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. Renee

    Interesting blog. While some may have been discussing this months ago, others have not, Thanks for sharing this 🙂

    January 13, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nene

    Wow....They determined after decades that Pluto isn't a planet & now there is another Zodiac ? This is crazy . I never cared too much about this , but it's interesting how there is always something new to start a frenzy.

    January 13, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • krozar

      There have always been 13 in the sky; 12 in the culture.

      January 13, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. herpaderper

    "When we look at the astrology used in the Western world, the seasonally based astrology has not changed, was never oriented to the constellations"

    Oh I see.. the "western" astrology never had anything to with constellations.. wait what?!
    ...and the guy who wrote this is from tarot.com. Yeah... okay.

    January 13, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • krozar

      He says is was never "oriented" to the constellations; not that it has nothing to do with them. He is correct, they are based off of an ancient orientation.

      January 13, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. reggie

    Did the sign change

    January 13, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sara

    LOL!

    January 13, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. astrology is magical

    ASTROLOGY IS THE ONE TRUE FACTUAL SCIENCE. IT IS THE ONLY SCIENCE BACKED UP BY BOTH RELIGION AND FACTS. ALL YOU NON BELIEVERS ARE MORONS. I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU.

    January 13, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Win

      What facts back it up?

      January 13, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • ModernEarthling

      Calling people "morons" because they disagree with your hypothesis does not make you look very well educated. In fact, you sound like someone who should read more.

      January 13, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • krozar

      That will be a lot of funerals to protest!

      January 13, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • some teenage troll

      Lets just take a second to realize that the person who says " astrology is the one true.Factual
      science." Is named "astrology is magical. " so I guess magic is factual science too? Smh

      January 13, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Erin

      I don't understand religion, personally. Also, trying to persuade and convince everyone to believe the way you do is irrational. There are too many independent minds in the world and too many religions and ideas floating around for everyone to expect that people should believe the way they do. Astrology is interesting but in no way shape or form true. If you believe in it, that's your opinion and I have stated my own. Good for the both of us.

      January 13, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • hayley

      are you a gigolo? lol.

      January 13, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • didge

      Poe's Law, anyone?

      January 14, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
    • techtock1

      I am a so-called Sagittarian and I am nothing like what my sign says I am. My proof that this theory is nothing but BS***t.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
    • ModernEarthling

      It's a "magical" science. Good grief, sometimes these board are fn hilarious! I come back to this one because it's so funny I'm laughing so hard! On one hand it's tragic that people can't discern between fact and fantasy, but their seriousness in this is just laughable! I can see this on a SNL sketch! Frustratingly funny, I'd say!

      January 14, 2011 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
    • didge

      Nope, apparently not

      January 14, 2011 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. Bee

    Thanks for this. It's been so annoying to see all the "I don't care what they say, I'm a Leo/Sagittarius/Virgo/[insert zodiac sign here] for life!" status updates on Facebook. I wish more people realized that Ophiuchus is basically irrelevant to the Western world's usage of zodiac signs...

    January 13, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Octember...

    I knew it! once I read my comet was was in the house of planet Uranus,I felt a month older...

    January 13, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pnut

      That's interesting ! I once dreamt that my member was in Uranus and woke up feeling dirty and ashamed....coincidence ? Or Magic ?

      January 14, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Matthew

    "Two zodiacs. That's nothing new. People have known this for centuries."

    It should be "to". Horrible.

    January 13, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • No its 2

      no it is two as in two different standpoints on astrology. Horrible that your so dumb

      January 13, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      The number 2? As in an eastern and a western zodiac? What are you saying?

      January 13, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob

      lol.

      January 13, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lj

      @ no its 2

      you ARE dumb. It should be 'you're' and not 'your'. If YOU'RE going to call some one dumb, use correct English.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • lulzy

      @lj.
      No, you! I have nothing constructive to say either! So let me criticize you're grammar and spelling! I mean, if you used improper grammar in a casual sentence while commenting on a CNN blog you must be dumb!

      January 14, 2011 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joe

    This "fact" comes up every couple of years now and always seems to surface on slow news days.

    January 13, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jackie jackson

    oh no..I'm a Scorpio....i am not passive...

    January 13, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. learn

    Um didn't any of you learn this in school?

    January 13, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. proudpagan

    you know, for all the ridicule and disdain ASTRONOMERS have for ASTROLOGY (notice the difference in the two words), they sure don't hesitate to try and change it's foundations. if you think astrology is BS then why are you trying to meddle in it? parke kunkle should stick to just looking at the stars, and leave figuring out their influence to those who actually understand it and care.
    and he should get a better name. parke kunkle? really?

    January 13, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • seriously

      Have you actually READ any of the articles? He said he doesn't believe in astrology, but the facts are that people have been going by something that the stars don't say. Which is true. He didn't say it should change, because astronomers have known about this shift for years. Maybe reading something other than a BLOG by a tarot.com writer would suit you.

      January 14, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Aunt Linda

      Hey, that's rediculous. Paganism/Astrology can indeed be integrated with science. I mean i f you're going to claim to believe in astrology, Shouldn't you be basing it on the ACTUAL POSITIONS OF THE STARS?!

      January 14, 2011 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  14. Meandwhatarmy*

    I think I'll just start telling people I'm an Ophiuchus.

    January 13, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. AMERICA 1st

    do you people actually believe in astrology? do you all listen to voices from outer space? it all looks like a bunch of retarded nuts if yall do!

    January 13, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • LG

      That would mean you don't believe in god/religion, I would assume.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
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