Those who believe in the zodiac can finally breathe. NASA has clarified a story that started circulating a few months ago: there is no 13th zodiac sign.
The story appeared for the first time three years ago but was published Monday in Cosmopolitan’s UK edition and went viral. It stated that NASA had researched zodiac signs and had re-drafted the zodiac chart including a 13th sign: Ophiuchus, the serpent. However, anyone with a little bit of scientific knowledge can figure out that it is indeed incredibly strange that NASA is studying zodiac signs. Nonetheless, the information reached such extreme popularity that the Agency was forced to release a press statement.
“NASA studies astronomy not astrology,” stated Dwayne Brown, a NASA spokesperson. Even more bizarrely, the confusion seems to stem from a misunderstanding of a NASA educational page for children.
Cosmopolitan’s source is a NASA page for kids
Cosmopolitan and all other media outlets use as a “source” an official NASA page. Nonetheless, the website is not a scientific approach to horoscopes, but an educational site for children called “The Space Place,” that contains information such as NASA’s recipe for “sun spots cookies” and one can play with a cute version of the Curiosity rover.
Funnier of all, the website states very clearly that Astrology is “no science” and that “Astrology is not Astronomy,” and proceeds to explain where modern Astrology comes from. The page covers the history of zodiac signs since Babylonians linked them to constellations three thousand years ago.
NASA also explains that as centuries have passed, the stars have moved, thanks to a tiny quiver in the Earth’s rotating axis. This only means that constellations are not in the same place as when the Babylonians created their horoscope.
“We didn’t change any Zodiac signs; we just did the maths. The Space Place article was about how astrology is not astronomy, how it was a relic of ancient history, and pointed out the science and maths that did come from observations of the night sky,” stated Brown.
What about Ophiuchus?
The Ophiuchus constellation is based on a real human, Imhotep, better known as Aesclepius by the Ancient Greeks and those who lived in Egypt around 27th Century BCE.
Ophiuchus, also known as Serpentarius (“The Serpent Bearer”) is sometimes referred as the “13th sign of the zodiac” and is placed between Scorpio and Sagittarius, from November 30 to December 17.
However, the Western astrology is based on seasons, not constellations, which is why Ophiuchus has no place between the other twelve common zodiac signs.
This sign is more known in the East, especially Japan, after Mark Yazaki suggested it in 1995. Since that moment, it is known as Hebitsukai-Za. Nonetheless, the original use of Ophiuchus can be found in Stephen Schmidt’s work, where he preferred a 14 sign zodiac that included Cetus, the whale.