No, your zodiac sign hasn't changed
January 13th, 2011
10:11 PM ET

No, your zodiac sign hasn't changed

Tattoo parlor owners must be salivating. An assertion in a Minneapolis Star Tribune article that our understanding of the zodiac is off by about a month - and that therefore people have been identifying themselves with the wrong sign - caught fire on the internet Thursday, and many folks are in an absolute panic on social media.

"If my zodiac symbol has been changed to a Libra, what am I supposed to do with my Scorpio tattoo?!?!," read one tweet Thursday.

Some vowed to get their tats removed. Others groaned about losing the sign with which they’ve identified themselves for years. The zodiac and related terms - including Ophiuchus, said to be a 13th and neglected sign - were trending Twitter topics much of Thursday.

But before astrology fans scrape the ink from their arms because they think they're now a Virgo instead of a Libra, they should consider this: If they adhered to the tropical zodiac - which, if they're a Westerner, they probably did - absolutely nothing has changed for them.

That's worth rephrasing: If you considered yourself a Cancer under the tropical zodiac last week, you're still a Cancer under the same zodiac this week.

That's because the tropical zodiac - which is fixed to seasons, and which Western astrology adheres to - differs from the sidereal zodiac - which is fixed to constellations and is followed more in the East, and is the type of zodiac to which the Star Tribune article ultimately refers.

Two zodiacs. That's nothing new.

"This story is born periodically as if someone has discovered some truth. It's not news," said Jeff Jawer, astrologer with Tarot.com.

The hubbub started with Sunday's Star Tribune article, which said the following: "The ancient Babylonians based zodiac signs on the constellation the sun was 'in' on the day a person was born. During the ensuing millenniums, the moon’s gravitational pull has made the Earth 'wobble' around its axis, creating about a one-month bump in the stars' alignment."

"When [astrologers] say that the sun is in Pisces, it’s really not in Pisces," Parke Kunkle, a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, told the Star Tribune.

"Indeed," the article continued, "most horoscope readers who consider themselves Pisces are actually Aquarians." The article also asserts Scorpio's window lasts only seven days, and that a 13th constellation, Ophiuchus, used to be counted between Scorpio and Sagittarius but was discarded by the Babylonians because they wanted 12 signs per year.

True enough, Jawer says, the sun doesn't align with constellations at the same time of year that it did millennia ago. But that’s irrelevant for the tropical zodiac, codified for Western astrology by Ptolemy in the second century, he says.

In the tropical zodiac, the start of Aries is fixed to one equinox, and Libra the other.

"When we look at the astrology used in the Western world, the seasonally based astrology has not changed, was never oriented to the constellations, and stands as … has been stated for two millenniums," Jawer said.

People who put stock in astrology can ask whether they should adhere to the tropical zodiac or the sidereal zodiac. Jawer argues for the tropical.

"Astrology is geocentric. It relates life on Earth to the Earth’s environment, and seasons are the most dramatic effect, which is why we use the tropical zodiac," he said.

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soundoff (1,486 Responses)
  1. Ken Wood

    Who cares???

    January 14, 2011 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ophiuchus

    Hey

    January 14, 2011 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. Nick

    How about CNN report that it's a myth and stop feeding idiots misinformation?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forer_effect

    January 14, 2011 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
    • dane

      Do you believe everything you hear on CNN?
      If so thats a shame.

      January 14, 2011 at 6:44 am | Report abuse |
  4. Thomas

    And this is front page news CNN??

    January 14, 2011 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. Elizabeth

    I've been an astrologer for about 40 years and just posted an article on this. If interested, you can check it out at astrologyoflight.com

    January 14, 2011 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Ophiuchus

      You should have seen this coming.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. Michael

    LOL... the author is saying don't worry.. even though the STARS ARE NOT WHERE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE (i.e. the real star charts) ... its ok.. your "sign" will still stay the same.

    Right now, as of 2am CST on Friday , January 14, 2011... CNN is NOT covering the breaking "moon is out of position" story that is spreading on youtube.

