Astronomical symbols

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This excerpt from the 1833 Nautical Almanac demonstrates the use of astronomical symbols, including symbols for the phases of the moon, the planets, and zodiacal constellations. Astronomical symbols in 1833 Nautical Almanac.png
This excerpt from the 1833 Nautical Almanac demonstrates the use of astronomical symbols, including symbols for the phases of the moon, the planets, and zodiacal constellations.
"Designation of celestial bodies" in a German almanac printed in 1850 Bezeichnung der Himmelskorper Encke 1850.png
"Designation of celestial bodies" in a German almanac printed in 1850

Astronomical symbols are abstract pictorial symbols used to represent astronomical objects, theoretical constructs and observational events in European astronomy. The earliest forms of these symbols appear in Greek papyrus texts of late antiquity. The Byzantine codices in which many Greek papyrus texts were preserved continued and extended the inventory of astronomical symbols. [2] [3] New symbols were further invented to represent many newly-discovered planets and minor planets discovered in the 18th to the 20th centuries.

Symbol something that represents an idea, a process, or a physical entity

A symbol is a mark, sign or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship. Symbols allow people to go beyond what is known or seen by creating linkages between otherwise very different concepts and experiences. All communication is achieved through the use of symbols. Symbols take the form of words, sounds, gestures, ideas or visual images and are used to convey other ideas and beliefs. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a blue line might represent a river. Numerals are symbols for numbers. Alphabetic letters may be symbols for sounds. Personal names are symbols representing individuals. A red rose may symbolize love and compassion. The variable 'x', in a mathematical equation, may symbolize the position of a particle in space.

Astronomical object physical body of astronomically-significant size,mass,or role,naturally occurring in a universe;single,tightly bound contiguous entity (while an astronomical/celestial object is a complex,less cohesively bound structure,may consist of multiple bodies

An astronomical object or celestial object is a naturally occurring physical entity, association, or structure that exists in the observable universe. In astronomy, the terms object and body are often used interchangeably. However, an astronomical body or celestial body is a single, tightly bound, contiguous entity, while an astronomical or celestial object is a complex, less cohesively bound structure, which may consist of multiple bodies or even other objects with substructures.

Western culture Heritage of norms, customs, belief and political systems, and artifacts and technologies associated with Europe (both indigenous and foreign origin)

Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Occidental culture, the Western world, Western society, and European civilization, is a term used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems and specific artifacts and technologies that have some origin or association with Europe. The term also applies beyond Europe to countries and cultures whose histories are strongly connected to Europe by immigration, colonization, or influence. For example, Western culture includes countries in the Americas and Australasia, whose language and demographic ethnicity majorities are European. The development of western culture has been strongly influenced by Christianity.

Contents

These symbols were once commonly used by professional astronomers, amateur astronomers, alchemists, and astrologers. While they are still commonly used in almanacs and astrological publications, their occurrence in published research and texts on astronomy is relatively infrequent, [4] with some exceptions such as the Sun and Earth symbols appearing in astronomical constants, and certain zodiacal signs used to represent the solstices and equinoxes.

Astronomer scientist who studies celestial bodies

An astronomer is a scientist in the field of astronomy who focuses their studies on a specific question or field outside the scope of Earth. They observe astronomical objects such as stars, planets, moons, comets, and galaxies – in either observational or theoretical astronomy. Examples of topics or fields astronomers study include planetary science, solar astronomy, the origin or evolution of stars, or the formation of galaxies. Related but distinct subjects like physical cosmology, which studies the Universe as a whole.

Alchemical symbol symbols that were used in alchemical literature to denote some elements and some compounds until the 18th century

Alchemical symbols, originally devised as part of alchemy, were used to denote some elements and some compounds until the 18th century. Although notation like this was mostly standardized, style and symbol varied between alchemists, so this page lists the most common.

