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    Re: a grand tradition and zodiac signs
    From: John Huth
    Date: 2011 Oct 21, 16:11 -0400

    Also - my comments weren't intended to be denigrating.   I'm just unfamiliar with the format.   I have a friend who is big into astrology and she calmly walked me through the differences between sidereal and tropical astrology.   

    On Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 2:55 PM, Apache Runner <apacherunner@gmail.com> wrote:
    Frank - 

    Yes, I know we discussed it, but I was just surprised.   I was also surprised that the Vedic system is different.   It's a learning curve for me.

    On Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 2:15 PM, Frank Reed <FrankReed@historicalatlas.com> wrote:

    John H., you wrote:
    "Then, the pages tell me that Jupiter is retrograde in Taurus. But, when I look up in the sky, Jupiter is nowhere near Taurus. Taurus is over there, and Jupiter is over "there". What's going on?
    I had to consult my astrology gurus - but it turns out that all of western astrology is frozen around 200 AD or thereabouts. Now, I knew about the issue of the sun signs being distorted by the precession of the equinoxes, but it didn't occur to me that planetary motion was also distorted. "

    John, this was written on the board! ;) Actually we've discussed this many times in NavList messages. There is no "distortion" whatsoever. The zodiac signs are no more and no less than named bands each consisting of thirty degrees of ecliptic longitude. The first 30 degree band is named Aries, the second Taurus, and so on. And for navigators, that's why you will find "GHA of Aries" for every hour of every day in the modern Nautical Almanac. That location is not in Aries, the constellation. It's the zero point of Aries, the zodiac sign. Note that these 30 degree bands are NOT affected by precession. Astronomers who are usually (understandably?) eager to attack astrology are in the habit of saying that astrologers are "soooo stupid" because they haven't taken into account 2000 years of precession. That is emphatically false. Furthermore, well into the nineteenth century, the zodiac signs were still used in almanacs published primarily for astronomers. They were part of standard astronomy --not relegated to astrology. In early Nautical Almanacs you will find the positions of celestial objects listed in columns headed "S.D.M.S." That's sign, degrees, minutes, seconds. And in a way, it's just an extension of the sexagesimal system. In these tables the signs were numbered, but astronomers, as well as astrologers, also commonly used the names and symbols for the signs. The NAMES reflect the star positions 2000 years ago, and this is where many modern astronomers make the mistake of thinking that astrologers are idiots. If an astronomer in 1811 said that the current position of Jupiter was "Taurus 14", that meant that it was 14 degrees into the second zodiac sign, or, in modern ecliptic longitude, 30+14 or 44 degrees. For them it was both a long-standing tradition and a convenient notation. It's conceivably easier to remember "Taurus 14" than it is to remember 44. This system is just as "true" and exact today as it was 200 or 2000 years ago. It is also worth remembering that the zodiac sign of Taurus has had an exact and unambiguous meaning in western astronomy since the dawn of the subject while the constellation Taurus was not formally defined (given exact borders voted upon by IAU members) until the 1920s.

    Finally, a disclaimer: I have little patience for astrology --not because it has any mathematical flaws in the sense of positional astronomy, but rather because it's a type of numerology and, like all forms of numerology, it just doesn't work (except on Apollo 13). There are people who have been posting on NavList for many years who are highly knowledgeable in matters of positional astronomy, mathematical astronomy, the laws of physics, and so on, yet they ALSO happen to be very knowledgeable in the rules of astrology and apparently take it quite seriously. They are not so stupid. If I lived by peer pressure, I would probably already be an adherent of the signs and houses. :)


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