Reclaiming the forgotten Ophiuchus invites each of us to discover our correct astrological sign and contemplate the spectacular zodiacal constellations that dominate the nights at this time of year. There is a cadastre that divides the sky into plots that help astronomers to identify the position of the stars, planets and objects in the celestial sphere. We call these plots constellations, which are groups of stars that correspond to the celestial mythology inherited from ancient Greece.
Some are more famous than others. However, these signs are not well calibrated. If we use a celestial planisphere , we will see that between November 30 and December 18, the Sun occupies one of those less famous constellations: Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer or snake charmer. Those born between these dates are, of necessity, the zodiacal sign Ophiuchus.
If we continue to observe the relationship between the position of the Sun and the background of stars, we will see that little coincides with the calendar of signs to which we are accustomed according to horoscopes:.
Zodiac Constellation Date Ranges
Why does Ophiuchus not appear as a zodiacal constellation in the horoscope? The reason is that 2, years ago, when the horoscope originated in ancient Babylon, the Sun crossed through each of the zodiacal constellations on different dates than today, approximately four weeks earlier. Modern astronomers compute that, nowadays, the Sun enters Aries on April 19 every year like clockwork.
Over many centuries that delay has been accumulating and now the Sun enters Aries almost one month after the date the Babylonians recorded and what the horoscopes indicate. But this is not true either.
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The Sun only spends a week crossing Scorpio, while it spend a month and a half in Virgo; these times of passage are the same now as 2, years ago, and differ greatly from the division of one month for each sign of the horoscope arbitrarily established by Babylonian astrologers, who decided to dispense with Ophiuchus and keep a rounder number of 12 signs, as in the month calendar.
Following that calendar allowed Babylonian astrologers to predict when summer was coming or the right time to harvest. The power this granted them in society led them to expand their predictions to include events such as the result of a battle or the personality of an individual based on their sign of the zodiac. It has no more use than that of an alternative calendar, with a few months that correspond to mythological figures.
What we can do with the zodiac is to observe the shapes of its constellations —which are always seen in the sky on the southern horizon in the northern hemisphere and on the northern horizon in the southern hemisphere —and remember their corresponding legends. But we can observe other impressive constellations :. Sagittarius is one of the constellations richest in astronomical objects. A scan with some binoculars reveals nebulae such as the Trifid or the Lagoon and a large number of star clusters. Taurus stands out thanks to its brightest star, Aldebaran, a giant easily identifiable with the naked eye because of its red colour, representing one of the eyes of the animal.
On its spine, also without optical assistance, you can see a group of stars: the Pleiades. Close-up view rotated of the nebulae of The Lagoon and Trifid.
Your star sign has probably changed - NASA horoscope update
A little further east of Gemini you can spot Leo , one of the constellations with the most recognizable shape of the entire catalogue: many civilizations have come to recognize it as a crouching lion of the sky. One of its stars, Regulus, stands out for being one of the brightest in the entire sky. During these days, shooting stars will appear to radiate from the constellation of Leo, which are produced by the prolific Leonid meteor shower.
Famed for its spectacular nature, it is easy to see very bright shooting stars these nights, but in much smaller quantities than other meteor showers like the Perseids in August or the Geminids in December. The zodiacal constellations will not help us to predict the future, but they are the perfect excuse to get away from the lights of cities and population centres and enjoy a good night of observation.
We use our own and third-party cookies to offer you a pleasant experience and display to users advertising related with your preferences, based on analysis of your browsing habits. By continuing to browse this website you agree to their use. You can change the cookie settings or obtain further information by accessing our cookies policy. Over the weekend I started seeing links to articles claiming that NASA has changed the signs of the zodiac. The first paragraph alone is burdened with quite a few scientific errors:. This means that the majority of us are about to experience a total identity crisis.
Apparently, these changes are due to the fact that the constellations are not in the same position in the sky that they once were, and the star signs are about a month off now, as a result. To further confuse things, there is now a new, 13th sign, called Ophiuchus, which those born between November 29 and December 17 are lucky enough to have to learn to pronounce. No, no, and no. And third, Ophiuchus is an ancient constellation, identified by the Greeks thousands of years ago.
Even astrologers have come up with tests for it, and it has failed those.
Dates, Dates, and More Dates
Despite that, lots of people believe in it. It has to do with the zodiac. As I wrote in an article on the zodiac :. From the Earth, it looks like the Sun moves around us once per year.
What Does The Word "Ophiuchus" Mean? The 13th Zodiac Sign Has An Ancient History
The path it takes across the sky is the same year after year, and we call this the ecliptic. The planets all move across the sky in that same path, too. You know the names of these constellations: Sagittarius, Libra, Scorpius, Aries, Gemini… the constellation of the zodiac, or, if you prefer, the zodiacal constellations. These 12 zodiacal constellations have been recognised in one way or another around the world, though most countries and the International Astronomical Union have adopted a modified version of them known to the ancient Babylonians and Greeks.
The thing is, there are more than 12 constellations the sun can pass through. Some are smaller, or have fainter stars, so they get ignored. The biggest is Ophiuchus, the serpent-bearer, which is a huge constellation taking up quite a bit of celestial real estate, and in fact the sun spends more time in Ophiuchus than Scorpius. Scorpius has brighter stars and an obvious scorpion-like shape, so it gets better press.
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