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, Pisces.
Pisces is the twelfth constellation of the zodiac. Its name is the Latin word meaning “fish.”
The astrological symbol for Pisces is ♓, and the constellation sits in the sky between Aquarius and Aries. Other nearby constellations include Triangulum, Andromeda, Pegasus, and Cetus.
The Stars of Pisces
There are 86 stars in Pisces, the brightest of which are often depicted as two fish tethered to the same point. The constellation also includes one Messier Object: the spiral galaxy Messier 74. Messier Objects are bright deep-sky objects identified primarily by French astronomer Charles Messier during the 18th Century.
Pisces Legends and Lore
Pisces is said to represent Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and love, and her son Eros, who transformed themselves into fish to escape the fire god Typhon. A fearsome foe to all of the gods, Typhon was known as the “father of all monsters.” One day, after many years of enmity, Typhon imprisoned Zeus, the father of the gods, in a cave guarded by a dragon. When other gods came to rescue Zeus, Typhon grew angry and attacked Mt. Olympus, the home of the gods. To shield themselves from his rage, each of the gods took on different shapes. Zeus became a ram, Apollo a crow, Hera a cow, and Aphrodite and Eros became fish. The mother and child tied their tails together with a cord so they wouldn’t lose each other. They were protected by Poseidon, god of the sea.
Astrologically, the Sun resides in the house of Pisces from February 20 to March 20 each year. People born during this period have Pisces as their Sun sign. Proponents of astrological determinism believe that people born under the same Sun sign share certain character traits. Pisces people are most often described as sensitive, idealistic, generous, imaginative, shy, naïve, creative, and compassionate.
How Can I See Pisces?
Pisces reaches its high point for the night at about 8 p.m. local standard time in early December. But you’ll need a dark sky away from light pollution.
Locate the Square of Pegasus. Then look for Pisces to the left of it: the entire constellation looks like the letter V.