NASA has officially recognized a thirteenth constellation, Ophiuchus (pronounced either Oh-FEW-cuss or Off-ee-YOO-cuss, depending on who you read).
We’re all familiar with the 12 constellations associated with the signs of the zodiac for the last 3,000 years. It seems Ophiuchus was always there, but the Babylonians left it out because they needed only twelve.
In the 1970s Stephen Schmitt proposed 13 zodiac signs but it was so controversial that it never caught on.
NASA points out that constellations are matters of astronomy and there are 13 of them. The signs of the zodiac are matters of astrology, and thus somewhat arbitrary.
The 12 signs of the zodiac divide the sun’s ecliptic so that each spans 30 degrees of celestial longitude. Constellations are unequal in size and depend on the positions of stars. Constellations and signs of the zodiac don’t generally coincide. For example, the constellation of Aquarius corresponds to the sign of Pisces.
So, if you add Ophiuchus and adjust the dates for the other 12 constellations to align with their greatest visibility in the night sky, you get the following:
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29-Dec. 17
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20
Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16
Aquarius: Feb. 16-Mar. 11
Pisces: Mar. 11-Apr. 18
Aries: Apt. 18-May 13
Taurus: May 13-June 21
Gemini: June 21-July 20
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23
Scorpio: Nov. 23-Nov. 29
The characteristics of the original 12 signs remain the same. Ophiuchus is from the Greek, meaning “serpent-bearer.” It is associated with healers and physicians.
TRAITS OF OPHIUCHUS are all over the map. POSITIVE: happy, humorous, honest, truthful, intellectual, clever, free-spirited, instinctive, charismatic, creative, driven. IN ADDITION: competitive, secretive, emotional, adaptable, flamboyant dressers, and well-loved by authorities. SO WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE? How about being polygamous, irresponsible, jealous, judgmental, restless, temperamental, and prone to procrastination?
TAKEAWAY FOR WRITERS: Consider making your character an Ophiuchus! You can learn much more about this fascinating sign online.