Has My Zodiac Changed and is There a Thirteenth Zodiac Star Sign?
News (if you can actually call it that) of NASA discovering a thirteenth zodiac star sign has been spreading like wildfire on social media (it crops up every year or so), as has the panic that people’s zodiac signs may have shifted. Don’t panic, here’s what’s really happened. In short, it’s the same as it’s always been.
Is there a thirteenth zodiac star sign?
Yes. But it’s always been there. It’s called Ophiuchus - the ‘Serpent-bearer’ (pronounced 'or-few-cuss'). To cut a long story short as NASA said:
“When the Babylonians invented the constellations 3,000 years ago, they chose to leave out a 13th sign.’’
In astronomical terms, Ophiuchus is a thirteenth constellation, but in astrological terms, there’s only twelve. Astrology (your zodiac signs) and astronomy (the study of stars in the night sky) are two different things.
Has zodiac my star sign changed?
In short, no, not if you ask an astrologer. According to Western astrology there are twelve zodiac signs, with fixed dates, that do not change. They are:
- Capricorn: December 22-January 19
- Aquarius: January 20-February 18
- Pisces: February 19–March 20
- Aries: March 21–April 19
- Taurus: April 20–May 20
- Gemini: May 21–June 20
- Cancer: June 21–July 22
- Leo: July 23–August 22
- Virgo: August 23–September 22
- Libra: September 23–October 22
- Scorpio: October 23–November 21
- Sagittarius: November 22–December 21
However, in astronomical terms, there are 13 constellations that the Sun travels through each year – the twelve zodiac signs we all know, AND Ophiuchus.
When the Babylonians invented Astrology and the zodiac, they chose to leave out the 13th constellation as 13 was considered an unlucky number.
If you ask an astronomer, the astronomical dates for the zodiacs (based on where the sun actually is each year) are:
- Capricorn: January 20–Feb 16
- Aquarius: Feb 16–March 11
- Pisces: March 11–April 18
- Aries: April 18–May 13
- Taurus: May 13–June 21
- Gemini: June 21–July 20
- Cancer: July 20–August 10
- Leo: August 10–September 16
- Virgo: September 16–October 30
- Libra: October 30–November 23
- Scorpio: November 23–November 29
- Ophiuchus: November 29–December 17
- Sagittarius: December 17–January 20
You may notice here that poor old Scorpios only get a week whilst us Virgos get the appreciation we deserve – a whole 45 days!
Why are the dates for the zodiac different?
3,000 years ago when the Babylonians defined the zodiac, the Earth’s axis was pointing in a different location. Back then, Earth’s Northern axis was pointing at the star Thuban. This is due to a process called precession. You see, Earth actually rotates at an angle – like a spinning top on a 23.5 degree tilt. Due to this tilt, every 25.800 years the Earth precesses, which means its northern axis is pointing in a slightly different location.
As the position of the north celestial pole changes, the apparent location of the stars, constellations, equinox and solstice points shift along with it. Importantly for constellations, this precession results in the plane of the ecliptic shifting a little bit, which makes the astrological star signs out of sync with the night sky.
Do I need to change my zodiac birth sign then?
No, you do not need to change your zodiac sign. The zodiac signs in the astrological calendar are not changing. The astronomically defined locations of the star signs have always been there too, they're nothing new either.
Don’t worry, in 23,000 or so years it’ll all be back in line with the Babylonian way of thinking...which was almost right...minus the unlucky Ophiuchus.
Either way, you’re not going to have to change your birth sign any time soon and don’t worry Saggitarians, you’re not going to have to throw away all your Sagittarius memorabilia.
Unless you want to be edgy and start telling everyone you’re an Ophiuchus - the sign of the Serpent-bearer. Sounds like a cool star sign for a Slytherin.
Maybe we should make a zodiac star sign scented candle for Ophiucus, what do you think?