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 (1,487 Responses)
  1. the word of the gord

    I believe in bieber.

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

      go beiber go beiber! he got two votes..woo! personally i like then new me...aries sigh yup sounds good. wayyyy better than the taurus...who wants to be a bull/cow?

      January 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. NONSENSE!!!!!!!!!!!! CHILDISH!!!!!!!

    To the person that asked why have this as news: I would rather see something like this than hearing someone died again or countries were blown up by nuclear war or hurricanes/natural disasters kill millions!

    Why are all of you arguing?? This is so childish! Let people believe what they want to believe! Just because you believe in something others don't or vice versa doesn't mean you are wrong or right and you don't need to make people believe what you believe!

    STOP ARGUING!!! WE ALL HAVE OUR DIFFERENCES!! WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO BE THE SAME AS SOMEONE ELSE????

    January 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. myklds

    It's amazing how a simple topic could turned-into a heated religious debate. And since we're a lil 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, a-n-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 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sf

    You can't change what you were born under, might as well change the birthdates too.. I am an aquarius and always will be.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. myklds

    It's amazing how a simple topic could turned-into a heated religious debate. And since we're a lil 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, a-n-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 can do?

    And honest and logical answer will be appreciated.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Posting the same thing 6 times is kinda ridiculous- almost as ridiculous as the logic you claim to possess. Scroll up for my answer to your ramblings.

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

    My god...you all are taking this way too ser ious. This is silly. You believe what you believe and that's the end of it.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Matt

    Yes but we also have to remember that Ptolemy was the guy who codified the Geocentric solar system and we all know how accurate that was. This is as earth shattering a revalation as finding out the earth is round, and that the Sun is the center of the solar system. OMG I DON"T know what I'll do. LMAO.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. IWISHIWASPHARTINGMAN

    People that adhere to this nonsense probably have a loose screw so what does it all matter in the end?

    January 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. brittany spears

    This is stupid! to change something after thousands of years makes no sense! So what if the earth is "wobbling" Who gives a F@#*!! It is what it is! And my birthstone and sign will not change because some pot smoking astrologer or astrologist had a high epiphany one day after smoking a fat ass doobie!! So for anyone running out to remove or cover up a tatoo DONT DO IT!! You are who you have always been!!! <3

    January 14, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bianca

    Believing in a god does not make you any better of a person than one that does not believe in a god. We are all equal... just saying.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      Say that to God.

      January 14, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pablo

    Here is a quick list of questions believers should try to answer:

    - What is the likelihood that one-twelfth of the world's population is having the same kind of day?
    - Why is the moment of birth, rather than conception, crucial for astrology?
    - If the mother's womb can keep out astrological influences until birth, can we do the same with a cubicle of steak?
    - Are all horoscopes done before the discovery of the three outermost planets incorrect?
    - If the astrological influence is carried by a known force, why do the planets dominate?
    - If astrological influence is carried by an unknown force, why is it independent of distance?
    - If astrological influences don't depend on distance, why is there no astrology of stars, galaxies, and quasars?

    (taken from: http://www.astrosociety.org/education/astro/act3/astrology3.html#defense)

    January 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Noway

    IDIOTS and I'm done.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. *capricorn queen for life

    Whatever!!! I am a capricorn through and through....always have been always will be.......

    January 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Merle

      I guess astrology really got your goat.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Pacman

    Wakka wakka wakka wakka wakka wakka big ball WAKKA WAKKA WAKKA WAKKA Ghost Blewyeyeyeye Bah bah

    January 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • freeman

      Hows the Ms.?

      January 14, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Diasent

    LOL... What they are forgetting is that it was the sign you are born under that is your sign... If it changes, you still bear the same you were born as.

    January 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
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