cosmic variables: exploring ophiuchus

Support group for Sagittarians

Last week Minneapolis astronomy instructor Parke Kunkle affirmed that the Earth’s “wobble” has shifted the zodiac signs. First of all, this is a concept that astrologers and astronomers have known for 2,000 years, but after the story went viral on the internet, experts claimed that the zodiac “has changed”, (which it hasn’t) and that your sign is different (which it isn’t).

This mattered to me for two reasons: the first, because i think astrology is fun and endearing, and the second, because i am an early december baby and thus one of the unlucky sagittarians to have their world shaken by a word that I couldn’t even pronounce the first three times i saw it: Ophiucus (oh-fee-YOU-cuss).

Now, when I first heard the news, I had a mild astrological identity crisis. People were saying ‘Your sign is not your sign’ and ‘Your whole life has been a lie’, but the angry, resentful part of me only heard, Astrology is a crock, anyway. And I was furious!

My love affair with astrology started when I didn’t believe in anything else. So I wouldn’t say it was by default, but it grew out of my profound love for the mysterious celestial body that we live in and call home.

My scientist brother Paul has always denied the existence of our personality outcomes being based on something we share with others who were born on the same day that we were born: enter Astrology. But I have forever embodied my fire sign, Sagittarius. Everything that symbolizes Sagittarius, symbolizes ME.

And the more I listened to, watched, and read, the more conflicted the stories had become. What was going on?

Let’s get to the bottom on this Ophiuchus business.

It’s true: there is a thirteenth constellation

Planets, moons, bands of energy, light. This is the universe, and it is the real deal. It is ever changing, ever living, and ever vibrant. And it is never the same. So, ‘Magnetic north’ is moving forty miles a year.I can live with that. I probably move forty miles a week, and sometimes forty miles a day. Not shocking that magnetic north is shifting.

This is equal to about a one degree shift per year in the alignment of the earth every 70 years, making the earth’s orbit slightly unstable.

Kunkle, the Minnesota astronomy instructor, came out last week and announced that there is a thirteenth sign, Ophiucus, which has been neglected for years. And this is true.

Kunkle is suggesting that astrologers ar off a month in their zodiac signs, and that they are neglecting Ophiucus, a constellation has been around for 2,000 years. There are 88 other well known constellations ~ should they be signs, too?

Ophiucus is the Serpent Bearer, and could potentially represent those born from Nov. 30 to Dec. 17.

According to myth, Ophiuchus became a healer when he killed a snake and another appeared with an herb in his mouth that revived the dead one. Some have said that he was a doctor, and others said that he was a snake charmer.

But let’s be honest, people. We’re talking stars, here. I could pretend my couch is a wild animal, too, and create an elaborate myth surrounding it. Would that make it real?

if you believe Kunkle, go here for your new zodiac sign dates

It’s not true: your sign is still your sign

Expert astrologers say the rumors that there is a thirteenth sign are absolutely untrue. Rick Levine says Ophiucus is a not a sign, it’s a constellation. So there are lots of those, and the data has never gone viral before, so where do we stand, Rick?

Levine maintains that astrology is based on the four seasons, not on the constellations – and the seasons don’t change. Each season has a beginning, a middle, and and end, which adds up to 12 zodiac signs. There is no 13th sign. Well, phew. That was a close one.

Others suggest that all of this hype about new Zodiac dates (including Ophiuchus)  is simply a false alarm.  The Zodiac dates are based on the yearly solstices and equinoxes, not actual star location and that although the astronomical constellations are changing, the astrological reference points have not, or will not change. The original zodiac dates will remain the same. They have been known since 500 B.C.

And so the botton line is…

Is Astrology a bust?

When I had my birth chart read, that time in British Columbia, by the physicist who lived in that trailer, I believed him. He knew so much about me, and made insights about my relationships, my health, and my travels. When I wrote my first column, Astrological Mojo, in the Saint Marys’ newspaper, was I taking certain liberties that perhaps I couldn’t afford?

Ophiucus is ancient news to experts and astronomers, really ancient. They’ve known this for millenia. It has also been suggested that in other zodiacs, Ophiucus does get some play. But for some reason, our zodiac has omitted this celectial data: perhaps in the name of the democratic 12 (in accordance with the 12 months) or it was dropped because of unlucky 13. Only four stars of Ophiucus are touched by our zodiac.

But you know what, this morning when I was reading intoxicated zodiac, which assigns certain cocktails to each sign, i wondered how accurate my physicist’s reading was that morning in the sunshine of the trailer table pulled down, or whether he was really a physicist at all.

Please leave your comments – i can’t wait to get some of your feedback on this star-crossed, crater sized mystery.

Listen to CBC Radio: The Missing 13th Sign


  1. I am an Aries, and I will NOT change. Even if the orbit has shifted and things are different now – well, that can be fine for those born recently. I was still born when I was born. And, I LIKE Aries. So there, Ophiucus.

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