Creative Content

Is Ophiuchus The 13th Zodiac Zign?

Written By – Natalie Leh

When I was in grade school, I remember flipping through the newspapers every morning just to catch a glimpse of the daily horoscope readings. That was my first introduction to the world of astrology. A few years ago, a hype started that a 13th zodiac sign existed alongside the traditional 12 zodiac signs. This sign was none other than Ophiuchus.

Well, if you’re in panic mode wondering that your astrological sign has changed – fear not!

The Symbol of Ophiuchus

Ophiuchus was first discovered back in the Babylonian Period, so this wasn’t actually a recent discovery. In Babylonian astronomy, the sky is divided equally into 12 sections to represent each month of the calendar and a constellation was assigned to each. All 12 constellations including Ophiuchus are seen across the ecliptic which is the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun. However, Ophiuchus was not included as part of the zodiac because it is not a sign but instead, a constellation.

Astrology delves deeply on the mathematical side as each sky division is about 30°. Thus, 12 specific constellations have been picked because they help measure time as the Sun passes through them once a year, and its passage coincides with that particular zodiac month. This also aligns neatly with the four seasons where the March equinox will always fall in between Pisces and Aries. This marks the beginning of spring which is important back then so the people would know when to start sowing the land.

The constellations of the zodiac are of various sizes. The Sun resides in front of each zodiacal sign for a precise interval of about a month. Meanwhile, the Sun is in front of the constellations for varying amounts of time. For example, the Sun is in front of the constellation Virgo for about 1.5 months and in front of constellation Scorpius for about a week. There is a loose association between zodiac constellations and signs as they do not generally coincide. Hence why the constellation Aquarius can correspond largely to the sign of Pisces. Likewise, the constellation Ophiuchus occupies from November 29 – December 18 of the Sagittarius sign (November 23 – December 21). So, if you’re born around this time there is nothing to worry about, you are still a Sagittarius as constellations do not define the zodiac signs.

Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer depicts a man grasping a snake also a constellation known as the Serpens. In Roman mythology, Ophiuchus is said to represent Asclepius the ancient god of medicine who was taught the secret knowledge of healing by a snake. Some interesting characteristic traits include inquisitiveness, passionate, good humor, egotistical, a seeker of wisdom and knowledge plus being sexually magnetic!

Dates of sun’s entry into astrological signs versus astronomical constellations.

This constellation sits along the pathway between Scorpius to the west and Sagittarius to the east with Rasalhague as its brightest star. The Serpent Bearer is visible to countries near the equator where it appears overhead in June around midnight and in the evenings of October.

If you love stargazing and are lucky; you might be able to spot Ophiuchus on a clear summer night’s sky!

Rho Ophiuchi, shown with a surrounding bluish cloud slightly above a pentagon of stars in Scorpius, with the main band of the Milky Way much further to the left.
The position of Rasalhague. 

References:

Bustle. 2020. Why Isn’t Ophiuchus In The Zodiac? The 13Th Sign Never Made The Cut. [online] Available at: <https://www.bustle.com/articles/185534-why-isnt-ophiuchus-in-the-zodiac-the-13th-sign-never-made-the-cut> [Accessed 8 August 2020].

En.wikipedia.org. 2020. Ophiuchus. [online] Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophiuchus#:~:text=Ophiuchus%20(%2F%C9%92fi%CB%88,represented%20by%20the%20constellation%20Serpens.> [Accessed 7 August 2020].

Findyourfate.com. 2020. Ophiuchus Zodiac Sign, Ophiuchus Traits, Celebrities, Astrology, Horoscopes, Mythology.. [online] Available at: <https://www.findyourfate.com/astrology/ophiuchus-13zodiac. html#:~:text=Ophiuchus%20is%20the%20only%20zodiac%20sign%20that%20depicts%20a%20real%20man.&text=Ophiuchus%20persons%20are%20extremely%20curious,for%20knowledge%20and%20sexually%20magnetic. > [Accessed 7 August 3030].

McClure, B., 2020. Sun’S Entry Into Zodiac Signs, 2019 | Earthsky.Org. [online] Earthsky.org. Available at: <https://earthsky.org/human-world/suns-entry-into-each-sign> [Accessed 8 August 2020].

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