Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

"Praise ye Him, O sun and moon: praise Him, all ye stars and light''

and a Few Odds and Ends

The story told by the Zodiac can be summed up thus:

The First Set of Four Signs: The Nature of Christ

Virgo: Christ as God Incarnate, born of a Virgin
   Coma Berenices
Centaurus Bootes the Shepherd

Libra: Christ as Redeemer
Lupus/Therion Corona Borealis (Crown)

Scorpius: Christ as Victor over Death and Evil
Ophiucus  Hercules

Sagittarius: Christ as Justice
Ara (Altar) Draco
The Second Set of Four Signs: The Nature of the Church

Capricornus: The Church as the Bride of Christ
Aquila Delphinus

Aquarius: The Church as the Font of Grace
   Southern Fish
Pegasus (and Equuleus) Cygnus (Northern Cross)

Pisces: The Church as the Persecuted People of God
   The Band
Cepheus Andromeda

Aries: The Eucharist as Salvific Lamb of God
Cetus Perseus (and Triangulum)
The Third Set of Four Signs: Last Things

Taurus: Christ Returns as Judge
Eridanus Auriga

Gemini: Judgment
Canis Major Canis Major

Cancer: Heaven and Hell
   Ursa Minor
Ursa Major Argo

Leo: Christ as Eternal King, reigning in the Heavenly Jerusalem
Crater Corvus

Or, to put it into very short story form:

As the prophets foretold, a virgin (Virgo) gave birth to the Messias Who stems from the Root of Jesse, and this Virgin was made Queen (Coma Berenices) of Heaven for her obedience and humility. Her Son has two natures (Centaurus) and is a good Shepherd (Bootes) to His sheep.

He came into the world to redeem us and pay the price of our sins (Libra) by dying on the Cross (Crux), becoming the Sacrificial Victim (Lupus/Therion) so we might go to Heaven and be given the crown of life (Corona Borealis).

To avail ourselves of His Sacrifice, we must resist the Evil One (Scorpius) and trust that Christ has already conquered him (Serpens and Ophiucus, and Hercules, whose foot rests on the head of the dragon Draco).

When the two-natured Christ (Sagittarius) shoots his arrow at the heart of Evil One (Scorpius) and crushes his head (Draco) by offering Himself on the altar (Ara), the angels rejoice (Lyra).

We become one with Christ (Capricornus) by repenting (Sagitta); our souls are taken up to God (Aquila) and we're saved from drowning in the sea of chaos (Delphinus).

The waters of Baptism (Aquarius) restore us (Piscis Austrinas/Southern Fish). By Blood (Cygnus/Northern Cross) and water (Pegasus) we are saved, and by Baptism, we become brothers in Christ (Equuleus).

The people of the Church (Pisces) are one (the Band), and King Christ (Cepheus) has assured us that the gates of Hell will never prevail against them. But they will be hated by the world, and persecuted (Andromeda).

The merciful, gentle Lamb of God (Aries) sanctifies us, and the Queen Mother (Cassiopeia) prays for us, but the Evil One (Cetus) makes his attacks. Christ (Perseus) the Omniscient One (Triangulum), though, saves His people.

And then He comes to mete out Justice (Taurus). Christ (Orion) will judge the dead (Eridanus), bringing them to Himself, or sending them to Hell, but His judgment will be merciful (Auriga).

He looks at the hearts of those to be judged: The people to whom He is wedded (Gemini) avoid evil (Lepus), and love God with all their hearts, minds, soul, and strength (Canis Major), and love their neighbor as they love themselves (Canis Minor).

The people who refuse grace and follow the dark spirit of Antichrist (Cancer) die the second death (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor) while those who are His are sail away to Heaven on the ark of salvation (Argo).

For ever more, He reigns as King (Leo), with those written in the Book of Life enjoying eternal peace, while those whose names are not written therein are cast into darkness with the defeated Evil One (Hydra). The choice is ours: Life (Crater) or Death (Corvus).

Seeing Each of the Zodiacal Constellations

If you live around the same latitude as Indianapolis and Naples, I will relate a way you can see each of the Zodiacal constellations, one per month. If you live North or South of the aforementioned latitude, adjust these directions relative to your location.

