Ophiuchus. Seriously?

What’s Your Sign? (Better Look Again)

538px-aratea_10vSo, you get up in the morning, settle at the breakfast table with your coffee and newspaper (ok, or phone or whatever) and turn to your horoscope. As you do every day, you run your finger down the list until you reach the section that deals with your sign.

Leo… Virgo… Libra… Scorpio… Ophiuchus… Sagittarius… Wait. WHAT? Ophiuchus?!

Yes. Ophiuchus. The zodiac, which had the same 12 signs for nearly 3,000 years, now has a 13th. It’s not new, exactly. The constellation Ophiuchus hasn’t just magically appeared. It’s been there all along, in the path traced by the sun through the constellations that dictate your astrological sign. In some forms of astrology signs are determined by the position of the sun on the day a person was born. But for some reason, the Babylonians decided not to quibble about the 19 short days that Ophiuchus was in evidence. Maybe they just preferred the symmetry of the number 12. Who knows? For whatever reason, Ophiuchus (the snake bearer) was squeezed out of the rotation, like an unwanted pustule on prom night. And for thousands of years subsequent, the zodiac has been based on 12 signs.

Suddenly, though, attention is being focused on the snake-bearer constellation. Its existence was pointed out by astronomers at the Minnesota Planetarium Society — who really don’t care about astrology and who almost certainly didn’t intend to mess with zodiac believers. So Ophiuchus emerges from obscurity to wedge its 19 days into the astrological calendar, and in so doing, dramatically changes the zodiacal landscape.

But that’s just the beginning.

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