An astronomical constant is a physical constant used in astronomy. Formal sets of constants, along with recommended values, have been defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) several times: in 1964 and in 1976. In 2009 the IAU adopted a new current set, and recognizing that new observations and techniques continuously provide better values for these constants, they decided to not fix these values, but have the Working Group on Numerical Standards continuously maintain a set of Current Best Estimates. The set of constants is widely reproduced in publications such as the Astronomical Almanac of the United States Naval Observatory and HM Nautical Almanac Office.

Unicode has formally assigned code points to most symbols, mainly in the Miscellaneous Symbols Block [5] and the Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs Block. [6]

Unicode Character encoding standard

Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems. The standard is maintained by the Unicode Consortium, and as of June 2018 the most recent version, Unicode 11.0, contains a repertoire of 137,439 characters covering 146 modern and historic scripts, as well as multiple symbol sets and emoji. The character repertoire of the Unicode Standard is synchronized with ISO/IEC 10646, and both are code-for-code identical.

Miscellaneous Symbols is a Unicode block (U+2600–U+26FF) containing glyphs representing concepts from a variety of categories: astrological, astronomical, chess, dice, musical notation, political symbols, recycling, religious symbols, trigrams, warning signs, and weather, among others.

Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs is a Unicode block containing meteorological and astronomical symbols, emoji characters largely for compatibility with Japanese telephone carriers' implementations of Shift JIS, and characters originally from the Wingdings and Webdings fonts found in Microsoft Windows.

Symbols for the Sun and Moon

The use of astronomical symbols for the Sun and Moon dates to antiquity. The forms of the symbols that appear in the original papyrus texts of Greek horoscopes are a circle with one ray ( Old symbol for sun.svg ) for the Sun and a crescent for the Moon. [3] The modern Sun symbol, a circle with a dot (☉), first appeared in Europe in the Renaissance. [3]

In modern academic usage, the Sun symbol is used for astronomical constants relating to the Sun. [7] Teff☉ represents the solar effective temperature, and the luminosity, mass, and radius of stars are often represented using the corresponding solar constants (L, M, and R, respectively) as units of measurement. [8] [9] [10] [11]

The effective temperature of a body such as a star or planet is the temperature of a black body that would emit the same total amount of electromagnetic radiation. Effective temperature is often used as an estimate of a body's surface temperature when the body's emissivity curve is not known.

Sun
NameSymbolUnicode
code point
Unicode
display
Represents
Sun Sun symbol.svg
[12] [13] [14]
U+2609
(dec 9737)
the Sun (the center of our planetary system)
Old symbol for sun.svg
[3]
U+1F71A
(dec 128794)
🜚 the Sun with one ray
Sun with face.svg
[15] [16]
U+1F31E
(dec 127774)
🌞︎the face of the Sun or "Sun in splendor"
Moon
NameSymbolUnicode
code point
Unicode
display
Represents
Moon, or first-quarter moon Moon symbol crescent.svg
[17] [18] [19]
U+263D
(dec 9789)
☽︎an increscent (waxing) moon
(as viewed from the northern hemisphere)
First quarter moon with face.svg
[15] [20] [21]
U+1F31B
(dec 127771)
🌛︎
full moon Full moon symbol.svg
[18] [19]
U+1F315
(dec 127765)
🌕︎a white circle as it appears in the night sky
Full moon with face.svg
[15] [20] [21]
U+1F31D
(dec 127773)
🌝︎
Moon, or last-quarter moon Moon symbol decrescent.svg
[18] [19]
U+263E
(dec 9790)
a decrescent (waning) moon
(as viewed from the northern hemisphere)
Last quarter moon with face.svg
[15] [20] [21]
U+1F31C
(dec 127772)
🌜︎
new moon New moon symbol.svg
[18] [19]
U+1F311
(dec 127761)
🌑︎a new moon
New moon with face.svg
[15] [20] [21]
U+1F31A
(dec 127770)
🌚︎

Symbols for the planets

Medieval depiction of the zodiac and the classical planets. The planets are represented by seven faces. F4.v. zodiac circle with planets - NLW MS 735C.png
Medieval depiction of the zodiac and the classical planets. The planets are represented by seven faces.