If you go out on the 1st of each month at 10pm and have perfect visibility (something that's very hard to come by for city-dwellers!), you'll be able to see a myriad of constellations, including more than one Zodiacal constellation at a time. So I will focus only on what's as close as we can get to directly overhead. In other words, on the 1st of each month, at 10pm, go outside, find a dark place, and face South. At these times, you will see:

January 1, 10pm Taurus directly overhead
February 1, 10pm
Gemini directly overhead
March 1,
Cancer directly overhead
April 1,
Leo directly overhead
May 1,
Virgo you will have to lower your head some and look toward the South a bit, a little over halfway up between the horizon and directly overhead
June 1,
Libra as with Virgo, you will have to lower your head a little toward the South, but a little lower this time and look a little less than halfway up between the horizon and directly overhead
July 1,
Scorpius as with the above two signs, you will have to look toward the South -- this time much lower -- very low -- on the horizon
August 1,
Sagittarius look once again about the same place you saw Scorpius
September 1, 10pm Capricornus again toward the South, but a few degrees higher up relative to where Scorpius was located
October 1,
Aquarius look toward the South, higher than last month, about halfway between overhead and the horizon
November 1,
Pisces look toward the South, but raise your head even higher than last month, to about a quarter of the way down between overhead and the horizon
December 1,
Aries almost directly overhead

As you follow the zodiacal constellations, you'll note that they dip lower and lower, and then higher and higher between directly overhead and the Southern horizon, reflecting the angle of the ecliptic.

Some might be looking at the above and are puzzled, thinking of the concept of "Sun Signs" -- the sign in one's astrological natal chart where the Sun is located at the time of one's birth (e.g., when you hear someone say, for ex., "I'm Aquarius! What Sign are you?", they're referring to their Sun signs). They might be wondering why, if people born between January 21 and February 18 are considered to be "Aquarians," the constellation of Aquarius is overhead in October. The answer is that when the Sun is in a constellation, that constellation isn't visible for the same reasons we can't see the stars during the daytime.

Given the problem of light pollution, it's often easier to try to identify the very brightest stars and work from there. To serve that end, I include this chart of the sixteen brightest stars of the Northern hemisphere:

Star Apparent
Color Location
-1.44 Bluish-white Canis Major, decan of Gemini
Arcturus -0.05 Reddish Bootes, decan of Virgo
Vega 0.026 Bluish Lyre, decan of Sagittarius
Capella 0.08 Whitish Auriga, decan of Taurus
Rigel 0.13 Bluish Orion, decan of Taurus
Procyon 0.34 Yellowish-white Canis Minor, decan of Gemini
Betelgeuse 0.0 to 1.6 Reddish Orion, decan of Taurus
Altair 0.76 Bluish Aquila, decan of Capricornus
Aldebaran* 0.75 to 0.95 Reddish Taurus
Spica 0.97 Bluish Virgo
Antares* 0.6 to 1.6 Reddish Scorpius
Pollux 1.14 Reddish Gemini
Fomalhaut* 1.16 Bluish Piscis Austrinus, decan of Aquarius
Deneb 1.25 Bluish Cygnus, decan of Aquarius
Regulus* 1.40 Bluish Leo
Castor 1.93 Whitish Gemini
*Forming a great Cross in the sky, these stars are sometimes called the four "Royal Stars" as each sits in a fixed sign
in four different quadrants of the sky, marking equinoxes and solstices, and making themselves important for navigation.
Aldebaran is called the "Watcher of the East"; Regulus is the "Watcher of the North";
Antares is the "Watcher of the West"; and Fomalhaut is the "Watcher of the South."

Seeing the Naked-Eye Planets

The planets will follow the same path as the Zodiac's constellations, the Sun, and the Moon, so to spot them, look in that same East to West arc in the sky, facing toward the South while in the Northern hemisphere. The planets' orbit times vary wildly, so where they'll be on a given date changes from year to year. But here are a few things to note: 

Planet Color Orbit Moons Notes
Mercury Yellowish to pinkish 88 days 0 Mercury is difficult to spot, being only really visible just after Sunset or just before Sunrise. It will be seen within 17 and 28 degrees away from the Sun.
Venus Silvery-bluish 224 days 0 After the Moon, Venus will be the brightest object in the night sky. It's known as both the Morning Star and the Evening Star, depending on the time of day it's visible. When it can be seen, it will be seen for a few hours after Sunset in the West, and for a few hours before Sunrise in the East. With binoculars or a telescope, you can see its Moon-like phases.
Mars Red 1.8 years 2 Though known as "the Red Planet," Mars can also appear an orange-red.
Jupiter White 12 years 79  After the Moon and Venus, Jupiter is the next brightest object in the night sky.
Saturn Yellowish-white  29.5 years 82 Though not as bright as the other planets, Saturn is brighter than almost all of the visible stars.

