Devotees of astrology may have been following the wrong star signs their whole lives, Nasa has suggested.
While the 12 signs of the zodiac take their names from the constellations that the sun appears to pass in the course of a year, a 13th has been suggested.
Ophiuchus - named after the Ancient Greek for “snake bearer” - straddles the celestial equator and comes into line for 18 days between November 29 and December 17.
In a post on the Nasa website, which has gained traction this week, they said Ophiuchus is the 13th constellation the sun passes, leading some astrologists to completely redraw the Zodiac calendar.
Horoscope fans fear that they may have been following the wrong guidance all their lives, with Ophiuchans said to be clever, flamboyant but power-hungry.
Naomi Rowan, 22 said: "I couldn't sleep and found out that my star-sign has apparently changed and instead of a Sagittarius I am now an Ophiuchus! I'm not sure what the traits are, but perhaps it will make more sense to me than Sagittarius ever did."
The realignment has affected other star signs.
Mandy Southgate, from Kent, said: "No way I'm an Aries. Taurus forever. I'm going to ignore Ophiuchus just like I ignored Pluto not being a planet."
“So I am no longer a Sagittarius, I'm now an Ophiuchus. Took me years to learn how to spell Sagittarius now have to learn how to spell and pronounce Ophiuchus,” joked Shaun Connolly, a digital media apprentice from Scotland.
Ophiuchus was originally spotted by the ancient Babylonians, some three millennia ago.
“Even according to the Babylonians' own ancient stories, there were 13 constellations in the zodiac,” Nasa said.
“To make a tidy match with their 12-month calendar, the Babylonians ignored the fact that the Sun actually moves through 13 constellations, not 12.
“So the Babylonians picked one, Ophiuchus, to leave out.
“Then they assigned each of those 12 constellations equal amounts of time.”
But experts say that the Earth's wobbly orbit means it is no longer aligned to the stars in the same way as when the signs of the zodiac were first conceived and now Ophiuchus is even more prevalent in the sky.
“Now, 3,000 years later, the sky has shifted because Earth's axis (North Pole) doesn't point in quite the same direction,” Nasa said.
It has been pointed out that the sun aligns with Ophiuchus for 18 days between November 29 and December 17. It is only aligned with Scorpio, beforehand, for seven days.
This means the whole zodiac system would change, with Ophiuchus nestling between Scorpio and Sagittarius.
While it's not the first time the idea of Ophiuchus as a 13th Zodiac sign has come to light, some astrologists are keen to stick to the status quo.
A self-styled ‘consultant to the stars’, Sally Kirkman, from Blackpool told The Daily Telegraph: “No-one is going to have Ophiuchus as their star sign, it means nothing. All the star signs remain as they have since ancient times.
“In brief, western astrology, which is the standard in many countries in the world, is based on the tropical zodiac. The 12 star signs of the zodiac are fixed and they connect to the Equinoxes and Solstice dates which are the same year in, year out and are linked to the seasons. They do not change - the dates of each star sign remain the same.
“There is a beautiful symmetry in the 12 signs of the zodiac which ancients knew about and their hidden knowledge has been passed down throughout time.”
“You won’t find any accredited astrologer telling you that Ophiuchus is a star sign. Anyone who does tell you that it is a new star sign doesn’t understand their craft.”
Profile of Ophiuchus
Romina Russell, a Los Angeles based author who has written four science fiction novels inspired by astrological signs says that the traits of Ophiuchans of old are reflected in people born under that star sign today.
“According to legend, the Serpent Bearer constellation had two planets - one covered in fiery molten lava and the other consisting of a large swamp,” she said.
“Ophiuchans built their short-lived civilisation on the marshy world, where they slept in huts and spent most of their time exploring the wilderness and developing remedies for ailments, which they exported to all the Houses.
“House Ophiuchus represented Unity. Its people were spirited, magnetic, impulsive, clever, flamboyant, and at times jealous, power-hungry, and temperamental. At their hearts, they were healers who hoped to one day rid the Zodiac of every ill, disease, violence, and bring everyone closer together.
“Ophiuchans had a natural affinity for snakes, and there was a special species of serpent, the Zawinder, with whom their House’s Zodai developed a psychic connection. Each Zodai would capture and adopt his own Zawinder, which they would then use to spread messages to others in the swamp.
“House Ophiuchus had the greatest diversity in the Zodiac—people’s skin, hair, and eye color spanned the full range of the spectrum. Yet, upon entering their teens, Ophiuchans developed scaly skin that would protect them from various creatures’ bites and the natural elements.”
Traits of each star sign, according to Sally Kirkman, Astrologer and author:
Capricorn: Ambitious, Traditional, Dignified. Great long-term planners, Capricorns build lasting investments and gain status or responsibility along the way. They mature like a fine wine, modelling dignity and respect, but can lack optimism and spontaneity.
Aquarius: Forward-thinking, Unique, Socially Responsible. Thinking outside the box, Aquarians are keen to take a stand and back a good cause. They can however become stubborn and dogmatic.
Pisces: Romantic, Compassionate, Creative. Pisces are empathetic, sensitive and vulnerable, who go with the flow of life. Sometimes they can be seen as lost souls or gullible.
Aries: Energetic, Competitive, Independent. Aries are thrill-seekers, brave and love an adrenaline rush, but can also become impulsive, bored, argumentative and quick to anger.
Taurus: Reliable,Sensual, Persistent. Taurus are patient and dependable with a good dose of common sense. They enjoy nurturing others, creating solid foundations for life and making money. They can be stubborn and possessive, however.
Gemini: Quick-thinking, Agile, Youthful. Geminis are good multi-taskers, curious and flexible in the mind. They are communicative jacks of all trades, but can be known to stretch the truth and deceive.
Cancer: Emotional, Reflective, Home-loving. Cancers enjoy building family connections and bonding with others. They are caring and emotional, but can become clingy.
Leo: Regal, Colourful, Theatrical. Leos are natural leaders and enjoy a five-star lifestyle. Forever chasing fame and fortune, they can be seen as attention-seeking or arrogant.
Virgo: Resourceful, Attentive, Self-conscious. Virgos enjoy playing a supportive role, working diligently and efficiently. Known to be polite and courteous, they make smart decisions, but can over-fuss and lose sight of the bigger picture.
Libra: Diplomatic, Charming, Peace-loving. Libras are good negotiators with strong people skills and a tendency to see both sides of an argument. But they can be indecisive and seen as trying to please everyone too often.
Scorpio: Intense, Focused, Mysterious. Scorpios have fantastic survival instincts and take an all-or-nothing approach to life. This can lead to self-destructive behaviour, however, with obsession and jealousy coming to the fore.
Sagittarius: Enthusiastic, Free-spirited, Visionary. These people always look on the bright side and embrace life to the full, enjoying grand gestures and educating themselves and others. But they are sometimes over-confident and self-indulgent, coming across as blunt.