Symbols for the classical planets appear in many medieval Byzantine codices in which many ancient horoscopes were preserved. [2] The written symbols for Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn have been traced to forms found in late Greek papyrus texts. [22] The symbols for Jupiter and Saturn are identified as monograms of the corresponding Greek names, and the symbol for Mercury is a stylized caduceus. [22] According to A. S. D. Maunder, antecedents of the planetary symbols were used in art to represent the gods associated with the classical planets; Bianchini's planisphere , produced in the 2nd century, [23] shows Greek personifications of planetary gods charged with early versions of the planetary symbols: Mercury has a caduceus; Venus has, attached to her necklace, a cord connected to another necklace; Mars, a spear; Jupiter, a staff; Saturn, a scythe; the Sun, a circlet with rays radiating from it; and the Moon, a headdress with a crescent attached. [24]

Classical planet seven non-fixed astronomical objects in the sky visible to the naked eye: Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mercury, the Sun, and the Moon

In classical antiquity, the seven classical planets are the seven non-fixed astronomical objects in the sky visible to the naked eye: Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mercury, the Sun, and the Moon. The word planet comes from two related Greek words, πλάνης planēs and πλανήτης planētēs, both with the original meaning of "wanderer", expressing the fact that these objects move across the celestial sphere relative to the fixed stars. Greek astronomers such as Geminus and Ptolemy often divided the seven planets into the Sun, the Moon, and the five planets.

Monogram motif made by overlapping two or more letters

A monogram is a motif made by overlapping or combining two or more letters or other graphemes to form one symbol. Monograms are often made by combining the initials of an individual or a company, used as recognizable symbols or logos. A series of uncombined initials is properly referred to as a cypher and is not a monogram.

In astronomy, a planisphere is a star chart analog computing instrument in the form of two adjustable disks that rotate on a common pivot. It can be adjusted to display the visible stars for any time and date. It is an instrument to assist in learning how to recognize stars and constellations. The astrolabe, an instrument that has its origins in Hellenistic astronomy, is a predecessor of the modern planisphere. The term planisphere contrasts with armillary sphere, where the celestial sphere is represented by a three-dimensional framework of rings.

A diagram in Byzantine astronomer Johannes Kamateros's 12th century Compendium of Astrology shows the Sun represented by the circle with a ray, Jupiter by the letter zeta (the initial of Zeus, Jupiter's counterpart in Greek mythology), Mars by a shield crossed by a spear, and the remaining classical planets by symbols resembling the modern ones, without the cross-mark seen in modern versions of the symbols. These cross-marks first appear around the 16th century. According to Maunder, the addition of crosses appears to be "an attempt to give a savour of Christianity to the symbols of the old pagan gods." [24]

The symbols for Uranus were created shortly after its discovery. One symbol, Uranus symbol.svg , invented by J. G. Köhler and refined by Bode, was intended to represent the newly discovered metal platinum; since platinum, commonly called white gold, was found by chemists mixed with iron, the symbol for platinum combines the alchemical symbols for iron, ♂, and gold, ☉. [25] [26] This symbol also combines the symbols of Mars (♂) and the Sun (☉) because in Greek mythology Uranus represented heaven, and represents the combined power of Mars's spear and the Sun. [27] Another symbol, Uranus's astrological symbol.svg , was suggested by Lalande in 1784. In a letter to Herschel, Lalande described it as "un globe surmonté par la première lettre de votre nom" ("a globe surmounted by the first letter of your name"). [28]

