ZODIAC WHEEL

Zodiac wheel. The wheel of fortune. The wheel of fate. It reflects our past present and future. The intention of this article is to inculcate interest in amateur astrologers and to let them understand some of the interesting features of the Zodiac wheel.
In Vedic astrology, the zodiac wheel is based on Nirayana system or sidereal system, whereas western zodiac wheel is based on Sayana system or tropical system. In Vedic astrology, utmost importance was given to 27 constellations. (Also please refer lessons 1A and 1B). They are also called lunar mansions. However, there is no mention of lunar mansions or constellations in western astrology. In astronomy, so far, 88 constellations were identified. Out of 88 constellations only 27 constellations find place in zodiac. Though we can see 88 constellations from the earth, only 27 constellations come in the pathway of zodiac. To be clear, when we look at the sky, the planets appear to be moving in a particular angular path. In the background of the planets, we can see constellations. Though there are 88 identified constellations, the path of the planets is fixed in such a way that in the backdrop, only 27 regular constellations appear. Hence, these 27 constellations only find place as far as zodiac and astrology are concerned.
We can also explain the matter in other words. In Vedic astrology, it is familiar expression that planets are moving in particular stars. For example Sun stays in each star or constellation for about 15 days approximately. When we say that Sun is moving or staying in Aswini star, it means, the Earth, the Sun and the constellation Aswini come in straight line. Aswini constellation appears on the back of the Sun, when we stand on the Earth. Similarly all the planets move in zodiac with each constellation in its backdrop for certain period.
It is obvious all the measurements of circle are explained in degrees. Zodiac wheel is also spread over 360 degrees from 0 to 360 degrees. The starting point i.e. 0 degrees is starting point of the 1st natural house of the zodiac i.e. Aeries. There is a difference of about 23 degrees between Nirayana system and Sayana systems with respect to planetary positions. An example clarifies the same. If sun is placed in 3 degrees in Aeries in Nirayana system, it is placed in 26 degrees in Aeries in Sayana system. If the Sun is placed in 22 degrees in Aeries in Nirayana system, it is placed in 15 degrees in Taurus in Sayana system. (i.e. 8 degrees in Aeries and 15 degrees in Taurus which totals to 23 degrees). The Sun and other planets always stay about 23 degrees in advance in Sayana system. Some of the reasons for this difference are discussed in the Article “Ayanamsa”, which may please be referred.
When we take a horoscope into hands, we can see the zodiac with planets positioned here and there in 12 houses. Among the nine planets, Moon is the fastest planet. It completes one circle in about 28 days. The Sun takes one year to complete the circle. When Moon and Sun come into same place and positioned within a distance of 0 to 12 degrees, it is new moon day. The Moon starts moving in clockwise direction and for every 12 degrees, one thithi changes. When the Moon is moving away from the Sun, we call it Sukla Paksha or brighter half. When the Moon comes exactly in opposite house to the Sun, it is Full Moon day. To be precise, when the distance between Moon and Sun is between 180-192 degrees, it is full moon day. When the Moon crosses this position, it begins to move towards Sun in the Zodiac and this fortnight is called Krishna Paksha or Dark half.
So, when we look at the horoscope, depending on the position of Moon vis-à-vis Sun, we can understand that the birth of the child took place either in Bright half or dark half.
ECLIPSES:
Rahu and Ketu are always positioned in opposite houses. All the planets move in a clockwise direction in the zodiac, whereas, Rahu and Ketu move in anti-clockwise direction.
Another interesting point is that, we experience one New Moon day and one Full Moon day every month. But when the conjunction of Sun and Moon takes place exactly in the zodiac sign, where Rahu or Ketu are positioned, it is solar eclipse. Exactly after 15 days, the Sun and Moon are positioned in opposite houses i.e. 180 degrees to each other, with Rahu and Ketu and we can witness lunar eclipse. By looking at the movement of the Sun and Moon in zodiac, with respect to the position of Rahu and Ketu, we can roughly assess when the eclipse is going to take place.
