Don't Blame NASA for Changing the Zodiac

Is it time for the zodiac to make room for the constellation Ophiuchus? . (Photo: RealCG Animation Studio/Shutterstock)

If you woke up this morning cursing the heavens that you're no longer a Scorpio but an Ophiuchus, don't blame NASA.

The space agency has been on the receiving end of vitriol from astrology believers after explaining earlier this year why the celestial zodiac was incomplete. The ancient calendar system, first created by the Babylonians some 3,000 years ago, is made up of 12 constellations that the sun appears to pass through over the course of a year. Each constellation was ascribed certain attributes, giving way to the idea that the stars could influence human affairs and terrestrial events, or what we all know today as astrology.

The problem is that the Babylonians conveniently left out a 13th constellation that the sun passes through for 18 days out of the year. The reason mostly had to do with aesthetics, with the Babylonians feeling hard-pressed to squeeze 13 constellations into their 12-month calendar. So they dropped one — the fun-to-pronounce Ophiuchus (oaf-ih-YOU-kus if you want to try this at home.)

"House Ophiuchus represented Unity," shares the site Zodiac Books. "Its people were spirited, magnetic, impulsive, clever, flamboyant and at times jealous, power-hungry, and temperamental. At their hearts, they were healers who hoped to one day rid the zodiac of every ill — disease, violence, etc. — and bring everyone closer together."

For now, the sun passes through the constellation Ophiuchus, located in the upper-right, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 17. (Photo: NASA)

As you might expect, those who enjoy reading their daily horoscopes have been horrified to learn that they can no longer claim the constellation they were born under. The inclusion of Ophiuchus, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 17, effectively means all the signs have shifted.

As NASA points out, this zodiac bump is not all on the Babylonians. The past 3,000 years has also been enough time to effectively shift the sky because Earth's axis is no longer pointing in the same direction.

"Now Mimi's Aug. 4 birthday would mean she was born 'under the sign' of Cancer (one constellation 'earlier'), not Leo," writes NASA.

sidereal zodiac
The updated sidereal zodiac with the inclusion of Ophiuchus. (Photo: Quantum Stones)

So what does all this mean for those who practice astrology? It depends. There are two forms of astrology: Western, which follows the tropical zodiac based on the seasons, and Eastern, which follows the sidereal zodiac based on the constellations. Western astrologists recognize Ophiuchus as a constellation, but not as a sign.

"Ophiuchus has nothing to do with astrology," Western astrologist Rick Levine told DailyHoroscope. "It's not an astrology issue. It has to do with the stars — it's not a sign, it's a constellation."

There are four seasons each with a beginning, middle and end," he added. "That makes 12 zodiac signs, and there's no such thing as a 13th astrological sign."

So if you subscribe to Western astrology, no worries — you're still a Taurus. If you depend on the Eastern variety and happen to be born between Nov. 29 and Dec. 17, welcome to House Ophiuchus.

For those of us who could care less, check out this video of Maru the cat conquering a swing. It's awesome and might just be more relevant to your day.