Several symbols were proposed for Neptune to accompany the suggested names for the planet. Claiming the right to name his discovery, Urbain Le Verrier originally proposed the name Neptune [29] and the symbol of a trident, [30] while falsely stating that this had been officially approved by the French Bureau des Longitudes. [29] In October, he sought to name the planet Leverrier, after himself, and he had loyal support in this from the observatory director, François Arago, [31] who in turn proposed a new symbol for the planet ( Neptune symbol alternate.svg ). [32] However, this suggestion met with stiff resistance outside France. [31] French almanacs quickly reintroduced the name Herschel for Uranus, after that planet's discoverer Sir William Herschel, and Leverrier for the new planet. [33] Professor James Pillans of the University of Edinburgh defended the name Janus for the new planet, and proposed a key for its symbol. [30] Meanwhile, German-Russian astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve presented the name Neptune on December 29, 1846, to the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences. [34] In August 1847, the Bureau des Longitudes announced its decision to follow prevailing astronomical practice and adopt the choice of Neptune, with Arago refraining from participating in this decision. [35]

The International Astronomical Union discourages the use of these symbols in journal articles. In certain cases where planetary symbols might be used, such as in the headings of tables, the IAU Style Manual permits certain one- and (to disambiguate Mercury and Mars) two-letter abbreviations for the names of the planets. [36]

Planets
NameIAU
abbreviation
SymbolUnicode
code point
Unicode
display
Represents
Mercury Me Mercury symbol.svg
[12] [13] [37]
U+263F
(dec 9791)
Mercury's caduceus [17] [37]
Venus V Venus symbol.svg
[12] [13] [37]
U+2640
(dec 9792)
Venus's necklace (also interpreted as a "hand mirror" [17] [37] )
Earth E Earth symbol alternate.svg
[13] [17] [18]
U+2641
(dec 9793)
a globus cruciger [38]
Earth symbol.svg
[12] [13] [37]
U+1F728
(dec 128808)
🜨globe with equator and a meridian [12] [37]
(alternative characters with similar shape: U+2295 ⊕ CIRCLED PLUS; U+2A01 ⨁ N-ARY CIRCLED PLUS OPERATOR; U+1F310 🌐︎ GLOBE WITH MERIDIANS)
Mars Ma Mars symbol.svg
[12] [13] [37]
U+2642
(dec 9794)
Mars's shield and spear [12] [17] [37]
Jupiter J Jupiter symbol.svg
[12] [13] [37]
U+2643
(dec 9795)
the letter Zeta (for Zeus, the Greek equivalent to the Roman god Jupiter) [37]
Saturn S Saturn symbol.svg
[12] [13] [37]
U+2644
(dec 9796)
Saturn's sickle or scythe [12] [17] [37]
Uranus U Uranus symbol.svg
[25] [26]
U+26E2
(dec 9954)
the element platinum [25] [26]
Uranus's astrological symbol.svg
[18] [19] [37]
U+2645
(dec 9797)
a globe surmounted by the letter H (for Herschel, who discovered Uranus) [28]
(more common in older or British literature)
Neptune N Neptune symbol.svg
[12] [13] [19]
U+2646
(dec 9798)
Neptune's trident [12]
Neptune symbol alternate.svg
[32] [37]
U+2BC9
(dec 11209)
To be included in
Unicode 12.0 [39]
a globe surmounted by the letters "L" and "V", (for Le Verrier, who discovered Neptune) [32] [37]
(more common in older, especially French, literature)

Symbols for dwarf planets

Pluto's name and symbol were announced by the discoverers on May 1, 1930. [40] The symbol, a monogram of the letters PL, could be interpreted to stand for Pluto or for Percival Lowell, the astronomer who initiated Lowell Observatory's search for a planet beyond the orbit of Neptune. [12] [41]

Following the discovery of Ceres in 1801 by the astronomer and Catholic priest Giuseppe Piazzi, a group of astronomers ratified the name, which Piazzi had proposed. At that time, the sickle was chosen as a symbol of the planet. [42]