    This is what the article refers to on "social media"... but doesn't mention what!!! lol...

    you people are going to find out WAY too late if you're reading stories like this for any insight as to what is really going on right now.. bird deaths, boats sinking (coreolis effect), multiple huge earthquakes and volcanos, and lets not forgot the flooding around the WHOLE world..

    did you hear about the airports? having to change their runways this past week because of this "pole shift"...

    where is CNN when you need them.. I understand the sheeple will freak out when you tell them the truth, but doesnt anyone think its good to know whats going on, as opposed to staying in the dark.

    Reported as I write this.. video evidence on youtube of the moon being over 30 degrees off...

    im just sayin' ....

    peace

    January 14, 2011 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Jackie Gleason Ghost

      Your tin foil hat won't save you from Ralph beating the Alice out of you, To the moon Michael, To the moon.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Eli

      Lol these comments crack me up

      January 14, 2011 at 3:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Azimuth is @ 320 degrees!!! wow... dovetails nicely with the MSNBC news story a couple hours ago (maddow) covering what actually is happening...

      tinfoil hat? are you kidding me.. this is happening as we speak... just look it up... lol tinfoil

      being an ostrich won't help you in the next couple days when SHTF... seriously... im not joking, or a conspiracy nut.. im a weather freak... and that is all the underground weather and geologist community is talking about right now

      its why you are reading this "cover story"...

      guess you don't realize this story is to explain to the dumb masses why the stars aren't aligning where they are supposed to be...

      again... this is fact , not tinfoil... news broke a few hours ago ... youtube is on fire with it, just hasn't made its way here yet...

      you'll see

      January 14, 2011 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Snapdragon

      haha Michael, can't tell if you're jokin' or smokin;, brother, but those are some funny observations. BTW, what you read about re-designating airport runways, this is just a reflection of the dynamic nature of Earth. Because the earth's molten core is constantly moving, the magnetic pole is constantly changing. Every 56 days, revised navigational charts are published that reflect these changes. Without them, a flight from San Francisco to Minneapolis might end up in Sheboygan.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. MarylandBill

    Umm... actually ancient astrologers did base everything on the "sidereal" zodiac. BTW, sidereal is just a fancy word for saying it is based on the constellations. This whole "equatorial zodiac" garbage is just an attempt by astrologers to save their mumbo jumbo from critical examination. While we are at it, we might want to ask how they adapted to the Gregorian Calendar Reform? What happens if you follow the old Julian Calendar which is 13 days off the current Gregorian Date (i.e., for Old Calendar Orthodox it is still Christmas).

    January 14, 2011 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
  8. Paul

    Hmmm, what if they 'discover' the same thing about religion – 'looks like we are off a little'...

    January 14, 2011 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. eli

    this is absolutely ridiculous. it's obvious these reptilian overlords now recognize their own demise and are using any pathetic means necessary to take advantage of the last bits of manipulative power they have. our individual signs define who we are. just because some idiots are suddenly claiming there is a "snake bearer" (reptilian much?) doesn't mean your sign has changed. who you are still lies deep within your heart. you feel what sign you are. that's something they can't change or touch.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
    • chris

      lol what a freak! LOL

      January 14, 2011 at 7:04 am | Report abuse |
  10. BrianZ

    Horoscopes are joke. To prove it, pick your sign and three others as if they were your sign. Then track what each says about you for 3 months and score each one each day according to how well they fit. Surprise, the scores show you fit a sign other than your own better than your own.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Ophiuchus

      Thats a great idea. Sounds like you tried it. Bet you don't have a girl friend.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ophiuchus

    Ok, Ok, so astrollogy is dead, but at least I still have my Ouiji board and my Traot cards.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. Will

