Living on a ball of rock which is spinning at unimaginable speed, we like to cling on to what certainties we can. There are seven days in a week. There are 24 hours in a day. And there are 12 signs of the Zodiac.
But as someone who spends their time studying astrology, one thing I know for sure is that there are very few constants in our ever-changing universe. So when stories began to re-emerge this week of a 13th star sign, I wasn’t shocked.
Does it mean that we need to recalibrate the sky? Have the heavens been turned upside down? Thankfully, it’s nothing quite so dramatic!
Cosmologists at Nasa first ‘discovered’ a 13th constellation, — Ophiuchus, aka the snake-bearer — several years ago, claiming it as a new Zodiac sign for people born between November 29 and December 17.
Astrology aficionados were debating its significance even before that. So why has Ophiuchus resurfaced now?
The skies, as always, have the answer — this time in the form of Comet Neowise.
It is one of the few comets that can be seen with the naked eye. Growing brighter as it prepares for its closest run by Earth on July 23, the comet is throwing into relief some of the mysteries of our cosmos. Its sudden dramatic appearance has encouraged more of us to look towards the heavens to seek insight into these strange times. And who should be looking back but the long-forgotten Ophiuchus?
It was the Babylonians who originally spotted Ophiuchus about 3,000 years ago, along with the 12 constellations we know so well. As Nasa put it, the Babylonians ‘divided the Zodiac into 12 equal parts — like cutting a pizza into 12 equal slices’. Each 30-degree slice of the 360-degree path of the Sun was given its own star sign, to match the Babylonians’ own 12-month calendar, based on the Moon’s phases. So the 13th, Ophiuchus, got conveniently left out. And now it’s back!
Well, sort of. I’ll explain why this intriguing interloper won’t be getting its own slot in your Daily Mail forecast shortly.
But if you are born under the Ophiuchus ‘sign’, what does it mean?
Well, you would inherit a lot of the characteristics of the Sagittarian sign it sits within: naturally optimistic, with a gung-ho attitude to any challenge or situation. People born within the Ophiuchus dates tend to be flamboyant and outgoing, while ready to commit deeply to the right person once they find them. They are generous folk who strive hard for success. Celebrities born between November 29 and December 17 certainly include a fair share of these passionate extroverts. Billy Idol (November 30) and Ozzy Osbourne (December 3) celebrate their birthdays in the 13th Zodiac timeframe. And Winston Churchill (November 30), led Britain to victory during its darkest hours.
So if the constellation of Ophiuchus the snake-bearer exists, shouldn’t we squeeze it into the forecasts? That would mean changing the dates of the other signs to incorporate it, so if you were Taurus you might slip into Aries, and so on.