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. AMERICA 1st

    yall just a bunch of wacky loonytoons if yall take that junk serious

    January 13, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Disappointed

      I wonder how it is that someone calling people retarded can not seem to form a proper sentence using real words or proper grammar? I know that it must be difficult to sound intelligent for you, but you should try to understand that people have the right to believe in what ever they choose to believe in. Isn't that what you silly Americans cherish most in life?

      January 13, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Erin

      @Disappointed
      Please don't take "America 1st" into consideration. There are idiots everywhere. I am an American. I'm not proud and I'm not upset with this fact. It just is the way it is. However, you don't need to go and put a label on Americans from one idiot who makes a post.

      January 13, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Disappointed

      It is amazing that someone can call people retarded, and I use "silly Americans" and I get the comment.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Pnut

      Disappointed,
      You are only half right, Americans do have the right to believe whatever we want and we do cherish it, but even more than that , we cherish the right to tell someone else that they're a retard for believing in nonsense like astrology, or religion.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. IMA Sarahpalinfanatic

    HELLO – O – O.. ?

    January 13, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dez

    It works like this: If it's a picture of a boat or a picture of a field, they both have a creator, an artist. The earth and the heavens were all created by God for his glory and given to us to explore and enjoy until Christ comes back. It's awesome how such a masterpiece as the night sky with all it's constellations can be so artfully made by such an awesome, loving creator. We should be worshipping the creator, not the creation.
    And before you even start, my rebuttal goes like this: every piece of art has a creator! Also, water freezes whether you believe it or not; the earth is round whether you believe it or not; and Hell is hot whether you believe it or not.
    It's amazing how we freak out when we think the stars have shifted or changed and think that's the end of all we know because we look to them. Instead, we should be looking to Jesus, who is the truth, and is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

    January 13, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      I was wondering how long it would take for a holy roller to start getting all preachy up in here! :rolls eyes:

      January 13, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • herpaderper

      If everything has a creator... then who created the creator?

      ...man.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
    • LoriBeth

      This is the best thing I've read so far. Everyone is so freaked out over the fact that just cause they arent they're original sign they're life may have changed in some cosmic way that they can't control. When the truth is they never did have any control over they're lives to begin with. God made us all the way he wanted. He knows what's in store for us in the future and it isn't based on a zodiac symbol or the allignment of the starts. He created the starts to teach us that they're is something far bigger than us out there. He chose when we were to be born and He didn't have any specific sign set out for us to be. Focus on the bigger picture here people.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Disappointed

      Everyone needs something to believe in, whether it be Religion, Science, UFO's, Casinos, Celebrities... It's not a matter of who is right or wrong it is a matter of which belief is right for you. You make your own choices in life, and for the people who believe that those choices are predetermined by the stars or the calendar it's just another choice that they have made... They choose to believe that they are not in control. I would believe in flying purple donkeys if it meant that I would lead a wonderful and worry free life where I didn't make my own choices.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck Norris

      Not true. I created him and kicked his a$$ into making man.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Lindsay

      You are correct! Thanks for posting this!

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

      Nonsense. pure drivel.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jessica

    so where they changed or not changed!!

    January 13, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark C

      Depends on what moron you ask. Pick your astrologer.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Neil Dewar

    I'm sure that predictions made if the signs had changed and with the "correct" signs will, on average, be equally valid. That is, not at all.

    January 13, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. stephanielynn8488

    I will admit I was mildly horrified/confused but I'm glad to see all the fuss means nothing 🙂

    January 13, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pary

    screw that im still a capricorn

    January 13, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • alexash

      that's my fav comment all day baby!

      January 14, 2011 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. Dez

    Renee, yes, for some, it is harmless, nonsensical fun; like opening a fortune cookie after a meal. It can make you chuckle. Sadly, however, there are those that really believe this is the answer to life, and it is not. When we start trusting this more than God and what his word says, we have made it our god.

    January 13, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lila

    I hope it hasn't changed. Aries to a Pisces feels like a demotion.

    January 13, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • GladImStillAnAries

      I have to agree!!! As an Aries we are the leaders of the pack! Pisces is last- who wants to be bringing up the rear???? Not I 🙂

      January 13, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lj

      Haha! Heeeyyy! I love being a Pisces! Save the best for last. 🙂

      January 14, 2011 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Meghanne

      I agree, I'm proud to be an Aries

      January 14, 2011 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
    • GirlaPH

      I have to agree on you as well. I love being an Aries!

      January 14, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  10. Wolfie Rankin

    Buy a pile of newspapers and magazines in a month and read your stars, every one will offer different advice, it's all just a load of you know what.

    January 13, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. andybud

    Happily, even if your sign hasn't changed, you can rest assured you're still a gullible twit.

    January 13, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. immabe

    Hopefully now people will stop freaking out for such trivial things.
    Old news is old news.

    January 13, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Charlie

    Pshh, I'm a Pisces and always have been. Nothing has changed. I have almost EVERY SINGLE Piscean quality there is. There is no way in hell I'm an Aquarius, I haven't got a SINGLE Aquarian characteristic.

    Even if it's scientifically proven that I am an Aquarian, I will never be one.
    Once a Pisces, always a Pisces.
    Scew this.

    January 13, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Girl

      I agree with you 100% ! once an aries always an Aries !

      January 14, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  14. HAD ENOUGH

    @CNN I ve got a 7 year old who needs a job as a reporter where does he apply ? He can do better than this.

    January 13, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Panda

    What's the point in posting here?

    January 13, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
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