ZODIAC. The zodiac is a belt of the tides. tial sphere, extending 8° on each side of the ecliptic, or the path of the sun among the stars. 'The name is derived from Cissz a liv ing creature, because the constellations in it (except Libra) are all figures of animals. It was taken of that particular width by the an cients simply because the moon and the then known planets never go farther than r from the ecliptic' (Young's 'Astronomy' ). The belt is divided into 12 parts, of 30* each, to which are given the following names: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capriconms, Aquarius, Pisces. This division into 12 parts was suggested by the 12 reappearances of the moon in a year. The idea seems to have originated with the Chaldean astronomers, about 2100 B.C.
Owing to the fact that the earth is not a perfect sphere, the pole of the earth's equator describes a circle around the pole of the eclip tic, which causes a constant retrograde motion in equator with the point of intersection of the plane of the zodiac. The rate of this motion is 1* in 70 years, and has amounted to 30' or one entire sign, up to the present time. °The sign of Aries. therefore, is now in the position of the constellation Pisces; each sign having backed so to speak into the constellation west of it.° The constellations themselves hear no resemblance to the signs designated by them.
During the Middle Ages the signs of the zodiac were supposed to intinence human life, and hence were distributed to different pans of the human body. Disease was supposed to he cured by the aid of the zodiacal power pre siding over that part of the body. The rem nant of this superstition is still seen in some almanacs.
The Egyptians are supposed to have adopted the 12-fold division of the Zodiac from the Greeks. but they changed the symbols of living
creatures to others of their own. The Chinese divided the course of the sun into 12 parts, which they designated as the rat, the os, the tiger, hare. dragon, serpent, horse, sheep, mon key, hen, dog and pit; This division is still found in some parts of Central Asia and Japan. It has also been found among the remains of the Aztec race in America. The original zodi acal constellations occitpied unequal spaces in the heavens. Hipparchos was the first to &Ode the zodiac into equal spaces of 30° each, and give to them the names of the older constella nons. His method of reckoning positions in the ecliptic was used until this century. Astrono mers have now abandoned it for the more accu rate measurement of degrees, beginning at the vernal equinox.
The origin of the names of the animals as signed to the zodiac by the ancients is unknown. Some have that the spring signs: Aries, the Rani, Taurus, the Bull, and Gemini, the Twins, mark the time of the bringing forth of young by flocks and herds. Cancer, the Crab, marks the time when the sun appears to move backward. Leo, the Lion, symbolizes the fierce beat of summer, and Virgo, the Virgin, glean ing corn, symbolizes the harvest. In Libra, the Balance, the day and night balance each other. Scorpio is supposed to have marked the pres ence of venomous reptiles in October; while Sagittarius symbolizes the season of hunting. C,apricornus marks the beginning of the return of the sun to the north, Aquarius symbolizes the winter rains, and Pisces the season of fishes. These are but fanciful representations, and have no foundation in fact.