The zodiac, the ecliptic, the via solis, or the way of the sun. This sign
is a map of the orbit in the celestial skies along which the sun moves
around the earth (from a geocentric reference point). It is known as
the ecliptic because it is along this path, at the points where it
intersects the earth's equatorial plane, that eclipses occur. The
ecliptic inclines about 24 degrees in relation to the earth's
The zodiac is a belt with a width of about 9 degrees of arc on either side of the ecliptic, i.e. the belt where the planets can be seen during their apparent movement around the earth. The conventional starting point of the zodiac is the spring equinox around March 21.
Most of the zodiac signs are named after constellations of fixed stars. Nowadays, however, the constellations do not lie in connection to the signs they are associated with, but approximately 30 degrees away. For facts about this, see "The symbolism of the astrological ages" in the Appendices.
The zodiac circle is also a common birth chart or horoscope pattern.
See in Group 28 for other horoscope patterns.