So my zodiac sign is now Ophiuchus instead of Sagittarius? Based on the new zodiac sign dates, Sagittarius now covers Dec. 17-Jan. 20, which does not include the date of my birthday. The real horoscope may not actually what we know it is. The 13th zodiac sign Ophiuchus was believed to have been discarded by the Babylonians because they wanted 12 signs per year!
Astronomers claim that Astrologers are using an outdated zodiac with the twelve signs covering uneven periods and that there are actually thirteen if Ophiuchus is included.


The media reports on the 13th zodiac sign and the change in the zodiac calender has sent thousands into an astrological identity crisis. However, the real meaning seems to have been lost in translation.
Amid the snowballing commotion over the perceived proposition of the 13th Zodiac sign, several astrologers are trying to calm the panicky astrology-believers with assurances that nothing has really changed in their stars. Meanwhile, the astronomer who began the whole ordeal, has also come out to clarify that he never contended that Ophiuchus ought to be added to the existing list of 12 signs.
Birth in ancient Babalonian formulation
It all began with astronomer Parke Kunkle’s interview to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, during which the board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society told the publication of how ancient Babylonians formulated the zodiac signs.
Kunkle explained that Babylonians based zodiac signs on the constellation the sun was ‘in’ on the day a person was born. As millenniums passed by, the moon’s gravitational pull has made the Earth “wobble” around its axis, creating about a one-month bump in the stars’ alignment, Kunkle is quoted as saying in the January 9 report.
“When they [astrologers] say that the sun is in Pisces, it’s really not in Pisces,” Kunkle said, indicating that most horoscope readers may be reading the wrong predictions and may be rationalizing their behavior on wrong traits.
Kunkle, who teaches astronomy at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, also stated that there is no physical connection between constellations and personality traits.
“Sure, we can connect harvest to the stars. But personality? No.”
With the Kunkle’s remark that people are no longer looking at the sky to understand astrology, the report concluded on a thought-provoking note stating that this could be the reason why sometimes “why a day might not have turned out exactly as predicted.”
Frenzied Growth…
This report was interpreted variedly and thrown out to the public from several media outlets, with headlines such as ‘Horoscope Hang-Up: Earth Rotation Changes Zodiac Signs’ and ‘Your zodiac sign may have changed’. With the reports of the new sign called Ophiuchus, placed between the Scorpio and Sagittarius, and a drastic change in the zodiac calender, the excitement was bound to follow.
While initial reactions were that of shock, people gradually began to question the 13th zodiac sign as the media also has begun “debunking” it.
leiya_h tweeted: “What the hey…according to the bew zodiac I should be a Sagitarius…no way! I like being a Capricorn! Am so siding up w/ CNN debunking it!”
The cynicism and humour were also abundant. Famous stand-up comedian, Dane Cook tweeted, “According to the “new zodiac” my sign (Pisces) is still the same. Phew…”
“Reading the reactions from zodiac believers is hilarious; they don’t want to accept that the stars now say they are lame and gullible,” posted a user, Max Kalifornia.
The tech-lovers chose to stick with what their gadgets had to say. StevieStarface (Stevie Leigh) wrote, “My (scary accurate) horoscope app on my phone says the #zodiac hasn’t changed, so everyone can shut up now =]”
The Possible Demise?
Even before the media operation to debunk the whole thing kick started, several astronomers had already begun to rubbish the claims and clarify that the 13th sign would not change anything.
Terry Nazon, the World Famous Celebrity Astrologer, continuously questioned the issue on Twitter.
In an attempt to prompt a response from Dr Brian Cox, British particle physicist, Nazon posted, “Let’s ask a real Astros physicist not a flunkie@ProfBrianCox what do you think about this 13th zodiac sign Ophiuchus and the Earth & Sun’s transit.”
This was followed by two other similar tweets over the span of few hours.
“We need a real Astros physicist to chime in not some astronomer Delma technical school …..right”
“Where are the Harvard astronomers???”
Her latest tweet rubbished the whole 13th sign theory, stating, “The ancient Babylonians knew about hundreds of constellations the knew about the Serpentarius.12 signs, 12 apostles, 12 tribes of Israel.”
Meanwhile, another expert astrologer Rick Levine refuted that Ophiuchus had anything at all to do with Astrology.
“It’s not an Astrology issue. It has to do with the stars — it’s not a sign, it’s a constellation,” he is quoted as saying in
“There are four seasons each with a beginning, middle and end. That makes 12 zodiac signs, and there’s no such thing as a 13th astrological sign.”
Explaining what Ophiuchus is, Levine said, “Ophiuchus is a large modern constellation commonly represented as a man grasping the snake represented by the constellation Serpens.”
“It’s just a constellation. Even the founding text for Astrology (Tetrabiblos by Claudius Ptolemy written 170 AD only mentions 12 signs.) A few astrologers who practice the controversial sidereal (consellation-based) zodiac use it as the 13th zodiacal sign – and by a few we mean about 1 percent,” he asserted.
What’s more? Kunkle himself has come out with a clarification stressing that he did not tell the Star-Tribune that the zodiac ought to include 13 signs instead of 12 – especially since he doesn’t believe in astrology at all.
The astronomer told Mad Science, “I just mentioned that it’s there, and astronomers actually count it… So if you actually watch the stars in the background of the sun, it actually does go through the constellation of Ophiuchus.”


