People Alarmed Over Announcement of 13th Astrological Sign
NASA, the American civilian Space Agency, has moved quickly to tell people not to panic about the announcement of a 13th zodiac sign, Ophiuchus, which has been causing a panic among those who believe in astrology. But NASA has said there is nothing to fear.
Reportedly, NASA announced the discovery of a 13 th zodiac sign called Ophiuchus, which is better known as the ‘serpent-bearer’ and, as a result, many astrology websites would need to change their astrological chart. For instance, Scorpio would be reduced to just a week and this would mean that a lot of people would be moved to a different star sign.
Astrology is the ancient study of the movements and relative positions of celestial objects, which are used to predict human affairs, personality traits and terrestrial events.
13th Zodiac Sign Creates Online Astrology Panic
The news of a 13th zodiac sign worried many people who believe in astrology and many began to panic. Countless people posted on social media about this topic and wanted to know what NASA was up to. One Twitter user posted, “Can someone explain to me why NASA is now telling us there's a 13th-star sign and I've just been bumped from Sagittarius to the new one WHEN I'VE GOT THE STAG STAR SIGN TATTOOED ON MY ANKLE” reports The Irish Post.
NASA soon distanced itself from the claims and according to TIME stated that “No, we did not change the zodiac.” The US space agency then explained that there is a great difference between astrology, a pseudoscience, and astronomy, which is a science. NASA scientists observe space, astral bodies and other phenomenon and it has nothing to do with astrology, which claims to predict people’s future and describe their personality.
Excerpt from a Babylonian astrology treatise. Terracotta, end of 1st millenium BC. From Warka, ancient Uruk. (Louvre Museum / CC BY-SA 3.0)
Babylonians Invented the Zodiac Four Millennia Ago
NASA explained on their blog that “the zodiac signs are simply constellations that are in line with the Earth and the Sun as the planet follows its orbit” according to TIME. The earth moves through 13 of these signs and one of these is called Ophiuchus, which is one of the 88 officially recognized constellations. It was conceived as a zodiac sign, represented as a man with a serpent in his hands, in ancient times. This sign and the 12 signs of the zodiac were conceived some 3000 years ago by the Babylonians. They were an Akkadian speaking people who developed a powerful civilization in what is now southern Iraq and were instrumental in the development of astronomy.
Apparently, the Babylonians did not like having 13 signs because their calendar had 12 months and they wanted to tidy things up. So, they excluded the 13 th sign, Ophiuchus, and this explains why it does not appear in astrology charts. NASA wrote on a Tumblr post that “Ophiuchus didn't make the cut” reports CNN. The astrological chart developed by the Babylonians around four millennia ago is still the one in use today to draw up horoscopes.
Herkules and Ophiuchus, 1602 by Willem Blaeu. (Erik Lernestål / Public domain)
The 13th Zodiac Sign Hoax Will Not Go Away
In 2011, American astronomers determined that because of the moon’s gravitational pull “the alignment of the stars has shifted, so the sun points to different parts of the zodiac at different times” according to TIME. The constellations shift constantly and are not fixed, and this has been measured by astronomers. NASA only measured the changes in the constellations and did not change the zodiac signs. CNN noted that ‘The agency does not preside over the astrological calendar, but it has observed how the positions of constellations have shifted since the Babylonians divvied up the zodiac.”
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The idea that NASA found a 13 th zodiac sign is one that has gone viral on the internet several times, in the past ten years. In 2016, similar rumors about changes to the astrological chart were squashed by NASA. However, the panic has resurfaced in recent weeks, to the clear annoyance of professional astronomers.
NASA Compares Astrological Beliefs To Fantasy Stories
What is clear is that NASA scientists do not respect the basic ideas behind astrology. They do not believe that the birth sign that one was born under can influence one's destiny or describe an individual. In an educational blog, they stated that “No one has shown that astrology can be used to predict the future or describe what people are like based only on their birth date” reports TIME. They also compared horoscopes to fantasy stories. However, the latest internet panic once again shows how easily misinformation and fake news can spread on the internet, especially via social media.
Top image: Ophiuchus, the 13th zodiac sign, as depicted in Urania’s Mirror, a set of constellation cards published in London c. 1825. Source: Sidney Hall / Public domain
By Ed Whelan