The entry of Ophiuchus, as the 13th zodiac sign, was received with a lot of criticism and anger. It changed the total scenario of western astrology and shook the firmly-based zodiac sign structure. Ophiuchus (pronounced Off-ee-yoo-kuss) was claimed to be the 13th zodiac sign, placed in between Scorpio and Sagittarius. According to astronomy, zodiac constellation is a constellation (group of stars) from which the ecliptic or the sun's path follows. We have constellations of all the 12 signs of the zodiac and also of Ophiuchus. Although Ophiuchus as a zodiac sign is not accepted, the constellation is very much real and fascinating to know about.
According to the mythology associated, Ophiuchus was Asclepius, the God of medicine and son of Apollo. Asclepius was raised by a centaur named Chiron. He learned the art of healing and medicine from Chiron. According to a legend, King Minos of Crete sent for Asclepius to save his son who had fallen into a jar of honey. However, by the time Asclepius could reach there, the boy had drowned. At the same time, Asclepius saw a snake approaching towards him. He moved quickly and killed the snake with his stick. A short time later, another snake arrived with a herb in its mouth. The snake placed the herb on the body of the dead snake, which brought it back to life. On seeing this, Asclepius placed the same herb on the dead boy and he too came back to life!
Now, with this action, the God of underworld, Hades was angered due to loss of a soul and hence, informed the King of Gods and his brother, Zeus, about it. Zeus stuck Asclepius with his thunderbolt and killed him instantly. Apollo was deeply sorrowed by the death of his son and complained to Zeus. Zeus in turn pacified him by placing Asclepius in the sky, in the form of a constellation.
According to another version, Asclepius was a renowned physician who lived on the Earth thousands of years ago. He learned the secret of bringing back people from the dead through a serpent. However, as this was against the laws of nature, Zeus killed Asclepius with his thunderbolt. However, he appreciated the skills, knowledge, and goodwill of Asclepius and gave him a place in the sky. Zeus also placed the magical snake in his hands, and hence, Asclepius got the name Serpentarius or Ophiuchus (which means the snake bearer).
Ophiuchus is the only constellation and zodiac sign based on a human being who actually lived on the Earth thousands of years ago.
- Abbreviation of the constellation is 'Oph', and it is known as the 'snake holder or serpent bearer' in English.
- It is located between Aquila, Serpens, and Hercules, and to the opposite of Orion.
- The zodiac constellations of Libra, Scorpius, and Sagittarius also border this constellation.
- It divides the constellation of Serpens into two parts (Serpens Caput and Serpens Cauda).
- Until 2011, this constellation was not considered as a zodiac constellation in spite of the sun passing through it in the month of December.
- Summer is the best time to view this constellation in the northern hemisphere.
- α Oph (Ras Alhague) is the brightest star found in the constellation.
- M9, M10, M12, M14, M19, M62, and M107, NGC 6356 are some of the globular clusters belonging to this constellation.
Although the presence of the 13th zodiac sign (Ophiuchus) may be unwelcome in the world, its constellation is definitely one of the most interesting constellations to view. Do not miss an opportunity to witness the legendary serpent bearer. Good luck!