- Paperback: 40 pages
- Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books; Reprint edition (15 Sept. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1845072790
- ISBN-13: 978-1845072797
- Product Dimensions: 25 x 24.9 x 0.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 390,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Zodiac: Celestial Circle of the Sun Paperback – 15 Sep 2007
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About the Author
CHRISTINA BALIT was born in Manchester but grew up in the Middle East. She studied at Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art, and also attended Morley Theatre School and Questors Theatre School. She has exhibited widely and is also a playwright. Her books have won several nominations, commendations and a shortlist place for the Kate Greenway Medal. Kingdom of the Sun (written by Jaqueline Mitton), won the 2002 English Association Award for non-fiction.
JACQUELINE MITTON holds an MA in physics from the University of Oxford and a doctorate in astrophysics from the University of Cambridge. A distinguished writer on astronomy, She has had more than 20 books published. Asteroid 4027 was named 'Mitton' for Jacqueline and her husband, the astronomer Simon Mitton, by the International Astronomical Union in 1990. Her books for Frances Lincoln include Zoo in the Sky, Once Upon a Starry Night, The Planet Gods, and Zodiac. Jacqueline lives in Cambridge.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
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Top Customer Reviews
From the back cover:-
'Here is an astronomical guide to the Zodiac and to the celestial legends of gods, mortal men and fantasy creatures in which the age-old tradition is rooted.
'Striking jewel-toned illustrations....an appealing starting point for budding astronomers and astrologers' School Library Journal.'
Larger format paperback covers open to 36 high quality shiny pages.
Beautifully illustrated throughout, this super book begins with a section introducing the Zodiac, then each of the signs - on a double page spread -commencing with Aries.
It ends with sections entitled:-
More about the Zodiac (including the sun's path and the origin)
Astronomical constellations compared with astrological signs
Visibility of Zodiac constellations in the sky (with approx best dates, when highest in the sky at midnight)
Example of text;
'Surely these slithery fishes could easily slip the cord that binds their tails! Yet, following a tradition more than 2000 years old, they are always joined by a shimmering ribbon of softly-glowing stars, One fish darts west towards the stream of water spilling from Aquarius' jar, while the other leaps north, as if to gulp the air. Though caught by their bond, Pisces can easily evade a sky-watcher`s eye. The constellation`s huge V-shape with a circlet at one tip is distinctive, but faint - only discernible on a truly dark night.........'
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In Introducing the Zodiac, Dr. Mitton (a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society who has an asteroid named after her and her husband Simon) explains that the Zodiac is made up of twelve of the most well-known constellations, with some of them first being recorded thousands of years ago on clay tablets. It was Babylonian astronomers who divided the band of the Zodiac into twelve equal signs around 500 BCE. Then it was Greek astronomers who adopted the Zodiac, while Greek poets and writers linked some of the constellations to their mythology.
The rest of the book devotes double-page spreads to each of the constellations in turn, starting with Aries and ending with Pisces (because when the Sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north at the equinox, the Sun happens to be in Aries). Basically for each sign Mitton does two things. First, she describes the constellation in terms of the starts that make it up. You can compare this with Balit's gorgeous full-color paintings, in which the stars that define the constellation are actually shiny silver stars stamped into the artwork. So when Mitton talks about how Aries has a trio of stars that mark the Ram's head, chief among them being a yellow giant called Hamal, you will notice that star is the biggest one in the constellation and that Balit has painted it in a yellow circle. The second thing Mitton does is to explain the significance of Aries in Greek mythology, where it becomes the magical flying ram with the golden fleece sent by Zeus to rescue Phrixus, son of the King of Boeotia.
On some of these constellations there are multiple explanations, so you can choose which one strikes your fancy the most. The mythology parts tend to come out ahead of the astronomical, mainly because Mitton and Balit do not really get to go into all of the stars which make up the various constellations, but also because the stories mix in tales from Mesopotamia to go along with the classical Greek (and Roman) myths. The order of the constellations in the book follows both of the key chronologies, whether you go by the dates the sun is in a traditional astrological sign and the dates sun is in the astronomical constellation (for Aries, for example, the former is March 21 to April 19, while the later is April 19 to May 13). This only sounds confusing, and Mitton explains how astronomical constellations compare with astrological signs at the end. If you want to know when Zodiac constellations are visible in the sky, there is a table for that as well in the back of the book.
Astronomers will like:
This book is about the constellations of the zodiac, not the signs of astrology. When you read about the constellations, you get nuggets of information about two things: 1)The physical structure of the constellation itself, i.e. what nebulae you'll find in them, which of its stars are the brightest, which stars are actually clusters, etc. 2) Some history on the myths of the constellations, not only from ancient Greece, but also ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. None of the information is overly complicated or heavy, making it a superb introduction. You WONT find a description of astrological signs in this book.
Astrologers will like:
1) This is a great book to introduce children to the signs of astrology. I'm an astrologer with a 5-year old daughter. I made this her first real introduction to astrology, familiarizing her with the signs. Because of this book, she knows that she's a Sagittarius and I'm a Scorpio. This was very fun to her. She loves the pictures and identifying people she knows with them. I wasn't sure if she'd be ready to look at this, but her interest was high. Now she wants a bow and arrow. 2) It wouldn't hurt for astrologers to become more familar with the night sky and astronomy. Then, once you've learned it, get out and look! :-)
Despite the best efforts of astronomers and other debunking organizations, astrology will maintain a strong position in modern societies. That being the case, this is a good way to introduce all children to both disciplines.
Although the author doesn't name them as such, she touches on the difference between the sidereal and tropical zodiacs. What she DOESN'T clarify, is that astrologers are aware of the differences. Many astronomers assert that the tropical zodiac is an accidental manifestation of ignorance on the part of astrologers. However, Ptolmey's historic text, the Tetrabiblos solidified the zodiac split. Ptolmey, by the way, was a devout follower of Hipparchus. Hipparchus discovered precession and, we have reason to believe, was also an astrologer. In other words, astrologers have known from the start what they were doing. At any rate, Mitton maintains objectivity on the issue and doesn't seem to take sides, which astronomers and astrologers alike should appreciate.
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