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About Ophiuchus the 13th sign

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Zodiacal insights


In the June 2009 issue of Astronomy magazine, Geoff Chester, U.S. Naval Observatory, answers the question, "The constellation Ophiuchus lies partly on the ecliptic, so why isn't it considered one of the zodiacal signs?"

Answer (in part): In the second millenium B.C., the Babylonians divided the sky into 12 equal segments along the ecliptic, which traces the apparent annual path of the Sun through the stars as seen from Earth. They named each 30 degree wide segment after a nearby star pattern. This established the 12 signs of the zodiac, which comes from the Greek 'zodiakos', meaning "circle of animals"
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bernice
Rubbish! There is no evidence that any peoples 40,000 years ago had mapped out star systems which are now only visible via high tech means. Maybe you didn't actually read what I posted ........?
No I didnt read the 'only visible by high tech means' I read this ; "Realistically speaking, there are enough 'constellations' out there - that can be seen from Earth." Where is the reference to high tech means?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bernice
Ravenest, you said that you "love wandering in deep sky". This begs the question = are you a Trekkie?

Bee
God no! But I enjoyed my time inside the Canberra deep space tracking centre.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minderwiz
One last point. back on the topic. We are assuming that the zodiac had 12 clear constellations which determined it's number of signs. It's also possible to argue that the number system used by the Babylonians - based on 60, was itself derived from pre-Sumerian systems of counting based on 12 and 5.

That is the Babylonians took 12 signs because it fitted their numeral preconceptions, rather than because of 12 clear constellations. They then named the signs conveniently after constellations. The base of 12 in turn is likely to be based on the number of lunations in a year.

OK I know it's not precisely 12 lunations, but then the first stabs at measuring a 'year' could well have been on the basis of counting lunations and later generations refined it to our current state of knowledge.

If the above conjecture is correct then we might have had a 10 sign Zodiac if the Babylonians had used a decimal system or an 8 sign Zodiac if the Babylonians had used the octal system (indeed I have seen references to an 8 sign zodiac!)
Right on Mindy!
Try this; count to 25 using fingers. After 10 how does one keep track? On toes?
Now try not counting the thumb but using the thumb as the counter and press the thumb of the right hand on the index finger end 1, then the second part of the finger 2 and so on, one can count to 12 on one hand- one dozen. The groups of 12 or dozens are maked as before but on the left hand and so on giving a counting system of 12 in 4 stages of 3 (12, 4 , 3 remind you of anything) up to 144.
(Also I can hold my hands up to signal say ... 138 in one gesture, you cant do that by using fingers to count to 10. Perhaps some people found base 12 easier to work with?

Oh of course and as usuall I cant site reference or proof for my wacky ideas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homelandman
They named each 30 degree wide segment after a nearby star pattern.
Well, that's what I ASSUMED, but not everyone agrees. Do YOU agree with that article?
[PS curious tag homelandman?]
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ooops - double post
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ravenest
Well, that's what I ASSUMED, but not everyone agrees. Do YOU agree with that article?
Who can tell after 8,000 years or so? It has some semblance of logic to it though. I personally don't believe I have the intuitition or channeling powers to know what Babylonian astrologers may have decided at the time.

When I look at the night sky (the next time we get a clear night sky) and see planets between Libra and Sagittarius I think, as usual, I will relate their positions to Antares and the other stars of Scorpius because it is easily recognisable by comparison with Ophiuchus/Serpens Caput/Serpens Cauda.
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Regardless of whether Ophiuchus should or should not be inluded in the zodiac, the mythology makes for a fascinating tale. For example, see this quote from Allen, R.H., Star Names: Their Lore and their Meanings:

"But the Serpent-holder generally was identified with {Greek characters}, Asclepios, or Aesculapius, whom King james I described as "a mediciner after made a god," with whose worship serpents were always associated as symbols of prudence, renovation, wisdom, and the power of discovering healing herbs. Educated by his father Apollo, or by the centaur Chiron, Aesculapius was the earliest of his profession and the ship's surgeon of the Argo. When the famous voyage was over he became so skilled in practice that he even restored the dead to life, among these being Hippolytus, of whom King James wrote:

Hippolyte. After his members were drawin in sunder by foure horses, Esculapius at Neptun's request glewed them together and revived him.

But several such successful operations and numerous remarkable cures, and especially the attempt to revive the dead Orion, led Pluto, who feared for the continuance of his kingdom, to induce Jove to strike Aesculapius with a thunderbolt and put him among the constellations.

Note 1: According to Greek tradition, he was a lineal ancestor of the great physician, Hippocrates; ...
... The name and the profession were continued in the Asclepiadae, an order of priest-physicians long noted in Greece."
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ravenest

Oh of course and as usuall I cant site reference or proof for my wacky ideas
Don't mind that. The origin of counting systems is fascinating but no one know for sure for some of them. Ten fingers seems to be the completely obvious for base 10 and the space BETWEEN digits is four on each hand giving a base 8

I've seen the point about the 'segments' of the fingers giving a variety of bases.

homelandman,

Thanks for the astro-archaeology. Very interesting.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minderwiz
Don't mind that. The origin of counting systems is fascinating but no one know for sure for some of them. Ten fingers seems to be the completely obvious for base 10 and the space BETWEEN digits is four on each hand giving a base 8

I've seen the point about the 'segments' of the fingers giving a variety of bases.
But never base 13
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