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. MEHALKO

    Trusting in astrology is ABSOLUTELY wrong and I apologize on behalf of my nation to you God. The United States of America has become a large Sodom and Gomorrah. I am so sorry Lord, you deserve far much better. You have blessed us with freedom, and yet we taunt your holiness by living in unrepentant sin. . We claim to trust in you; but we DON'T. Many of us trust in what our daily horoscope says more than what YOU say. Woe unto America! We deserve the judgment we are bringing upon ourselves. Where is repentance? Where is sorrow over sin? Where is the guilt that we should have as a nation over our wickedness? We are a stiff-necked people, many of whom are working relentlessly to pass anti-hate speech laws to shun the truth of God's Word concerning sin. It's amazing how many people refuse to really accept that our country is failing in ALL areas because of our morals and direct disobedience to God.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. OriginalPC

    If you believe in astrology or horoscopes, here's your sign. Thanks to Bill Engvall.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sky observer

    The original article stated the wobble is caused by the gravitational pull of the moon. That is incorrect. The wobble is a natural occurrence given a spinning object such as the earth. Remember spinning tops and gyroscopes? As they spin around, their axis slowly moves in a circle. For the earth, that circle takes about 26K years to complete.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. 11:11

    I saw Lucifer rising bright in the eastern sky this morning. The light bringer heralded the coming of the dawn.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Nikkimarie

    Some of u r completly rude to make fun of peoples religion. Im roman catholic an proud. Ill prey for u people that can be so mean to ur brothers,sister,an neighbors.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. the things we occupy our time with...

    i was raised catholic, and i was taught it is against catholicism to believe in zodiacs, or anything else that rules your life besides god. however, shouldn't we stop wasting our time arguing about religion and what sign we are and live our lives being good people instead.. whether there is or is not a god, or whether stars rule our every move in life and can predict our everyday actions and fate- the point is to live life to the fullest, without regret, and with kindness to others?

    January 14, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Krista

    So what is aqarious now??

    January 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jishiku

    Look... I always thought Catholic and Christianity was fake,
    But after i played Dante's Inferno, It gave it all a Picture. I threw up 2x,
    Because of the Sickness Man as created to Scare the human sheep into Following Rules.
    I Have my own thoughts on Black Holes, the Spiral the stars fall into, the "big bang" The Black Hole would create.
    I Also think the Universe is too big for the "All knowing" to only focus on Us. Waste of Space, you know?

    January 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Justhangingout

    Wow. So many statements. I wonder who actually speaks the truth.

    Astrology has nothing, and has never had anything, to do with religion. Astrology is about figuring out who you are.

    Does it really matter if someone believes in it? I am a highly educated woman with a high IQ and I read my horoscope everyday. Do I believe what it says? Sometimes. But I don't live by it.

    As for the Jesus discussion from earlier: Jesus was a Jewish carpenter, born 33 years before the Bible said he was. Son of God? Doubt it. But, he did make a difference in people's lives.

    Before you go and call me out for not being religious, not believing, or whatever, I am a Pagan. I don't believe in just one God. That doesn't mean, I am dumb.

    Truth of the matter is this: There is a forgotten constellation that someone, somewhere figured needed attention. It doesn't change who you are, or were. What matters is, what sign you were born under. Would this conversation come up if someone said there was another animal in the Chinese Zodiac? Sure. Does that mean people are dumb because they follow it? No. Its a basis to Chinese culture.

    Just as Astrology is to ours.

    Every culture has spirituality aspects to it. Egyptian, Greek, American, or wherever. Don't diss someone, because they think differently then you do.

    What matters is the person they are, not what they think. Remember that.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nick

    did anyone else notice this article uses the (made up) word "milleniums" twice?

    January 14, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TRGold

    I work at a sign shop. I'll make you any sign you want, at a very fair price!

    January 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ronjayaz

    It's like finding out there's no God! U simply can't depend on knowledge. It's as fickle as a woman.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bruce H

    People may need a mental crutch to help them explain why they succeed or fail, to have some external force guiding them instead of seeking within their own selves. Those who are capable of living their lives without such excuses are those who take responsibility for their own actions. Those with weaker personalities lack confidence in themselves.

    Each of us has abilities and limitations within ourselves that we should learn of and master instead of waiting for something. Miracles happen to those who take charge of their own destinies.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. this sucks

    So can I continue to blast the soundtrack for HAIR from my car or do I need to buy a new CD because of all of this?

    January 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      you should get a new CD because the music in Hair sucks, not because its inaccurate.

      January 14, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • aEpper

      What Bob says!

      January 14, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Illona

      What do you ppl want from Hair! I love Hair .

      January 14, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • ed

      Let the sunshine in!

      January 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Treasa

      Nope, keep playing it. I had it going in my head all day today! I'm still an Aquarius and I revel in it.
      PS – glad someone else was thinking about this today, and not just me!

      January 14, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. chris

    @ Evolutionist, I used not to believe tha we evolve from some kind of APE like creature, but then I took a second look at Patrick Ewing and my doubts were cleared.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • ZIN ZIN

      You sir are an ass!!!

      January 14, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlies Barkley

      @chris...LOL! That's pretty cool man.

      January 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoMore

      To funny...if you are offended by this then you've never had a sense of humor and live in a bubble. Ever heard what these men call each other on the basketball court? Lighten up and have a laugh.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
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