A September 30 2021 image (“New Astrological Dates”) and accompanying rumor of a thirteenth zodiac sign — Ophiuchus — began its most recent voyage around social media with the following commentary:
Your thoughts america. I’ve been an Aries, for as long as I’ve been breathing. Now they want me to be a Pisces
Although the post was extremely popular, it was very short on information. The image itself consisted of a photograph of a television screen; the “new sign Ophiuchus” was inserted between Scorpio and Sagittarius, from November 29 through December 17.
Google Trends data indicated a sharp increase in searches for “Ophiuchus,” along with related queries focusing on a zodiac shift in the year 2021:
- “new astrology dates 2021”;
- “new astrological dates 2021”;
- “new astrology signs dates”;
- “new zodiac suspect 2021”;
- “new horoscope dates 2021”;
- “new astrology dates 2021 why”;
- “new zodiac signs and meanings”;
- “did the astrological signs change”;
- “are there new zodiac dates 2021,” and;
- “new astrology dates.”
Despite search interest indicating the specter of Ophiuchus was introduced in 2021, a September 2016 tweet from Trey Songz suggested otherwise:
The claim sounded familiar, and we realized we covered the rumors even earlier than the above tweet, way back in 2015. And the “new zodiac sign of Ophiuchus” rumors dated back even farther than that, as indicated by a January 13 2011 article on Time.com:
The astronomers from the Minnesota Planetarium Society found that because of the moon’s gravitational pull on Earth, the alignment of the stars was pushed [around] by about a month … According to the Minnesota Planetarium Society, here is where the real signs of the Zodiac should fall. Get ready for your world to change forever.
Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16.
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11.
Pisces: March 11-April 18.
Aries: April 18-May 13.
Taurus: May 13-June 21.
Gemini: June 21-July 20.
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10.
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16.
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30.
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23.
Scorpio: Nov. 23-29.
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29-Dec. 17. (Yep, this one is new — read all about the Ophiuchus way of life here)
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.
One day later (January 14 2011), Time.com published a follow-up item and rebuttal, consulting astrologers for their opinion on the “new astrological sign Ophiuchus”:
… leading astrological experts say this [assertion] won’t change things at all. That’s because Western astrology strictly adheres to the tropical zodiac, which is fixed to seasons. The sidereal zodiac, observed in the East, is the one affixed to constellations, and is thus the one that would change. The tropical zodiac has been in place since Ptolemy’s in the second century.
“Astrology is geocentric,” astrologer Jeff Jawer told CNN. “It relates life on Earth to the Earth’s environment, and seasons are the most dramatic effect, which is why we use the tropical zodiac.”
Intermittently since the January 2011 Time.com article, posts like the “new astrological signs” image generated discussions about Ophiuchus and whether it was a “real” zodiac sign. But when the claim first emerged in early 2011, professional astrologers immediately explained that the speculative claims had no bearing on their methodology. Astrologer Jeff Jawer explained at the time that the zodiac with which most were familiar was “fixed to seasons,” whereas the “sidereal zodiac” might be impacted by gravitational shifts.
As such, no “new astrological sign” Ophiuchus was introduced in 2021 — nor was it introduced in 2016, 2015, or 2011. A small group of people speculated a “thirteenth sign” ought to have been added, but professional astrologers swiftly put the notion to bed. Nevertheless, claims the zodiac changed or was changing circulated for intermittently for more than a decade, each time regarded as “new news.”