These are the Zodiac constellations in the correct order from Aries to Pisces.
Table showing the order of the Zodiac Constellations, their names, descriptions, and emojis
Memorize the Constellations of the Zodiac in order
This mnemonic (memory device) can help you remember the correct order of the constellations of the Zodiac. This is the best way to memorize the order of the constellations of the Zodiac. It starts with Aries and ends with Pisces.
“All the great constellations look very lovely; shining, (orderly) stars creating animal patterns.”
Why does the Zodiac constellations list start with Aries?
When astrology was invented it was the same activity as astronomy – observing and cataloging sky objects and their locations) but over the years the two practices have become very different. Astrology is now concerned with how the movement of the skies affects humans while astronomy has become a science. Scientists build knowledge to make predictions about physical events.
During early astrology/astronomy times, the most important thing about the study of the stars was to know where the Sun, Moon, planets, and other solar system objects were located in relation to the steady, orderly background of stars.
Why does the order of the Zodiac constellations read right to left?
The Sun, Moon, and planets seem to move “through” these 13 constellations in order through the year. Starting with Aries, let’s follow the movement of the Sun against the backdrop of the steady stars. The next constellation that the Sun “moves into” is Taurus. Taurus is to the east (left) of Aries! The Sun appears to move into the next Zodiac constellation about once a month.
Why did we add Ophiuchus to the original 12 Zodiac constellations?
Ophiuchus is a constellation, not an astrology “sign.” However, it is an official constellation that intersects the ecliptic. So, while astrologers do not consider this a Zodiac sign, astronomers include it because the constellation is located on the ecliptic.
The Ecliptic is a path in the sky that solar system objects follow
The solar system objects move generally west-to-east in a small band of the sky – this band of sky is called the ecliptic. All the Zodiac constellations are “on” the ecliptic and all the Sun, Moon, planets and other solar system objects move along the ecliptic over time.
There is another line in the sky called the celestial equator that is an imaginary line the rises from the equator of the Earth. The celestial equator and the ecliptic intersect at a “location” in the sky.
Right now in 2020 that intersection location is “in” the constellation Pisces.
However, when astrology was created this intersection point was “in” the constellation Aries.
This was known as the “First Point of Aries.” Astronomer Guy Ottewell writes about this imaginary point in the sky on his website UniversalWorkshop.
You can learn the order of the Zodiac constellations by using the mnemonic device shown in this article. There is a pathway in the sky that the solar system objects seem to follow. It is called the ecliptic. The Zodiac constellations are the 13 constellations lined up in the sky “on” this imaginary line.
The order of the Zodiac constellations is made because of the way the Sun, Moon, and planets seem to move east-to-west past these constellations in order during the year.
We start the Zodiac names list with Aries because the Zodiac constellations were first named thousands of years ago. At this time, the ecliptic intersected the celestial equator “in” the constellation Aries.
Full – we see the entire circle of the Moon lit up
Waning Gibbous – the Moon starts shrinking
Third Quarter – again only half a circle is visible
Waning Crescent – the Moon is about to disappear
New (again) – the new Moon is not visible
Moon phase names – The Moon Hat
Buy a Moon Hat (a great science gift made by Star In A Star – order today and get FREE shipping), you can learn all about the Moon phases every time you wear the hat. The Moon Hat is a scientific “moon-finder” instrument that helps you locate the Moon in the sky day or night.
The Moon Hat is one in a line of “Science Clothing – clothing that makes you smarter!” It was invented and is made and sold by Daniel Cummings – the owner of this website and the author of this blog.
Play with the Moon Phases in order from right to left
This is a “physical model” of the Moon’s phase changes. Move the mouse Right to Left.
Each day the Moon moves leftward (east) through the sky – for people looking at it from the northern hemisphere. As it moves through a 29.5 day orbit, the Moon grows and then shrinks again. It starts New, grows Full, then wanes to New again.
Move your mouse from right to left on these Moon Phase emojis to recreate the correct order of phases as the Moon moves in its orbit.
Remember the 8 Moon phases
The main Moon Phase cycle is very simple and symmetrical:
New -> WAXING -> Full -> WANING -> New.
Studying for a Moon Phases quiz?
You can shorten the Moon phase names to: “Never can quit getting food” = NCQGF
NCQGF = New, Crescent, Quarter, Gibbous, Full
Just remember that sequence of letters: NCQGF. That gives you the order of the waxing phases, then reverse it to get the waning phases: FGQCN. The good thing about this sequence of letters is that you just have to memorize it one way! During your Moon Phases quiz you can write it down and then reverse it.
You can remember wax and wane because wax is growing like putting layers of wax on something. Like in the old Karate Kid movie “wax on.”
A mnemonic – DOC – will help you learn the Moon phases names
Here’s a good way to remember the order of the Moon phases if you have to choose the phase name based on an image of the phase: DOC.
The three letter word DOC is a good mnemonic for remembering the Moon phases names and how they grow first and then shrink. It’s a “shape-ronym” – I have a feeling I just invented that name – it’s where the letter shapes help you remember something.
If the Moon phase is shaped like the letter D that means it is growing (waxing). If the Moon phase is shaped like the letter C that means it is shrinking (waning). If it’s shaped like the letter O – it is full: in between waxing (D) and waning (C).
You can remember that “light starts on the right” of the waxing crescent, then it grows to full, then shrinks to the crescent where “the only light left is on the left.”
NOTE: if you are in the southern hemisphere the mnemonic is COD because the Moon is Upside Down.
Start – The Waxing Moon D
As soon as the growing (waxing) Moon becomes a Waxing Crescent Moon we can see that the shape of the lit up part of the crescent can make the capital letter D. As the Moon grows through to Waxing Gibbous phase it is still shaped like a capital D.
Middle – The Full Moon O
The Full Moon is shaped like a capital O.
End – The Waning Moon C
The waning phases make the shape like a capital C.
Moon Phases Names patterns
Here are a some interesting patterns in the Moon phases names.
The cycles repeat – New to Full to New (again).
The Moon grows (waxes) and then shrinks (wanes) again. Why doesn’t the Moon grow to a Full Moon and then just blink out and start again… or maybe it could stay the same shape all the time… so many possibilities… why does it grow and then shrink?
The New Moon is the commonly accepted “beginning” and also the “end” of the cycle.
Gibbous is a really weird word – it is from the Latin “hunch or hump.”
There is a first and third quarter, but no 0th or 4th quarter.
Wax and Wane are more weird, old words – they are words originally handed down from the ancient language Sanskrit that made their way through history to old German and finally to old English.
The Moon’s Missing Quarters, weird
What’s the deal with First Quarter and Third Quarter?
Astronomy names can be unusual sometimes. The Moon has a “First Quarter” and a “Third Quarter”… but it has no “Second Quarter” and no “Fourth Quarter” or “Zeroth Quarter.”
The Second Quarter would be the Full Moon but we don’t use that name. But, then what would the New Moon be called? Is it the Zeroth (0th) quarter or the Fourth (4th) Quarter? Is the New Moon the beginning or the end of the orbit? Based on the more common name it should be called the zeroth quarter because it is the “New” part of the orbital cycle. Zero = nothing and during the New Moon there is no Moon visible.
The Moon is at “First Quarter” but its shape is half a moon!
This is kind of strange too: the moon looks like a “half moon” two times during the moon’s cycle. It is a half moon as it grows (waxes) and becomes a half moon again when it shrinks (wanes). The moon is clearly showing half a moon.
Confusingly, astronomers actually call the “half moon” a “quarter moon.”
Regular people call it a “half moon” even though astronomers call it a quarter moon. We should allcall the first quarter moon the “waxing half moon” and the third quarter moon the “waning half moon.” But, these are not common names at all!
Actually, I’d like to call the first quarter (waxing half moon) the “Earth’s tail moon” and the third quarter (waning half moon) the “Earth’s nose moon.” These names point out a neat fact about the Moon’s orbit – it crosses the Earth’s orbit twice a month – once at first quarter, then again at third quarter.
Anyway, why do astronomers call a half moon the quarter moon?
Astronomers use the quarters to talk about the orbit of the Moon and its location in the orbital path. The name “quarter” says “the Moon is a quarter of the way through its orbit now.”
The moon phases names are odd
How to remember the phases of the moon? Let’s face it, the Moon phases are named with really old words – the kind of words we don’t really use anymore, but we are stuck with them because the Moon is kind of important and we can’t just ignore it.
Here is a good way to think about the words tied to the phases of the Moon. These words describe 4 things: the “age” of the Moon, the apparent “shape” of the Moon, its direction of growth, and its location in its orbit around the Earth:
Age, Shape, Growth, Orbit
These words describe the “Age” of the Moon: new moon, quarter moon,
These word describe the “Shape” of the Moon: half moon, full moon, gibbous moon and crescent moon.
These words describe the “Growth” of the Moon: waxing (growing) moon and waning (shrinking) moon,
This word describes the Orbit of the Moon: quarter moon.
The light of the Sun always comes from one place – the Sun! Light from the Sun hits the Moon and lights up half of the Moon at all times.
However, it is not always the same half that we are looking at from Earth. The Moon shows us only part of its bright side for most of its 29.5 day orbit. It’s only during the Full Moon that we see the entire “half” illuminated Moon.
The Moon seems to change shape
The Moon changes phase because the Moon moves. As it moves, we see different light from the Sun reflecting off the Moon every second. The amount of light we can see changes every second as it moves through space around the Earth.
Your hands and arms help you see the orbits of Mercury and Venus and the shape of solar system
Question: If you could see the orbit of Venus would it fill the whole sky?
The answer might surprise you!
You can use your hands and arms to see the size of the orbits of the solar system’s inner planets: Mercury and Venus.
Imagine (as pictured below) if the orbit of Mercury were visible as a red oval and the orbit of Venus were visible in green.
Physical Astronomy – see Mercury and Venus orbits
Caution! Do not look directly at the Sun without proper solar safety glasses on.
Turn toward the Sun, hold your arms out straight, hands up in the air with fingers spread wide and thumbs touching. Your pinky fingers now span the width of the orbit of Mercury and your elbows span the width of the orbit of Venus.
Both of the entire orbits of Mercury and Venus orbits would be visible in the sky all at once – if they could be made visible during the day.
A “Life Star” is a visible star that could host life. This is a name I came up with in February 2017 (around the time of the TRAPPIST announcement) to describe visible stars with confirmed planets orbiting in the habitable zone. “Life Star” is easier to say and explain. I hope it catches on!Click here to continue reading…
Memorize this mnemonic: The moon moves toward the dawn. This phrase describes the day-by-day movement of the moon. With this simple phrase, you can understand the phases of the moon. You will actually begin to see the moon’s beautiful orbit traced out in the sky.
Repeat. The moon moves toward the dawn. The moon moves toward the dawn.
The moon moves toward the dawn.
It rises higher in the dusky sky after each day. It sweeps over the hills.
It circles and rolls. It transits. It leaves the Sun, then chases the Sun.
The moon moves toward the dawn.
Look East! That’s where the moon wants to go.
Once arrived, it crosses the face of the Sun and once again moves toward the dawn.
The moon moves toward the dawn.