Ophiuchus: The 13th Constellation of the Zodiac or the Wings of Scorpius?


Ophiuchus is in the white shading. The ecliptic is the blue line. Scorpius lies mostly south of the ecliptic, unless you can see the dragon’s wings, which would give Scorpius its rightful place in the zodiac and put and end to the 13th constellation confusion.

One of the most impressive constellations in the nighttime sky is Scorpius the Scorpion. However, because of where it is centered in the sky, it mostly misses the ecliptic and its presence on the zodiac is a bit short-lived. Whereas Ophiuchus the “Serpent Bearer,” the next constellation over, mostly lies to the north of the ecliptic, with his feet just dangling down over the ecliptic. See figure to the left for further clarification. Because Ophiuchus crosses into zodiac and lines up with the sun from November 29 to December 17, many people proclaim Ophiuchus to be the 13th constellation of the zodiac. No disrespect to Ophiuchus, but I see Scorpius in a more expansive view, so I offer an alternative explanation which turns the Scorpion into a Dragon and gives Scorpius its rightful place in the zodiac on the astronomical charts.


Scorpius and the legs of Ophiuchus merge into a super-constellation portraying a winged-scorpion dragon.

The feathered serpent is a common mythological character throughout many of the world’s indigenous cultures. Quetzalcoatl and Patanjali are just a couple of examples, even the Caduceus depicts serpents with wings. Basically its the figure of a dragon. Given that Scorpius the Scorpion is the most serpent-like creature of the zodiac, I thought to myself, what if the scorpion had wings? Well, here it is……..

And just to prove myself that it was possible in the real night sky, I looked up, and could actually see the scorpion with wings. And those wings cross over into the stars of Ophiuchus, specifically the “Serpent Bearer’s” legs, giving the winged version of Scorpius full reign of the ecliptic and its rightful place in the zodiac, and therefore, at least in this interpretation, eliminating Ophiuchus’ chances of being a constellation of the zodiac. So there you have it. The 13th constellation of the zodiac or the scorpion’s wings? You decide.


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One thought on “Ophiuchus: The 13th Constellation of the Zodiac or the Wings of Scorpius?

  1. Nicely done, Aaron. I like both ideas. I have always felt the a 13 moon calendar is a more accurate portrayal of linear time. I only heard of a 13-sign zodiac a few years ago but being a “13 person”, I liked that too. So I choose both and thank you for explaining it in a way I can actually understand. Blessings, Alia

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