated as the “Hellespont”, now known as the Dardanells in Turkey, the strategic channel between the Agean Sea and the Sea of Marmara.
Phrixus was carried safely to Colchis on the Black Sea in Georgian Russia, but was soon murdered by his father-in-law, Aeetes, who envied him his golden treasure, the fleece of Aries. This gave rise to the celebrated expedition in which Jason sailed in the Argo Navis to search for the famed golden fleece.
In the meantime, Naphele, queen of Thebes, had given the noble ram to her children. She was changed into a cloud as a reward for her parental solicitude, and the Greeks ever after called the clouds by her name.
Another story credits the constellation as referring to the flocks of the Chaldean shepherds, who worshipped Aries. Aries is also part of other cultural traditions.
As one of the twelve Zodiac signs in China, it is known as Heang Low, or the dog. The twelve tribes of Israel were assigned to the twelve different signs of the Zodiac. The tribe of Aries is Judah.
Gaius Manilius, a Roman poet, in the first century wrote:
“The Ram having passed the sea serenely shines, and leads the year, the prince of all the signs.”
Sun Enters: March 21
Sun Leaves: April 19
Trait: Assertive, creative
Positives: Creative, brave, loyal, direct, always concerned with the larger view, hating restriction, pioneering, energetic, humorous
Negatives: Selfish, impulsive, pugnacious, very “now” minded, impatient, overlooks important details
As a Child: “Me first”
Plant: A rose
Emotional: Strong need to express sexuality
Career: Artist, composer, etc.