sign of the zodiac
Fr.: signe du zodiaque
One of the 12 constellations (in fact 13) making up the → zodiac.
Borj originally "tower," most probably related to Pers. borz "height, magnitude, greatness," boland "high," bâlâ "up, above, high, elevated, height," Laki dialect berg "hill, mountain;" Mid.Pers. burz "height," buland "high;" O.Pers. baršan- "height;" Av. barəz- "high, mount," barezan- "height;" cf. Skt. bhrant- "high;" L. fortis "strong" (Fr. and E. force); O.E. burg, burh "castle, fortified place," from P.Gmc. *burgs "fortress;" Ger. Burg "castle," Goth. baurgs "city," E. burg, borough, Fr. bourgeois, bourgeoisie, faubourg; PIE base *bhergh- "high." Borj may have been loaned into Ar. from Mid.Pers. The meaning extension of borj to its astronomical sense of zodiacal sign may have arisen from the conception of the zodiac as a barrier between heaven and Earth through which access was gained by means of twelve gates.
An imaginary belt around the heavens extending about 9° on either side of the → ecliptic. The orbits of the Moon and of the principal planets also lie entirely within the zodiac. The zodiac was created during the first half of the first millennium B.C. by Babylonian astronomers, who divided it into 12 constellations (→ sign of the zodiac) each considered to occupy 1/12, or 30°, of its great circle. They were named after living creatures, with the exception of Libra: → Aries, → Taurus, → Gemini, → Cancer, → Leo, → Virgo, → Libra, → Scorpius, → Sagittarius, → Capricornus, → Aquarius, → Pisces. However, as a result of → precession, these signs no longer correspond to the astronomical constellations in which the Sun actually appears. The constellations are irregular in size and shape, and the Sun regularly passes through 13 constellations as it moves along the ecliptic. The additional 13th constellation is → Ophiuchus, situated between → Scorpius and → Sagittarius.
From M.E. zodiaque, from O.Fr. zodiaque, from L. zodiacus, from Gk. zodiakos (kyklos) "zodiac (circle)," literally "circle of little animals," from zodiaion, diminutive of zoion "animal," literally "a living being," from PIE base *gwei- "to live, life;" cognate with Pers. zist, → bio-.
Borjgân, from borj, → sign of the zodiac, + -gân suffix denoting multiplicity, order, organization.
Fr.: lumière zodiacale
A cone-shaped faint glow along the → ecliptic, visible to the naked eye in the west after sunset or in the east before sunrise. Zodiacal light results from sunlight reflected by interplanetary dust concentrated in the plane of the ecliptic.