13th Zodiac Sign? Ophiuchus

Constellation Ophiuchus by Elijah Burritt in 1850 from the plate
titled: The Visible Sky in July, August and September *

A New Zodiac Sign?

A Candid Conversation with astrologer, Michele Avanti, CAP
By Michelene K. Bell

Most recently the news has been abuzz with Mr. Parke Kunkle’s revelation that we now have a 13th zodiac sign and everyone now has a new zodiac sign. After all these years I have gone from Taurus to an Aries. Wow, I looked at Aries and I must say, none of the characteristics fell in place; Taurus…it was right on.

As one can imagine, Mr. Kunkle’s actions has caused quite a stir; therefore, I decided that we needed to have information…not speculation. Below is an interview with Michele Avanti, a Certified Master Astrologer who takes pride in her meticulous calculations of an ancient practice and science.

ILT: So Michele, I must say, Mr. Kunkle seems to have stirred up a hornets nest? Any thoughts on this?

MA: Yes, I have quite a few thoughts. Being a professional astrologer and a member of three international astrological organizations, I knew immediately something was not right in Kansas. So I checked to see what credentials Parke Kunkle might have to create a whole new zodiac. It turns out he is an astronomy teacher at a community college in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Being an astronomer, Kunkle observed that the sun, as seen through his telescope, did not appear in the same constellation as the zodiacal sun sign listed in his local horoscope column. So without consulting anyone at any university offering degrees in astrology, or calling any astrological organization, of which there are many in the U.S.A., he set out to correct this issue by creating a thirteenth sign.

Had he done so, he would have discovered this is not new news as the signs of the zodiac have been different from the constellations of the zodiac since the time of Aristarchus of Samos, 230 BCE. We’ve always been aware of the precession of equinoxes, the wobble of Earth’s orbit and the tilt of the planet.

Based on his comment: “You could predict when to harvest, when to plant, by the stars. So there is some predictive nature there. Then they took it too far using it to determine when to go to war and {using it to predict} people’s personalities.” It becomes obvious that Kunkle does not realize the depth of research over the last four thousand years, which is the basis of astrology. depth of research over the last four thousand years, which is the basis of astrology.

Without having any professional knowledge of astrology, he assigned a new sign, and then defined its value with no research into its connection with human events or human experiences. That said, I must conclude Mr. Kunkle’s independent creation of a whole new zodiac is irresponsible. Far worse however, is the fact that the news media jumped on the bandwagon without researching the facts and caused even greater chaos.

ILT: You mentioned that he is an astronomer. What’s the difference between an astrologer and an astronomer?

MA: Quite simply an astronomer studies the physical and chemical properties of objects outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Astronomers watch their movements, take great pride in naming any new star or comet or nebula. They determine the distances between objects in space, and they gauge velocity, obliquity, atmospheres and density of matter. They study space and whatever is out there.

Astrology is quite different. It is the study of cosmic patterns made by planets, fixed stars and constellations; their relation to events, both mundane and individual, which take place on Earth. It is based on thousands of years of time-consuming research, which now in the computer age, is reaching new levels of accuracy and detail.

ILT: You’ve been a professional astrologer for decades. Please explain briefly the differences between Western Astrology and Eastern Astrology.

MA: Vedic astrologers and a small number of western astrologers use sidereal time, which is based on the orientation of the Earth relative to the galaxy. So if you were to look at your vedic wheel, it will indicate your sun is in Aries. Because, as Mr. Kunkle noted from his sidereal position (sidereal time actually relates to the viewpoint used at a time of day to view a particular star) on May 8th, the sun seen from planet Earth will appear to be about 25 degrees into the constellation of Aries.

Most Western astrologers use what is called the Tropical system or the Solar Day System and it uses the orientation of the Earth relative to our solar system.

Many people are unaware of the depth of astrology, or the enormous variety of techniques that have been developed over the centuries. We have several house systems as well as time systems. The topic of which system is better has been going on between astrologers for centuries. However, it has never stopped the accuracy of astrology because there is much more to it than the sun and position in the constellation.

A view of the night sky in the Northern Hemisphere 
Note, Ophiuchus in the upper right of the picture, his feet 
are on the pink line which represents the ecliptic**
ILT: What is sidereal time based upon?

MA: The actual definition of sidereal time is an astronomical one. It is a time-keeping system astronomers use to keep track of the direction to point their telescopes to view a particular star in the night sky. From a specific observation point, a star found at one location in the sky will be found at basically the same location at another night when observed at the same sidereal time. Thus, when we use sidereal time for our system, it is aligned with astronomers like Kunkle.

This article spans multiple pages, to see the answers to these questions:
  • How do people view astrology?
  • Could Mr. Kunkle be basing his theory on the new zodiac for those being born today?
  • In your opinion with what Mr. Kunkle is proposing, how would that effect a persons life or even society?
  • When dealing with astronomers, do they take into consideration your birth, the time and place as astrologers do?
  • I understand there are many different charts in astrology. Could you provide us with a brief overview of those charts?
  • Briefly explain a luminary.
  • What is the difference between a Sun Sign and Lunation horoscope?
  • What are some key elements in a chart reading?
  • How many constellations are there that astrology is based on?
  • Of course, no interview would be complete without…Mercury Retrograde. What does it mean and are there any positive aspects?
  • One last question, what would you like our readers to take away from this interview?

Michelene K. Bell, Metaphysical Newspaper Publisher
Michelene is the founder and publisher of In Light Times, a 21 year young endeavor. She is a freelance writer and editor who loves to have fun, enjoys great food, movies and friends. Visit: www.InLightimes.com .

A variety of astronomical maps featuring the constellations drawn from the time of Ptolemy in 150CE through the 19th century can be found at the University of Michigan Library online in a section titled: Divine Sky: The Artistry of Astronomical Maps
**Picture of the Northern Hemisphere above is from my copy of Starlight, a Fixed Star Astrological Program developed by Bernadette Brady. I received my accreditation in Fixed Stars from Brady's company Astro Logos in 2003. Yes, astrologers are fully aware of the fixed stars, the ecliptic, the precession of the equinoxes and so much more. 

If you want to learn more about the Night Sky, I highly recommend buying a copy of The Night Sky from The Great Courses.

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