Tyson’s Zodiac: Are There Really Fourteen Signs?

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, research scientist in astrophysics at Princeton University and Curator of Astronomy at the Hayden Planetarium of the American Museum of Natural History, has become a familiar face on television. He frequently appears on talk shows, cheerily and with gusto declaiming that astrologers are ignorant of the “fact” that there are fourteen zodiacal constellations, rather than twelve. He has also authored several books, among them Universe Down to Earth. In this work, he states:

“… the zodiac contains fourteen constellations, not twelve. The Sun, after leaving the constellation Scorpius, enters the constella- tion Ophiuchus. It then stays in Ophiuchus for a longer [emphasis Tyson’s] period of time than Scorpius, the sign that is adver- tised to precede Sagittarius. The confusing conclusion is that most Scorpions are actually Ophiuchans, and all Scorpions and Ophiuchans are currently Librans. The fourteenth constellation in the set is Cetus. It is a large constellation that dips into Pisces. The Sun passes through Cetus briefly as it ambles through Pisces, but you are not normally informed of this in the horoscope pages.”

But we are speaking of astrology, and Dr. Tyson knows that astrologers use celestial longitudes. He knows (or should know) that the Sun enters the longitudes of Scorpius and Ophiuchus at the same time and remains in those longitudes for the same length of time. It is true that the ecliptic runs through part of Ophiuchus, thus rightly making him part of the zodiac; however, the span of Ophiuchus the Serpent-Bearer, in celestial longitude, matches that of the Scorpion, so he cannot be called a “thirteenth sign”! In actuality, the eighth zodiacal constellation should be called Scorpius/ Ophiuchus. Indeed, the two figures actually contact each other, as the left foot of Ophiuchus treads upon the Scorpion (according to tradition) in order to crush it. (See Figure 1) It is this overlap that creates a problem and makes it seem as though Ophiuchus’s allotment of degrees exceeds the Scorpion’s…  Read the complete article here.


Tyson's Zodiac - Figure 1

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