Astronomers and Astrologers are often confused by the difference between Signs (that are seasonal) and constellations that are the starry backdrop the seasons move through. The problem is both the seasons and signs were named the same names and that has contributed to the confusion.
The first thing to understand is Signs and Constellations are two completely different things. Again, the signs are seasonal and the constellations are the star patterns the seasons or signs move through. This movement is very slow – only one degree in 72 years, taking nearly 26,000 years to make one complete circuit. However, with the seasons having the same names as the constellations both astronomers and astrologers get confused. That is why in the Shamanic Astrology paradigm we use the alternate name for the constellations as listed below.
Below I have listed the dates the Sun is in its Seasonal Signs and another table for when the Sun is in the Constellations. Be sure to note the difference in the dates as that describes the precessional cycle from the time humanity forgot there was a difference between signs or seasons and constellations. This 15 minute YouTube is mini-teaching on this issue that helps to explain the difference with visuals.
Plus, this article also explains this difference in greater detail http://shamanicastrology.com/articles/the-difference-between-signs-and-constellations
Below is one of the Articles that appeared in early 2011 about the 13th Sign with comments from me in parathensis and/or bolded or italics to help in understanding what is really happening.
Article: Your “Real Sign”
(Note: This Title and article is based on constellations not signs (or the seasons) and is also based on the astronomers redrawing of the constellational boundaries that happened in 1928)
The table below lists the dates when the Sun is actually within the astronomical constellations of the Zodiac, according to modern constellation boundaries and corrected for precession (these dates can vary a day from year to year).
You will most likely find that once precession is taken into account, your zodiac sign is different. (Note: again this is a misunderstanding because signs or seasons have the same name as the constellations but are not the same as the constellations are the star patterns and the seasons relate to Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. This fact is not being considered in this article rather it is only looking at the constellational star patterns)
And if you were born between November 29 and December 17, your sign is actually one you never saw in the newspaper: you are an Ophiuchus! The eliptic passes through the constellation of Ophiuchus after Scorpius.
(Note: this is only because the boundaries of the constellations were redrawn in 1928 and Ophiuchus is a constellation NOT a seasonal sign so from the Tropical system (or seasonally based signs) Ophiuchus doesn’t even figure in because its not one of the 12 seasonal signs. See the listing below)
Check out your “real” zodiac sign below and see what the sky looked like on your birthday by going to the Birthday Sky application.
(Note: I have included the tropical signs and the dates the Sun is moving through them based on our seasonal experience along with the alternate name of the constellation. So for example if you were born on March 1 the Sun was in the constellation of the Waterbearer and it was in the seasonal sign of Pisces, or if you were born on March 21 when the Sun was at Zero Aries marking the Spring Equinox the Sun was located in the constellation of the Fish and the sign of Aries or Spring).
The Table Below is from the article with some adjustments. The first bolded sign name is what the article listed with the dates the Sun is in that constellation. I have given the alternate constellation names and dates the Sun is in the seasonal or tropical sign. Below this listing from the article I have included two more tables that separate the listings as another way to show the difference.
Capricorn/Goatfish – The Sun travels through this constellation Jan 21 to Feb 16 and this is the constellation also known as the Goatfish. The Sun is in the seasonal sign Capricorn December 21 to January 20. From the tropical sign based system calibrated from a seasonal perspective the sign Capricorn starts with the Winter Solstice (or December Solstice) when the Sun reaches the coordinate that marks the longest night and shortest day.
If we call the constellation by its alternate name, the GoatFish, then the Sun is in the Goatfish from Jan 20 to Feb 16 but it is in the seasonal sign of Capricorn marked by the Winter Solstice…on Dec 21…for the next 30 days.
Aquarius/Waterbearer – The Sun travels through this constellation Feb 17 to Mar 11 This is the constellation also known as the Waterbearer. The sign or season of Aquarius begins 30 days after the December Solstice and is from January 20 to February 20 but the Sun travels through the Waterbearer Feb 16 to Mar 11.
Pisces/Fish – The Sun travels through this constellation March 12 to Apr 18 This is the constellation also known as the Fish. The sign or season of Pisces begins 60 days after the December Solstice and is from February 21 to March 20 when the Sun reaches the Spring Equinox point of Zero Aries
Aries/Ram – The Sun travels through this constellation Apr 19 to May 13 This is the constellations also known as the Ram. The sign or season of Aries occurs when the Sun reaches a balance of equal day and night usually around March 20 and is in the season of Aries until April 19.
