What Does Ophiuchus Mean For Scorpio?

Thang Tat Nguyen/Moment/Getty Images

This week, the Internet has been all aflutter with the announcement of a new zodiac calendar and a new 13th sign, Ophiuchus. According to the new calendar, the 13th sign falls right between Scorpio and Sagittarius. So what does Ophiuchus mean for Scorpio? The answer depends entirely on whether or not you actually believe that Ophiuchus is a new member of the zodiac (and many people don’t).

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Ophiuchus is the 13th sign. In that case, people born between November 29 and December 17 are under the sign of Ophiuchus, the snake bearer. Within the current zodiac calendar, Ophiuchus thus falls right in the middle of Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21). That’ll make a lot of Sagittarians question their identities, but it won’t affect Scorpios, who, according to the current calendar, are born between October 23 and November 21, well before Ophiuchus makes his way onto the scene.

HOWEVER. This whole kerfuffle about the “new” zodiac isn’t just about Ophiuchus. A quick review: All of this talk about retooling the astrological calendar stems from astronomers (including a kids’ blog post from NASA) pointing out that, in the 3,000-plus years since the Babylonians developed the zodiac, the position of the Earth in relation to the stars has shifted, so that the dates when the zodiac constellations align with the sun have also changed. That means that, if we’re timing the zodiac calendar according to the constellations (which we’re not, be more on that below), then the whole zodiac calendar has changed, and a lot of people are suddenly under new signs. (With the new calendar, for example, I’ve shifted from Gemini to Taurus.)

So although adding Ophiuchus into the traditional zodiac calendar won’t affect Scorpios, it would make sense, if we’re going to go ahead and adopt the 13th sign, to also adopt the new dates. And that changes everything. Under the new calendar, people who are currently Scorpios would all be under new signs; Scorpios born between October 23 and October 30 would become Virgos, and the rest would fall under the sign of Libra. With the new calendar, Scorpio only lasts for a week, from November 23 to the 29th, and all of those newly minted Scorpios would be former Sagittarians.

But before you Scorpios out there fall into an identity crisis from which you will never recover, it’s important to know all of those changes only exist if you subscribe to the new calendar and believe that Ophiuchus is the 13th sign. And it seems like most people don’t.

First, NASA has made very clear that it has no intention of altering the zodiac. (As if it could — why would anyone think that NASA gets a say in what happens in astrology anyway?) As NASA spokesperson Dwayne Brown told Gizmodo, “NASA studies astronomy not astrology.”

Second, multiple astrologers have pointed out that most contemporary astrology uses the Tropical Zodiac, and that the Tropical Zodiac is not dependent on constellations or their movements. “[Ophiuchus is] not an Astrology issue,” astrologer Rick Levine explained to the Daily Horoscope. “It has to do with the stars — it's not a sign, it's a constellation.” Although the twelve zodiac signs do have constellation counterparts, they’re timed with the seasons, not the stars. Levine elaborated, “There are four seasons each with a beginning, middle and end. That makes 12 zodiac signs, and there's no such thing as a 13th astrological sign.” And if the Tropical Zodiac doesn’t follow the constellations, then there is no reason that the shift in Earth’s orientation toward the constellations would change the dates of the zodiac calendar.

Thus, Ophiuchus and the controversy over the astrological calendar don’t really affect Scorpios at all. Unless you want them to, that is. If you’re Scorpio but you’ve always felt more like a Virgo or a Libra, nothing’s stopping you from adopting the new calendar. And if you’re a Sagittarian who’s always secretly wanted to be a Scorpio, go ahead and embrace the change.

Images: Thang Tat Nguyen/Moment/Getty Images; Giphy