The Moon

Our natural satellite is such a beautiful thing! Associated with the feminine and the ever-changing, for Catholics, the Moon also reminds us of Our Lady and the Church. Our Blessed Mother is often depicted by a waxing crescent Moon, something that recalls these verses from Apocalypse of St. John 12:1-5:

And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered. And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his heads seven diadems: And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod: and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.

The Moon has no light of its own, receiving its glory from the Sun, and so it is with Our Lady, who receives her glory from her Son.

The waning crescent Moon is seen as symbolizing St. John The Baptist, who said, as recorded in John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease." In the same way, the waning Moon is seen as the synagogue, superceded by the Church, which, like the Virgin, is represented by a waxing Moon.

In medieval folklore, the "Man in the Moon" was seen as a sinner -- typically guilty of violating the Sabbath -- punished by exile to the lunar landscape. He's also been seen as Cain, cursed in punishment for killing his brother, Abel (Genesis 4), and cast out as a "a fugitive and a vagabond." The medievals saw Cain as making his way to the Moon with a bundle of twigs, and Dante refers to the Moon as "Cain and his twigs" in "The Inferno" of his "The Divine Comedy." The Man in the Moon's left eye is made up of the Mare Serenitatis (the Sea of Serenity); the Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains) makes up his right eye (the eye we see to the left).

The Moon takes twenty-nine and a half days to complete its cycle from New Moon to New Moon, and as you get into stargazing, you'll find that the Moon's phases have a definite effect on how visible the stars are. The Sun's light crosses the Moon's face from right to left

The full Moons of the different months have different traditional names. They are:

January: Wolf Moon July: Buck Moon 
February: Snow Moon 
August: Sturgeon Moon
March: Worm Moon  September: Harvest Moon
April: Pink Moon October: Hunter Moon
May: Flower Moon November: Beaver Moon
June: Strawberry Moon   December: Cold Moon


Seeing the Milky Way

In the strict sense, we "see the Milky Way" any time we look at the sky; we live in it; it's our home galaxy. All of the stars we see with the naked eye are in the Milky Way, as are all other naked-eye objects aside from the Andromeda Galaxy. But what's meant here is the densest part of our galaxy, the center containing a mass of undifferentiated stars that, all together, look like a -- well, a milky path of light in the sky. The Milky Way in this sense is most dense in the constellation of Sagittarius, and won't be visible at all in Winter. The best viewing is in Summer -- June, July, and, especially, August. Just look toward the constellation of Sagittarius -- but know you'll have to have very, very dark sky without a bright Moon to spot it, so prepare to travel, at the right lunar phase, if you're not blessed to live in a place without light pollution.

Meteor Showers

I so encourage anyone with an interest in the stars to keep an eye out for the yearly meteor showers! One year, I saw the Leonids put on a spectacular display, with meteors of different colors -- pink, white, and green -- and even "sound effects" when some of those meteors entered our atmosphere and sizzled, popped, and exploded!

Some meteor showers are "duds," and, of course, visibility is always an issue. A meteor shower that peaks on a cloudy night won't reveal much. But what I saw with those Leonids that one year has me convinced that it's worth it to mark your calendars and at least give them a look. You can find the dates of the various meteor showers here, at the American Meteor Society's calendar page. There are many showers, as you will see, but the Leonids, Geminids, and Perseids ("the Tears of St. Lawrence") tend to be extra special. Meteor showers are named after the constellations "in which" they're located (e.g., Leonids are named after Leo, the Geminids are named after Gemini, the Perseids are named after Perseus, etc.), so if you can find the relevant constellation, you can find the shower's epicenter.

A Final Word

At the end of the movie "Grand Canyon," a group of people who'd been bickering the entire movie arrive at the edge of the canyon for which the movie's named. They all finally shut up, stunned into silence before the beauty of the world God made for us. For that brief moment, they all shared an experience of the transcendent, even if they might not have consciously realized it. Together, they experienced awe. They experienced God through His handiwork.

Think of that, and now look at this picture of our beautiful galaxy:

Think of how rare such a view of our skies is. All that beauty -- lost! God's beautiful stars are just there, but we've been blinded to them. Their voices are still crying out to be heard, but we can no longer hear them. Light pollution has made it impossible in too many places. And it doesn't have to be that way. A fix is simply to use warm outdoor lighting that is directed and shielded, and it's a relatively inexpensive fix that wouldn't entail assaults on our manufacturing, production or economy. Please watch this video, think about it, and do something about this if you're in agreement. Visit the
International Dark Sky Association for more information.

Table of Contents

The Zodiac


A Tour of the Heavens

Envisioning the Celestial Sphere

The Constellations of the Zodiac












Summary and a Few Odds and Ends

The Traditional Catholic View of Astrology

Back to Being Catholic