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. sgdg

    It's like you're all routing for your favorite football team! Who cares? You are who you are no matter what sign u are.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DH

    What a relief to my youngest daughter! She was the only one who would've had the change all her jewelry and stuff, even though they just thought it was cool and not really predictive of their personality or future wealth. Mine didn't change regardless!

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

      Seriously? You wear that crappy stuff? HAHAHAHA!

      January 14, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kristi

    I live in the city, and I cannot turn the lights off in order to see the stars... I wish I could. Stephanie, are you an alien???
    You're very detached from "human" things. Give us all a break. Maybe you should build a rocket and blast off into outer space. I got a very good laugh from that, btw.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gregg

    None of this is real. This has all the impact of people arguing whether or not there are another, secret Horcrux unmentioned by J.K.Rowling in the Harry Potter books. Astrology does not predict anything. Repeat after me: Astrology does not predict anything.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Normal

    If you tattooed your zodiac sign on your body you're an idiot! If you're "up in arms" over the idea that your zodiac sign may change then you're an idiot. There are much more important and life altering things to be worried about than that.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ashlie j Swartz

    So wat exactly does that mean I was born on April 1st which is aries. now they new dates has change and now I'm not aries. I dont believe that in my heart I believe I am an aries. . .

    January 14, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Techwing

    Western astrology actually does take into account the precession of the equinoxes, but since this takes place so slowly, astrology holds that it affects entire civilizations, not so much individuals. If you've heard references to the "age of Aquarius," this is in fact the Western astrological acknowledgment of the precession. Currently astrology holds that the world is in transition between the age of Pisces and the age of Aquarius.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Enlight

    THE TRUTH IS BEFORE YOU, OBSERVER. YOUR EYES SEE, YOU ARE BUT BLIND TO VISION.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      Please don't talk about vision when you have none. I believe in science which provides answers and all of the marvelous inventions we have today. Ignoring science makes as much sense as believing the earth is the center of the universe and is flat. I wouldn't be surprised if you still believe in those since science says they are wrong.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Enlight

      honestly, it doesn't matter what you wish to believe. why does it matter so much what I believe? because science essentially has arrogance built in.

      why can you not see everything to be as likely as anything else? because you are not centered properly. good luck to you (as if luck exists), have love (if you believe in it since science has not proven it to exist), and light (and i'm not speaking of photons).

      January 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      Science requires an open mind, curiousity, and a willingness to check itself. Astrology requires a closed mind and a willingness to ignor astronomical facts. There is nothing factual when astrology pretends that signs occupy the same amount of space and time from the earth's point of vision.

      A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

      January 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John

    Who cares.... it is complete and utter BS. Not to mention an ego trip thinking that the universe itself is here for you... brutal

    January 14, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nomeps

    I blame Sarah Palin for this. Her use of symbols and extreme rhetoric have caused the earth to wobble. If not her, it was probably Bush's fault.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      Nope, but maybe there is some truth to the charges of Bush "dumbing down" our country.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will

      Hey-O!

      January 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Wootie

    ...the important thing to remember is that if you adhere to astrology (or homeopathy, antivax, etc.) you're an unqualified failure already. Only the dimmest of the dim can be brought to believe such crap, preyed upon by the worst of the worst who "practice" such BS.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baba Doodlius

      That's not true, actually. I have known some people who are *very* intelligent who also believed in some supernatural concepts. It was always a mystery to me how they could have such apparently contradictory aspects to their personalities, but nevertheless those aspects were there. These are people with advanced degrees from reputable universities, and you can't get a PhD or an MD or a DDS without having some brains – but then they also had that unshakable belief in astrology, or numerology, or some religion, all of which are distinctly supernatural beliefs, and it's very hard to understand out how somebody can be both a very rational thinker in most respects and also a demonstrably (and admittedly) irrational one with regard to one particular area of thought. I don't personally believe in any supernatural concepts (as much as I'd love to believe that there is some magic I could invoke that would let me dunk a basketball), but from observation I can tell you that high intelligence and belief in the supernatural are not mutually exclusive.

      January 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. me

    "If my zodiac symbol has been changed to a Libra, what am I supposed to do with my Scorpio tattoo?!?!," read one tweet Thursday."

    These are the proverbial three-strikes, belief in the Zodiac, having it tattooed on yourself, and tweeting. Waste of our air.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • GoodGirl

      And yet you just commented about it. Does that make you just a guilty?

      January 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Katie

    Can't we all just get along? Just because someone believes in something that you don't doesn't give you a right to call them names. And if you must know, there was a scientific study done that showed people who believe in something (doesn't matter what religion or god) rather than nothing lived longer, healthier lives. I learned about this scientific study in my college psychology class. So don't hate on people for wanting something to believe in. I don't believe in the zodiac, but I find it fun and interesting to read. Does that make me an idiot? No. And just because you don't believe in it does not make you an idiot either. I believe that the world would be a much better place if there wasn't so much hate. Okay, I'm done rambling. I'm sure some of you will call me names and say I'm stupid, but I don't care. Have a nice day.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      I'm with you Katie. Since I began to believe in beer I have been much happier.

      January 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rob

    Psychic Cleo is not amused!

    January 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Whoa

    Why the heck did I just read all of these? Absolutely nothing important was said. Here's another useless comment to point that out.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      lol i just said that same thing to myself

      January 14, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
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