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. Nnname*

    Username Ophiuchus has NO life. 90% of these 3hundred summat comments are YOURS... whatta loser D:

    January 14, 2011 at 6:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. Vanessa

    I definitely have more attributes of a Scorpio, but Virgo kind of suits me too.

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

    THe myan calender has 28 days and 13 months We should have 13 signs.

    January 14, 2011 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
  4. Bullcarp

    Horoscopes + god + Santa Claus + Easter Bunny + Obama Second term.....all myths.

    January 14, 2011 at 6:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      God is not a myth but who is this guy Obama...Oh yeah he"s the guy born in Kenya came to the Unitied States to destroy it and is doing a good job destroying it.

      January 14, 2011 at 6:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Seriously? That whole 'born in Kenya' thing is entirely debunked. Obama is a Hawaiian and an American.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jen

    This is just dumb we r in the year 2011 and ur telling me this is the first time in years that the earth has ever wobbled on its axis give me a break it had to of wobbled plenty of times before to mess with the aliginment of moon and stars and all that stuff before and yet our zodiac signs stayed the same for 200,000 years but now they all of a sudden change plz I'm stickin to my capicorn as well as my son bein his gimini and my soon to be baby will also go by the NORMAL REAL ZODIAC! Give me a break ppl

    January 14, 2011 at 6:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. Gumby

    Of course, what CNN doesn't bother to mention is that astrology is a bunch of sheer woo-ish nonsense based on nothing factual whatsoever, woo that con artists use to sucker people out of their money. Just like religion.

    January 14, 2011 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
  7. Aunt Linda

    I find it sad and slightly scary that so many people here who claim to be "astrologers" have obviously never looked at the stars!

    Do you want proof that your sign is not what the charts say?

    get a damn star chart and
    Look up in the sky!

    or you could go to http://www.stellarium.org download the program, and see for yourself!

    January 14, 2011 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. Aunt Linda

    I find it sad and slightly scary that so many people here who claim to be "astrologers" have obviously never tested it out and looked at the stars!

    Do you want proof that your sign is not what the charts say?

    get a damn star chart and
    Look up in the sky!

    or you could go to http://www.stellarium.org download the program, and see for yourself!

    January 14, 2011 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. Wes Stillwagon

    That nonsense raises its ugly head every few years. No one denies the backward progression of the Vernal Equinox however the fact that the signs change is based upon an ignorant understanding of the basic concepts of astrology. They believe the signs are moving backward and other nonsense. This comes from the silly notion that the influence comes from the background stars - it does not. The influence is in the Earth. The planets including the Sun and Moon as they appear against the background stars or Ecliptic are like hands of a complex clock. The background stars are like the numbers at the outside edge of the clock. They have no influence what-so-ever on the clock mechanism (In the Earth). The Astrological year begins at the point where the Sun crosses the celestial horizon on the first day of spring. The clock year begins too with 12 30 degree signs beginning from that point. It has absolutely nothing to do with the stars or the perceived constellations. This is a silly notion from people who know nothing about astrology.

    January 14, 2011 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
  10. Karen

    So funny, because I am a Leo but I act like a Cancer overall. Of course we all can relate to any of the signs.

    January 14, 2011 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. Annalise

    So this is absolutely crazy talk. If they discarded the 13th due to wanting 12 signs then we should discard it too. So in other words, this isn't a discovery, but someone found out what they discarded thousands of years ago already. So no change. Right? Since I was little; Pluto was a planet, now it isn't. Now your telling me my zodiac sign that I have grown up upon and said proudly that I am a Taurus, now I must say I am a Aries? I think not. You know what media world..? You can keep changing the world as I know it; but here's the Taurus in me shining bright.. Go back to your hole you crawled out of; I'm living my life as I have known it. I'm not changing. =) That's a true Taurus for ya!

    January 14, 2011 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. HAD ENOUGH

    Youve got to be kidding, with all the problems this country has with our jobs going overseas, illegal mexican trash taking the jobs we do have, a government that sits on thier fat, greedy, mexican loving, cant get anything done, self righgious a.. and all we have to talk about is the da.. zodiac ?? What a waste of life !!!!

    January 14, 2011 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
    • nordicmetalhead

      Obviously, since you read this article, you are aware of its existence enough to comment and whine about its seeming displacement of other news items. Last I checked on CNN.com, this is not the only news story; funny how there are so many others for you to read, including "illegal mexicans" et al.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. Frost E Snowman

    Why is this news, unless you were stupid enough to tattoo things like your ex girlfriend's name or some transient symbol on your butt, who really cares?

    January 14, 2011 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
  14. Grumpster

    And behold I bring you these 15 (*crack...sound of stone dropping and breaking) 10...yes..10 commandments....

    January 14, 2011 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. John D Lamb

    Comments please.

    January 14, 2011 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
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