Dwarf planets
NameSymbolUnicode
code point
Unicode
display
Represents
Ceres Ceres symbol.svg
[14] [18] [37]
U+26B3
(dec 9907)
a handle-down sickle; [37]
cf. the handle-up sickle symbol of Saturn
Pluto Pluto symbol.svg
[12] [13]
U+2647
(dec 9799)
a PL monogram for Pluto and Percival Lowell [12]

Symbols for minor planets

The symbol for 2 Pallas, the spear of Pallas Athena, was invented by Baron Franz Xaver von Zach, who organized a group of twenty-four astronomers to search for a planet between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The symbol was introduced by von Zach in his Monatliche correspondenz zur beförderung der erd- und himmels-kunde. [43] In a letter to von Zach, discoverer Heinrich Wilhelm Matthäus Olbers (who had named the newly discovered asteroid) expressed his approval of the proposed symbol, but wished that the handle of the sickle of Ceres had been adorned with a pommel instead of a crossbar, to better differentiate it from the sign of Venus. [43]

German astronomer Karl Ludwig Harding created the symbol for 3 Juno. Harding, who discovered this asteroid in 1804, proposed the name Juno and the use of a scepter topped with a star as its astronomical symbol. [44]

The symbol for 4 Vesta was invented by German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss. Dr. Olbers, having previously discovered and named 2 Pallas, gave Gauss the honor of naming his newest discovery. Gauss decided to name the new asteroid for the goddess Vesta, and also designed the symbol ( Simbolo di Vesta.svg ): the altar of the goddess, with the sacred fire burning on it. [45] [46] [47] Other contemporaneous writers use a more elaborate symbol ( 4 Vesta (2).svg ) instead. [48] [49]

Karl Ludwig Hencke, a German amateur astronomer, discovered the next two asteroids, 5 Astraea (in 1845) and 6 Hebe (in 1847). Hencke requested that the symbol for 5 Astraea be an upside-down anchor; [50] however, a pair of balances was sometimes used instead. [14] [51] Gauss named 6 Hebe at Hencke's request, and chose a wineglass as the symbol. [52] [53]

As more new asteroids were discovered, astronomers continued to assign symbols to them. Thus, 7 Iris had for its symbol a rainbow with a star; [54] 8 Flora, a flower; [54] 9 Metis, an eye with a star; [55] 10 Hygiea, an upright snake with a star on its head; [56] 11 Parthenope, a standing fish with a star; [56] 12 Victoria, a star topped with a branch of laurel; [57] 13 Egeria, a buckler; [58] 14 Irene, a dove carrying an olive branch with a star on its head; [59] 15 Eunomia, a heart topped with a star; [60] 16 Psyche, a butterfly wing with a star; [61] 17 Thetis, a dolphin with a star; [62] 18 Melpomene, a dagger over a star; [63] and 19 Fortuna, a star over Fortuna's wheel. [63]

Johann Franz Encke made a major change in the Berliner Astronomisches Jahrbuch (BAJ, Berlin Astronomical Yearbook) for the year 1854, published in 1851. He introduced encircled numbers instead of symbols, although his numbering began with Astraea, the first four asteroids continuing to be denoted by their traditional symbols. This symbolic innovation was adopted very quickly by the astronomical community. The following year (1852), Astraea's number was bumped up to 5, but Ceres through Vesta would be listed by their numbers only in the 1867 edition. The circle later became a pair of parentheses, and the parentheses were sometimes omitted altogether over the next few decades. [14]

A few asteroids were given symbols by their discoverers after the encircled-number notation became widespread. 26 Proserpina, 28 Bellona, 35 Leukothea, and 37 Fides, all discovered by German astronomer Robert Luther between 1853 and 1855, were assigned, respectively, a pomegranate with a star inside; [64] a whip and spear; [65] an antique lighthouse; [66] and a cross. [67] 29 Amphitrite was named and assigned a shell for its symbol by George Bishop, the owner of the observatory where astronomer Albert Marth discovered it in 1854. [68]

