Monday, January 24, 2011

Ophiuchus: the 13th Zodiac Sign

Recent news reports the constellation Ophiuchus is the 13th sign of the zodiac. This is hardly news. Our view of the heavens has been gradually changing for thousands of years. Why? Because gravity from the Sun and Moon cause the Earth to wobble on its axis.

For stargazers, the result of this wobble is the Sun appears in each zodiac constellation on diferent dates than those originally described in horoscopes. The Sun is in the constellation Ophiuchus during the first half of December. Look for the stars of Ophiuchus, the snake bearer, in the sky near Scorpius. He was placed in the sky to honor Aesculapius, who saved Orion, the hunter's life.

Like most of the star groups making up the 88 official constellations, the zodiac stars are associated with stories about the exploits of mythical gods, animals, creatures, and heroes. The myths were first told to explain events ancient cultures did not understand, as well as being used to explore and describe human feelings.

Ophiuchus was referred to as the 13th zodiac constellation long before I told his story in Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories of the Zodiac (published by Whitecap books in 2007). I encourage you to look up and search the sky for constellations. Discover the stories associated with each zodiac constellation, even if yours is not the one you always thought!

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