Presentation on theme: "Symbols in astronomy. Symbols in science Technical symbols, formulas and certain fundamental quantities of physics use many symbols and abbreviations."— Presentation transcript:
Symbols in astronomy
Symbols in science Technical symbols, formulas and certain fundamental quantities of physics use many symbols and abbreviations. The usefulness of standard symbols is essential in the process of globalization. Astronomy is one of the fields of science in which we find many symbols.
Symbols of planets Astronomers have developed symbols to stand for various celestial objects, including the planets. The symbols all have some kind of meaning, usually linked to the planet’s name or mythology behind the name. You may think that the symbols have some strange and complicated meanings, but they are just some asociation linked to the way they look and their move around the Sun.
Symbols of the planets and the sun
Mercury Mercury was named after the winged messenger of the gods, and the symbol is connected to him because of the fact that the planet turns very fast around the Sun. The symbol is a circle on top of a cross with two curved horns, representing Mercury’s winged helmet on top of his caduceus – a special staff carried by heralds often depicted with intertwined snakes and wings at the top. The caduceus symbol often represents medicine in North America because it is confused with a similar symbol.
Venus The symbol for Venus stands for Venus’ hand mirror. Interestingly, this is also a common symbol for female. That is not very surprising though considering Venus is the Roman goddess of beauty. This is also the chemical symbol for copper, and mirrors used to be made out of polished copper leading historians to draw a connection between the two.
Earth Earth is not named after a mythological god, so its symbol is not linked to mythology. There are several theories as to what Earth’s symbol means. It is a circle with a cross in the center that could represent the main compass points, which is the most popular theory. Additionally, it could stand for a globe divided into four quadrants. It may also represent the Globus Cruciger, which is a symbol for Christ’s reign over the Earth. This ancient symbol of a circle cut into four has been used in many cultures and even showed up in Norse mythology.
Mars Mars is named after the Roman god of war because of its color. The symbol represents Mars’ shield and spear. This is also the male symbol, which makes sense because war was considered a man’s task and occupation.
Juptier After the first four planets, the symbols get more complex. Jupiter’s symbol, which looks like an oddly shaped four, has a number of possible meanings. It may be a hieroglyph of an eagle, which was Jupiter’s bird or a lightning bolt – Jupiter’s weapon. It could also be the first letter in Zeus’ name – Zeus is the Greek version of Jupiter – with a vertical line cutting through it to indicate it is an abbreviation.
Saturn Although Saturn’s symbol looks somewhat like a decorative “h”, it is actually supposed to represent Saturn’s sickle or scythe. Saturn is the Roman god of agriculture, so the symbol is linked to him.
Uranus Uranus is a combination of the symbols for the Sun and Mars. Uranus has the circle with the dot in the center, which is the symbol for the Sun. It also has an arrow branching out from it, representing Mars’ spear. It combines these two motifs because Uranus personified heaven in Roman mythology, and the heavens were ruled by the Sun’s light and Mars’ power.
Neptune Neptune is named after the Roman god of the sea, which is very fitting considering the planet’s blue-green color. Neptune’s symbol is the sea god’s trident.
The Sun Think of the solar system. The sun is the star around which all other celestial bodies of that system revolve. Its brightness enlightens the planets, making life possible. This pattern repeats itself in nature, like in the atom, which has the exact same characteristics of a solar system – the electrons revolve around the nucleus like the planets go around the sun. So the symbol of the sun can be interpreted as it follows: the circle symbolizes the Solar System and the dot in the center symbolizes the central position of the Sun in the Solar System.
Did you know that there are 88 constellations and each of them has a sign with its own meaning and history? Each of them has one or more stories about the way in which way they appeared. Symbols of constellations
But there are at least 12 constellation that everyone knows : the zodiacal ones. Many people think that these symbols are linked with astrology (the science that study the zodiac an “predict” what’s going to happen). In fact, they “stole” the astronomical symbols, astronomy being the science which study the celestial objects. These constellations where used a long time ago by people in order to know what season had been. When we say that we are in “Leo”, it means that the Sun sets in the constellation with that name.
Symbols of the zodiacal constellations (I) CAPRICORNUSAQUARIUSPISCES ARIESTAURUSGEMINI
Symbols of the zodiacal constellations (II) CANCERLEOVIRGO LIBRASCORPIOSAGITTARIUS
The sign is a simplified drawing of a sea-goat, the mythological animal - half goat, half fish Capricornus represents the Winter Solstice (December 21st or 22nd) where the Sun, going south reaches its lowest point on the ecliptic, the Tropic of Capricorn. There the Sun turns and starts to climb up, heading towards the northern hemisphere, and thereafter the Sun begins to appear higher and higher in the sky each day. It’s like a goat climbing a mountain, as the animal in feeding always ascends the hills because it is naturally a climbing animal. The fish-tail was significant of the rains and floods of the winter season. Capricornus
Aquarius The symbol is a simplified drawing of water waves because of some reasons: The Babylonians connected this Zodiac sign and the constellation with one of their gods, Ea, calling it "The Great One." Ea was often depicted with an overflowing vase. Aquarius was also associated with the destructive floods that the Babylonians regularly experienced, and thus was negatively connoted. In Ancient Egypt, Aquarius was associated with the annual flood of the Nile; the banks were said to flood when Aquarius put his jar into the river, beginning spring.
