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 (1,486 Responses)
  1. lostgiraffe

    Facebook went haywire last night with this, but hey, glad to still be a virgo, leo just doesn't feel right.

    January 14, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • lost&found

      I have to agree with you @lostgiraffe. Once a Virgo, always a Virgo!

      January 14, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Plumcrazy

      My husband was an emotional wreck when I told him he's now a LEO! ha ha ha. – Nope, he'll always be a Virgo, no matter what.

      January 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      Me too!

      January 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shaka

      (September 2,1996)
      I' am now a Leo but i insist to be it so I just think that I'm still a Virgo.
      Cause being a Virgo is a big COMPLEMENT for me :D!!!!

      January 16, 2011 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. ElijahsFury

    Actually, the strological signs that we have come to know are not those of Mythical Gods from Greek Mythology. They are a corruptions, so to speak, of the Hebrew & Armamic astrological signs that date back over 5,000 years that tell the story of the earths beginings and the human battle against good and evil. This why the Bible states that even if no one tells another about God's plan of salvation, they will still be answerable because it is written in the sky and all of creation. I was shocked to discover this truth about the zodiac signs some 20 or so years ago. Very interesting reading. The biblical book of Job is replete with astrological references to the constellations.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2042520,00.html#ixzz1B3lmyAwb

    January 14, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tara

      Interesting....very interesting. I never even knew that, but it does make sense. I will be looking into this. Thank you!

      January 15, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeanine

      The article you attached says nothing about the constellations not being derived from Greek gods/mythology. Greek and Roman pantheism is much, much older than 5000 years.

      January 15, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ptolemy???

    We're depending on Ptolemy to keep the same signs? The guy who argued the universe orbits the Earth in wacky overlapping circles? What sign does Copernicus say I have?

    January 14, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. It's so fluffy I'm gunna diiiieeee!!!

    As interesting as THAT was, I'm off to feed my Unicorn 🙂

    January 14, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fluffier

      I love you :DDDD

      January 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Name*gst

    I understand the concept of the "tropical zodiac". It makes the zodiac more attractive to modern man. But I do not think that that changes the FACT that the zodiac was based on the CONSTELLETIONS!! The 13 sign zodiac is the original and correct zodiac. What makes me very curious is that I was a scorpio, which fit my persona perfectly, and now I'm a libra which doesn't fit me at all.

    January 14, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stryse

      Except that it isn't a fact that the tropical zodiac was based on constellations. Sure, they kept the names for the signs, but the fact is what was said in the article. The tropical zodiac is based on seasons and divides the sun's apparent path into 12 equal parcels of sky. Sidereal astrology aligns better to the constellations, but not perfectly. We don't enjoy 12 equal parcels of sky with that. zodiac system Astronomically, the consetallations are not of a standard size... so the tropical zodiac has never, in its history, matched up with the constellations. Astronomy and astrology have nothing to do with one another.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Somerandomperson

      Well, maybe they were accurate, except for the sign, so Scorpio's personality might be actually Libra's just labeled the wrong ones...

      If the 13 Zodiacs actually become official.

      January 15, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  6. wes sorey

    With all this astrology around why don't you just back your wobbly axis up until my venus is in line with uranus and work it out

    January 14, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Stacy

    1. Think about how many wars and how many people died in the name of Christianity. 2. If you study religion at the college level, you discover that there is the Jesus of faith, and the Jesus of history. Same person, different histories. You will also discover that the Church, in an effort to expunge the pagan holidays, created their own and set them on the same dates as the pagan celebrations. This was because they were unable to stamp out the pagan holidays any other way. Just because you believe in a god, ANY god, it does not automatically follow that all those believers are good people. Some of your most monstrous people were Christians. I am also a Wiccan, and yes, there are many of us who believe in faeries and dragons and unicorns, but the main message of Wicca is to do harm to no one. I was also raised in the Catholic church during my formative years, and attended Catholic schools. What I have learned about religion, in a nutshell, is this: there is nothing wrong with the messages of Judaism, Christianity, or even the Koran. All of them essentially say to be good people. The problem starts when people start taking things literally. You know how it is when you tell a story to someone, and they pass it on, and it goes from this person to that and to the other, and by the time you hear it again, it bears no resemblance to the story you originally told? That's the bible. Most of the gospels were written 500 years after Christ's death. How messed up did the story get in the intervening years? Use the Bible, the Koran, and other such books as a guide for the type of person you should be, not as a history book. Just because something is written doesn't make it true.

