Is Ophiuchus the 13th Zodiac Sign?
Astronomers and Astrology
Recently, astronomer Parke Kunkle announced the exciting news: There is a 13th zodiac sign! That means your zodiac sign has changed! Right?
Uh, no. Not exactly. In fact, not at all really.
Alas, this is a familiar scenario, ironically almost as predictable as astrology itself.
Every once in a while some astronomer who wants his 15 minutes of fame comes out with some shocking announcement that always reminds me of the old Johnny Carson routine. It goes something like this: “Those astrologers are SO DUMB…” And the media dutifully responds in unison, “How dumb are they??” The astronomer answers, “Those astrologers are SO DUMB, they’re using the WRONG ZODIAC!!!”
The explanation typically given is that the astrological zodiac signs don’t line up with the constellations. The astronomer then gets to walk away very satisfied that they have once again proven that astrology is bunk and that only moronic idiots would even entertain the idea of its validity.
In truth, these pronouncements only serve to demonstrate just how little astronomers actually know about real astrology. This latest “revelation” by Parke Kunkle—that the zodiac contains not 12 but 13 signs—is little more than a slightly varied dance step to the same old tired tune.
Mr. Kunkle does have one thing right: the ecliptic (path of the Sun through the heavens) does intersect more constellations than the 12 corresponding zodiac signs that astrology uses. And the Sun does indeed move through a substantial amount of the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer.
Most astrologers who’ve been practicing their craft for a while are aware of this. What Mr. Kunkle and most other astronomers are not aware of, sadly, is that astrology does not typically measure the zodiac signs by the physical constellations.
Tropical Zodiac versus Sidereal Zodiac
The zodiac used by modern Western astrology is based on the seasons, not the constellations of the fixed stars. The seasons are measured by the tilt of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun, as the Sun’s direct line of light moves farther north or south of the Earth’s equator. Read more
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