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Astrological Trivia

CHAPTER 1 - DEFINITIONS

CHAPTER 2 - STARS / CONSTELLATIONS & YOGAS

CHAPTER 3 - GRAHAS(Planets) AND BHAVAS (Houses)

Let us begin our study of astrology with some important definitions.

  • Zodiac: It is the broad band or belt in the heavens extending 9 degrees on either side of the ecliptic and known as Bhachakra or the Circle of Light. It is a circle and as such it knows no beginning or end.

  • The Ecliptic: The ecliptic is the Sun's path. This is known as Apamandala or Ravimarga in Sanskrit. It passes exactly through the centre of the zodiac longitudinally.

  • Ascendant: Ascendant or Lagna is that point of the ecliptic which at any time is on the eastern horizon. As all the twelve signs will rise in the eastern horizon owing to the movement of the earth, there will be twelve lagnas each day. Lagna is therefore to mean, the Rising Sign at the time of the birth of the native.

  • Bhava: The houses where the twelve zodiacal signs / stars are placed according to their longitude. The most powerful point in a Bhava is its Madhya Bhaga or midpoint whereas the first point is the most powerful in a western house.

  • Horoscope: A diagram showing the observation of Sky and the planets at certain moment especially at the time of birth of a person and invoking a study of the influence of the celestial bodies on human affairs as well as their mudane world according to the configuration of planets.

  • Latitude: The latitude of the planets is its distance north or south of the equator measured as an angle, on its own terrestial meridian. It is reckoned in degrees, minutes and seconds from 0 degrees to 90 degrees northwards or southwards according to the place lies in the northern or southern hemisphere. Celestial Latitude is the angular distance of a heavenly body from the ecliptic.

  • Longitude: The longitude of the place is its distance east or west of the meridian or Greenwich measured as an angl. It is expressed in Degrees, Minutes and Seconds, east or west of Greenwich are to where the place lies. It is also reckoned in time at the rate of 24 hours for 360 degrees or 4 minutes to a degree.

  • The Signs of the Zodiac: The ecliptic is divided into twelve equal compartments, the signs of the zodiac, each being thirty degrees in extent. Each sign has its own peculiar qualities attributed to it by the ancient Maharshis, after careful and profound observation and meditation.

  • Constellation: The ecliptic is marked by twenty-seven constellations or nakshtras, often called lunar mansions, because the Moon is brought into special connection with them, as traversing twenty-seven constellations and making a complete round of the ecliptic in a lunar month. Each constellation contains four padas or quarters and each quarter is equal to 3 1/3 degree of the celestial arc (rekha).

  • The Planetary System: This is otherwise known as the solar system, headed by the most glorius Sun - the Jagatchakshu - consists of seven important planets (including the Sun himself). All the planets, save the central luminary, are held by the gravitation of the Sun and they all revolve round him, the period of revolution varying with reference to each planet. Along with these are included Rahu and Ketu - considered as Apakashaka grahas or shadowy planets.

  • Retrogression and Acceleration: When the distance of any one planet from the Sun exceeds a particular limit, it becomes retrograde, i.e., when the planet goes from perhelion (the part of a planet's orbit most distant from the Sun) as it recedes from the Sun, it gradually loses the power of the Sun's gravitation and consequently, to gain it, it retrogrades. When the planet comes from aphelion to perhelion, nearer and nearer to the Sun the gravitation of the Sun grows more and more powerful, so that the velocity of the planet is accelerated.

  • Lunar Year: This consists of twelve lunar months. The name of each lunar month is given according to the constellation falling on the Full Moon day of the particular month. The lunar month is generally of 27 - 29 days, during which the Moon, the fastest moving planet travels along all the the signs of the Zodiac.

  • Solar Year: This consists of twelve solar months. The Sun takes 365 days and 6 hours to complete one rotation round the zodiac which is a complete solar year. The twelve solar months are Mesha, Vrishaba, Mithuna, Kataka, Simha, Kanya, Thula, Vrischika, Dhanu, Makar, Kumbh and Meena. The year begins roughly around April 20th while the lunar year starts around March 15th.

  • Almanac: Otherwise known as Panchang or five parts. The Hindu Almanac furnishes details of Thithi, Vara, Nakshatra, Yoga and karana. Vara is one of the seven days of the week, Nakshatra is one of the 27 constellation of the celestial sphere, Thithi is one of the 15 days preceeding New Moon or Full Moon.

  • Siderial Time: This is the time taken by the Earth to make one full rotation. It is not exactly 24 hours but goes on changing according to increase or decrease in the duration of the days and nights. It is called Vernal Equinox time and it is a measure of Earth's rotation.

  • Standard Time: Originally each city of India used to maintain the local mean time of her own and the Almanacs used to mention the local apparent mean Moon. In order to bring uniformity for the purpose of astronomical calculations and ascertain position of planets a standard time was adopted keeping the longitude 82o 32' E w.r.t Greenwich Mean Time which in India is exactly 5 Hrs. 30 Min. ahead of GMT.

Go on to Chapter 2