International Star Registry

All Constellations

Aries - Ram

According to fable, this is the ram of the golden fleece who flew Phrixus and his sister Helle from Thesaly to escape the persecution of their stepmother Ino. The speed of the flight made Helle dizzy, and she fell into the sea at a point afterward designated as the “Hellespont”, now known as the Dardanells in Turkey, the strategic channel between the Agean Sea and the Sea of Marmara. Phrixus was carried safely to Colchis on the Black Sea in Georgian Russia, but was soon murdered by his father-in-law, Aeetes, who envied him his golden treasure, the fleece of Aries. This gave rise to the celebrated expedition in which Jason sailed in the Argo Navis to search for the famed golden fleece.

In the meantime, Naphele, queen of Thebes, had given the noble ram to her children. She was changed into a cloud as a reward for her parental solicitude, and the Greeks ever after called the clouds by her name.

Another story credits the constellation as referring to the flocks of the Chaldean shepherds, who worshipped Aries. Aries is also part of other cultural traditions.

As one of the twelve Zodiac signs in China, it is known as Heang Low, or the dog. The twelve tribes of Israel were assigned to the twelve different signs of the Zodiac. The tribe of Aries is Judah.

Aries the ram is an unimpressive constellation, but it does contain a +2 magnitude star called Hamal. It is usually positioned with a horn into Pisces and a leg into Cetus. The beta star is a +2.7 star which with the gamma binary star completes the horn goring Pisces.

Gaius Manilius, a Roman poet, in the first century wrote:

“The Ram having passed the sea serenely shines, and leads the year, the prince of all the signs.”

Around 2000 years ago the Vernal Equinox was in the constellation Aries, making Aries the first sign of the Zodiac. This, due to the processions of the Equinoxes, is no longer true. The zero point of right ascension, or Vernal Equinox, is now in Pisces. In about 4500 B.C. Orion marked the Vernal Equinox, which would indicate that the Zodiac was not fully formed or addressed in its present order or selection. There is a 26,000 year cycle, so in another 24,000 years, Aries will again be the number one sign of the Zodiac.

Right Ascension 02:21
Diameter (°)14
Area (square °)441
Opposition Oct 31
Size Rank 39th
Brightness Rank 41st