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. Revtim

    Not a single sentence in the article even hints at the fact that astrology is pure BS, and every reputable study ever done confirms this.

    Absolutely shameful. This is supposed to be a reputable source of information, not the Weekly World News or Fox News.

    January 14, 2011 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Emmaleah

      Revtim, I believe that's a given for those who already don't use it as a way of soothsaying. I haven't seen them preface an article on Christianity or Islam with "this is a bunch of unproven horse-hockey" lately. Unfortunately, science can't prove a negative, so all the questions come down to faith in the system.

      It has, however, proven that all bodies in the universe exert a real, measurable, and minute force on all other bodies in the universe. In that sense, anything that proposes that massive bodies in the vicinity of us have some genuine influence on our bodies and the atoms that make up our bodies is quite correct.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • ethan

      Did you just equate astrology with Christianity and Islam? Wow, Emmaleah. Let the flame wars begin.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Mikal Dmon

      Read my entry, If you embrace who you are, you may find small connections to your horoscope.
      I do this all the time with people, they hate me for it, but I'm right, and it does often describe you.

      Obviously you're just a hater,a nd wont listen to anyone when you connived yourself
      are you a Taurus?

      January 14, 2011 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      So of course the our entire lives are driven by the smallest forces ever imagined.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Emmaleah

      @ethan Only in the sense that they are all culturally significant systems of belief that can't be *dis*proven by science–and that the people who don't believe in them don't need some kind of forewarning that they might not be proven ways of thinking. You can't take away people's faith. Otherwise it wouldn't be faith.

      January 14, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      Astrology equal to Christianity and Islam? Even I'M not that hard on astrology!

      January 14, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Who Deanny

      Remember President Regan, the Born again Christians darling of a President of the US? Remember how he had a private astrologer, who actually accompanied him in his official travels, to make sure the stars were properly aligned for certain political actions? Surely you haven't forgotten!

      January 14, 2011 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Astrology is Crap

      If you believe in astrology you should ask your Magic 8 Ball if it's really true. CNN, this isn't science. This is rubbish. Why aren't you hyping Atlantis, the Great Flood, and anti-MMR BS! Shame!

      January 14, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Jesse

      just because it isnt religious bull$#@% does not mean that they cannot report on something that has nothing to do with the news.
      I am tired of people complaining because they don't think something is newsworthy.
      If you dont like it go back to FOX news where they just spew political hate and enjoy the rest of your hate filled day,
      and leave the rest of us alone here to read stories that have no significants.

      January 14, 2011 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Note that this is not an article published as a news item on cnn.com. It's a blog, and should be considered to carry as much weight as anything you might find on Fox News. No blog should ever be considered a reputable news source.

      January 14, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Curious

      @ Revtim – They [the writer and/or CNN] have a perfectly valid reason not to imply or outright say that astrology is true or false; good journalism is neutral. Journalists report the news, and do so without trying to sway people one way or another. "Just facts, no opinions." That is what my fifth grade English teacher would say during our journalism unit at school, the exception being editorials. In this case they are writing in response to something that many people read or heard about and made a big deal about, which makes perfect sense. What I fail to understand is why you, amongst others who have posted comments here, have seemingly forgotten something so basic covered even at such a young age and again in later years.

      P.S.
      Before anyone bashes me and says the article isn't completely neutral, keep this is mind; everyone has opinions and that will always be more or less reflected in their writing, which is actually another thing aforementioned teacher mentioned and made sure the class understood.

      January 14, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. Emmaleah

    Thank you for this article. A writer I work with compared the frenzy to someone picking up a book written in French and panicking because the English language had changed. This has been so irritating to anyone who has studied forms of astrology or, sadly, anyone like my self capable of using Wikipedia or Google.

    January 14, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • BillyBob

      (using my best Slingblade impression) "...I like the way you talk".

      January 14, 2011 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bill

    LOL.... looking at it ... I was an Aries and I still am an Aries .... LOL ..... No change!

    January 14, 2011 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
    • rowena lestar

      ha ha ha hoo hoo hee hee ahhh ha ha ha ha ha hoo hoo ho ahh ha whohoo hoo hoo hoo my cheeks hurt!!!! ha ha ha ha ...

      January 14, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  4. ethan

    I'm not saying definitively that the positions of stars and the phases in some unknown cosmic process don't have any effect on us, but the idea that a guy who writes horoscopes for the internet has some mystical insight into your soul or your life is really, really stupid.

    January 14, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  5. Really!

    So are the panets that are really far from earth still controlling my life or not?? CNN I need closure!!

    January 14, 2011 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  6. Really!

    So are the planets that are really far from earth still controlling my life or not?? CNN I need closure!!

    January 14, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jim

    Hey numerology LADY, I hope you are better with numbers than you are with letters. Here's a test. What's 2+2? What's won plus won?

    January 14, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • v

      i hope you mean one plus one

      January 14, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin Bieber

      Fail.

      January 14, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  8. Believer

    I'm just going to assume all of you here bashing the bible will be the ones standing before God in the end of time asking him to spare your soul. I'd hate to think I am so close minded to believe in nothing but myself.

    January 14, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • BillyBob

      Which god and bible are you refering to? ...the only TRUE one, I suppose.

      January 14, 2011 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
    • NonBeliever

      Hey now, I believe in lots of stuff. God just doesn't happen to be one of them...

      January 14, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Pagan

      I believe in hundreds of gods. Also in planes of existence, reincarnation, and the Earth as a deity.

      I hate to think you're so closed minded that you refuse to believe in anything but one god.

      (That was satire, my friend. I don't have a problem with Christianity. I DO have a problem with bigotry.)

      January 14, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Annoyed

      I hate when people "assume" that your going to hell. Christians are so judgmental... It's the reason why I left to church, and it just goes to show that it wasn't only people at my church but people like you too "believer." don't assume that they are going to stand in front of God on judgement day, because you have no idea.

      January 14, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mikal Dmon

    I think do typically behave certain ways, and although I don't commit myself to what the stars suggest, I do take into account there recommendations.There is no subconscious programing that will make me enjoy the cold, loud environments/people, or disconnected from the things I do enjoy like being in nature and warm earthy settings..These variables act like stimulates and enhances my normal day to it's fullest.. I enjoy being a Virgo

    Take care MDmon

    January 14, 2011 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. Suri

    people lie now...they had to lie then. Just my look on it. Just because it happened in history and was put on paper, does not mean it's true. But believe what you want to believe. Media lies, books lie, PEOPLE LIE. EVEN then.

    January 14, 2011 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin Bieber

      Nice random comment...

      January 14, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jim

    Hey numerology LADY, I hope you are better with numbers than you are with letters. Here's a test. What's 2+2? Now the tough question....What's won plus won?

    January 14, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  12. OldFool

    No change here. I am still a Feces.

    January 14, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
    • JB Wegstaff

      Indeed you are, OldFool... indeed you are....

      January 14, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  13. templar1

    Won + won=looser

    January 14, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. Kicked Uranus

    "millenniums"? Really?

    January 14, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Beadifuldreamer

      Yeah I caught that too.... too bad we don't get as upset over the degradation of the English language like we got upset over a change of Zodiac sign.....sigh......

      January 14, 2011 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. templar1

    Ever hear of Copernicus? Astrology is based on the sun going around the Earth. If you believe that go back to seventh grade science class. End of story.

    January 14, 2011 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
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