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Ophiuchus, the constellation that the astrologers chose to ignore | Science & Tech

In January 1995, Jacqueline Mitton, from the British Royal Astronomical Society, introduced in a BBC present that the 12 indicators of the zodiac weren’t solely erroneously superior as a result of results of precession of the Earth, however that they have been, actually, 13. Mitton defined that the ecliptic (the Solar’s obvious annual journey by way of the heavens) passes by way of a thirteenth constellation: Ophiuchus – the Latin model of Asclepius, the Greek god of medication. The ecliptic had truly all the time handed by way of that constellation, though the dates change with the centuries.

The astrologers, baffled, confronted an issue: the best way to combine this constellation as an indication of the zodiac.

To clarify this astral blunder, we first must make clear {that a} constellation is an “obvious” grouping of stars: they appear to be on the identical aircraft, however they’re truly at totally different distances and should not essentially associated to one another. By settlement, at the moment it’s every of the 88 areas by which the sky is split, in addition to the group of stars they comprise. Nevertheless, all through historical past – starting in Mesopotamia – the full variety of constellations and the world they occupied different, relying on the creator who cataloged the celebs. Then, between 1922 and 1930, the constellations have been definitively established by the Worldwide Astronomical Union (IAU).

The astronomical zodiac is an imaginary belt that’s distributed alongside the celestial equator and on that are situated the 12 historic constellations, of various sizes, designated with the names of the figures that their shapes delivered to the ancients’ minds: a ram, a bull, Sagittarius the archer and so forth. Ophiuchus, which Ptolemy included among the many 48 constellations of his Almagest, was most likely not taken under consideration as a result of, other than the aversion to quantity 13, dividing the 360-degree zodiacal band amongst 13 constellations wouldn’t have produced a precise quantity.

In the meantime, the astrological zodiac is split into 12 equal, 30-degree parts, every similar to an indication: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Most cancers, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.

It was the Greek astronomer Hipparchus of Nicaea who, within the 2nd century BC, deduced that the Celestial Sphere had a retrograde movement, which he referred to as precession. Because of the gravitational affect of the opposite our bodies within the Photo voltaic System and the sphericity of our planet, the Earth behaves like a spinning high in such a manner that the relative positions of the celebs with respect to the equator and the poles range all through a cycle of about 26,000 years by which the Earth makes a whole revolution across the axis of the ecliptic.

Nevertheless, the vindication of Ophiuchus as a zodiacal constellation between Scorpio and Sagittarius shouldn’t be as a result of precession, which solely impacts dates, however to the tracing of the basic celestial map and, above all, to the arbitrary division of the sky into constellations completed by the IAU. Its title derives from the Greek and means “he who holds the serpent.” This constellation is represented by the determine of Asclepius, who holds a snake in his arms, with its head going through west and its tail east.

Ophiuchus continues the legend of Orion and the Scorpion. The Greek delusion tells that the looking goddess Artemis needed to take revenge on the hunter Orion, who boasted of having the ability to kill all wild beasts, along with repeatedly harassing the Pleiades, the seven nymphs became doves. For this, the goddess despatched a scorpion that stung him on the heel, killing him with its poison. Then the gods moved each Orion and the scorpion to the heavens, however far aside, so they may by no means meet once more. In actual fact, Orion hides as quickly because the scorpion reveals its pincers. Because the scorpion ascends the jap horizon, Orion dies and units within the west. However Asclepius, with the therapeutic powers that Apollo and Chiron taught him, cured the hunter and crushed the scorpion together with his foot. Thus, Orion rises as soon as extra from the east, whereas the animal is crushed by the west.

Sadly, within the curiosity in astronomy there may be – nonetheless – an astrological part with its roots in antiquity. Astronomy and astrology weren’t conceptually differentiated till the sixth century AD, when Saint Isidore of Seville established necessary distinctions between these two topics within the third of his 20 Etymologies books. Based on the Sevillian prelate, astronomy itself is devoted to the summary data of the rising, setting and motion of the celestial our bodies. As for astrology, he makes a distinction

between a “pure astrology,” which observes the trail of the Solar and the Moon and sure positions of the celebs, and a “superstitious astrology” that predicts the longer term by way of the celebs, allocates a part of the soul to at least one the 12 indicators of the heavens and arranges the beginning and customs of humanity in keeping with them.

“Superstitious astrology” – the alleged influences of the heavenly our bodies on the lives and destinies of individuals – is what astrology means at the moment. Isidore tells that the Chaldeans have been the primary to attach the statement to births, and that it was Abraham who instituted it among the many Egyptians. And the confusion lasted for a lot of centuries. Many necessary astronomical observations have been made for astrological functions. Johannes Kepler himself needed to dedicate himself to astrology out of necessity, and he apologized for this profitable exercise by saying that, simply as nature supplied every being the technique of subsistence, so it had put astrology as an help to astronomy, as in any other case he wouldn’t have been in a position to get by.

The truth that the College of Salamanca saved the chair of “astrology” till the seventeenth century is additional proof of how there was no distinction between astronomers and astrologers for a very long time. It was then that astronomy and astrology have been definitively divorced, adopting totally different meanings. Nonetheless, the etymological origin of the phrase astrology (“the science of the celebs”) doesn’t assist to make clear the distinction in any respect.

Actual calendar of constellations

As a normal rule, yearly the Solar enters and leaves the constellations round these dates, though each 4 years there could also be variations of hours that change them by someday.

Aries: April 21 – Could 13

Taurus: Could 14 – June 24

Gemini: June 25 – July 20

Most cancers: July 21 – August 19

Leo: August 20 – September 14

Virgo: September 15 – October 31

Libra: November 1 – November 21

Scorpio: November 22 – November 29

Ophiuchus: November 30 – December 17

Sagittarius: December 18 – January 19

Capricorn: January 20 – February 15

Aquarius: February 16 – March 11

Pisces: March 12 – April 20

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