Wednesday, July 25, 2012
The white stars and silhouette of Aries the ram are illustrated in this handmade block print. I printed an edition of six prints, 8.75 inches by 7.5 inches (22 cm by 19 cm) on lovely, deep blue, handmade, Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper. The word Aries and symbol ♈ appear at the base of the image, with an actual star at the apparent dot on the 'i'. The lines linking the constellation appear in white-on-blue or blue-on-white as appropriate.
Aries has been identified as a ram since Babylonian times. It later became associated with the ram whose fleece became the Golden Fleece in Ancient Greece. If you imagined all celestial bodies we see in the night sky as mapped onto a sphere (the Celestial Sphere) around our Earth, the ecliptic would be the line you would draw to map the apparent path of the Sun through the various constellations. The ecliptic is marked as the dashed line in this print. Since the constellation of Aries straddles the ecliptic, its stars were incorporated into different constellations in different cultures, including twin inspectors in China and a porpoise in the Marshall Islands. The modern International Astronomical Union includes all the surrounding stars shown in this print as part of the Aries constellation.