How Did Ophiuchus Get Its Name?

Ever since the internet erupted with rumors that the zodiac might be changing to add a 13th sign, people have been wondering what the deal is with this so-called "Ophiuchus" sign. But how did Ophiuchus get its name in the first place? The story is a long one; in fact, it takes us all the way back to Ancient Greece.

The zodiac that is most commonly used in the Western world — the one you see under the newspaper horoscope section — was first developed by the Ancient Babylonians, but was later updated by the Ancient Greeks. The Babylonians only included 12 constellations in their zodiac, and the Greeks kept that schema. However, they also both acknowledged a 13th important constellation that didn't get a zodiac sign. And the Greeks called this constellation Ophiuchus.

Ophichus is symbolized by a man clutching a snake, so it's not surprising that the Greek name means "snake bearer." To the Greeks, the constellation represented the sun god, Apollo, struggling with the giant snake that guarded the Oracle of Delphi.

Ophiuchus has never been part of the traditional Western zodiac, but after people rediscovered an informative NASA post about the zodiac constellations, explaining why they were selected and mentioning this 13th constellation, many began to worry that the signs may be changing. Which, theoretically I suppose they could — but that's not the sort of thing NASA is in charge of. Rather, Ophichus could only become part of the zodiac if all the people who use the zodiac and draw up star charts started including him.

And, since there's an obvious difference between astrology and astronomy, none of those people are NASA.

Nevertheless, Ophiuchus is still a constellation, even if it's not a zodiac sign. Although it also goes by Serpentarius and Anguitenens, it's still most commonly known by its Greek name. And although it caused us all to freak out for a while there, it's actually not changing up our astrological destinies.

Image: Wikipedia Commons; Giphy