What? Is there a 13th sign in the Zodiac? Well, the short answer is no. The long answer is maybe. It’s a very reasonable question to be asking yourself. In this article we will explain exactly why Ophiuchus “the snake” didn’t get his own home in the horoscope charts.
In order to explain the mystery of Ophiuchus let’s first take a look at constellations. The universe consists of endless stars. Some are close to one another and some aren’t. When you look up into the sky on a clear night you’ll see a bunch of them. Some stars seem close to each other whilst in fact they aren’t. The reason for this is the fact that we can’t tell how far away they are individually. It’s like having a 2D image of a 3D situation. Constellations are a group of stars that seem to be bundled together when we glance at the universe. Often they have been given a name like “The Big Bear” or “Orion” for example. More famous ones are Aries, Taurus, Gemini etc. They are the ones associated with our horoscope.
The easiest way to describe the zodiac is the annual path that the sun seems to travel through space. Now we are aware that the sun isn’t “exactly” moving but from earth it seems like it does, right? So from down here we can observe the sun and take a look at the stars that are displayed in it’s background. Through the course of a year the background changes and so do the stars. We can see different constellations appearing as the year goes by. This area that the sun seems to pass, and all stars included, is what we call the Zodiac. All constellations within this space have been categorized as Zodiac Signs.
Sidereal versus Tropical Astrology
Actually there are two kinds of astrology: Sidereal and Tropical. Now if you take a look at the constellations map you’ll notice that they aren’t exactly lined up. One is big, one is small, some are close to each other and some are further apart. In fact they sometimes overlap or there’s even an empty space between them. In Sidereal astrology that’s no problem at all since we focus on the constellations. The sun could be passing one constellation for a month whilst the next one only lasts a couple of days. In other words, the constellations that rule at the moment are what Sidereal astrology is all about.
This picture explains what we mean by that. The red line represents the path of the sun. The amount of time the sun spends within the area of a certain constellation is shown by the yellow lines.
Now in Tropical astrology this is totally different because the Zodiac is divided into 12 equal seasons (each 30 degrees long). This should sound familiar to most of you doesn’t it? Over the course of a month there is one constellation that gets to rule. It shouldn’t sound like a surprise that the chosen ones are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. 12 Zodiac signs that each last for about a month. In comparison to the picture above it should look something like this:
The yellow lines border each month. As you probably notice there are months where you could actually have 2 Zodiac signs (they overlap as shown in the middle square). However that’s just not how Tropical (or Western) astrology works. One month, one sign.
Back To Ophiuchus
Ophiuchus is a constellation positioned pretty close to the Zodiac. It’s quite big which probably is one of the reasons why it grabs so much attention. To a small extent it even crosses Scorpio, like a long arm reaching out to it (in the video you’ll see it at the 4 minute mark). So yes, the sun passes a tiny portion of Ophiuchus. But there are a few constellations that do the same, they slightly take a part in the Zodiac. Should we add all of them to the list of Zodiac signs? That would result in more than 12 signs! Or should we give Ophiuchus a portion of the month? People say that it deserves a spot between November 29th and December 18th. But if we do that it would mean the whole Tropical approach of astrology should be turned upside down completely. Ophiuchus is still regarded as a constellation and not as a sign. Therefore it has been decided that we stick with the existing 12 “leaders” so to speak.
Now even though we classify Ophiuchus as not being part of the Zodiac Signs it’s totally understandable how it in a way could (or should) be. Even though it’s a tiny portion it still deserves some attention. Besides, did you know that the the sun doesn’t pass Aries at all? It comes close, that’s true, but that’s about it. So yes it’s all a bit confusing! Another question we ask ourselves: What about the double signs? Should we come up with separate signs for these areas too? And what about the empty spaces. There’s one between gemini and cancer for example. Would people born on these days have no zodiac sign at all? And therefore no horoscope? We’re very curious what you think of all this and if Ophiuchus should have it’s own domain as a 13th sign. Should we turn the whole Zodiac upside down? Or does astrology (and it’s horoscopes) work fine the way it is today? Feel free to comment below.