In September of 2016, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) updated the Western zodiac to correct for 3,000 years of shifts in star positions. NASA shifted the dates of the 12 signs forward by almost a month and inserted the ancient, nearly forgotten 13th sign of the serpent handler Ophiuchus in between Scorpius and Sagittarius. This was done to account for the nearly infinitesimal annual shifting of our planet’s axis known technically as the precession of the equinoxes. The changes meant that for an estimated four out of five people, the sign toward which the sun was pointing at their birth was not the one they thought and this drove people crazy. Astrology assigns personality traits to those born under each sign, and it predicts their future in daily, weekly and monthly horoscopes, so this 13th Zodiac sign which is called Ophiuchus proves that star positions have no control over your life. People born between November 29 and December 17 under the sign Ophiuchus are left out of the loop.
The roots of Western astrology can be traced back to the ancient people of Mesopotamia, who had the most detailed, surviving records of the origins of astrology and they are found in the ancient cities of Babylonia. Humans are curious creatures and we see patterns everywhere we look. The zodiac was invented to keep track of time and it was divided into 12 segments to match the months on the calendar. As the Earth orbits the sun, the sun appears to pass in front of this pattern of different constellations. Much like the moon appears in a slightly different place in the sky each night, the location of the sun relative to distant background stars will drift in an easterly direction from day to day. The sun is not actually moving, but back in the day, that is what people thought. The motion is entirely an illusion caused by the Earth’s own motion around our star. Constellations became stories with pictures of people and animals as our human minds seemed to instinctively “connect the dots” to derive meaning in the patterns of the stars. Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer crosses the same ecliptic in the sky just like the other 12 zodiac constellations do, but Ophiuchus was dropped to make the zodiac conform with the 12-month Babylonian solar calendar.
Written for Sadje’s Sunday Poser which asks, “What is your Zodiac sign and do you believe that it has an effect on your life or personality?”