    January 14, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicely said

      Nicely said Stacy.
      But it would be best to avoid using other religions that you are unclear of.
      Yes, the bible is basically not the word of god but by the word of man who decided to write in and erase what they deem fit and what not; Thus, the altering of history.
      But from what I know, the koran is unchanged since the first version written by their last prophet, Muhammad.
      Thus, in terms of accuracy, the Koran depicts it more than the bible.
      Thus, upon reading the bible, people sometimes get lost as some of the original scripts were erased based on who re-wrote it.
      I am not going to talk about the catholic's side as I am still learning about the various religions. 🙂

      January 14, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      1. Think about how many wars and how many people died in the name of Christianity. 2. If you study religion at the college level, you discover that there is the Jesus of faith, and the Jesus of history. Same person, different histories. You will also discover that the Church, in an effort to expunge the pagan holidays, created their own and set them on the same dates as the pagan celebrations. This was because they were unable to stamp out the pagan holidays any other way. Just because you believe in a god, ANY god, it does not automatically follow that all those believers are good people. Some of your most monstrous people were Christians. I am also a Wiccan, and yes, there are many of us who believe in faeries and dragons and unicorns, but the main message of Wicca is to do harm to no one. I was also raised in the Catholic church during my formative years, and attended Catholic schools. What I have learned about religion, in a nutshell, is this: there is nothing wrong with the messages of Judaism, Christianity, or even the Koran. All of them essentially say to be good people. The problem starts when people start taking things literally. You know how it is when you tell a story to someone, and they pass it on, and it goes from this person to that and to the other, and by the time you hear it again, it bears no resemblance to the story you originally told? That's the bible. Most of the gospels were written 500 years after Christ's death. How messed up did the story get in the intervening years? Use the Bible, the Koran, and other such books as a guide for the type of person you should be, not as a history book. Just because something is written doesn't make it true.

      1. Think about how this article is about astrology and not religion.
      2. I'm sure there are religious discussion boards that would find this topic both relevant and interesting.
      3. "Just because you believe in a god, ANY god, it does not automatically follow that all those believers are good people. Some of your most monstrous people were Christians." Well, some of the most monstrous people weren't Christians. I'm sure there are many monstrous people who don't follow a religion. Lesson to be learned: "monstrosity" is universal. It transcends religion (or lack thereof).
      4. You believe in unicorns and dragons?

      January 14, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • anonymous catholic

      Nicely said Stacy.

      Religion shouldn't be to blame for most of the bad thing that are happening in the world and in history (like the Inquisition and fundamentalism). it should be the people who follow the religion. I've once read a comment on an article in this website about religion and one commenter said that it should be the people who should change, not the religion.

      And Bill is right. There are non-religious people who are as monstrous as fundamentalists. Hatred is universal, but so is love and peace.

      I agree with your last statement. Holy scriptures such as the Bible, the Koran and the Vedas should be treated as moral guides, not history books (Though I believe that some parts of the Bible are true).

      January 14, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Walker

      Most of the gospels were written 500 years after Christ's death. How messed up did the story get in the intervening years? Use the Bible, the Koran, and other such books as a guide for the type of person you should be, not as a history book. Just because something is written doesn't make it true.

      The Gospel Of MATTHEW was written: c. A.D. 50
      The Gospel Of MARK was written: c. A.D. 68
      The Gospel Of LUKE was written: c. A.D. 60
      The Gospel Of JOHN was written: c. A.D. 85-90
      REVELATION was written: c. A.D. 95

      All of which ( as well as the rest of the New Testament ) were written within less than a persons lifetime after the murder of Jesus Christ. So as important as religion & history is to Christians, & everyone of every religion, if there were any flaws or untruth in the words written in the Gospels it would have never been put in the Bible. Christians believe in absolute truth.

      January 14, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter Johnston

      Yes, I was so confused on the HATE of the Jewish when I was young, raised in the Catholic religion and 50% Irish too–them damn Protestants. My Mom has "changed" because of her confusions like "Though shalt not commit adultry" and my Pa did, so she became a Morman-they are a lot better "social" religion even though that adultry concept was overpassed to "explode in population". I have an engineering mind, so my solution on the problems about religion all over the world is that I reply to "Religion" on all those applications, for jobs and and and and, is "For Lord God, Our Heavenly Father-There is Only ONE!"

