Ophiuchus (November 29 – December 17)
This one has been bouncing around the internet for many years now, and was on Kate’s radar many years before that. It would seem to be a hidden zodiacal sign because it’s not exactly on the zodiac belt.
Also the dates shown are actually based on the calendar today rather than the one two thousand years ago when the signs were originally set. One blogger wrote this:
You may or may not remember back in 2011 when news started circulating about a new 13th zodiac sign, Ophiuchus, along with a list of new zodiac signs dates that more accurately reflected how much time the sun spent in front of each constellation on the ecliptic. This information was not new at the time – Snopes even has a page which mentions they’ve had people asking about it since 2002 – and it isn’t new now, with the story going around again just last year.
The crutch of this argument is based on the precession of the equinoxes and it goes something like this: as the Earth spins on an axis, it “wobbles” like a top, then a bunch of science talk, and the eventual result is that the where the sun rises on the equinoxes separates from the fixed stars in the ecliptic. So, for example, 2000 years ago on the spring equinox the sun was rising in front of the constellation Aries, but today it rises in front of Pisces. Western astrologers, however, will tell you that you are an Aries even though the sun isn’t actually rising in front of that constellation on that day. Also, there are 13 (or even 14, depending on who you ask) constellations that the sun travels through. This new supposed Sign, Ophiuchus, isn’t used by astrologers even though it obviously should be. What a bunch of crazies, right?
Popular skeptics have brought up the 13th zodiac Sign and the precession of the equinoxes for a long time. Among today’s most popular voices are Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, and even DNews. These are very high-profile names with a lot of weight behind them (well, at least some of them are) who are, unfortunately, educating people on astrology without knowing anything about it themselves. Which is particularly sad given that these are people who claim that their beliefs are based on reason and sound scientific research. Nobody did the minimal research required to learn the difference between a Sidereal and a Tropical calendar, or to learn that these are two systems for doing astrology with vastly different cultural and historical roots. So here I will tell you what the skeptics never do: Why Ophiuchus is not actually a Sign, and why the traditional Sun Sign dates given to you by astrologers are not actually wrong.Ashley Theissen
“[Ptolemy’s] definition, whether by intent or through a misunderstanding of the zodiac as beginning with the sun’s location on the spring equinox, was to cause problems in the future because, by tying the zodiac to the seasons, he cut its ties to the stars, which gradually moved away from the signs. The Babylonian zodiac consisted of 12 equally sized sectors, but it was tied to the stars – it was sidereal. Eudoxus had located the vernal equinox at 8° Aries. In the first century Pliny had recorded that the sun on 21 March was at 8° Aries. However, according to Ptolemy’s calculations the gradual shift of the stars meant that the sun was now at 0° Aries on 21 March and his statement to this effect was taken by subsequent astrologers as an indication that the sun always occupied 0° Aries on the equinox regardless of the star’s movement. This phenomenon, known as the precession of the equinoxes, displaces the Babylonian/Persian sidereal zodiac at a rate of one sign every 2,156 years from the Ptolemaic, ‘tropical’ zodiac. The sidereal zodiac remained in use in India while the tropical zodiac was gradually established as the norm in the West, the consequence being that the two systems have diverged.” — A History of Western Astrology. Vol.I, by Nicholas Campion
So, are you as confused as I was in the late 1980’s? We use Tropical Astrology in the West, so what you see is what you get. Sidereal Astrology (based on Eastern practices) changes every year, which makes it hard to pin down for our purposes. Even though it’s factually ‘wrong’, I’m sticking with what I know.
That’s enough for now.