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. Dave

    I would not consider the website tarot.com to be a reliable source of information about history and the media should not give them too much credibility. Among other things tarot.com promotes the usual misinformation about the history of tarot cards. Contrary to the false impressions given by tarot.com, tarot cards were really intended for nothing more than card games still played in Europe and the false information on that website is harmful to efforts to educate people about how to play games with tarot cards.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. hobart

    I think someone should do a study with 1,000 subjects and three treatment groups: 1. tropical zodiac, 2. sidereal zodiac, and 3. a postmodern random essay generator. Each treatment group writes a horoscope for each subject, and at the end o of the day, we see which one winst. I bet it's a 3-way tie. ;o)

    January 14, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Michael

    Actualy, Fox News has said Zodiac Signs have changed so yes its true.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeanine

      are you kidding me? fox news has you brainwashed. they lie so bad!!!

      January 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachael

      hahahah THAT is why we shouldn't believe it...

      Also, according to Fox, I'm now Pisces AND Aquarius (Bday is March 11).

      Brilliant.

      January 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jennawenna

    Why Are we at war?

    January 14, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Enlight

      because our masters have said made it so.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jim Kacsmar

    I believe all the answers are in your mind or instincs-we clearly agree other animals have this ability therfore my creator higher power or energy directs me everyday-my will is the way it was supposed to be cause thats what happens or what will happen next as i follow it-my ability of knowing the difference from right or wrong guides my will religions astrology the BIBLE have all helped me learn something so i believe the more you see or hear or read will broaden ur learning skills and help your instincs guide your wills ability of considering what is right and wrong and which way to follow at that moment my poem i wrote fits here–Mar 26, 2007
    INTERNAL COOPERATION

    ITS BEEN IMPRESSED ON ME SINCE THE BEGINNING OF MY MEMORIES

    ITS MY ABILITY MY BELIEF I CAN DECIPHER RIGHT AND WRONG FEELINGS I RECIEVE

    THIS GIFT IS FROM MY CREATOR

    THERE ARE NO WALLS OR BOUNDS THAT CAN KEEP THAT FROM ME

    IF I COULD NOT TOUCH HEAR OR SEE THAT FEELING WOULD STILL BE IN ME

    January 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John N

    @ Bob, good comment LMFAO! I was thinking more like if you listen to hair you need an enema :/

    January 14, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pablo

    According to criteria created by astrologists, your sign doesn't matter: http://www.skepsis.nl/astrot.html – That we are even having this conversation is terrifying.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Pnut

    I'm a Taurus and my House is in Uranus , I was hoping that would change.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • qmob

      Excellent! Thanks for getting it.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ya dufus

    More like
    lalalal....KAboom

    Muslims -10 Christians(also)-10
    and atheists 0...

    January 14, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. myklds

    It's amazing how a simple topic turned-into a heated religious debate. And since we're a lil bit out of the topic here, let's go a lil farther.

    To all Atheist, since you've been bragging about facts, rationale, logic etc..Then, analyze this:

    Jared Loughner "don't TRUST God"
    Atheists don't BELIEVE God

    If Jared had sprayed bullets to a bunch of people including a 9-yr old girl, then what worst Atheists are capable of doing?

    January 14, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Atheists tend to be quite moral, because we recognize that this life is all we have to live- no afterlife, no eternal reward.

      Jared Loughner was a psychopath, and he wasn't an atheist. For someone who purports to advance LOGIC, you should actually it sometime.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris

      Do you trust the tooth fairy? Do you trust Aquaman?

      I can't distrust God, because he isn't real. To choose to trust or not trust God, you must BELIEVE first.

      Fail.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • razorspain

      Since Jared doesn't TRUST God, that means he believes in his existence. So that means he was a believer that killed a bunch of people, which is definitely nothing new. That being said, atheists can and do murder people also. No one has a monopoly on good or evil actions. You haven't made much sense.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Beef Curtains

    Everyone has a right to believe what they want to. Whether you're a Christian, agnostic, atheist, Muslim, ETC..... The bottom line is this, if someones beliefs offend you, then you possibly lack the drive to educate yourselves thru conversation or research. do this before you pass judgement on someone else. We are all guilty of "fearing" what we do not know, but maybe we just need to explore. thanks for reading.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • mliss

      AGREED!!!! *don't make me prove something for which you feel the opposite, unless you can prove your point as well, and we should accept that we both feel differently about it.* Oh how i wish we could all be so fortunate to be open minded to those who believe differently from ourselves. Furthermore, if someone is under-educated on a topic, they should not be belittled and pressured into believing/thinking the same way the person next to them does. They should be encouraged to find out more, and be better educated! We should be helping each other become better educated, not telling people that they are wrong before they've even completely formed their idea.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. myklds

    It's amazing how a simple topic turned-into a heated religious debate. And since we're a lil bit out of the topic here, let's go a lil farther.

    To all Atheist.. since you've been bragging about facts, rationale, logic etc..Then, an-alyze this:

    Jared Loughner "don't TRUST God"
    Atheists don't BELIEVE God

    If Jared had sprayed bullets to a bunch of people including a 9-yr old girl, then what worst Atheists are capable of doing?

    January 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark C

      Good god, another moron commenting.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • modchen

      your logic is as superlative as your grasp of english grammar and orthography.

      January 14, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sam

    I always think it's funny when people comment how a news article is 'stupid'... why would they even click the link to begin with, especially if they don't believe in astronomy?

    I actually found this article useful. So thanks.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • qmob

      You don't believe or disbelieve in astronomy. It is a hard physical science like mathematics. It requires neither your "belief" nor your approval. It simply is. Please don't reduce it to myths like astrology or religion.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark C

      Astronomy and astrology are two completely different things, dimwit. Astronomy is science. Astrology is b.s.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christovich

      First off it is fairly obvious that Sam (like many others) use Astronomy when they mean Astrology (so idiot? hmmm).

      Second, Astronomy as a "hard" physical science? If you belive this then you will be sorely disappointed as time goes on, if you haven't been already. The "facts" of science are changing constantly (just ask Pluto, and my the way, names of the planets – names of mythilogical gods) and all facts are are longstanding theories that have yet to be disproven.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachael

      Christovich,

      Pluto being recategorized has nothing to do with scientists changing facts or theories... It has to do with a body in space being recategorized....

      January 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Steve

    Honestly, who the hell cares...its a sign.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • KIm

      Obviously a couple thousand people at least, care look at the opinions posted!!!! DuH!

      January 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • jMO

      She has a point...except it keeps turning to religion...c'mon

      January 14, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. myklds

    It's amazing how a simple topic turned-into a heated religious debate. And since we're a lil bit out of the topic here, let's go a lil farther.

    To all Atheist.. since you've been bragging about facts, rationale, logic etc..Then, an-alyze this:

    Jared Loughner "don't TRUST God."
    Atheists don't BELIEVE God.

    If Jared had sprayed bullets to a bunch of people including a 9-yr old girl, then what worst Atheists are capable of doing?

    And honest and logical answer will be appreciated.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brandy

      well i guess all i can say is this...just because there is one bad apple doesn't mean you should cut down the tree.
      there are priests in chrisianity that are rapists...but it doens't mean all of them are. There are athiest murderers but it doesn't mean all athiests murder. There are some people who have murdered in the name of God and then there are those who have murdered w/o even considering a god.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • razorspain

      Stop reposting the same thing again and again! It's incredibly rude.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aye!

      I'm neutral, but it's the Catholic priests that are rapists....Just saying.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
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