Nearly everyone knows a little something about astrology — even if it’s only where to find the daily horoscope section in the local newspaper. Whether you truly believe the stars control your destiny, think it’s all bunk, or just like to have fun with it, the 12 signs of the zodiac are part of our cultural heritage. Over the next year, the Farmers’ Almanac will introduce you to the facts and mythology behind each constellation in the traditional Western zodiac. This month, Aries.
Aries is the first constellation of the zodiac. Its name is the Latin word meaning “ram.”
The astrological symbol for Aries is ♈, and the constellation sits in the sky between Pisces and Taurus. Other nearby constellations include Perseus, Triangulum, and Cetus.
There are 67 stars in Aries, the brightest of which are said to represent a ram lying down with its head turned to the right. The constellation also includes four deep sky objects: the galaxies NGC 697, NGC 772, NGC 972, and NGC 1156.
In Greek mythology, Aries is said to be the golden ram that rescued the twins Phrixos and Helle, son and daughter of King Athamas, from being sacrificed. The children’s stepmother, Queen Ino, hated them. In an elaborate plot to get rid of them, Ino sabotaged the kingdom’s crops and convinced the farmers that the local oracle demanded Phrixos and Helle as a sacrifice. Before they could be slain, however, a golden ram appeared and carried them to safety. Strangely, Phrixos thanked the ram by sacrificing it to the gods, and hung its skin in a temple, where came to be known as the Golden Fleece, an object of great power and value.
Astrologically, the Sun resides in the house of Aries from March 21 to April 20 each year. People born during this period have Aries as their Sun sign. Proponents of astrological determinism believe that people born under the same Sun sign share certain character traits. Aries people are most often described as energetic, enthusiastic, independent, intelligent, confident, direct, dynamic, and driven.