The zodiac is where all the action happens in Astrology. It is the band of stars that circles the Earth along the ecliptic where you can find all the planets. This band is divided up into parts to get the classical zodiac signs. However, people divide the ecliptic up into several different patterns. There was a huge debate on the internet a few years back about how the stars in the sky don’t match the traditional “tropical” zodiac. Let’s dispel the mystery behind this by explaining the three kinds of zodiacs.
Constellational Zodiac: This is the actual backdrop of stars against the sky along the ecliptic. This is the zodiac used by astronomers. It is also the one that has the much ballyhooed 13th sign, Ophiuchus. It is a modern invention and is not used by astrologers. Even astronomers cannot decide on exactly where the boundaries of one constellation ends and another begins.
Tropical Zodiac: Most Western astrologers, but by no means all, use the tropical zodiac. In this zodiac, the sky is divided up into 12 different 30 degree segments (12 * 30 = 360 degrees) and is based on the seasons. The first degree of Aries is wherever the Sun rises on the first day of spring. Using this system, the Sun appears to go backward against the stars one degree every 72 years, causing the precession of the equinoxes.
Sidereal Zodiac: This zodiac is very similar to the tropical, but it uses a different starting point. Sidereal astrologers use a particular star in the sky and then count off 30 degree segments. This is used mostly in India, though it has gained some acceptance here. The star chosen varies from school to school.
Because of history and astrology’s spiritual orientation, the orderliness of the tropical zodiac is what is used by most Western astrologers.