The Zodiac signs have remained the same for as long as they've been around. For all of our lives and generations before us, we would hear of the 12 celestial figures and how they relate to us, how we're meant to identify with the signs we were born under.
What surprises many people is that the Zodiac may have a thirteenth constellation within it, one that's caused many debates and controversies as astrologists struggle to figure out where to place it. It might even replace one of your signs, depending on when you were born.
What's Your Sign?
If you know even the basics of astrology, you're likely aware of the 12 zodiac signs. From Aries to Pisces, there's a sign that covers every day of the year at one-month intervals, with the most popular being your sun sign. Your sun sign refers to what sign the sun was positioned in front of at the time of your birth.
The signs all refer to constellations suspended in space, ones we can only get a glimpse at in the darkest of night skies.
More Than Meets The Eye
Did you know that among the 12 constellations we know of, there's another that lines up inside of the zodiac's rotation perfectly, somewhere between Scorpio and Sagittarius?
It's called Ophiuchus, and some argue that it should be included as the 13th zodiac sign.
Ophiuchus is a Greek name that translates to 'serpent bearer.' It depicts a man holding a serpent, one end in each of his hands. The two sides of the serpent represent the constellations of Serpens Caput and Serpens Cauda.
Ophiuchus Connects To Both Greek And Roman Mythology
Ancient Greeks drew parallels between Ophiuchus and the god Apollo, who has a famous myth wherein he fought a giant snake. Ancient Romans associate Ophiuchus with a Trojan priest named Laocoön, who was killed by sea serpents.
Some myths believe Ophiuchus to be a representation of Asclepius, who made an immortality potion using Gorgon's blood, serpent venom, and another unknown herb. Hades was displeased by this potion's creation, so he had his brother Zeus kill Asclepius. To commemorate Asclepius, Zeus created a constellation in his image.
So Why Isn't He A Zodiac Sign?
The argument for having Ophiuchus become an official zodiac sign is sound, seeing as the sun passes in front of Ophiucus longer than it does Scorpius, between the dates of November 30 and December 18. The ecliptic (an imaginary line in the sky that tracks the path of the sun) also crosses through Ophiuchus as it does the other zodiac signs.
The simple answer as to why he isn't among the other 12 yet is that people still can't decide how to classify him.
Back And Forth
Many still swear that it does not belong to the Zodiac grouping of constellations, no matter the proximity or alignment of it in the sky, but rather to the Hercules family of constellations. This is especially considering the Serpens constellations are considered part of the Hercules family.
Others view it as more of an issue of tradition. The 12 original zodiac signs have been used for millennia with a perfect division over the course of the year. Throwing a 13th in there, accurate as it may technically be, would cause a considerable upset within the world of astrology.
Along the same line, some believe the 12 original signs were chosen for a reason, and Ophiuchus wasn't 'forgotten', but purposefully left out.
If He's Not A Zodiac Constellation, Then What?
There are still plenty of fascinating things about Ophiuchus, with no need for it to be tagged onto the Zodiac group to gain significance.
Besides its differing and fascinating mythology, Ophiuchus was one of the first constellations cataloged by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century. Back then, it was more likely to go by its original Latin name of Serpentarius.
For the more astronomy-minded, Ophichius contains quite a few notable stars and deep sky objects, such as Barnard's Star, Kelper's Supernova, the Little Ghost Nebula, and the Dark Horse Nebula.
It's also the 11th largest constellation in the sky. Its brightest star is Rasalhauge, but even then, it's a rather dim image, especially compared to the nearby Antares star in Scorpius.
Where Is Ophiuchus In The Sky?
In the Northern Hemisphere, you can see Ophiuchus high in the southern sky at nightfall during late July and early August.
In the autumn, you can spot it more in the southwestern sky at the same time.
It sits North of the Scorpius constellation and south of Hercules. Ophiuchus is a rather large constellation, seeing as it consists of two separate bodies weaved together, meaning it should be easy to make out once you know what you're looking for. It also rests near Libra and Sagittarius.
Hundreds Of Lightyears Away
Even though we've been witnessing the same stars for thousands of years, there continue to be debates about them, proving that there's much about our own visible world that we still don't fully understand or agree on.
The constellations are not just a powerful tool in mapping, divination, and astrology, but are simply one of life's natural beauties. Zodiac sign or not, Ophiuchus deserves respect and recognition as a beautiful celestial body with a rich, fascinating history.