Third Years: Lesson Three

Professor Sarah Harrington

Astronomy Professor 1-7 | Mother of Two
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Professor Harrington was preparing for her next lesson as she heard voices outside, opening the door she let the third years in, closing the door as the last student entered. Last week had been a fun lesson but this week it was time to get set back into the regular lessons of mostly lectures. “Good evening students, today we are going to jump right on in with the Zodiac Constellations. Over the centuries the alignment of the stars and our calendar system on Earth form a matching sets, for those of you taking Divination I’m sure this lesson will help your studies in that class. The twelve signs of the Zodiac, don’t exactly match our months but we do each relate to one of the signs based on it’s position in the sky the night we were born.”

“Now, we have the 13 zodiac constellations in Astronomy, however in total the number of constellations in the nighttime sky are as endless as our imaginations. But, most modern studies agree to a number around 88. We shall just focus on the 13 zodiac ones for this class," Sarah said looking over the class. "Every year, the Sun and Earth do a dance, the Sun moves eastward in a circle around the sky. The path followed on the celestial sphere by the Sun is referred to as the ecliptic. Any constellations containing the ecliptic is called a zodiac constellation." Sarah paused to see how the students were keeping up. "Now I want you to take great care in learning the ecliptic, I understand that it's just an imaginary line, however it’s a very important one. While it's just the projection of our orbit onto the celestial sphere, it's an essential part of an astronomer’s vocabulary. You'll find that the celestial coordinate system we use to locate every star by, starts from the ecliptic."

"The 13 Zodiac constellations are different from other constellations, and not just because of their placement in the nighttime sky. They have a mix of representation of animals, which our word zodiac derives from the Greek for 'Animal Circle' funnily enough," Professor Sarah said with a little laugh hoping her students would get the funny reference in her statement. "Now I will advise you to take notes on the Zodiac from the board, these are written in order of how the sun passes over them during the year." Sarah waved her wand and a list of the 13 appeared on the board with a few details about them.

Pisces (Pie-seez)
This constellation is represented by two fish. According to myth, Venus and her son Cupid escaped from Typhon by swimming through the sea as two fish. It is usually seen during fall.

Aries (Air-eez)
Represented by a ram with a golden fleece. It is thought that it could fly in the sky. It is a small constellation with only two easily visible stars. It is usually seen during Winter months.

Taurus (Tore-us)
Represented by a bull. Babylonian constellation. Jupiter turned himself into a bull to carry off Europa, who was the daughter of the King of Crete. Normally seen in the Winter months.

Gemini (Jem-eh-ni)
Twin brothers. Protectors of ships and sailors, who swore oaths by them. Look for the two bright stars, Castor and Pollux, which together form one vertex of the Winter Hexagon. Normally seen during the Winter.

Cancer (Kan-ser)
Crab. Sent by Juno to kill Hercules, who squashed it with his foot. Faint stars. Look with binoculars for the Beehive star cluster, faintly visible to the naked eye. Usually seen in the Spring months.

Leo (Lee-oh)
Lion. Prehistoric constellation, often associated with royalty. It is normally seen during the Spring.

Virgo (Vir-go)
Maiden. Goddess of farms and harvest, holding a shock of wheat. Seen during the Spring months as well.

Libra (Lee-brah)
Scales (balance), because the Sun was in Libra during the autumn equinox when the Romans chopped off the claws of Scorpius to create this constellation. It's the last of the Spring seen zodiac.

Scorpius (Scor-pee-us)
Scorpion sent by Gaia to kill Orion when Orion boasted he would slay all the animals of the Earth; now Orion and Scorpius circle each other on opposite sides of the sky. Seen during the Summer.

Ophiuchus (Oh-fee-uke-us)
The serpent holder, Oph. ("Gus" for short) represents Aesclepius the healer. Although not traditionally considered part of the zodiac, the sun now is actually within Oph. longer than it is in Scorpius. This the only zodiac constellation that isn't used as part of our zodiacs. Another summer zodiac constellation.

Sagittarius (Saj-eh-tair-ee-us)
The Archer, a centaur archer named Chiron, shooting an arrow. This constellation was in fact found by a centaur named Sagittar who claimed it as his own. It is seen during Summer.

Capricorn (Kap-rih-corn)
Sea Goat. Pan only partly succeeded in turning himself from a goat into a fish. Seen in fall.

Aquarius (Ah-kwair-ee-us)
Water Carrier. Babylonian constellation. Little is known about the constellation itself except from that it is seen during Fall.
As the quills seemed to stop moving across the room Sarah stood up with her desk and directed the students to the North Tower. Telescopes and desks around the tower ready for the student's use. "Please use these items to locate Pisces and Gemini, try to locate them without a star chart as you all should be able to find your way across the night sky with ease now. However if you are struggling I have a few you can use to help locate the constellations. Once you've found them please map them out as you’ve been taught previously. Once mapped correctly you'll be able to leave and head to bed," Sarah said to her students and set them off to work. She was glad to see so many do so well that evening.

This Week:
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Nicole Fisk

🌸Just Your Average Witch🌸
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09/2037 (14)
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Nicole didn't expect they'd be lucky enough to get another trip today, taking her seat and perking up when Professor Harrington mentioned they'd be covering the Zodiac constellations. Nicole tried not to put too much stock into Zodiac stuff, it was probably all a bit silly to believe your star sign really had any effect on your personality, but she figured what they'd learn in class today would be things a bit more concrete and still fun, so she listened closely. She hadn't known there were actually 13 zodiac constellations, only aware of the main 12. She wondered if class would ever cover all 88 constellations and hoped that it wouldn't ever be some thing on their OWL or something. Professor Harrington explained how the zodiac lined up with the Sun's ecliptic, trying to logic out the line in her mind as she viewed the diagrams.

After she'd noted down all the zodiac constellations, especially the weird snake one she didn't know, they made their way out to the North Tower and their telescopes. She'd understood the talk of ecliptic in theory, but Nicole was still feeling a bit lost in places, trying to draw the line to find tonight's constellations to map. She peaked quickly at the star chart Professor Harrington had, just to make sure she was on track so her own chart was accurate, pleased as she was able to map Pisces and Gemini successfully before heading to bed.

Chloe Thompson

☆ ½ French ☆ Astrophile ☆ Chaser ☆ Bubbly
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Curly 14 1/2 Inch Flexible Larch Wand with Hippogriff Feather Core
04/2038 (13)
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After last week's excursion Chloë was excited for another astronomy lesson, but then again she was excited for it every week. She liked astronomy, enjoyed looking at the sky and learning about the things they were able to see up there and all of its phenomenons. Today's lesson was a good one too. Even if she wasn't much of a clinger to the whole idea of what a zodiac meant, she did enjoy looking for them in the sky. Being able to look up and recognize a certain pattern was enjoyable to her. She scribbled along with the zodiacs as they were being explained, although she had a general idea about most of them already. Chloë was happy to go outside when they did, getting to a telescope to see if she could remember where to look for the zodiac's they were told to locate without looking at the start chart. It took her a little while before she had managed to find and map both Gemini and Pisces, content with her work before she packed up her stuff and headed back towards her dorm.

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