Thanks Stephen! Since the aorist ὤφθη also occurs in verse 1, it looks like both of the signs that were seen (vv. 1, 3) are to be understood within an aorist setting.
At the risk of beating this little horse to death, and in order to help me wrap my mind around the aorist indicative, how then do the two instances of ὤφθη "was seen" (in vv. 1, 3) affect the narrative's point of view? In each instance a sign "was seen" (aorist), but do we know how long ago in the past it "was seen," or do we only know that at some point in the past it "was seen"? Taking the larger context (chapter 12, and then the book itself) into consideration, it doesn't seem likely that the sign "was seen" a thousand years ago, but rather, in some sense, it must have been seen within the "time context" of what either occurs in the chapter, or in the book itself. However one might interpret the passage (again, irrelevant), it would seem that though the two signs in 12:1-5 were seen in the past, it has to have been in a past that has some "time relevance" to what occurs in the chapter, rather than to some far distant past that has no relevance to what occurs in either the chapter or the book. Can someone point me in the right direction as to how to view the aorists in verses 1 and 3 time-wise? I'm still having some difficulty with the aorist indicative.