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Earthsky Tonight—June 12: Zodiac means Pathway of Animals
Posted By Gary Wamsley On June 11, 2010 @ 10:41 pm In Earth & Sky | Comments Disabled
Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science
Today’s chart shows which zodiacal constellations are up soon after darkness falls on an evening in the middle of June. You are facing due south for this chart, looking southeast to west, more or less following the path the sun takes during the day.
One of you wrote, “What does Zodiac mean?”
The word “zodiac” just means “pathway of animals.” It is an important pathway across our sky because the sun moves across it during the day, and the moon and planets move across it at night.
In other words, speaking astronomically now (not astrologically), we live in a solar system that consists of planets orbiting a sun. The planets orbit our sun in a nearly flat plane. If you project that plane against our sky, you get a narrow pathway upon which the sun, moon and planets all travel. You all know this pathway. It is the path of the sun during day, as it travels from east to west.
The astronomical word for the plane of Earth’s orbit around the sun, which more or less defines the plane of the solar system, is “ecliptic.” In addition, we often speak of the ecliptic in the night sky. The zodiacal constellations are those upon which the ecliptic, or plane of the solar system, is projected in our sky.
Spica: Speed on 
Written by Deborah Byrd
StarDate Online 
National Geographic 
Space Com 
Amazing Space 
Scope City 
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URLs in this post:
 www.EarthSky.org: http://www.EarthSky.org
 Antares: Heart of the Scorpion: http://earthsky.org/tonightpost/brightest-stars/antares-rivals-mars-as-the-scorpions-heart
 Zubenelgenubi: Alpha star of Libra the Scales: http://earthsky.org/tonightpost/brightest-stars/zubenelgenubi-alpha-star-of-libra-the-scales
 Spica: Speed on: http://earthsky.org/tonightpost/brightest-stars/speed-on-to-spica-the-15th-brightest-star
 Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA/JPL: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/
 CHANDRA Photo Album: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/
 U.S. Naval Observator Astronomical Information cente: http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/astronomical-applications/astronomical-information-center/astronomical-information-center
 StarDate Online: http://stardate.org/
 Sky and Telescope: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/ataglance/
 National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/
 Space Com: http://www.space.com/nightsky/
 Amazing Space: http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/tonights_sky/
 The York County Astronomical Society: http://www.ycas.org/tonights_sky.htm
 Scope City: http://www.scopecity.net/
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