The constellation Aquarius is one of the twelve signs of the zodiac. It is located in a region of the sky known as the Sea, called thus because of many water-related constellations in the area. These include Pisces (fish), Cetus (whale) and Eridanus (river). Aquarius itself is the sign of the Water Bearer. People often mistake it for a “watery” sign because of the use of water in its symbolism. According to astrologers, Aquarius is not a water sign but an air sign. It comes after Capricorn and before Pisces. Its ruling planets are Saturn and Uranus. The word “aquarius” means “cup bearer.
Discovery and History of Aquarius
Babylonian astronomers probably discovered the constellation Aquarius. They listed the constellation as marking the autumn equinox in September in 4000 BC. Aquarius is also featured in the star catalogues of Ptolemy, Eudoxos and Aratus.
Ancient people visualized Aquarius as a man bearing a vessel of water and pouring it downwards. This is how it came to be called the Water Bearer. The Egyptians made a connection between Aquarius and the annual flooding of the Nile. Every year in June the river would rise as a result of rains coming form Ethiopia. At night one would see Aquarius high in the sky.
To the Greeks, Aquarius was the Cup Bearer known as Ganymede. Ganymede was a handsome young man loved by all gods and goddesses. They wanted him with them at Olympus. So Zeus took the form of an eagle and bore him off to the heavens. There Ganymede had the honored task of serving wine to the immortals. But his parents grieved over the loss of their son. Zeus could do nothing to console them, so he placed Ganymede in the sky as Aquarius so they could see him every night.
The Age of Aquarius
Believers in astrology and the “New Age” claim that we are now in or approaching the Age of Aquarius. When exactly this age begins is a matter of debate. But about six centuries from now the sun will be in Aquarius during the Vernal Equinox. It is then, some say, that the Age of Aquarius will officially begin.
Aquarius is traditionally associated with computers, technology, democracy, anarchy, rebellion, humanitarianism and liberalism. Because these are clearly seen in today’s society, many believe we are already in the Age of Aquarius. A song from the 1960s made the idea popular and it’s still a favorite theme among believers.