In ancient times, when the constellations were named, the Sun appeared against the stars of Constellation Aries at the vernal equinox. The Sun's appearance on the ecliptic and the vernal equinox was celebrated by the ancients; it marked the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of a new year.
Locating Constellation Aries
Aries is a northern hemisphere constellation, but it's also visible across much of the southern hemisphere. It can be found between Constellation Taurus to the east and Constellation Pisces to the west. Aries is seen best on a dark night in December at about 9 pm. However, during winter and spring, it's actually visible for most of the night.
Aries Constellation Drawing
You'll be hard-pressed to identify a Ram in the constellation, as a matter of fact, you'll likely see nothing more than a kinked line made up of four moderately bright stars.
Probably the easiest way to locate constellation Aries is with a sky map that's set for your specific sky watching location.
- Starmap, available at the Apple App Store, can turn your smartphone into a constellation finder.
- Skyview app allows you point your iPhone at the sky to identify stars, constellations, and satellites.
Astrology and Astronomy
Astrology and astronomy use different systems that divide the sky in different ways. Of the 88 defined constellations, thirteen touch on the Earth's ecliptic. Astronomers call these the constellation zodiac. Twelve of these constellations bear the same names as astrological signs.
Although these 12 constellations that carry the same name once lined up with astrological signs, due to the precession of the equinoxes, each sign now largely overlays the star constellation that once preceded it. The dates the Sun passes in front of constellation Aries and the dates the Sun is in the Tropical and Sidereal zodiac sign of Aries differ.
The Constellation Zodiac
Constellations are groups of "Fixed" stars as seen from Earth. Astrologer/astronomer Ptolemy's 1515 Almagest, listed 48 constellations. The boundaries as known in the 21st Century were defined by The International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 1930. The Sun passes in front of the constellation Aries from approximately April 18 - May 13.
The Tropical Zodiac
The signs of the Tropical Zodiac, every 30 degrees of arc along the ecliptic, are defined by the changing of Earth's seasons. The approximate dates the Sun is in the Tropical sign of Aries is from approximately March 21 - April 19.
The Sidereal Zodiac
The sidereal (star) zodiac begins its yearly cycle when the Sun aligns with the constellation of Aries in the sky. Then, like the tropical zodiac, divides the ecliptic into 12 equal sections of 30 degrees each. The approximate dates the Sun is in the Sidereal sign Aries is April 14 -May 14.
Essential to Astrology
Although the constellations and the signs are not the same. The zodiacal constellations and their "fixed" stars are necessary to astrology. The history and myths of the constellations that touch the Earth's ecliptic helped ancient astrologer/astronomers define astrology's twelve signs, and all thirteen constellations that are the backdrop of the 12 astrological signs give an added a layer of meaning to a modern interpretation.
Aries' Three Notable Stars
All of the Aries Constellation's fixed stars are now in the astrological sign of Taurus. When the planets and or other important points aspect a fixed star in a natal chart, that star's influence is thought to be particularly strong. Conjunctions of fixed stars with planets and points the natal chart are very significant.
Hamal, at 03°11′ Taurus, is the most luminous star in Aries. Hamal derives from the Arabic for "head of the ram." If prominent in a horoscope it can indicate a person who is headstrong and often aggressive, yet potentially a capable leader and protector of their community. It can also be indicative of violence. Charles Manson's horoscope shows Hamal conjunct his Taurus Ascendant.
Sheratan, at 03°58′ Taurus, is the second brightest star in Aries. If prominent in a horoscope it can indicate violence, defeat, accidents, injury, danger, and honors. Mohammad Ali's horoscope has Mars in Taurus conjunct both Sheratan and Mesarthim.
Mesarthim, at 03°11′ Taurus. Is said to be more of a protective-administrative quality, and have less of the impulsive aggressiveness of Hamal and Sheratan. Michael Moore's horoscope has both Sheratan and Mesarthim conjunct his Taurus Sun.
The Ram in the Sky
In ancient times rams were frequently sacrificed to the gods, and mythographers agree that Aries is the Ram whose Golden Fleece was the object of the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts. This ram made its appearance on Earth just as King Athamas of Boeotia was about to sacrifice his son Phrixus to ward off an impending famine.
Phrixus and Helle
Phrixus and his sister, Helle, both children of King Athamas of Boeotia, were saved by a flying ram. During their escape on the ram, Helle falls off and is killed, but Phrixus makes it safely to the land of Colchis, where he shows gratitude to the hospitable King Aeëtes. Phrixus sacrifices the golden ram to Zeus and gives its fleece to Aeëtes. The Golden Fleece was hidden and guarded by a dragon, who never slept, in a grove of Ares. The fleece was eventually stolen by Jason, with the aid of Aeëtes daughter, Medea.
Jason, Medea, and the Argonauts
As the tale continues, Jason, son of Aeson, was sent by his uncle, King Pelias, to Colchis to bring the Golden Fleece back to Greece. Jason sets out with his men, the Argonauts, to find it. After many dangers, Jason and the Argonauts arrive at Colchis where the fleece is hidden. However, to capture the fleece he needs the help of Medea, a sorceress-princess who is also the daughter of the king of Colchis. Confronted by the bold, daring and decisive Jason, Medea falls head over heels in love and uses her powers to help him. After Jason captures the fleece he rewards Medea by making her his lawful wife.
Jason and Aries
Aries is the archetype of the warrior. The Myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece reveals that Aries, like Jason, is a bold, adventurous, enterprising, energetic, optimistic, daring and courageous leader, but also impatient, impetuous, vain, proud, self-centered, and fickle.
Aries Constellation Meaning
According to Astrology King, "constellation Aries portends events concerning sacred rites and the worship of God. It affects the conditions of the air and the seasons, and presages the results of these elements on things that grow, especially the new shoots or arboreal crops."