RETROGRESSION OF PLANETS:
Among the nine planets, the Sun and Moon are luminaries and they always move in direct motion. Rahu and Ketu are shadowy planets, (to be precise, they are not planets and they are only sensitive points in the sky, but in astrology depending on the impact of these points on human beings they have been given the status of planets) and they always move in anti clockwise direction. The remaining 5 planets viz. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are called starry (because they look like stars) planets and they generally move in clockwise direction. But some times, in zodiac, they appear to be moving backwards and this phenomenon is called retrogression. They don’t actually move backwards, but depending on the distance of the Sun, they appear so. This phenomenon is confined and taken into consideration only to assess some predictions in horoscopes.
Here are some approximate calculations with respect to retrogression of planets.
Mercury – Retrogression starts when Mercury is positioned at a distance of about 14 to 20 degrees from the Sun. Period of retrogression is 24 days. It appears to be static for one day. The planet comes into direct motion when it is positioned at about 17 to 20 degrees.
Venus – Retrogression starts when Venus is positioned at a distance of about 29 degrees from the Sun. Period of retrogression is 42 days. It appears to be static for two days. The planet comes into direct motion when it is positioned at about 29 degrees.
Mars – Retrogression starts when Mars is positioned at a distance of about 228 degrees. Period of retrogression is 80 days. It appears to be static for three days. The planet comes into direct motion when it is positioned at about 132 degrees.
Jupiter – Retrogression starts when Jupiter is positioned at a distance of about 245 degrees. Period of retrogression is 240 days. It appears to be static for five days. The planet comes into direct motion when it is positioned at about 115 degrees.
Saturn – Retrogression starts when Saturn is positioned at a distance of about 251 degrees. Period of retrogression is 140 days. It appears to be static for about five days. The planet comes into direct motion when it is positioned at about 109 degrees.
ASCENDANT RISING ON THE HORIZON:
It is obvious that Sun moves at a speed of about 1 degree per day in the Zodiac. The Sun crosses each zodiac sign in about one month. The zodiac sign in which the Sun is positioned rises on the eastern horizon for one month. An example makes it clearer. When the Sun is positioned let us say Capricorn 5th degree, the same degree rises on the horizon on that particular day. The next day, the Sun moves one degree forward and it is Capricorn 6th degree. Hence Capricorn 6th degree rises on the horizon on that day. When the zodiac keeps rotating on the horizon, each zodiac sign crosses the horizon in about two hours approximately. In the above example after a couple of hours, the second zodiac sign that rises on the horizon will be Aquarius. The zodiac sign, which is exactly 180 degrees opposite to the rising sign, will be descending on the other side of the horizon. In the above example, by the time Capricorn rises on the east, the same degree of Cancer will be descending on the horizon on the other side. Another phenomenon in this process is, 6 zodiac signs are visible above the horizon, whereas other 6 signs are invisible because they are positioned below the horizon. In the above example when the Capricorn ascendant is rising, the invisible signs are Aquarius, Pisces, Aeries, Taurus and Gemini. The other six signs viz. Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius are visible above the horizon.
With the help of above analysis, we can understand the following points. In the above example when the ascendant of the child falls in any visible signs, we can say that the child is born during the day i.e. between Sun rise and Sun Set on that day. And also, if we find that the ascendant of the child falls between Capricorn 5th and Aquarius 5th degree, the birth should have taken place within a couple of hours immediately after Sunrise approximately and so on. Because for every two hours, ascendant changes, by knowing the birth time of the child, we can know the ascendant approximately.
MOVEMENT OF THE SUN IN ZODIAC
We know that the Sun moves at a speed of approximately one degree per day and he stays for about one month in each sign. The Sun enters each sign on the dates shown below as per Nirayana system (sidereal system). However in Sayana system (tropical system), the Sun enters approximately the following signs 23 days earlier.
14th April – Aeries
15th May – Taurus
15th June - Gemini
17th July - Cancer
17th August – Leo
17th September – Virgo
18th October – Libra
17th November – Scorpio
16th December – Sagittarius
14th January – Capricorn
13th February – Aquarius
14th March – Pisces
UTTARAYAN AND DAKSHINAYAN
Basing on the movement of the Sun in zodiac, the year is divided into two parts in Vedic system. When the Sun enters Cancer on 17th July, Dakshinayan starts and it continues up to 13th January, the following year. On 14th January Uttarayan starts when Sun enters Capricorn and it continues up to 16th July. When we look at the movement of the Sun during the above periods, it appears that the Sun is swinging between tropics of Capricorn and Cancer like a pendulum in clock.

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