NASA recently got us all worked up by talking about a 13th zodiac sign, Ophiuchus. Many followers of astrology were worried that their sun sign was going to change; and then there were the astrologers, who rolled their eyes at the fact that the discussion had surfaced yet again.
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To Be Ophiuchus or Not To Be Ophiuchus
First, let’s clear the air: There’s no new sun sign.
Astrologers use classical astrology when working with your reports and birth charts, which established the position of your sun sign about 3,000 years ago. This makes your astrological reading based on a very ancient and established map of the heavens. NASA (established in 1958), is still a newcomer to the game (and completely incapable of changing your 3,000-year-old sun sign). Besides, the organization is made of astronomers, not astrologers—there’s a big difference. (If you want to really get into some astrological nerdisms, NASA just went through its 2nd Saturn return. That in and of itself is going to shake things up for the organization).
To understand how astrology works, you have to first accept that it takes the Earth approximately 365 days (365 days and 4 hours, to be exact) to orbit the sun. Because we’re on the Earth, and watching this as a spectator, it looks like it’s the sun that’s moving through the skies, in much the same way that when you’re on a moving train, the parked cars seem to be passing you. All of the other planets and stars move around the sun, too, against a backdrop of constellations. The constellations are in the same order—and on the zodiac wheel, they always start with Aries and finishing with Pisces. These are the same constellations that the ancient Greeks used, and we still use them today.
Traditional & Modern Constellations
There are many other constellations in that backdrop, not just the 12 that we use in determining zodiac sun signs. For example, most of you have heard of the constellation of Orion, or the Big Dipper, but are they sun signs in your horoscope? Nope. Just like Ophiuchus was always present in the constellations, its presence alone doesn’t prequalify it for a spot among the other sun signs. It was already there, and astrologers and stargazers already knew about it. It just wasn’t deemed as bright or as important as some of the other signs, so it has never held a relevant place as far as astrology goes. Astronomically, Ophiuchus is actually quite large, but the constellations either side of it are much brighter, so they get more attention.
There are many schools of thought as to why there are only 12 signs of the zodiac, even though there are many more constellations. One theory is that there is 360° in the circular wheel of the zodiac, which makes it very easy to work with a division of 12. Another theory is that only the brightest and most obvious signs were originally included, rather than every star cluster that was recognized.
The zodiac works in harmony with the natural cycles of the Earth, and many other mathematical factors. For example, the zodiac is divided up into four quadrants, just like the four seasons. There are 12 signs, just as there are 12 months (and the 24-hour clock can be divided by 2 to get 12-hour halves). It all gets very complicated and sophisticated, and it takes into account the Earth’s wobble, the movements of the other planets and stars—even geometry and astronomy have their place in astrology. This was all established by Ptolemy long before NASA threw us into a spin regarding this so-called 13th sign. There is no new sun sign; only some resurfacing information as to what is astronomically out there.
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Astrology vs. Astronomy
Even though a big fuss has been made over Ophiuchus, it’s not the only additional constellation out there. It’s just one of the largest. There are some 88 modern constellations, and the Sun appears to pass through around 34 of them. You might think that if NASA is interested in this additional sign, then it must be of some value, but that’s not necessarily so. NASA doesn’t have anything to do with the study of classical astrology, as the organization is exclusively focused on astronomy. Some of the other ‘lost’ constellations include the Dragon, the Lyre of Orpheus, The Wise Centaur, The Ship of the Argonauts, and more. In fact, constellations come and go, as is discussed in John C Barentine’s book, The Lost Constellations. They’re worth exploring as a novelty, but for accurate astrology readings, stick with a professional astrologer and the sun signs that were established all those centuries ago.