Sagittarius Astronomically Speaking
The constellation Sagittarius is said to resemble a Centaur (half man, half horse) holding a drawn bow and arrow. One of its legends is that Chiron created the constellation Sagittarius to help guide Jason and the Argonauts as they sailed on his ship, the Argo.
Within Sagittarius is a group of stars that look like a teapot, complete with spout and handle. The handle is itself a constellation called the "Milk Dipper."
Sagittarius is located on the Milky Way in the direction of the center of the galaxy. Esotericists call 26 degrees Sagittarius the "Galactic Center." Astronomers call it "Deep Space." It is a treasure trove of galactic and globular clusters, plus nebulae.
Sagittarius is one of the most beautiful times of the year to star gaze because we have so many hours of darkness. Like a pearl on a string, the Sun slides southward down its ecliptic toward its lowest point in the sky. It now sets well south of west as we inch with our short days and long nights toward Winter Solstice -- the longest night of the year.
The word ecliptic refers to our (Earth's) path around the Sun. The path is an oval-shaped, elliptical one. And while it is true that the two solstice days mark our farthest path from the Sun, that is not why Winter Solstice is the shortest day. Because the Earth is tilted at 23-1/2 degrees, Winter Solstice marks the day when the south pole is bathed in light from the Sun and the north pole is blanketed in darkness. This is why the northern hemisphere is now in winter and the southern hemisphere is in summer.
That ecliptic path is also important to us because the 12 constellations that fall on that line are the 12 constellations that comprise the zodiac.
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