In ancient times, the March equinox sun shone in front of the rather small constellation Aries the Ram. You can locate the whereabouts of this constellation tonight, because the bright waxing gibbous moon shines within its borders in mid-November 2013. Be forewarned. Aries isn’t conspicuous, especially in the glare of tonight’s almost-full moon. You really need a dark, moonless night to see the mighty Ram in all his starlit majesty.
In newspaper astrology columns and elsewhere, you often see Aries at the top of the Zodiac – the band of stars that provides a backdrop for the sun in the course of every year, and the moon in the course of every month. Aries often comes first because this constellation marked the sun’s location at the time of the spring equinox between 1866 B.C. and 68 B.C. Its relationship to the coming of spring gave this point vast significance to early astrologers. That relationship was so significant, in fact, that the point retains the name First Point in Aries – even though the actual location of the sun at the time of the Northern Hemisphere’s spring or vernal equinox has shifted into the constellation Pisces, due to the precession of the equinoxes.
Naturally, the point is still moving. According to astronomers, we won’t enter the constellation Aquarius – and thus enter the age of Aquarius – until A.D. 2597. It’s good to recall here that these constellation boundaries were somewhat arbitrary at one time. The current boundaries for the constellations were decided upon as recently as the 1930′s by members of the International Astronomical Union.
In other words, the first point of Aries – or the position of the March equinox point relative to the backdrop stars – slowly but surely drifts westward through the constellations of the Zodiac.