By Maira Ito
Editor - Paola Duran
As an immigrant born and raised in an Orthodox European country with heavy religious influence from the education system, I’ve always been surrounded by horoscopes and zodiacs. So you can imagine my astonishment when the afternoon news channel covered a breaking story on a 13th zodiac, shifting the majority of signs. As a Scorpio born in the year of the Horse, I’ve heard numerous stories in the span of many years, most from my family really, in regard to my stubborn, career-oriented mindset. However, according to social media news coverage, the stars had shifted, evidently adding a brand new zodiac sign to the mix and changing modern horoscopes. Firstly, I am not a Libra whatsoever. Second, I may or may not have opened a multitude of tabs trying to relate myself to Libra characteristics. But did it really change, or is this just misinterpreted information?
Back in 2016, Nasa released the announcement on a educational blog post, setting forth a 13th and apparent new zodiac onto the list - Ophiuchus. This sign is symbolized as the snake bearer, and represents those born between November 29th and December 17th.
Science and History Behind Zodiacs
According to modern historians, the zodiacs were established in 409-398 BC by astronomers in Babylon, a famous country esteemed in ancient Mesopotamia. Sound familiar? They were ruled under Hammurabi, the sixth king of the dynasty, and famously known for creating the Hammurabi Code. Aside from that, it was referenced on countless occasions in the Bible, making anybody remotely religious recognize the city.
“She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son.”
-1 Peter 5:13
Back then people developed the idea of star-sign reading after religion dictated that the gods chose one’s faith - so it would only make sense for the stars to reveal the fortune and luck in one’s life.
The science - though not entirely precise, goes as follows: the seven planets in the solar system move in regular cyclical patterns, each one journeying at different speeds. Each planet’s movement symbolizes the agents that make one’s zodiac, and can differ according to the changing stages. The twelve stages represent the zodiacs, and they are placed in a 360 degree wheel that covers an entire year.
“The Babylonians lived over 3,000 years ago. They divided the zodiac into 12 equal parts--like cutting a pizza into 12 equal slices.”
Most planets contain a different sign, with only a couple acquiring more than two. The zodiacs, indefinitely, are derived from the constellations that mark the path on which the sun moves. Undoubtedly, there is more to the exact astronomy behind the signs and predictions, but that's the sum of it.
So What Am I Now and What “Changed”?
A new page posted by NASA started trending on social media, the site disclosing the history behind the Babylon - the 12 signs everybody knows, the importance of the axis, and the mystery behind the 13th. Current findings reveal that the Earth’s axis (North Pole) is not quite pointing in the same direction, meaning that the signs shifted. It is super complicated, however, because as the Earth’s axis wobbles and the constellations change in their size, it is impossible to make accurate depictions.
A Sigh of Relief for Everybody
Good news! My Scorpio heart thanks my need for deep research and curiosity, so before anybody freaks out googling their new sign (like I did for an hour) and their “new” personality traits, continue reading.
Phil Plait wrote his ideas regarding the claims on the Mirror UK, and exactly what vague social media posts forgot to mention.
“The thing is, there are more than 12 constellations the Sun can pass through. Some are smaller, or have fainter stars, so they get ignored.”
-Phil Plait, The Mirror UK
In reality there are a MULTITUDE of stars in the lineup that can get ignored due to being too small, and if carefully counted it can even go up to 21. Over the centuries, the constellations vary - a couple hundred years ago there probably would have been a very different constellation.
NASA spokesperson Dwayne Brown told Gizmodo back in 2016 that “Nasa studies astronomy not astrology”. (Dwayne Brown, Gizmodo) Nasa is not selling new signs, but they are depicting what the modern day horoscope would resemble. It is up to you how you choose to depict the news. The rumors became more accurate when people began reporting the news without checking the so-called valid source. The page itself that people proclaimed as the official announcement from the space company is an educational kid-oriented site, where it’s explained how the constellations changed in comparison to thousands of years ago, noting the position of the axis. It is not a full proclamation from the organization, and was simply made to educate. It’s up to the reader if we continue reading the old Babylonian horoscope or if we should begin judging day-to-day life with the new one.
13 Signs and How They Apparently "Changed"