The cosmic news broke without warning. Or did the solar eclipse and floods and blizzards herald the rediscovery of the new sign of the zodiac: Ophiuchus, the snake-holder? His usurpation of the 19 days between Scorpio and Sagittarius has altered everyone’s horoscope — and perhaps altered our personalities too. I used to be Cancer (and crabby) and now I am Gemini — and two-faced? Confused, yes.
But who exactly is Ophiuchus?
All the dozen previous signs of the zodiac have roots in classical mythology — specifically in the legend of how the 12 Olympian gods took the shape of various animals and creatures to flee the sulfurous, multi-armed monster Typhon who was causing havoc and ripping up mountains and such. (Only Zeus stood his ground and, gathering up his courage and his lightning bolts, let fly with those weapons of mass destruction and buried Typhon under a mess of rock, which smolder to this day as a volcano, Mount Etna.) The myth doesn’t bear much fact-checking — or math. Does Gemini, for example, count for one or two? And if Zeus stood firm, then… something is missing…. And what god or goddess would have sought refuge in the shape of Libra, a scale?
(See more on the Earth rotation that changed up our Zodiac signs.)
Otherwise, the symbols are meaningful only in terms of mnemonics — giving earthly shape to the constellations that occupy the moving belt of stars that define the terrestrial year. Allusions to myth help give each meaning. Cancer, for example, being perhaps a giant crustacean defeated by Herakles (Hercules, to those who prefer Latin) but also being a hard-shelled creature, provides a metaphor for the nature of any human born under the sign (hiding in one’s shell, by extension, a homebody, as I was comfortable being until now when I have to learn to be a Gemini.)
So, what kind of creature is Ophiuchus? The illustrations that have emerged (old prints from shortly after the time of Gutenberg, it seems) portray some sort of heavily muscled person holding on with difficulty to a veritable anaconda in the sky. There are various myths attached to the constellation, most of them obscure, two are quite telling — if ominous. A third I have come up with on my own.
(See more on what you need to know about Ophiuchus.)
The first is that of Asklepios (Latin, Aesculapius, which has somehow become acceptable in English as Asclepius), who was, as the old Greek stories often go, the offspring of a tragic match. His mother, impregnated by the god Apollo, started a dalliance with someone else. It is not good to cheat on any god — and certainly not one associated with the sun. The poor woman was set on fire and her child ripped from her womb (Asklepios etymologically meaning to be cut out). The infant was given over to be raised by the good and wise centaur Chiron. He grew to be very wise himself, able to cure the sick and the raise the dead. The serpent, already a symbol of wisdom and its goddess Athena, was associated with Asklepios’ rejuvenating skills because it could renew itself, becoming “young” again, by shedding its old skin. But the fates and the gods did not like the idea of a human with the ability to grant other humans the gift of eternal life. So Zeus struck him dead with a thunderbolt. His father Apollo, however, raised him from the dead — and eventually Asklepios became the god of healing and medicine. Some early Christian writers went on to say that he was a prefiguring of their own savior — perphaps propaganda against the cult of Asklepios, which was a potent rival to the faith of the followers of Jesus.
The other tale has a magnificent piece of art associated with it: the Laoco?n, an ancient sculpture found in Rome and reassembled by Michelangelo. It stands in the Vatican Museum and shows the Trojan priest Laoco?n and his two sons being attacked by serpents. Why was Laoco?n so punished? Because he warned his fellow citizens of Troy not to let into their walled citadel the giant wooden horse left behind by the Greeks. The goddess Athena (she of the snakes) sent enormous serpents to strangle and kill the priest and his sons. The Trojans interpreted it as a sign that it was alright to let the gift horse in without looking into its contents. The rest is, again, tragedy.
The key to both tales is the snake, symbol of wisdom and of all the knowledge hidden beneath the earth. One of the great sites of prophecy in the ancient Greek world was Pythia, from where we get our word “python.” And, so, I have a third scenario to help explain who Ophiuchus is. It isn’t a story told very often but, while not perfectly matching the “snake-holder” description, it involves wisdom and snakes.
Tiresias was considered the wisest of men and he was summoned before the gods because Zeus and his sister-spouse Hera were quarreling. Zeus insisted that women enjoyed sex more than men; the prudish Hera said that was not true. The only one who knew for certain was Tiresias. Why? Once when he was walking through the woods, he came upon two enormous serpents mating. Being curious and not afraid of disturbing these symbols of wisdom as they copulated, he poked at them. As punishment (or boon), Tiresias was transformed into a woman and lived, fully, as a woman. Years later, walking through the same woods, he once again came across serpents mating. He knew exactly what to do. He poked them again. Poof. He was a man.
And so, Zeus asked, having been both male and female, who derives more pleasure from sexual intercourse? Tiresias did not hesitate and said, “woman.” Hera was incensed and struck him blind. Transgender, inquisitive, brave enough to risk the wrath of Hera (whom even Zeus feared) Tiresias, blind as he may have become, is the most modern embodiment of Ophiuchus.

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