In Western astrology, what is the first sign of the zodiac, represented by a ram?
And the answer: Aries.
In astrology, people born between March 21 and April 19 belong to the zodiac sign Aries, which is also a constellation named after the ram. Aries is considered the first astrological sign because it aligns with the Vernal Equinox, also known as beginning of spring.
Each of the 12 zodiac signs occupy an equal portion on the zodiac belt. Technically speaking, this belt is a circle which extends 9 degrees on either side of the ecliptic, or the plane of Earth's orbit. While the orbits of the moon and other principal planets lie entirely within the zodiac, the zodiac signs no longer truly correspond to the astronomical constellations in which the sun appears. This is due to the constellations' irregular size and shape (not to mention the entire constellation that didn't get a zodiac sign).
The name "zodiac" actually comes from a Latinized form of Ancient Greek. Because most of the constellations through which the ecliptic passes are associated with animals, the ancient Greeks decided to call the astrological phenomenon zōdiakos kyklos, “circle of animals,” or ta zōdia, “the little animals.” For a star-charting system whose constellations fluctuated up until the development of mathematical astronomy, I'm sure it was a whole lot easier just to call the group "the little animals." Needless, to say, though, the practice of astrology has been engaged for thousands of years.
Want to find your sun, moon and rising signs for yourself? Check out the chart below to see which constellation aligns with you: