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Read Aries the Ram for meanings and traits of the sun-sign Aries.


Star Lore of the Constellations: Aries the Ram - by Deborah Houlding

Notable stars in Aries: Epoch 2000
Longitude Name Nature Mag. Position Lat. Dec.
03 Ta. 11 Mesartim Mars / Saturn 4.8 Left horn 7N 19N
03 Ta. 58 Sharatan Mars / Saturn 2.7 Left horn 8N 21N
07 Ta. 40 Hamal Mars / Saturn 2.2 Main star in head 10N 23N
20 Ta. 51 Botein Mars 4.5 Flank of hind leg 2N 20N

The myth of Aries tells how the hero Phrixus was fleeing from his stepmother Mo on the back of a ram with his sister Helle. During the journey Helle fell into the sea (which was afterwards called Hellespont) but Phrixus escaped and later sacrificed the ram in tribute to Jupiter. He hung its fleece in the grove of Ares where it turned to gold, later to be pursued by Jason.

The golden fleece had the power to restore life to the dead, an allusion to the creativity that is restored to the earth upon the Sun's return to the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere (now fixed to denote the first point of Aries but at the time of Astrology's development falling within this constellation). Creative energy is invested into the symbolism of this star-group but too much of it can lead to violence, intemperance and 'blood-rush'.

Ptolemy recorded the stars in the tail of Aries as like Venus, those in the hind foot like Mars, those in the mouth like Mercury (with a moderate degree of Saturn) and those in the head like Mars and Saturn.[1]
The brightest are in the head and the main star, Hamal (meaning 'Head of the Sheep') marks the forehead. This is a 2nd magnitude star, yellow in colour, which was worshipped by the Greeks at the festival of Jupiter Ammon, where they celebrated the return of the Sun to Aries with the slaughter of rams.[2] Its influence is generally unfortunate and it is associated with violence, danger, and head injuries.[3]

The second star of importance, Sharatan, is situated on the left horn. This is a pearly white star, of 3rd magnitude, which is often considered in partnership with its 5th magnitude companion a little lower down the horn - Mesarthim - the two being known to the Persians as 'the Protecting Pair', or 'the Butters'.[4] Its name derives from Al Sharatain 'the Two Signals'. As suggested by the image of a ram's horn and its Mars/Saturn nature, its influence is a violent one.

Ptolemy claimed that the stars in the forward and hinder parts of Aries may denote abnormal sexual behaviour when Venus is with them, afflicted by Saturn and the Moon.[5] This would include Hamal, Sharatan, Mesartim and a 4th star of astrological note: Botein, which lies on the flank of the hind leg near the tail. There is some confusion regarding its inclusion in Ptolemy's listing because the name Botein derives from an Arabic term Butain, meaning 'belly', although on most star maps it marks the tail of the reclining Ram.

The best time to view Aries is in the autumn months
The Sun crosses Sharatan around April 24th / Hamal around April 28th.
Hamal and Sharatan can be located immediately to the west of the Pleiades on the same line of declination.

Notes & References:
  1 ] Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, (1st century AD), Harvard Heinemann, Loeb Classical Library; 1.9 (Loeb, p.47).
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  2 ] Bullinger, Rev. E.W, The Witness of The Stars, p106; Allen, Richard Hinchley, Starnames, Their Lore and Meaning,1889, p.81.
At least 8 Greek temples, erected between 1580-360 BC were oriented to Hamal, notably those of Zeus and his daughter Athene. Al-Biruni tells us that the Arabic name for Aries, al-hamal, means 'a lamb'.
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  3 ] Ebertin-Hoffman, The Fixed Stars and Their Interpretations, 1928, pp.19-20
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  4 ] Albiruni, The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology, 11th century, translated by R. Ramsay Wright, 1934, v.164 (p.81); Allen, p.82
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  5 ] Ptolemy, IV.5, (Loeb p.403)
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© Deborah Houlding

Stars & Constellations