(The following drawings are simplified or exaggerated for effect.)
A circle is a curved line that always moves equidistant from a specific centre (or point). It is also considered to be the path traced by a body moving in a uniform curved line around a centre.
A circle is divided into smaller portions called degrees. A degree is a small portion of the circumference of a circle equalling 1/360 th of total circumference.
A degree is a constant and fixed portion of any and every circle. There are 360 degrees in a circle. The degrees around a specific circle will not vary in size. One degree of a circle is equal in size to any other degree in that circle.
A circle with degrees marked on it.
(72 divisions have been used instead of 360 for effect)
To all appearances the degrees of a circle are simply gradations, steps, or phases around the circle.
The Zodiac is a circle with 360 degrees. As the planets move around the Zodiac they seem to move around the circle or wheel. In fact the planets move in elliptical orbits and not in exact circles. We do however, measure the positions of the planets in circles and not in orbits. Every degree in a circle is equal but will contain differing portions of an elliptical orbit. Regardless of orbital fluctuations, a degree will remain 1/360 of a circle (or of a mean orbit).
When we think of a circle as a cycle a degree remains 1/360th of the entire cycle, but we are therefore thinking of each degree as being an interval of time. (Much like the interval between notes in music). In music we are familiar with the half note, quarter note, eighth note, etc…… Here one degree refers to 1/360th of the cycle. Astrologers often consider the degrees as phases, steps, or intervals in a cycle. This is a partial truth.
A circle can also represent an amount of space. A degree is therefore a slice of space.(1/360th piece of the pie, so to speak)
Degrees Have Scope:
Degrees are not just a division around the circumference of a circle. A degree will increase in size as it gets further and further from the centre. No matter how far away from the centre point it is, one degree will always equal to any other degree at that same distance, and that degree will continue to be 1/360th of the circle or circumference.
A degree includes a section (1/360th) of space as it radiates out from a circle.
Degrees Have Depth:
Just as a degree radiates out from a circle, it also radiates inward to a central point. So in measuring around a circle, the degrees represent equal phases or segments of time cycles or space circles. The degrees radiate out to the limits of the universe and they radiate within to the central point.
Really the degree begins at the central point and radiates out; out to the circle or cycle we are observing, and out beyond that cycle as well, in an ever increasing manner.
When we measure from the earth out the starting point is the centre of the earth. By the time the 360 degrees reach out to the surface of our planet, then each degree will occupy a certain specific amount of space (and time……. as the world turns). At the surface of the earth on the equator one degree stretches for 111.3 kilometres , or miles. At the surface of the earth that same degree is 6,378 kilometres away from the central core.
By the time the degrees reach the moon’s orbit (mean orbit) , they will be 384,000 kilometres from the centre of the earth and one degree will cover 6,702 kilometres (1/360 of the moon’s mean orbit)
By the time the degrees reach out to the sun, 149,600,000 kilometres from the centre of the earth, one degree will cstretch out across 415,555.5 kilometres.
By the time the degrees reach the stars the distances across each degree are enormous.
Looking from the earth it is very difficult to assess the distance in a degree for each of the other planets in the solar system as the distance fluctuates radically due to the earth’s orbit and the elliptical orbits of the planets. As a consequence we tend to observe the planets with regard to the time they spend in each degree as viewed from the earth. This fluctuates rapidly and has to include retrograde motions.
Looking at degrees heliocentrically, we can get a more accurate size of each degree at the relative or mean orbits of each planet.
From the centre of the Sun the degrees
reach out 696,265 km to the Sun’s surface.
At the Sun’s surface, on the equator, 1° = 12,152 km.
As the degrees stretch out to Mercury’s orbit (mean orbit)
they will be 57,900,000 km from the Sun’s centre.
At Mercury’s orbit 1° covers 160,833 km.
At Venus the degrees are 108,200,000 km from the Sun’s centre.
At Venus’ orbit 1° covers 300,556 km.
At Earth the degrees stretch 149,600,000 km from the Sun’s centre.
At Earth’s orbit 1° covers 415,556 km.
At Mars the degrees stretch 227,900,000 km from the Sun’s centre.
At Mars’ orbit 1° covers 633,055 km.
At Jupiter the degrees stretch 778,300,000 km from the Sun’s centre.
At Jupiter’s orbit 1° covers 2,161,944 km.
At Saturn the degrees stretch 1,429,400,000 km from the Sun’s centre.
At Saturn’s orbit 1° covers 3,970,556 km.
At Uranus the degrees stretch 2,875,000,000 km from the Sun’s centre.
At Uranus’ orbit 1° covers 7,986,111 km.
At Neptune the degrees stretch 4,504,400,000 km from the Sun’s centre.
At Neptune’s orbit 1° covers 12,512,5222 km.
At Pluto the degrees stretch 5,915,800,000 km from the Sun’s centre.
At Pluto’s orbit 1° covers 16,432,777 km.
By the time the degrees reach out to the nearest star, ‘Eggen’s star’ in Sculptor they are 4.2 light years away from the Sun’s centre.
At Eggen’s star 1° covers 6,934,937,569,647 km.
This is nearly 7 trillion kilometres of space, and that is simply 1/360th of the circle around the Sun at that distance…….
… and that is only the NEAREST star!