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K12 LibreTexts

15.1: The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius

  • Page ID
    4688
  • Hipparchus concluded that the intersection marking the equinox slowly crept forward along the ecliptic, and called that motion “the precession of the equinoxes." The rate is about one full circle in 26 000 years. In ancient times the intersection marking the spring equinox was in the constellation of Aries, the ram, and for that reason the intersection (wherever it might be) is still sometimes called “the first point in Aries."

    Around the year 1 it moved into the constellation of Pisces (pronounced “pie-sees" in the US) and currently it is again in transition, to the constellation of Aquarius, the water carrier. If you ever heard the song “The dawning of the age of Aquarius" from the musical “Hair," that is what it is all about. To astronomers, precession is mainly another factor to be taken into account when aiming a telescope or drawing a star chart, but to believers in astrology, the “dawning of the age of Aquarius" is a great portent and may mark the beginning of a completely new and different era.

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