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Astronomical Symbols

I have always been fascinated by symbols and the messages they communicate. As a graphic designer, my favorite projects were creating logos. I love the elegance and slickness of silhouette logos that tell a story with just a glance. I had similar feelings when viewing the art and graphics of the classic Halo video game. Withing the lore of Halo, an ancient species named the Forerunners designed beautiful, grandiose architecture that withing the context of the game, looked ancient, spiritual and foreign, yet technologically advanced.

Their symbols communicated a species outside of time. This is how I’ve seen astronomical symbols. They represent objects that have been around billions of years before us and more than likely billions of years after us. They are simple yet elegant and are a reflection of the mythology that helped ancient people interpret what they saw in the heavens. In a way, for me, this a spiritual experience in the sense that I’m observing the same stars and planets the ancients observed. It’s a reminder that we are apart of something greater that exists outside of our present problems, quarrels, and complaints.

Astronomical symbols for the classical planets appear in many medieval Byzantine codices that contained many Greek papyrus texts of classical antiquity. Naturally, medieval and ancient cultures only recorded the planetary bodies that they observed at that time. Since then, we have added many more symbols to the list.

The classical planets were the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter Saturn. Of course, we know today that the Sun and Moon are not planets as we know it. The word “planet” was derived from Greek words that translate into “wandering stars.” To the ancient Greeks, these seven celestial objects appeared to “wander” across the backdrop of fixed stars. Along with planetary symbols, some symbols describe other celestial bodies, astronomical events, and the zodiac constellations.

Throughout history, these symbols have been used by astronomers, amateur astronomers, astrologists, scholarly individuals, and even alchemists. Today, these symbols still appear in almanacs but aren’t used as frequently outside of almanacs and astrological publications. Since I have a fascination with these symbols, it’s a dream of mine to change how we look at these symbols. When I pull out the Solar Republic card game, Most people look at me as though I’m about either read them their horoscope or speak to the dead. Yet, astronomical symbols are a testament to our ever-growing body of knowledge of the world around us. They tell us about our past, and the stories we used to make sense of the world around us. It’s our history, in pictorial form. That was one of my many motivations for crafting symbols for the myriad of moons we have discovered over the past 30 years.

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