What is the Zodiac?

Visually exploring some concepts closely related to the Zodiac can help us to better understand it.

The Earth travels around the Sun and traces an orbit through that journey.

Orbit of the Earth diagram

The orbit of the Earth defines a plane named ecliptic.


The zodiac is an approximately eighteen-degree circular band centered on the ecliptic. This band is divided into 12 equal parts (30 degrees each), called signs of the zodiac. The signs of the zodiac are: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.

As we live on the Earth, we have a geocentric perspective on the matter. Therefore, even though the Earth travels around the Sun, we have the perception that the Sun moves along the ecliptic. Consequently, if we saw the ecliptic plane from above in mid-June, it could be depicted like this:

Apparent path of the Sun - mid-June

If we change our position and locate ourselves on Earth, it will seem that the Sun is passing by point "a" in the zone of Gemini when we look at the picture above.

If we keep our position on Earth, we will see the Sun passing by point "b" in the Libra zone at the end of September.

Apparent path of the Sun - end of September

Consequently, the ecliptic can also be defined as the apparent path of The Sun along the zodiac, if we consider our position from the Earth.

The word Zodiac comes from the Greek and means "circle of animals", as most of the signs are associated to animals.

The Zodiac in Astrology

From an astrological point of view, the positions of the planetary points and house cups by sign, indicate the tendencies to behave in a certain way and live particular events.