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. Funny

    My husband's first job at a major newspaper was writing the horoscopes. He was seventeen. I wonder how many readers followed his advice...

    January 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      Before we hear from "believers", did you husband claim any psychic power or did he view his column as a joke?

      January 14, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. TJ

    The genes in your body and the social environment in which you grew up has many orders of magnitude more relevance to how your day or year will go than any alignment of celestial objects or weather patterns. SO, TUNE OUT YOUR DAILY HOROSCOPE AND TUNE INTO YOUR BODY AND THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU.

    Astrology is not a legitimate science as it claims to extrapolate parameters based on things that have very little if any connection to YOUR life.

    The REAL NEWS in this story is written between the lines. People are generally idiots who will believe anything. There's a sucker born every minute.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • lalala

      yeah like the one who wrote that post. HELLO SUCKER!

      January 14, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Victoria

    People are going to believe what they want to believe whether its in Jesus nothing or the zodiac why question them thats what they want to believe who cares why does there have to be a right or wrong in that? I believe it necaessary to question your own beliefs if you feel you need to though.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Nomar

    I blame Sarah Palin. Her use of symbols and Extreme rhetoric caused the earth to wobble. If not her, it must have been Bush's fault.

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

      hah, i respect anyone that can make fun of sarah palin and bush in the same sentence.

      January 14, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Know It All

    I was born under the sign Labor & Delivery

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

      Mine is "Off Duty". (I was born in a cab.)

      January 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Like that

    Following science will lead you right where science comes from. The fire. Ask Darwin

    January 14, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Daniel M

    If you believe in astrology, then you are a cancer.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Katea

    Ugh! People, our astrological sign is fully dependent on WHEN we were born; where the sun and stars were in our sign at THAT time. That has not changed, and cannot change; it is history. That we now have a new constellation that changes things means we have a new character evolving among us that will show in our NEW BORN CHILDREN!!!!!!!!!!! NOT US that are already here. lolol Do your homework, be open minded, RELAX, and you will understand this. Simple A, B, C. To those that are all tied up in a knot about this, perhaps you cannot see the forest for the trees.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • thelatinist

      The precession of the ecliptic didn't happen over night - it took millennia for the current configuration to come about. The "new" signs this article is referring to were not significantly different from those of just a few decades ago. The sun wasn't any more in Capricorn on January 14, 1961 than it will be on January 14, 2011.

      January 14, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MdawgMike

    This is VERY IMPORTANT news!! Can you image the impact this would have on pick-up lines if the girl you're hitting on can't tell you her sign?

    January 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Garfield

      if that is your pick up line, then her sign will probably be "STOP".

      January 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CosmicThing

    I'm not a witch...i'm youuuuuu..

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

    NOstradamus predicted this...oh wait..

    January 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. LouWho

    I had a Zodiac once. Clutch started slipping, so i sold it.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mike

    Hmm quotes from some bonehead at tarot. com... theres a scientific source. Westerners take all eastern culture, religion etc and re- define it. that makes it BOGUS. If it originated in the east, than this is the true definition of Zodiac. So, the change is correct. And the Zodiac stuff is a bunch of bull anyway.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Scorpio doesn't care for a*sholes.com

    Katie, I agree.
    I don't care what anyone else thinks; even if there is a new zodiac, I'm still a Scorpio and proud.
    Call me what you like, you non-believers.
    Peace 🙂

    January 14, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      Profane and gullible.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. misterking23

    Whats happening to our world?

    http://goodmusak.blogspot.com/2011/01/whats-up-with-our-world.html

    January 14, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
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