Jimmy Westlake: Ophiuchans unite!
If you are an Ophiuchan, please raise your hand.
Hmmm: I’m not seeing any hands out there. Perhaps you are an Ophiuchan and you don’t know it. Please allow me to explain.
Ophiuchus is one of our 88 official constellations, and a big one at that, covering nearly 1,000 square degrees of our summer sky. His figure represents the great mythological witch doctor Aesculapius who learned from a serpent the secret of raising people from the dead. In fact, it was Aesculapius who brought the great hunter Orion back to life after he was mortally wounded by the Scorpion’s sting. Hades, the ruler of the underworld, became concerned that he would no longer receive any new souls once the secret to eternal life was known, so he convinced Zeus, the king of the Greek gods, to strike Aesculapius down with a lightning bolt. To honor the great witch doctor (after killing him!), Zeus placed his image in the starry heavens, holding the serpent that gave him the secret of life and standing on top of the constellation Scorpius to symbolize his power over the scorpion’s deadly sting.
To locate Ophiuchus and Serpens in the sky, you must think BIG. These are huge constellations. At about 10 p.m., go outside and face south. In the southwest, you’ll see the planet Jupiter glowing very brightly. About two hand-spans to the east, or left, of Jupiter, you’ll spot the bright, orange star Antares, the heart of Scorpius, the Scorpion. The patch of sky from Antares upward, almost to the overhead point, is home to the stars of Ophiuchus and Serpens. Look for a large house-shaped pattern, topped with the bright star Rasalhague, which represents the witch doctor’s head. Serpens, the Snake, winds his way around Ophiuchus on either side, head on the right, tail on the left.
Now, most people have heard of the 12 signs of the zodiac, and most people know their astrological sun signs. That’s the sign of the zodiac occupied by the sun on the day they were born. What most people don’t know is that the signs of the zodiac and their related constellations no longer match up in the sky. They did, 2600 years ago when astrology was first invented, but due to the 26,000-year wobble of the Earth on its axis, the signs of the zodiac and the constellations of the zodiac are now offset by as much as two constellations. Astrologers ignore this inconvenient fact.
For example, a Libran today who believes that the sun was passing through the constellation of Libra on the day that he was born is wrong. The sun was actually passing through the stars of Virgo!
To make matters worse, the sun not only passes through the 12 familiar constellations of the zodiac (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces), but it also spends nearly three weeks of the year passing through the stars of Ophiuchus, the 13th constellation of the zodiac. If you were born between Nov. 29 and Dec. 18, then you are really an Ophiuchan!
Now, once again, if you are an Ophiuchan, please raise your hand.
Ahhh: that’s more like it.
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