Uh-Oh, NASA Says We've Been Reading the Zodiac All Wrong

nasa zodiac

As our astrologer, Jaime Wright (go read your horoscope right this second!) recently wrote, "About once a year, panic ensues as articles pop up across the internet—from sources as reputable as The Wall Street Journalclaiming that there is actually a 13th sign of the zodiac called Ophiuchus, which means that everyone has been identifying as the wrong sign."

Well, that story is trending yet again, and this time it's referencing a 2016 NASA post which explains that since Babylonians first invented the 12-sign zodiac, "...3,000 years later, the sky has shifted because Earth's axis (North Pole) doesn't point in quite the same direction."

So, have we been reading the Zodiac wrong this entire time? Are you not a fiery and impulsive Aries but really a steady and dependable Taurus? This could change...everything

Before you go and change your entire personality, let's rewind a bit. Even in NASA's own article, it mentions that the Babylonians knew there were more than 12 signs and that they didn't match up perfectly with earth's rotation: "[Even] according to the Babylonians' own ancient stories, there were 13 constellations in the zodiac. (Other cultures and traditions have recognized as many as 24 constellations in the zodiac.) So the Babylonians picked one, Ophiuchus, to leave out. Even then, some of the chosen 12 didn't fit neatly into their assigned slice of the pie and slopped over into the next one." The actual, material constellations vary in shape and size, so the sun cannot physically spend the exact same amount of time in each. As the NASA article points out, the sun spends 45 days in Virgo and only 7 days in Scorpio.

Why aren't we freaking out right now? As Wright tells us, there are actually 88 recognized constellations in our sky. But, in a 12-month lunar calendar, you gotta make cuts! Hence: 12 signs. There's also the fact that the earth's axis is wobbly—the star constellations have always been only loosely associated with zodiac signs. So, the zodiac was never perfect in the first place. What was thoughtfully considered, however, was the number 12. Per Wright: "The number 12 has long carried spiritual, mythological and magical symbolism. There are 12 seminotes in an octave and 12 days of Christmas and 12 full moons in a year. The basic units of time (60 seconds, 60 minutes, 24 hours) are all divisible by 12."

Long story short? There's a difference between the physical world and the spirituality of the zodiac—and that's OK. Why do we have a feeling Capricorns are having a hard time with this one...?

RELATED I’m an Astrologer. There’s No Such Thing as the 13th Zodiac Sign


Executive Editor, Frazzled Mom, Bravo-Holic

Dara Katz is PureWow's Executive Editor, focusing on relationships, sex, horoscopes, travel and pets. Dara joined PureWow in 2016 and now dresses so much better. A lifestyle...