the goat

    \      /_)
     \    / `.
      \  /    ;
       \/  __.'

quality: cardinal
element: earth
ruled by: saturn

(December 22nd to January 20th)
Colours: Deep Green, brown and dark grey. Cool green is the colour of Saturn, ruler of Capricorn.
Stones: White onyx, jet and sapphire.
Metal: lead.
Trees: Pine, elm and poplar.
Flowers: Pansies, ivy and sedum.
Countries: India, Greece and Mexico.
Cities: Oxford, Brussels and Port Said.

Capricorn is a constellation of the zodiac, most visible in the summer skies. Capricorn is one of the most southernly of the constellations of the zodiac, meaning that for viewers in Europe and much of North America, the opportunity to find it will somewhat short, especially if they are in an area where light pollution on the horizon is a problem.

For those somewhat familiar with stargazing, the best way to find Capricorn is to first find the summer triangle, and to find the constellation Aquila in it. In Aquila, Altair, the brightest star is easy to find, and on either side it has two slightly less-bright companions. These three stars form a line that points southwards toward Capricorn.

And when you find Capricorn, you will be rewarded by...pretty much nothing. Capricorn is a faint constellation, its brightest star is of the third magnitude. With the naked eye, there is no clusters or galaxies visible. Even with a small telescope, there is not much of interest to see, even if you manage to find the constellation free of light pollution.

This is interesting to me because it shows that all constellations of the zodiac are not created equal. Even skeptics, when they see Leo high in the winter or spring sky, can imagine that it looks like a lion, and could impart some majesty. However, when reading the myriad mythological associations of Capricorn, it is hard to see how so much meaning could have been read into what is an amorphous patch of dim stars.

Cap"ri*corn (?), n. [L. capricornus; caper goat + cornu horn: cf. F. capricorne.]

1. Astron.

The tenth sign of zodiac, into which the sun enters at the winter solstice, about December 21. See Tropic.

The sun was entered into Capricorn. Dryden.

2. Astron.

A southern constellation, represented on ancient monuments by the figure of a goat, or a figure with its fore part like a fish.

Capricorn beetle Zool., any beetle of the family Carambucidae; one of the long-horned beetles. The larvae usually bore into the wood or bark of trees and shurbs and are often destructive. See Girdler, Pruner.


© Webster 1913.

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