Well, sort of.
See, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, known to most of us as NASA, did recognize a 13th zodiac sign in August. According to NASA, Ophiuchus—Latin for serpent bearer—is one of the 13 constellations that cross the ecliptic, which is the path of the sun as it appears from Earth. The Administration did not create it or suddenly discover it. Rather, according to what representative Laurie Cantillo posted on NASA’s Tumblr account, they simply, “did the math.”
What Is Ophiuchus
According to ancient Babylonian lore, Ophiuchus is a man wrestling a giant snake, typically straddling over the serpent. The ancients said that those born under this sign have a natural protection against poisons, and at different periods in time, the constellation has been associated with doctors and healers. Some astrologists say that those born under Ophiuchus are a blend of both Scorpio and Sagittarius. They are dream interpreters, full of passion and jealousy, as well as wisdom seekers and visionaries who are known to have good luck.
In the Beginning
To fully understand the current controversy, you’ve got to go back to the beginning of the zodiac, back to the Babylonians 3,000 years ago. While these ancient people knew there were 13 zodiac signs, the civilization already had a 12-month calendar based on moon phases. Instead of trying to incorporate 13 signs into its structure, they simply eliminated one, Ophiuchus, and divided the other 12 equally across the calendar, giving each constellation the same amount of time.
But that’s not exactly how it works. Each and every one of the 13 constellations that make up the zodiac are different in size and shape. Therefore, it takes the sun a different amount of time to pass through each one. For instance, Virgo takes around 45 days, while Scorpio only seven and Ophiuchus about 18.
Then There’s the Wobble
But wait. There’s more than just the addition of a thirteenth zodiac sign. Since the Babylonians classified these constellations three millennia ago, the sky isn’t quite the same. The Earth has a wobbling effect and, over long periods of time, its axis isn’t pointing at the same spot it was back then. And that means the sun’s apparent path has changed as well.
For instance, let’s say you were born on November 28. You thought you were a Sagittarius. But really, you were born under Scorpio. Turns out the sun doesn’t pass through Sagittarius until December 18. That has nothing to do with NASA. That has to do with the Earth’s wobble.
Astronomy versus Astrology
NASA never intended to mess with everyone’s horoscopes when they mentioned Ophiuchus on one of its websites. From its Tumblr page, “Here at NASA, we study astronomy, not astrology. We didn’t change any zodiac signs, we just did the math.” And they’re right, astronomy and astrology are two very different studies.
Astronomy is the science of celestial objects and things in space, such as planets, stars, and the universe as a whole. Astrology, on the other hand, is the study of how the movement and positions of celestial bodies influence humans and their affairs, and includes the idea of horoscopes.
So Is There a Change?
What you really want to know is how does this affect your horoscope? Western astrology does not rely on NASA to determine what constellation people are born under. Instead, it uses the path of the sun as seen from Earth, along with static stones, to track planetary movements. So according to most astrologists, Ophiuchus doesn’t change a thing as far as horoscopes go. It was always there. It will continue to be there, and you are still the darling little Sagittarius you have always been.
Most astrologers have no plans to start including Ophiuchus when predicting horoscopes. Astrologer Rick Levine explained it to the Daily Horoscope this way: this “has to do with stars—it’s not a sign, it’s a constellation.” Modern signs no longer rely on their specific constellation counterparts, but instead are timed with the seasons and planets.
If you’ve always identified with your sign, you’re in luck. You don’t have to schedule a laser tattoo removal procedure to get rid of that Sagittarius arrow from your right shoulder. But if you were unhappy as a Sagittarius, always knowing that it wasn’t truly you, go ahead and change it up. Maybe you’ll feel better.