      January 15, 2011 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      Stacy,
      I have to say that you are very well-spoken and it is refreshing to hear someone who doesn't have be condescending and devolve into a bigot from a century or more ago in order to state an opinion rationally and sensibly. I, too, am wiccan, and I too, deeply wish that people would be tolerant of others and stop using their religion, whatever it may be, to BEAT people over the head in order to further a personal agenda that many times ends up being a complete departure from the religion that they claim to be preaching. I do agree with Bill, that this article wasn't at all about religion, yet it doesn't surprise me at all how quickly others' comments before yours completely changed the point of the whole thing. Not surprised, but I am amazed at how much hatred and ignorance people will spout off in response to some perceived "threat" to their religious views, even to the point of "perceiving" a "threat" that was never there to begin with. And people wonder why we still go to war and kill each other on a regular basis, when half of the people commenting here would rather see someone die than allow that person to have beliefs that differ from their beliefs. I'm not a violent person, but it gets harder and harder to remain peaceful while constantly being force-fed the beliefs of others who are pompous, self-important idiots. So, I wanted to thank you for pointing out your views in a way that was non-threatening and wasn't ridiculously self-serving. And, I HAVE to say, PEOPLE! Please look up the definition of a joke before responding with a tirade about how stupid young people are these days and going off for 3 pages about 2012 and stating your views in the most belligerent and ignorant way possible! And, PLEASE, if you are going to comment on the stupidity of someone else and tell people that they need "an education", first look at yourself and make sure that you can at least spell first-grade level words. I truly wish that people could have adult discussions without turning into a bunch of raving lunatics. Okay, I will get off of my soapbox now. And, please know that in my humble opinion, anyone is completely free to disagree with me. All I ask is that you do so in a way that shows you are human and not a wild animal. I keep expecting to see chimpanzees throwing feces at each other when I read some of the ridiculous hatred that people spew for no reason. I am done. Thanks for reading. Have a blessed day.

      January 15, 2011 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
    • equinemagic

      WELL, i dont follow any religion 😛 i just try and be a better person every day!
      I hold strong values and believe i respect peoples differences.

      Everyone chill out, enjoy life and whether the world end or our neighbour believes in something u think is wrong just enjoy life and dont sweat the stuff you cant control!!
      Life is too short
      QLD floods should have you all thinking differently surely? shocked to see some of your comments after this desaster!!

      January 15, 2011 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      To Walker,

      The Gospels themselves were allegedly written by those dates. But the copies were hand written and the oldest copy of any of the gospels dates to more than 200yrs AD. We know from more recent texts that even the most faithful handwritten copies are changed dramatically in the copying and not copied word for word. None of those original manuscripts are known to exist therefore their original content does not exist.

      January 15, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mikal Dmon

    I can't believe some people don't realize astronomers already know about the moving stars, they chart them remember?

    January 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. nick

    why 13 o0o0o0o0o

    January 14, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rachel

    awesome dialog 🙂 loving the global community coming together to speak/debate/thrash out such juicey stuff!

    January 14, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Steve

    That lady gave no information. Come on CNN, lets cut a better video next time. I'm supposed to believe her because she wants me to?

    January 14, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Vane

    I disagree with the article, they are supposed to be 13 signs.
    I was a "capricorn", now I'm "sagittarius", what the hell is all the same!. I don't care!, and I don't mind the change 🙂

    January 14, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jenjenidy

      Sorry Vane, but maybe you're not upset with the change because "Sagittarius" is a way better sign than "Capricorn"!!

      January 15, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gary

    Blame FAUX NEWS, it's their fault this happened

    January 14, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Anyway...

    Ok,
    1) this artical is about astrology, not religion, how dumb someone is, or how often you pick your nose. Astrology.
    2) if you dont believe in astrology, big whoop. who cares? i dont. but dont be like "astrology is the curse of america. blah blah blah". not only do you sound like the biggest ass in the whole world but you sound completely illogical and ignorant.
    3) whats the point of arguing on here and calling each other names? it doesnt make you richer, smarter, a better person, convince them of your point, etc. frankly, the most it will do is MAYBE make you feel superior (which is pointless anyway, esp if your pathetic enough to have to start crap on here to make yourself feel good) and prove that you have no life.
    4) repeating my first point, this artical is on astrology. so, if you have nothing constructive or helpful to say, dont post anything and save yourself from displaying your lack of intelligence to the world.

    Thanks and have a great day. 🙂

    January 14, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tralala

      LOL ^^^

      January 16, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jimmy

    O' Heavens! Where art thou?

    January 14, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
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