Minor planets
NameSymbolUnicode
code point
Unicode
display
Represents
2 Pallas Pallas symbol.svg
[43]
U+26B4
(dec 9908)
a spear [43] [51]
3 Juno Juno symbol.svg
[44] [69]
U+26B5
(dec 9909)
a scepter topped with a star [44]
3 Juno symbol alternate.svg
[37] [70]
N/AN/A
4 Vesta Simbolo di Vesta.svg
[45]
U+26B6
(dec 9910)
an altar with fire on it [45] [47]
4 Vesta (2).svg
[14] [51] [70]
5 Astraea 5 Astraea Symbol.svg
[50] [51]
N/AN/Aan anchor [50]
5 Astraea symbol alternate.svg [71] N/AN/Aa pair of balances [37] [51]
6 Hebe 6 Hebe.svg
[52] [72] [73]
N/AN/Aa wineglass [52]
6 Hebe Astronomical Symbol.svg
[14] [37] [51]
U+1F377
(dec 127863)
🍷︎
7 Iris 7 Iris Astronomical Symbol.svg
[14] [37]
N/AN/Aa rainbow with a star inside it [54]
7 Iris symbol.svg
[54] [63]
N/AN/A
8 Flora 8 Flora Astronomical Symbol.svg
[14] [51]
U+2698
(dec 9880)
a flower [54]
9 Metis 9 Metis symbol.svg
[14] [37] [51]
N/AN/Aan eye with a star above it [55]
10 Hygiea 10 Hygeia symbol alternate.svg
[56] [63]
N/AN/Aa serpent with a star [56]
10 Hygiea Astronomical Symbol.svg
[14] [51]
U+2695
(dec 9877)
a Rod of Asclepius
11 Parthenope 11 Parthenope symbol.svg
[14] [56]
N/AN/Aa fish with a star [56]
11 Parthenope symbol alternate.svg
[71]
N/AN/Aa harp [51]
12 Victoria Victoria asteroid symbol.svg
[14] [51]
N/AN/Aa star with a branch of laurel [57]
13 Egeria 13 Egeria symbol.svg
[63]
N/AN/Aa buckler [58]
14 Irene Symbol 14 Irene vectorization.svg
[71]
N/AN/Aa dove carrying an olive-branch in its mouth and a star on its head [59]
15 Eunomia 15 Eunomia symbol.svg
[14] [51]
N/AN/Aa heart with a star on top [60]
16 Psyche 16 Psyche symbol.svg
[63]
N/AN/Aa butterfly's wing and a star [61]
17 Thetis 17 Thetis symbol.svg
[62]
N/AN/Aa dolphin and a star [62]
18 Melpomene 18 Melpomene symbol.svg
[63]
N/AN/Aa dagger over a star [63]
19 Fortuna 19 Fortuna symbol.svg
[63]
N/AN/Aa star over a wheel [63]
26 Proserpina 26 Proserpina symbol.svg
[64]
N/AN/Aa pomegranate with a star inside it [64]
28 Bellona 28 Bellona symbol.svg
[65]
N/AN/ABellona's whip and spear [65]
29 Amphitrite 29 Amphitrite symbol.svg
[74]
N/AN/Aa shell [68]
35 Leukothea 35 Leukothea symbol.svg
[66]
N/AN/Aan ancient lighthouse [66]
37 Fides 37 Fides symbol.svg
[67]
N/AN/Aa Latin cross, in fact showing broadened and rounded endings [67] [74]

Symbols for zodiac constellations and signs

The zodiac symbols have several astronomical interpretations. Depending on context, a zodiac symbol may denote either a constellation, or a point or interval on the ecliptic plane.