    Please don’t think I’m going to complain, I actually thought the change of zodiac sign was a great idea.
    Please keep an open mind and remember the zodiac was made 3000 years ago and use creatures or persons or myths that doesn’t influence our daily society anymore.. With that said….
    I was thinking not everyone is Greek.
    So Shouldn’t we live with today’s influences. The world is always changing and the stars are always changing why aren’t we and how we try to perceive things?
    Shouldn’t we have a whole new set of signs and dates. Or more less periods of constellations.
    Let me explain my thinking.. I’m an American born in Ohio in November 1973.
    So wouldn’t the stars on/ around the ecliptic lines be drawn up or mapped to represent something American or something that symbolizes the month of November or even the seasons. Anyway,
    were smart people in 2011, so with all those stars out there and so much technology we have today we could have Zodiac fit for today. I enjoy reading zodiac signs daily and always hope the predictions would come true, but always feel kind of out of timing where we are in our lives. Please know I understand zodiac is all about entertainment, but there was a time when people took predictions very serious. Did we start to drift from the predictions when the system started to get out dated.
    I’m sure with all the smart people who watch the constellations could draw lines from dot to dot (stars) that symbolizes something modern and what it stands for its predictions, maybe 12 new signs one for each month because we use in today’s world a calendar year of 12 months. Its something we are influenced by in today’s world.
    This could go just a tad farther. For persons born within a few days of a months end or beginning.
    Sort of like conjoined twins with an ability to see both sides. 24 signs all together. What? that’s crazy? Not really. A person born on Nov. 1st.would be influence in many ways, their mind set would have so much going on coming out of a Halloween weekend plus the election time is always around then.
    Unlike a person born on Dec 25th it might be cool to have a same birthday as Jesus but that person has to wait a whole year to feel special, but on their special day other people get the attention as well.
    So what am I asking? Why do we not build from a clever idea (Zodiac) to work in today’s world?
    Thanks for your time

    January 14, 2011 at 3:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. raven

    So does this mean the world doesnt revolve around me ?

    January 14, 2011 at 3:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Ophiuchus

      LOL. By the way is your last name Mad?

      January 14, 2011 at 3:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. Ophiuchus

    I hate my new name.......sounds more like a medical condition than a healer. I think I should be called Festivus, it just sounds so much more happy doesn't it?

    January 14, 2011 at 3:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. em.

    after doing my research, ive decided that this whole zodiac thing is just a hoax. i mean, zodiacs dont change just because of gravitational pull, cause that has to do with the star alligning. and as far as this pull having an effect with our zodiacs, and even adding a new one, wouldnt it make our callender have 13 months? which i dont think is right. because the earth is a circle, which means its 360 degrees, you divide that by twelve ( the number of the months as of now) and it gives you 30 degrees for each zodiac. but you divide 360 by 13 ( because with the new zodiac, there should be 13 months) is 27. 692, and i think that is completely incorrect, cause even if you look on a globe, it goes by 30 degrees.if it is true though, which i highly doubt it is, i think all the callenders should be changed lol. also, the cusp has nothing to do with the new zodiacs. this is just saying that if you were born right before the changing in the sing, and the sun is just right, it could effect whether you are one of only 2 zodiacs. which means it effects your personality, like if you were born right before a change, or right after a change, you might have the personality as the one before, then the one that is actually your zodiac (according to the sun) because it was so close in change. also, i dont get why everyone is bringing "god" and religion into this. if you go by what god says, and "god makes you who you are, not zodiacs" then get out of here, cause you obviously dont believe in this, so it shouldnt concern you. it all depends if you believe in that though. but i could be wrong, concidering im only a highschooler just curious about this whole thing lol.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Aunt Linda

      Sadly, The article has obviously caused only more confusion for those of us who are not well acquainted with complex astronomy. I'll try to break it down into it's essential principles for those who have the patience:

      Firstly, What exactly is the Zodiac?

      1. The Zodiac modern astrologers use was first invented 2500 years ago by the Ancient Babylonians (a civilization based in the territory which is present-day Iraq.)
      2. It is based upon the precise path of the sun through the background of stars, which is called the "Ecliptic" by astronomers. (We would be able to see the sun among the stars in the daytime were it not for the presence of Earth's thick nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere which turns the sky a bright blue color).
      3 The moon, and planets share approximately the same orbital plane as the earth, so they too trace paths through a zone of the sky that is very near the ecliptic.
      4. The Babylonian astronomers divided the Ecliptic into 12 equal chunks of celestial real-estate, which correspond to the 12 constellations (recognized by babylonian astronomers) and the area of the sky immediately adjacent to them , these are the 12 signs of the Zodiac used by most modern astrologers.

