Ophiuchus: Is This Really The 13th Zodiac Sign?

Silhouette of a space shuttle in a star-filled sky

Most people who check their horoscope regularly would be aware that there are only 12 zodiac signs. Karma and Luck lists them in order as Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.

Just last year, however, several news outlets began reporting on a new 13th zodiac sign called Ophiuchus. The introduction of a new zodiac sent some folks spinning into an “astrological identity crisis” as they realize that their sign was going to change. If their birthday, for instance, falls on August 8, they wouldn’t be a Leo anymore but a Cancer as reflected in the updated astrological star sign dates. This led some people to ask this question: Is Ophiuchus even real?

Ophiuchus: The Serpent Bearer

Ophiuchus is a large constellation of stars situated around the celestial equator. It derived its name from the Greek word Ophioukhos, meaning serpent bearer. The exclusive dates of Ophiuchus are from November 29 to December 17 as the sun passes in front of this constellation during this time. This would mean that if your birthday fell on and between these dates, Ophiuchus would be your zodiac sign—or would it?

Ophiuchus a Constellation, Not a Sign

Expert Astrologer Rick Levine argues that Ophiuchus has nothing to do with Astrology. While Ophiuchus is indeed a constellation, it’s not the 13th zodiac sign. Levine adds that each of the four seasons come with a beginning, middle, and end. This makes for 12 zodiac signs, with no room for a 13th.

NASA Started It

So how did this uproar on the 13th sign start? It all began with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) publishing this blog post on January 2016 pointing out a 13th constellation that the Babylonians chose to omit in their calendar. Some media outlets took that to mean that NASA modified the astrological calendar and added a new sign. NASA representatives, however, did clarify that it was not their intention to alter the zodiac as they neither practiced nor participated in astrology.

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Breathe easy now because your zodiac sign will stay the same. The media hype surrounding Ophiuchus serves as a lesson for everyone not to believe everything they read until they check the facts—and not to confuse astronomy with astrology.