Taurus/Bull – The Sun travels through this constellation May 14 to Jun 21 This is the constellation also known as the Bull. The sign or season of Taurus starts 30 days after the Spring Equinox around April 20 to May 20
Gemini/Twins – The Sun travels through this constellation Jun 22 to Jul 20 This is the constellation also know as the Twins. The sign or season of Gemini begins 60 days after the Spring Equniox on May 21 to June 21
Cancer/Crab – The Sun travels through this constellation Jul 21 to Aug 10 This is the constellation also known as the Crab. The sign or season of Cancer begins on the day of the June Solstice when the day is longest and lasts for 30 days from June 21 to July 22
Leo/Lion – The Sun travels through this constellation Aug 11 to Sep 16 This is the constellation also known as the Lion. The sign or season of Leo begins 30 days after the June Solstice on July 23 to August 22 as the days are beginning to shorten.
Virgo/Virgin Priestess – The Sun travels through this constellation Sep 17 to Oct 30 This is the constellation of the Virgin Priestess. The sign or season of Virgo begins 60 days after the June Solstice on August 23 to September 22
Libra/Scales – The Sun travels through this constellation Nov 1 to Nov 23 This is the constellation also known as the Scales. The sign or season of Libra begins when the Sun reaches the balance point of equal day and night on September 23 and lasts for 30 days until October 23.
Scorpius/Scorpion – The Sun travels through this constellation Nov 24 to Dec 21. This is the constellation of the Scorpion. The sign or season or Scorpio begins 30 days after the Autumnal Equinox on October 23 and lasts for 30 days until November 21
Ophiuchus/Serpent Bearer – The Sun travels through this constellation Nov 29 to Dec 17 This constellation only has a foot on the ecliptic and that only happened in 1928 when astronomers redrew the constellational boundaries.
Sagittarius/Archer – The Sun travels through this constellation Dec 22 to Jan 20 This is the constellation also known as the Archer. The sign or season of Sagittarius begins 60 days after the Autumnal Equniox on November 22 and lasts 30 days until the December Solstice usually on December 21.
Final Note: Hopefully this gives a sense of the difference between the constellations and the signs. The intent is to sort out the confusion that occurs because the signs and constellations have the same names. If we use the alternate names for the constellations as listed below it helps to have a sense of the difference between the tropical signs and the sidereal zodiac.
Again, highly recommended is viewing this YouTube (also posted at the end of this article) explaining with visual images the seasonal signs and how they move through the constellations one degree every 72 years. It is this slow movement that was forgotten and the signs or seasons were named the same names as the constellations. Unfortunately, the confusion continues to this day and that is why Shamanic Astrology (following the lead of Rudoph Steiner) uses the alternate name for the constellations as a way to keep them separate because the signs and constellations are entirely two different things.
Here is the listing again of when the Sun is traveling through the Constellations
The constellation Capricorn a.k.a The Goatfish – Jan 21 to Feb 16
The constellation Aquarius a.k.a. The Waterbearer– Feb 17 to Mar 11
The constellation Pisces a.k.a. The Fish – Mar 12 to Apr 18
The constellation Aries a.k.a. The Ram – Apr 19 to May 13
The constellation Taurus a.k.a. The Bull – May 14 to Jun 21
The constellation Gemini a.k.a. The Twins – Jun 22 to Jul 20
The constellation Cancer a.k.a. The Crab – Jul 21 to Aug 10
The constellation Leo a.k.a. The Lion – Aug 11 to Sep 16
The constellation Virgo a.k.a. The Virgin Priestess – Sep 17 to Oct 30
The constellation Libra a.k.a. The Scales – Nov 1 to Nov 23
The constellation Scorpius a.k.a. The Scorpion – Nov 24 to Dec 21
The constellation Sagittarius a.k.a The Archer – Dec 22 to Jan 20
And because in 1928 the boundaries lines defining the constellations were redrawn to include the foot of Ophiuchus on the Ecliptic, I have included the time astronomers claim the Sun is passing through this constellation below.
The constellation Ophiuchus a.k.a The Serpent Bearer – Nov 29 to Dec 17 (However, the Sun is also still in the body of the Scorpion during this time.)
Here is the List of the Seasonal Signs or when the Sun is traveling through these seasons
Note: dates may vary a day or so on either side
Capricorn (December Solstice) December 23 – January 20
Aquarius (First Cross-Quarter) January 21 – February 19
Pisces (Right before March Equinox) February 20- March 20
Aries (March Equniox) March 21 – April 20
Taurus (Second Cross-Quarter) April 21 – May 21
Gemini (Right before June Solstice) May 22 – June 21
Cancer (June Solstice) June 22 – July 22
Leo (3rd Cross-Quarter) July 23 -August 21
Virgo (Right before the September Equinox) August 22 – September 23
Libra (The September Equinox) September 24 – October 23
Scorpio (The 4th Cross-Quarter) October 24 – November 22
Sagittarius (Right before the December Solstice) November 23 – December 22