The Fault in Our Astrology

Ophiuchus appears to be surrounded by serpents. The constellation is found within the Serpens constellation.

By Sami Thompson, News, Entertainment, & Features Editor

These past few months have been an odd time for astrologers across the world with the discovery of a new zodiac sign in September. A variety of people share the common hobby of checking their horoscope every month, seeing what the stars had planned for. Though not an exact science, a lot of people tune in each month to see what the twelve zodiac signs have in store for their future, and they take it quite seriously. Those fans, as well as the rest of the world, were shocked in September when NASA announced that there is actually a thirteenth sign that the Babylonians purposely neglected 3,000 years ago.

The zodiac system itself has changed, essentially. The entire constellation system composes of Earth’s cycle around the sun, which is one year. The Babylonians saw different constellations at different times of the year, so they created a system for the cycle they saw yearly: the Zodiac. For convenience, it was separated into twelve equal parts for each month of the year. Ophiuchus, known as the “serpent bearer” because it appears in the middle of the Serpens constellation, was left out. Many fans blame NASA for altering the system, but as they said in a tumblr post, they “just did the math”.  The Babylonians were the ones to ignore the constellation. They didn’t want to organize thirteen signs into twelve months, hence Ophiuchus was tossed aside because of practicality.  Furthermore, Earth’s axis has shifted since three millennia ago, so the sun spends more time aligned with the Ophiuchus sign. With the addition of Ophiuchus in between Scorpio and Sagittarius, many astrology believers, though not all, have found that their star signs have shifted back by one. The Capricorns are now Sagittarius, the Aquarius are the new Capricorns, and so on.

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The Zodiac system is separated into twelve parts around the sun. Earth travels through these twelve parts through out the year.

So what does this mean for everyone? For those who are committed to their horoscopes? For those who have their signs as tattoos? Many people have bombarded astrologists to find out how this affects their zodiac. In the end, however, there isn’t any real change. When early observers were creating the calendar, they were doing so seasonally. Babylonians were calculating how the sun affects Earth’s seasons as the Zodiac cycle progressed, and they noticed different personality traits in people born in different times of the year. The Zodiac the world knows and loves is based off of this philosophy, and it’s called the Sun sign. That’s why the Zodiac signs are further categorized into the four elements: Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. Ophiuchus’ discovery affects the stars, not the seasons. That means that this entire ordeal is nothing to stress over. There is no need to agitate local astrologers in search for explanations. The signs, the horoscopes, it is all perfectly in tact, and it is here to stay.

Photo Credits: Space Place (of NASA)
Elizabeth Weinberg, Refinery 29

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