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. silly

    Stick to the chinese, at least they stick to their word....Feb 3rd, 2011, Year of the Rabbit, Happy Chinese New Year.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  2. Philip

    Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs. Blockin' out the scenery breakin' my mind. Do-this don't do-that, can' you read the sign?

    January 14, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. Observer

    I am so BUMMED!!! My astrologer failed to predict that they would change the signs.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  4. Wil

    this was on fox and friends (no friend of mine) the other day and they put this out as fact ,in some way you have to feel sorry for the folks that are watching this trash 24-7

    January 14, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. MrsFizzy

    OMG..Now I'm a Leo and Mr. Fizzy is Pisces...are we compatible or not..??!

    January 14, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. Lourdes

    The lack of understanding here about astrology is astounding. But then again, people are quick to hate what they don't understand.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. dmeredith

    Astrology is the “interpretation” of an assumed influence the stars (and planets) exert on human destiny. This is a false belief. The royal astrologers of the Babylonian court were put to shame by God’s prophet Daniel (Daniel 1:20) and were powerless to interpret the king’s dream (Daniel 2:27). God specifies astrologers as among those who will be burned as stubble in God’s judgment (Isaiah 47:13-14). Astrology as a form of divination is expressly forbidden in Scripture (Deuteronomy 18:10-14). God forbade the children of Israel to worship or serve the “host of heaven” (Deuteronomy 4:19). Several times in their history, however, Israel fell into that very sin (2 Kings 17:16 is one example). Their worship of the stars brought God’s judgment each time.

    The stars should awaken wonder at God’s power, wisdom, and infinitude. We should use the stars to keep track of time and place and to remind us of God’s faithful, covenant-keeping nature. All the while, we acknowledge the Creator of the heavens. Our wisdom comes from God, not the stars (James 1:5). The Word of God, the Bible, is our guide through life (Psalm 119:105). we are human beigns uniquely made, period!!! this is Hillarious!! God help us.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  8. dmeredith

    Astrology is the “interpretation” of an assumed influence the stars (and planets) exert on human destiny. This is a false belief. The royal astrologers of the Babylonian court were put to shame by God’s prophet Daniel (Daniel 1:20) and were powerless to interpret the king’s dream (Daniel 2:27). God specifies astrologers as among those who will be burned as stubble in God’s judgment (Isaiah 47:13-14). Astrology as a form of divination is expressly forbidden in Scripture (Deuteronomy 18:10-14). God forbade the children of Israel to worship or serve the “host of heaven” (Deuteronomy 4:19). Several times in their history, however, Israel fell into that very sin (2 Kings 17:16 is one example). Their worship of the stars brought God’s judgment each time.
    The stars should awaken wonder at God’s power, wisdom, and infinitude. We should use the stars to keep track of time and place and to remind us of God’s faithful, covenant-keeping nature. All the while, we acknowledge the Creator of the heavens. Our wisdom comes from God, not the stars (James 1:5). The Word of God, the Bible, is our guide through life (Psalm 119:105). we are human beigns uniquely made, period!!! this is Hillarious!! God help us.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • TokeTheTalk

      Nothing beats the word of God as in Daniel. But I think what was forbidden was using divination from stars to serve human vanity. Yet the stars can lead you to God just as they did lead the three Magi. All the creation and especially the stars point to the Providence thus revealing the Creator. Isaiah 6:10 does the rest of the work, so, yeah, God help us....

      January 14, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  9. VikingWitch

    WHY WOULD ANYONE CHANGE THEYRE TATOO WITH THIS NEWS??? This means NOTHING! Some People will BELIEVE ANYTHING THEY READ!!! ,,,,,,,,SEND ME MONEY THEN WIERDOS!!!

    January 14, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin Bieber

      Nice rant.

      January 14, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joot

    "millenniums"?

    January 14, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. Q

    Idiot, the seasons on earth are affected by the gravities of the heavenly bodies. The seasons have not remained fixed and as the earths axis has shifted so has the seasonal balance. Both zodiacs are shifted.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. Einez

    Hahahahahaha! I don;t think it matters much since I'm an Aries/Taurus cusp!

    January 14, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    If I may be permitted to take my turn on the high horse...Seems like some of us are taking this a little too seriously. I got a good laugh out of it myself. To those of you who like to point out how science has disproves astrology, keep in mind that scientific finding aren't always right. So take astrology, religion, and science with a grain of salt. Good and bad can be found in all. But anything that makes us stop and shift focus from the external world to ourselves has some benefit. Finally, I hope you all have a good day, whether it's ruled by astrology, religion, science, or whatever floats your boat! Peace!

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

      True.

      January 17, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Einez

    Hahahahahaha! I don't think it matters much since I'm an Aries/Taurus cusp!

    January 14, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  15. Erik

    My astronomy teacher in college told us the same thing. Honestly, my sign STILL doesn't matter to me.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
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