Oh no, it’s Ophiuchus again!

It all started for me today with a facebook email from a client about this link. He wanted to know if what the link was saying is true, if Ophiuchus was the supposed 13th sign of the zodiac as said by an astronomer.  It’s pronounced O-fee-a-kus. First, let me say. There are still only 12 signs of the Zodiac.

Here’s what’s true:

  • Ophiuchus is a recognized constellation and has been seen as such for thousands of years. Not just since 2009 as some people are reporting. Go here (a link to book online) and do a search on your browser for “Ophiuchus.”  This a book written by Ptolemy called Tetrabiblos and it was written in the 2nd century AD. Again, this isn’t new.
  • Most sidereal astrologers see Zodiac with 12 signs, not 13. Sidereal astrology is explained here.
  • Ophiuchus has been slowly appearing along the apparent path of the Sun (also known as the ecliptic) for the same amount of time.  But this does not make it a recognized sign of the Zodiac and very few astrologers do.
  • We work with a 12 month system because it is a neat way to divide up the year in roughly 30 day allotments.  13 months like 13 signs won’t work if we’re only tracking the Sun’s movement.  That’s why no one really uses it.
  • Astronomers who are against astrology use the Ophiuchus constellation as a challenge about how astrology works. I also think that it’s interesting that this link “premieres” on the 13th day of January. Sounds like marketing for a blog to me.  Many other astronomers have had websites to say some of the same thing as the link above. Interestingly,  it seems that every few years, people freak out about Ophiuchus.  Last time, it was craziness on MySpace.com.

Here are some other websites to learn more about the Serpent Bearer known as Ophiuchus as seen by astrologers:

Basic info on Ophiuchus

Moderately complicated info on Ophiuchus

More advanced info on Ophiuchus

You are still whatever you thought you were.


18 Responses to “Oh no, it’s Ophiuchus again!”

  1. James Coleman Says:

    Thanks for this. I’d like to add regarding your fourth bullet point that, even though it might sound convenient to “ignore” a thirteenth sign, this is the same logic used in our 12-month calendar. Both are equally “arbitrary” or convenience-based. There are some who argue for a 13-month year based on moon cycles.

    The tropical zodiac, used predominantly in the world outside of India aligns with the seasons and not the constellations. As there are four seasons, think how fun it would be to turn four seasons into 13 signs!

  2. Lua Astrology Says:

    Lol, I can’t believe the media have dragged this up again like it’s a whole new piece of news!

  3. wygit Says:

    There’s an explanation of why it’s in the news now here:


    It was just a piece in the Minneapolis Star tribune where a reporter asked astronomer Parke Kunkle some astronomy questions.

    “Parke Kunkle didn’t tell the Star-Tribune that the zodiac ought to include 13 signs instead of 12 — especially since he doesn’t believe in astrology at all. (He highly recommends Phil Plait’s page about astrology.) He did mention that astronomers tend to reckon the sun’s position with 13 constellations instead of 12, and Ophiuchus is the 13th. “

  4. tripcyclone Says:

    So it doesn’t matter that the sun has been passing through Ophiuchus for years, and the base system of astrology is based on where the sun is when you’re born?

    Sounds like you only believe in astrology if it’s using YOUR system, instead of what’s actually happening. That’s one thing I never understood. If it’s based on where the sun is when you’re born, why would you purposely ignore exactly where the sun is when someone is born? “You were born on December 1st. The sun was technically in Ophiuchus. But your Tropical Zodiacal sign is Sagittarius and your Sidereal Zodiacal sign is Scorpio. What did you say? Oh, different astrologers use different calender systems hence the difference in Sagittarius over Scorpio, or vice versa. Huh? Oh, Ophiuchus doesn’t count because 12 signs is more convenient for our calender than 13.”

    And as an astronomer, I have to say that the issue with Ophiuchus is not the only point of contention with Astrology. It just happens to be the easiest one to demonstrate to people, along with other changes in the dates as the Earth slow precesses. Personally, my bigger concern isn’t with Astrology itself, but with people who are desperate to cling to astrology as an explanation for their thoughts/behaviors/personality, instead of realizing that all three are defined by the person, their upbringing, and their experiences in life, not their astrological sign.

    • return2thesource Says:

      There is no thing actually happening because the zodiac doesn’t actually exist. It’s a projection of consciousness from earth onto constellations. It doesn’t matter if I use 12 signs, 13 or 27 (as it works with the lunar system of nakshatras). Constellations exist for our convenience on that level, not because they’re literally out there. So I find astrology works regardless of whether we use Nakshatras, sidereal astrology or tropical.

      Many have that bone of contention. Social scientists, political scientists and historians all contest what literally impacts us as it could be race, gender or class.

  5. James Says:

    Tripcyclone, as you know there are several ways of measuring anything. What we are saying is that we don’t use the yardstick that is based on constellations. We use a yardstick based on the earth’s orbit and its relationship to the sun. If there were no constellations at all, it wouldn’t matter. Because the constellations at one time aligned with the tropical zodiac and the signs have the same names as some of the constellations in the sky, there is some confusion, especially for those looking to confuse. This is easy to understand, even for an astronomer.

    As for your second issue, different strokes for different folks. Why do you care if people see correlations between their personality and millennia-old observations? As if scientist can’t be wrong!

  6. Horoscopes changing? « stephanieazevedo Says:

    […] For those who want a practising astrologist’s view of this, you can find an explanation of why Ophiuchus is an invalid astrological symbol here. […]

  7. Jenn Says:

    Thank you for clarifying this mass hysteria that seems to have taken over every blog, social networking site, and the interwez in general. I have re-blogged this site on my FB for those friends who are “freaking” out lol My birthday is Dec 6 and I would be one of those classified under the new sign…and honestly, I know its total bs…I’m a Sag, through and through.

  8. Sidereal Astrology Says:

    […] it's very big in India where the system is called Jyotish, or Vedic Astrology. In the west we genSidereal Astrology – They are called “sidereal astrologers” and siderealism is practiced rather little in the […]

  9. World Spinner Says:

    Oh no, it's Ophiuchus again! « Practicing Astrologer…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  10. Sarita Says:

    True astrology is based on the accuracy of the calculations, not on what is convenient for astrologers. Most astrologers don’t actually do calculations anymore but rely on computers and “neat” little methods. How can it be invalid if it is on the elliptical orbit of the Sun that astrology is based. Just admit that popular astrology is not real astrology based on accurate calculations.

    • return2thesource Says:

      Please read the replies below as yours is similar. But the accuracy of the calculations has NOTHING to do with the realness of constellations or signs as they are all projections. In fact, the elliptic is truly based on the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, not the Sun’s orbit around the Earth. So obviously our point is symbolic, not literal. You want to believe only in a literal universe, that’s on you. But we believe that all things literal have a symbolic value.

      And doesn’t really matter if one does calculations by hand or computer? I think you’re reaching Sarita.

  11. Monica Says:

    I like “you are whatever you thought you were”. Time and date are arbitrary. The universes is infinite. We (humans(?)) seem to always need to find our place (how we fit) in it. Whatever it is.

  12. Ask Black Witch « Black Witch Says:

    […] “Oh No, It’s Ophiuchus Again!” “What Astronomers Don’t Get About Astrology” […]

  13. Your New Sign is B.S. 1.16.11 Says:

    […] (from Facebook) ‘The Signs Have NOT Changed’, by Gary P. Caton (Soul Sign Horoscopes) ‘Oh No, It’s Ophiuchus Again!’ , by Samuel F. Reynolds (Practicing […]

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