Astrological symbols

From: Ernest Cline (
Date: Thu Feb 05 2004 - 18:29:19 EST

  • Next message: Jon Hanna: "Re: Astrological symbols"

    While Unicode currently supports some astrological symbols
    in the Miscellaneous Symbols block, there are some others that
    see reasonably common use that might be worth including as well.

    First of all, there is an astrological Pluto of which I have observed
    three glyph variants. It consists of a small circle at top with a upward
    semi circle cupping the small circle below with the semicircle attached
    to a + like the one at the bottom of symbols for Mercury, Venus, and
    The variants that I have observed of this symbol are
    1) The small circle touches the semicircle
    2) The small circle is separate from the semicircle with the same center
    3) As per 2) except the vertical stroke of the + pierces the semicircle
       to touch the small circle.
    Most of the freeware astrological fonts I have seen incorporate this
    symbol, and most of those also have a separate character for the
    astronomical Pluto sign U+2647, so it may be worth considering
    adding a separate character for the astrological Pluto to Unicode
    instead of simply treating this a glyph variation.

    Secondly, the four principal asteroids, Ceres, Juno, Pallas, and Vesta
    all have standard astrological symbols. Ceres's symbol looks like
    a right half ring atop a +, Juno's symbol is an eight rayed aster with
    the bottom ray connecting to a + below, The symbol for Pallas is
    a diamond connected to a + below.

    The usual astrological symbol for Vesta looks like a pair of nested
    v's, with a right angle between the legs, topped by a vertical tilde
    (representing a tongue of flame and in some fonts is replaced by
    a tongue of flame). The upper v is smaller than the lower v and
    is usually sans-serif. The lower v often has exaggerated outward
    serifs, and is sometimes represented with a flattened bottom.
    ( \_/ ) The two v's and the vertical tilde, while nested, do not touch.

    Thirdly, the centaur [1] Chiron, despite having been discovered in
    1977, has also developed a standard astrological glyph as well.
    Above is a capital K with the vertical stroke continuing down to an
    oval, wider than it is tall. (One source I have seen indicates that
    the ratio between the major and minor axes of the ellipse should
    be the golden ratio, but I have observed considerable variation.)

    While there are other asteroids and centaurs that are used by some
    astrologers, as far as I can determine, there is no agreement
    as to what the symbols for them should be, nor which ones are
    significant, if any. The vertical stroke and golden ratio oval of
    Chiron with a symbol of some type atop the vertical stroke is used
    as a basis of the symbols for other centaurs by some but not all
    astrologers.A character for this centaur stem might be of use.

    I have also seen two alternate glyphs for Uranus and Vesta
    which my sources indicate are older representations, but do not
    appear to be commonly used today, The alternate Uranus is
    a circle with a center dot and a vertical arrow extending upward
    from the circle. The alternate Vesta is a square with an attached +
    below and a v placed so that the top of the square goes through
    the middle of the v.


    So here is the rough draft of a proposal:
    1) Add six symbols to the miscellaneous symbols block:
    2) Also space should be tentatively reserved for:
    but I can't see actually making the assignments for these
    based on the information at my disposal.
    3) These points should be assigned contiguously.
    4) The alternate versions of Pluto, Uranus, and Vesta might be
    handled by Variation Selectors instead of by a separate codepoint.

    With tens of thousands of numbered asteroids (several thousand
    named), over forty known centaurs, and a host of other objects in
    the solar system, I cannot see trying to reserve space for
    astrological symbols for all such objects in Unicode. (Doing so
    would require over one full plane!) Beyond a few common
    symbols, such characters are clearly private use in nature
    for now. However, the nine I have presented here are I think
    worth considering, especially the four asteroids.

    Input from someone who studies astrology should probably
    also be gotten. I came to this indirectly from looking at several
    freeware astrology fonts, trying to decide which one to include
    on my system, not because of any great interest in the subject
    myself. While I have looked at quite a few astrology websites
    in the past couple of days, so as to determine whether there
    were characters worth including in Unicode, I can't say that
    I have done an exhaustive search of this field of knowledge.

    [1] centaur - an asteroid/comet with a perihelion located
    between the orbits of Jupiter and Neptune whose orbit crosses
    that of one or more of Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune. The first
    known and largest of these objects is Chiron discovered 1977.
    Observation has since shown that Chiron is a large
    comet like body (150 - 200 km in diameter.)

    Ernest Cline

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