The symbol is a very simplified drawing of two fish swimming in converging streams of water. The Babylonians called this constellation and sign "The Tails," picturing the two fish swimming in opposite directions, also representing the rivers Euphrate and Tigris. Pisces is also associated with Aphrodite and Eros, those who escaped from the monster Typhon by leaping into the sea and transforming themselves into fish. In order not to lose each other, they tied themselves together with a rope. Pisces
Aries (the Ram) The symbol is a simplified image of the ram's horns. Aries is the wake-up call of the zodiac. In ancient times the spring equinox marked the start of the New Year and festivities were held to honor the birth of new life and the new beginnings that lay in store. Its origin is Egyptian and derives from their practice of sacrificing the sacred ram to the Sun at the spring equinox, to ensure his return and secure a successful year ahead.
Taurus The symbol is a simple representation of the head of a bull, with its horns. To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring. When the spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. In Greek mythology, Taurus was identified with Zeus, who assumed the form of a magnificent white bull to abduct Europa, a legendary Phoenician princess. It is said that Taurus carried Europa out to the sea.
Gemini The symbol is the old Roman figure II, standing for the number 2. In Greek mythology, Gemini was associated with the myth of Castor and Pollux, who were grown by the wolves. Pollux was the immortal son of Zeus, who seduced Leda, while Castor was the mortal son of Tyndareus, king of Sparta and Leda's husband. When Castor died, Pollux begged his father Zeus to give Castor immortality, and he did, by uniting them together in the heavens.
Cancer The symbol is a simplified drawing of the crab's rounded shape and two big claws. Cancer was the location of the Sun's most northerly position in the sky (the summer solstice) in ancient times. This is also the time that the Sun is directly overhead at 23.5°N, a parallel now known as the Tropic of Cancer. In Greek mythology, Cancer is identified with the crab that appeared while Hercules was fighting the many-headed Hydra. The crab bit Hercules on the foot, Hercules crushed it and then the goddess Hera, a sworn enemy of Hercules, placed the crab among the stars.
Leo The symbol is a simplified drawing of the lion's head and mane. In Greek mythology, Leo was identified as the Nemean Lion which was killed by Hercules. The Nemean Lion would take women as hostages to its lair in a cave, to their misfortune. The Lion was impervious to any weaponry : the warriors' clubs, swords, and spears were rendered useless against it. Because of this, Hercules slipped into the Lion's cave. When the Lion pounced, Hercules caught it in midair and bent it backwards, breaking its back and freeing the trapped maidens. Zeus commemorated this labor by placing the Lion in the sky.
Virgo The sign is an M with what might be the crossed legs of a chaste virgin. The M of the symbol is not that easy to explain. It might be a Medieval symbol of medicine or alchemy, but nobody knows for sure. Virgo was often drawn with an ear of wheat in her left hand. Virgo is thought to represent Erigone, who found her father, Icarius (Bootes) dead, while she was searching for him. Because of the pain, she hanged herself and was raised to heaven for her piety. An alternative story identified her as Astraea, daughter of Jupiter who, at the advent of the Bronze Age, flew to heaven.
Libra The symbol is a simplified drawing of a scale. The scales were held sacred to the sun god Shamash, who was also the patron of truth and justice. It was also seen as the Scorpion's Claws in ancient Greece. Since these times, Libra has been associated with law, fairness and civility. It has also been suggested that the scales are in allusion to the fact that when the sun entered this part of the ecliptic at the autumnal equinox, the days and nights are equal. It is the only constellation which doesn’t symbolize a leaving creature.
Scorpio The symbol is an M with the scorpion tail stinger. The M of the symbol is not that easy to explain. It might be a Medieval symbol of medicine or alchemy, but nobody knows for sure. One myth say that Orion boasted to goddess Artemis and her mother, Leto, that he would kill every animal on the earth. The ladies sent a scorpion to deal with Orion. The pair battled and the scorpion killed Orion. However, the contest was apparently a lively one that caught the attention of the king of the gods Zeus, who later raised the scorpion to heaven and afterwards, at the request of Artemis, did the same for Orion to serve as a reminder for mortals to curb their excessive pride. So every winter Orion hunts in the sky, but every summer he flees as the constellation of the scorpion comes.
Sagittarius The symbol is a simplified drawing of a bow and arrow. In Greek mythology, Sagittarius is usually identified as a centaur: half human, half horse. But there is a mythology espoused by Eratosthenes, saying that the archer was not as a centaur but he was the satyr Crotus, son of Pan. According to myth, Crotus often went hunting on horseback and lived among the Muses, who requested that Zeus place him in the sky, where he is seen demonstrating archery. The arrow of this constellation points towards the star Antares, the "heart of the scorpion," and Sagittarius stands poised to attack should Scorpius ever attack the nearby Hercules, or to avenge Scorpius's slaying of Orion.
As you saw, in science we must have imagination in order to understand the symbols and their meanings. We need to open our eyes, look up at the sky, and try to see more than everybody else does. Astronomy may seems boring and complicated, but if you understand what’s happening daily in the nature and in your own lives, you will understand that there’s no difference at all. Everything out there is happening naturally,but uncontrollable, just like on Earth. The physics laws are the same everywhere.
This project was made by: Paula Gherghinescu Cordun Cristina Bibliography: