|Duration (tropical, western)||20 January – 19 February (2015, UTC)|
The water carrier represented by the zodiacal constellation Aquarius is Ganymede, a beautiful Phrygian youth. Ganymede was the son of Tros, king of Troy (according to Lucian, he was also son of Dardanus). While tending his father's flocks on Mount Ida, Ganymede was spotted by Jupiter. The king of gods became enamored of the boy and flew down to the mountain in the form of a large bird, whisking Ganymede away to the heavens. Ever since, the boy has served as cupbearer to the gods. Ovid has Orpheus sing the tale:
"The king of the gods was once fired with love for Phrygian Ganymede, and when that happened Jupiter found another shape preferable to his own. Wishing to turn himself into a bird, he none the less scorned to change into any save that which can carry his thunderbolts. Then without delay, beating the air on borrowed pinions, he snatched away the shepherd of Ilium, who even now mixes the winecups, and supplies Jove with nectar, to the annoyance of Juno" (Metamorphoses X 154-160).
Aquarius is a summer constellation in the northern hemisphere, found near Pisces and Cetus. It is especially notable as the radiant for four meteor showers, the largest of which is the Delta Aquarid meteor shower in late July and early August.
Under the tropical zodiac, the sun is in Aquarius typically between January 20 and February 18, while under the Sidereal Zodiac, the sun is in Aquarius from approximately February 15 to March 14, depending on leap year.
Aquarius is one of the oldest of the recognized constellations along the zodiac (the sun's apparent path). It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century AD astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations. It is found in a region often called the Sea due to its profusion of constellations with watery associations such as Cetus the whale, Pisces the fish, and Eridanus the river. The stars of Aquarius lie between those of Pisces and Capricornus along the ecliptic. To the north is the Great Square of Pegasus, and to the south is the first-magnitude star Fomalhaut. Thus it is an important star group, although it has only a few important stars. Its alpha star, Sadalmelik, is only at magnitude 3.2, and there are only about 20 other stars brighter than fifth magnitude. However, some of these stars form asterisms, star patterns such as the Water Jar, a trefoil (resembling the Mercedes-Benz symbol) of Pi, Gamma, and Eta-Aquarii surrounding Zeta. This Y-shaped group lies to the east of Sadalmelik. Zeta-Aquarii is one of a number of interesting double stars. It is a beautiful pair of fourth-magnitude stars separated by about 3 arcseconds. The colors of the pair are given as pale green and pale yellow. Another star of note is R-Aquarii, a Mira-type variable star which, over the space of a year, changes from a dim magnitude 11 to a magnitude of six.
In the Greek tradition, the constellation became represented as simply a single vase from which a stream poured down to Piscis Austrinus. The name in the Hindu zodiac is likewise kumbha "water-pitcher", showing that the zodiac reached India via Greek intermediaries.
In Greek mythology, Aquarius is sometimes associated with Deucalion, the son of Prometheus who built a ship with his wife Pyrrha to survive an imminent flood. They sailed for nine days before washing ashore on Mount Parnassus. Aquarius is also sometimes identified with beautiful Ganymede, a youth in Greek mythology and the son of Trojan king Tros, who was taken to Mount Olympus by Zeus to act as cup-carrier to the gods.Neighboring Aquila represents the eagle, under Zeus' command, that snatched the young boy; some versions of the myth indicate that the eagle was in fact Zeus transformed. An alternative version of the tale recounts Ganymede's kidnapping by the goddess of the dawn, Eos, motivated by her affection for young men; Zeus then stole him from Eos and employed him as cup-bearer. Yet another figure associated with the water bearer is Cecrops I, a king of Athens who sacrificed water instead of wine to the gods.
Individuals born under the sign of Aquarius are often quirky and unconventional. Sometimes their eccentricities are obvious -- they may have an unusual sense of humor, or have interests that others do not. Other times, Aquarians will have very small, quirky and sometimes amusing eccentricities which only become apparent as one gets to know them.
Aquarius is a very free-spirited, unpredictable sign, and those born with this sun-sign are often given to a wide range of emotions, and to indecision. Aquarians will often change their mind about certain things, as the mood suits them. While typically intellectual, charming and well behaved, Aquarians will sometimes change their mind regarding important issues, or act in a very self interested way. For the most part, Aquarians are concerned with the "greater good" and express humanitarian interests.
Aquarians are extremely friendly, and very well liked. They are always a mystery -- with their unpredictable responses and often complex personality types. Aquarians typically love to travel and are always ready for adventure.
According to the Western astrologers Libra, Gemini, Sagittarius and Aries make the best partners for Aquarians.
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- Almanac for the year 1386, C. Stower Hackney, 1812, OCLC 500148918
- Heindel, Max (1919), Simplified Scientific Astrology: A Complete Textbook on the Art of Erecting a Horoscope, with Philosophic Encyclopedia and Tables of Planetary Hours (4 ed.), Rosicrucian Fellowship, OCLC 36106074