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. RJD

    Where were all you fools when they first spoke about the zodiac signs 10-15yrs ago... now its such a big deal...

    January 14, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Jishiku

      They werent born yet because they all are 15+ ...

      January 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hmm....

      @Jishiku–If they are 15+, that would meant that they WERE here 15 years ago. You're not a math major, are you?

      January 14, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joseph Ghabi

    It is time to switch to Numerology which is still based on your name and your date of birth but has nothing to do with the zodiac or the planet.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  3. imba

    dennis johnson ang bobobobobobo mo! wala kang utak!

    January 14, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. Robert J Kime

    I am glad I am a cancer lol.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. no

    why do we even argue about it..ok..we are all going to die in 2012 any way...i mean if you believe what everyone else is saying...crap i say stock up and build a shelter wayyy under ground and see if its true!!!!!!!!!!!!.............but i also say take your own path don't listen to the crap they put in your ears and go on about you business i still believe im a libra ive been a libra for 19 years how are they just gonna freakin change it..........im sure there are plenty more of you that agree that you have been you zodiac for way too long just to go and change it......its like having a name for 50 years and then someone changes it with a blink of an eye.....i would still call my self brittany........if they changed my name to ashley..im sorry

    January 14, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • MeMeMeMimi

      Ahhhhh....I get it, you're nuts!

      January 14, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rich S

    Why are certain dates there twice? My birthday happens to fall on one of those dates, July 20th. What am I now then? A hybrid between two zodiac signs?

    January 14, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Cusps

      Its not so widely shown in the western version but there are those whom are on the cusps of two signs. Normally July 20th would be the cusps of Cancer going into Leo.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Judith Johnson

      There are two reasons: 1) the sun changes signs anywhere from the 19th (Feb) to the 24th, depending on the year, the month, etc. , and 2) If it changed signs on the day you were born, then you could be either sign, depending on the time of your birth.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anna

      It's called a cusp. Look it up.

      January 14, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kira

      HAhahaa this made me laugh!!

      January 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. LOL

    Oh noes my whole world is upside down. How will I know what to do today without my star sign to instruct me!

    January 14, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • ???

      Grab a fortune cookie.

      January 14, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sean

    Isn't zodiac based upon your birth date anyway? If you were a Libra in 1966 on the day of your birth, wouldn't you always be a Libra? When astrologers ask for your birth date for predictions, they ask for your full date and sometimes time if you know it – not just the day/month.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Sil

      This where I agree. It was what it was then. If things have changed since, then we need to say from this date on, anyone is born, the stars line up this and this way, because the changes that had happened with the movements with Earth. End of story. Can't change the past, it has already happened.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • thelatinist

      These are not changes that happened yesterday; it took millenia for these changes to take place. The sun was no more in Capricorn on Jan. 14 fifty years ago than it is today.

      January 14, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Xerolooper

      This was my thoughts exactly but then the signs have been changing gradually everyone didn't wake up to a new sky Thursday. Does anyone know how to calculate the dates as they were 38 years ago when I was born. Don't get me wrong I haven't checked my horrorscope in years. But there is more to this then people are getting while at the same time I don't think anything has changed.

      January 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mark

    My sign is "RAISED MANHOLE AHEAD"

    January 14, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • ???

      You sure it's not "Dip"?

      January 14, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CN

    I thought this was a link to a Justin Bieber video. EPIC FAIL CNN!

    January 14, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ada

    Well, well, well... Here goes Science messing around with Astrology...
    Listen people of Science: instead of trying to solve things that does not partein to you wasting money and time...Why don't you try to employ the same time and money on finding the cure for cancer or aids, per say? Could it be because you don't want to step on anybody's toes like the pharmaceutical companies? If the cure is found, how are they going to make the money?
    You know? It is pathetic...all this makes me sick.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Shanon

      I agree!

      January 14, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      That's like asking a pediatrician to operate on a cancer patient. Astrologists (no matter how useless you think their profession is) are no more able to focus on AIDS and cancer than the rest of us. They studied the stars for pete's sake. Now if a world renowned oncologist produced this study- then we can talk.

      January 14, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Because

      Uh... because this was an announcement from the Minnesota PLANETARIUM Society, genius. Do you really expect a PLANETARIUM SOCIETY to go out and cure cancer or AIDs? What makes you think a Planetarium Society even has the knowledge or credentials to even begin to understand where to start?

      Things like AIDs and Cancer are tough to crack, hence why there hasn't been found a cure, yet. It will take time and it will take someone coming to problem with a fresh and new approach, most likely.

      Anyways, I think the real question is: why haven't you cured cancer and AIDs yet, Ada? Instead you sit around here and post negative comments on the internet about how lazy others are. It is pathetic... all this makes me sick.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr.Knowe

      Apparently astrology buffs suffer from poor reading comprehension.

      January 14, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Moe

    I have a dog.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      What is your dg's sign? Did it change?

      January 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sky leoaprd

    I Love astrology, it has helped me a lot to motivate, explain and inspire

    January 14, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. Larry Sessions

    It is annoying that CNN posts such drivel. First off, the shift is nothing new and nothing surprising. Astronomers have known it for ages and astrologers were too weak-minded to realize it. I suspect that the fellow in the Star-Tribune article was trying to point out that astrology is based on falsehoods, but in any event the media coverage focuses on it like it is something new and interesting and important. That's like reporting that John Smith in Omaha walked across the street in 1923. It's not news and it is not important. Astrology is fortunetelling on a level with campfire ghost stories and the tooth fairy, at best. Don't report this garbage as news. Instead, focus on things that help people think clearly, not things that foster magical thinking.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Because

      It's not like this story is somehow preventing real news form coming out. Fluff piece? Yeah, it sure is. Pointless? Sure. However, anyone who knows anything about social media (Facebook, Friendster, MySpace, etc) will tell you that the rumor and urban myth mill was in full swing of people announcing the "changing of the zodiac."

      While not the most important piece, I'm glad that CNN at least took the time to properly investigate the issue at hand and dispell the rumors. If only organizations like TIME would be willing to do the same. [ http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/01/13/horoscope-hang-up-earth-rotation-changes-zodiac-signs/ ]

      January 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. krashundburn

    Astrology is pure nonsense.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
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