      OK, so what is all this business about "Precession"

      4. The gravitational influences of the sun, moon (and to a much lesser extent the other planets) upon the Earth cause the direction (not the tilt, mind you) of its axis relative to the stars to slowly wobble. Over a 25,771.5 year cycle the earth's axis completes on full wobble. This is what is known as "The Precession of the equinoxes". Therefore, the actual position of the sun in the Ecliptic at any given time of year completes one full cycle every 25,771.5 years. For example, is the sun is in Saggitarius today, Then on this date in 25,771.5 years it will be again be in Saggitarius. Simple Arithmetic tells us that every 1/12th of that cycle the Sun changes signs, so it takes about 2,150 years for this to happen.

      So how does all of this affect my sign?
      5. OK. So it's been about 2500 years since the Babylonian Zodiac was created. Unfortunately the Babylonians were unaware of the phenomenon of Precession, However 350 years later it was discovered by the Greek astronomer Hipparchus, A couple hundred years after that the Roman Astronomer/Astrologer Ptolemy, added Ophiuchus to the list.(say: oh-FI-yuck-us) a 13th Zodiacal constellation between Saggitarius and Scorpio. This is one of the 88 constellations used by modern astronomers to map out the sky, but it has not been used by the majority of astrologers, both in Ptolemy's time as well as today. Ptolemy was also aware of Precession, but chose to ignore it for astrological purposes.

      6. Most contemporary Astrologers use one of two Zodiacs with 12 signs: Tropical and Sidereal.

      7.The "Tropical" Zodiac is fixed to the months of the calendar, using the Vernal Equinox (March 21-22) as the starting point. Thereby reflecting the position of the sun as it would have been on any given date in Babylonian times rather than any up-to-date astronomical reality. This Zodiac follows a coordinate system dividing the 360-degree Zodiac into 12 30-degree sections. This is the system used by the majority of Western Astrologers

      8The "Sidereal" Zodiac, on the other hand is based upon the actual position of the Sun in the sky in real time. This Zodiac is used by Hindu Astrologers and some Western Astrologers.
      it is also (usually) divided into 12 30-degree regions.

      9. Complicating this further, a small minority of modern Astrologers using the Sidereal system have abandoned the 12 sign system in favor of the 13 constellations listed by Ptolemy and decided to use the constellation boundaries as defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) (the scientific body which regulates modern astronomy). As the IAU constellation boundaries are determined by the actual width of the constellations, rather than broken up into 12 equal sized segments. Rather than consistently being a month long, the periods of time allocated for each sign under this regime vary from as short 5 days(Scorpius) to as long as 45 days (Virgo).

      So has my sign Changed?
      10. That's entirely up to you. If you prefer to stick with prevailing astrological tradition (perhaps habit would be a better term) regardless of astronomical reality, then no, it hasn't. However if you prefer to use a system of astrology based upon actual celestial occurrences,(i.e. if you're a Libra and you're chart says Mars is in your sign you can Look up in the sky and see it shining bright in Libra) then perhaps you should consider going with the new calendar.

      11. Additional Tidbits:
      Both the Babylonians and the Romans were only aware of 5 of the 7 planets visible from Earth: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. after the telescope was invented around the turn of the 17th century 2 very large planets were discovered: Uranus in 1781 and Neptune in 1846. (Pluto was discovered in 1930 and was considered a planet for 76 years but got demoted by the IAU to "dwarf planet" status in 2006. The decision was fairly controversial but we won't get into that here.) Most astrologers use the 5 classical planets exclusively in their predictions but some have also taken Uranus and Neptune into account.

      My Two Cents:
      The Babylonians designed a system of astrology that was as accurate as was possible for their day. Wouldn't It make sense for modern astrologers to do the same ?

      January 14, 2011 at 6:15 am | Report abuse |
    • em.

      ok, im a slow learning, so bare with me.
      why would they be bringing up the new zodiac again? i understand what youre saying, about the earths tilt and everything. but i still dont get why that would effect the zodiacs. and if there are 88 constellations in the sky, why are we only usuing 12 (or 13) of them?

      January 14, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
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