Lists of astronomical phenomena published by almanacs sometimes included conjunctions of stars and planets or the Moon; rather than print the full name of the star, a Greek letter and the symbol for the constellation of the star was sometimes used instead. [75] [76] The ecliptic was sometimes divided into 12 signs, each subdivided into 30 degrees, [77] [78] and the sign component of ecliptic longitude was expressed either with a number from 0 to 11 [79] or with the corresponding zodiac symbol. [78]

In modern academic usage, all the constellations, including the twelve of the zodiac, have dedicated three-letter abbreviations. [80] The zodiac symbols are also sometimes used to represent points on the ecliptic, particularly the solstices and equinoxes. Each symbol is taken to represent the "first point" of each sign. [81] [82] Thus, ♈︎ the symbol for Aries, represents the March equinox; ♋︎, for Cancer, the June solstice; ♎︎, for Libra, the September equinox; and ♑︎, for Capricorn, the December solstice.

Zodiac
NameIAU
abbreviation
SignsDegreesSymbolTranslationUnicode
code point
Unicode
display
Aries Ari [36] 0 Aries.svg
[78] [5]
ram [83] U+2648
(dec 9800)
♈︎
Taurus Tau [36] 130° Taurus.svg
[78] [5]
bull [83] U+2649
(dec 9801)
♉︎
Gemini Gem [36] 260° Gemini.svg
[78] [5]
twins [83] U+264A
(dec 9802)
♊︎
Cancer Cnc [36]
[78] [5]
390° Cancer.svg
[78] [5]
crab [83] U+264B
(dec 9803)
♋︎
Leo Leo [36] 4120° Leo.svg
[78] [5]
lion [83] U+264C
(dec 9804)
♌︎
Virgo Vir [36] 5150° Virgo.svg
[78] [5]
virgin [83] U+264D
(dec 9805)
♍︎
Libra Lib [36] 6180° Libra.svg
[78] [5]
scales [83] U+264E
(dec 9806)
♎︎
Scorpius Sco [36] 7210° Scorpio.svg
[78] [5]
scorpion [83] U+264F
(dec 9807)
♏︎
Sagittarius Sgr [36] 8240° Sagittarius.svg
[78] [5]
archer [83] U+2650
(dec 9808)
♐︎
Capricornus Cap [36] 9270° Capricorn.svg
[78] [5]
goat [83] U+2651
(dec 9809)
♑︎
Aquarius Aqr [36] 10300° Aquarius.svg
[78] [5]
water bearer [83] U+2652
(dec 9810)
♒︎
Pisces Psc [36] 11330° Pisces.svg
[78] [5]
fish [83] U+2653
(dec 9811)
♓︎

Other symbols

Symbols for aspects and nodes appear in medieval texts, although medieval and modern usage of the node symbols differ; the modern ascending node symbol (☊) formerly stood for the descending node, and the modern descending node symbol (☋) was used for the ascending node. [3] In describing the Keplerian elements of an orbit, ☊ is sometimes used to denote the ecliptic longitude of the ascending node, although it is more common to use Ω (capital omega), which was originally a typographical substitute for the astronomical symbol. [84]

The symbols for aspects first appear in Byzantine codices. [3] Of the symbols for the five Ptolemaic aspects, only the three displayed here—for conjunction, opposition, and quadrature—are used in astronomy. [85]

Symbols for a comet (☄) and a star ( Astronomical symbol for star.svg ) have been used in published astronomical observations of comets. In tables of these observations, ☄ stood for the comet being discussed and Astronomical symbol for star.svg for the star of comparison relative to which measurements of the comet's position were made. [86]

Other symbols
NameSymbolUnicode
code point
Unicode
display
ascending node Northnode-symbol.svg
[13] [18]
U+260A
(dec 9738)
descending node Southnode-symbol.svg
[13] [18]
U+260B
(dec 9739)
conjunction U+260C.svg
[18] [19]
U+260C
(dec 9740)
opposition U+260D.svg
[18] [19]
U+260D
(dec 9741)
quadrature U+25FB.svg
[18] [19]
U+25A1
(dec 9633)
comet U+2604.svg
[18] [74] [86]
U+2604
(dec 9732)
star Astronomical symbol for star.svg
[18] [74] [86]
U+2605
(dec 9733)

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References

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