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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Filed under: Space
soundoff (1,487 Responses)
  1. book burning mobile

    the earth was made 4000 years ago.

    January 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Libra#6

    So im still a Libra??? Yay! Please E-mail me some info about my sign thanx!

    January 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. myklds

    I said an honest and logical answer will be appreciated, and so far, what I read were rants of a third grader.–dismayed

    January 14, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • modchen

      oh, sweetcheeks, we're equally impressed with your repeat spamming and evident inability to (a) reason, (b) string together a comprehensible sentence.

      January 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mark the scorpio

    The same birthdate is the same birthdate .You didn't change the earth did; Same as it ever was although I have identified with more than one sign in the past.

    January 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Danielle

    This is crazy well anyways I'm a sagitarious for life.

    January 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. huskyteer

    I belive in husky LOL. huskystarcraft on Youtube.

    January 14, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. huskyteer

    I belive in husky LOL. huskystarcraft on Youtube.

    January 14, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Matiana

    I don't believe in this horror-scope - I mean, horoscope stuff anyway.

    January 14, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rick

    It surprises me how humans will debate and argue about anything. I often read comments on these news stories and too often, they somehow become a debate about religion. I don't care about zodiacs or religion. I treat people as I would like to be treated and that works for me. I don't need religion to scare me into being a good person. Do I believe in God and religion? Who cares. It doesn't matter. Let's be kind and respect each other regardless of our beliefs. Too many wars have been fought and too many people have been killed in the name of God and religion. People can and will believe whatever they want and it is their right. Regardless of how much someone believes in whatever, it is wrong to force one's beliefs on another. Live an let live. We are human beings sharing the same planet. If some of us require religion to become good people, than so be it. I don't. When asked if I believe in God, my answer is, "I don't care".

    January 14, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. roy

    Well the simple answer is if there is no God, then the question of "what is the purpose of life"? becomes unanswerable and unaskable. There is then by default no moral absolutes to follow. Why then do I care about my fellow man, or global warming, or pollution or type of government, or future generations? I should then make my money not caring about my fellow man and let the poor stay poor and get everything I can out of life. Then everything just becomes perspective. One then could say Hitler was not at fault because if there is no higher judgement and if he had won then his way is ok because it is what he belived is correct. Then one could say being a racist is ok because I am just following my own belief. What real laws should I follow? Just be good and kind for the sake of it? Why? I should get to the top anyway I can. I would have no moral obligation to the less fortunate. I should buy my beach house and fancy cars and not donate time or money to charities. We could ignore the homeless, hunt species to extinction etc, I could go on and on. Since as the atheist all say its a myth I can live my life as I please. Follow the laws of man? Ok but if I don't like the laws and enough people think the way I do then let's fight. Civil war. When the next fellow gets enough support he fights and kills me. Then all laws become subject to the moment and the world degenerates into chaos. You Know I once heard a person say if the big bang theory is correct then that means something had to always exist. You can't add zero to zero and get something. So something had to always exist in exactly the right way to cause a specific explosion to create the big bang resulting in this universe. Science is actually searching for that catalyst which one person referred to as the God button. Bottom line if you believe in God and die and there isn't one, well then your still just dead. The same as the atheist. But if there is a God and you don't believe and judgement is harsh then you blew it. Voltaire said "It is better to live your life in beleif in God, die and find no God than to live your life refusing to beleive in God, die and meet him face to face" Looking at my fellow man and seeing how quick we are to hate each other for having different political beliefs or different points of view I really hope their is a God to keep us from destroying ourselves completely. We can't depend on ourselves because everyone, every nation wants it their way. I just can't beleive that all this is a result of chance. If you believe it is then you could plausibly say there is no aliens or other habitable worlds because if all this is a result of chance then you can say throughout the universe every other planet is void of life because we were the only spot in the whole universe where the right randomly produced variables all came together just perfectly. Like the mega lottery it only happens 1 out of 450 million. On a universal scale there probably isn't a number high enough to quantify the odds.

    January 14, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • ElijahsFury

      Nice copy and paste ;D

      January 14, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ElijahsFury

    The Zodiac that adheres to the constellations, is encoded in the Bible. So if your an atheist, sleep on. And I cant wait to see some idiot who trends with the media, first removing then reeplacing their tattoo!

    January 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. book burning mobile

    the earth was created four thousand years ago.

    January 14, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • ElijahsFury

      Nuh uh. Hundreds of millions years ago!

      January 14, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jon

    these stupid articles always end up in a stupid arguement. Stupid dummies

    January 14, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. myklds

    @Tulsa...Thouh you didn't answer the question but I appreciate your reply. Certainly I could find a more blood stained religion than Christianity but I would rather keep it myself to avoid further conflict w/ another religion.

    And OHHH! you're a Christian as you were saying, I bet you already had sprayed bullets to 21 people including an infant one time-But WAIT..did I say an HONEST answer? GO ON & FOOL YOURSELF!

    @Clarck Nova and Mark... Sorry, I said an honest and LOGICAL answer will be appreciated, NOT of a third grader.

    January 14, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ray

    Lets get rid of the internet so that all of you people will have to face one another when you talk your smack.

    January 14, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
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