Much of the information I gave earlier was a bum steer, as I have found out. The following shuold be correct.
The zodiac signs are based upon the constellations that the sun 'passes through' as its position relative to us and the stars changes throughout the year. There are 12 signs, each holding sway for roughly one months time.
There is no Serpentarius constellation, but there is a Serpens (the serpent). Checking my star charts, it becomes evident that none of the major stars of Serpens are on the ecliptic, or on opposite sides of it. The charts I have do not show the actual boundaries of the constellation as determined by astronomers, so it may still technically be able to be a zodiac constellation.
however, a little further investigation shows that it probably isn't even necessary to bother checking Serpens itself.
All constellation names are in Latin, and it appears that the programmers in Japan had some grasp of this, or decided to make a logical jump from the names of other signs.
First, let's look at a different sign: Aquarius. The derivation for this is from the Latin for water (aqua) and the sign is usually interpretted as the Water Bearer.
Second, a similar constellation/sign: Sagittarius. This word is derived from the Latin for arrow (sagitta) and actually translates as 'archer' (ignore for now that the constellation is usually held to be a bow-wielding centaur).
In both cases, we have a base word followed by -arius, and combined together, we have a person associated with the base word in some way - a person carrying water and a person that uses arrows.
So the logical jump then is: Serpentarius means a person with some assiociation with snakes (serpens, -tis: snake, -arius: someone connected to).
Do we have a winner?
Near the constellation Serpens (in fact, BETWEEN it, dividing it into two separate parts) is the constellation Ophiuchus - the snake holder (Latinized Greek ophiouchos, meaning holding a serpent, from Greek ophis (snake)). On one side of this constellation is the snake's head (Serpens Caput). Curling away on the other side is its tail (Serpens Cauda).
Here then is a prime candidate for the fictional Serpentarius. But could it be finagled into a zodiac sign? Does it match the major criteria?
Ophiuchus crosses the ecliptic. It should indeed be a part of the Zodiac, a 13th sign.
Ophiuchus comes between Sagittarius and Scorpio, placing proper Serpentarian birthdays sometime around November.
Anyone wishing to add this to a FAQ or website must include my alias in the same section giving me credit. Correct spelling if you wish. ;)
ok, back my own fanfic. Miranda B, I hope this helps.
Editor's Note: Content unchanged, even spelling. :)
If this is the sort of effort he puts toward Zodiac signs, I can't wait for the fan fiction.