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. joshua

    Pisces for life... tropical zodiac believer!!

    January 14, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. logicbomber

    The zodiac is arbitrary nonsense and has been disproven yet people still cling to it like it's truth. http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/astrology.html

    January 14, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • cat

      Even worse, astrology is pseudo-science, offering a theoretical framework that cannot be falsified. Therefore, astrologers are free to come up with all sorts of silly reasons why they are "right."

      January 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. anonymous

    Ohh... so that means I'm still a Virgo. Anyway, I don't take astrology seriously, I just take it as entertainment.

    I like my old sign better.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      phaah, true virgos have the same sign on both charts.

      January 15, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Anonymous

    All ploys designed to get "people" away from God. People, don't fall for this zodiac, hogus, pocus, mumbo, jumbo. "He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love." - John 4:8

    January 14, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lily

      No, anal people like you do a fine job of pushing others way from God on your own. You don't need any help from the zodiac.

      January 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Scorpius Maximus

    We Scorpios SHALL NOT BE MOVED!!

    January 14, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tralala

      I second that ^^

      January 16, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bull-poo

    FREAKS !!!!! why would anyone believe star signs? knowin how ur day is guna go because of the way the planets align? get a life an ignore all that bullcrap, go an have a w a n k instead of readin them u stupid bible bashers

    January 14, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Planet Earth

    Look, I really don't care what faith you have or what sign you have. All ya'll gotta stop cutting down my trees. I like them, it's like a nice garnish to an otherwise dull plate. And stop killing all my coral reef too – I freakin NEED that!

    Also, I am kind of sick of you boring large holes in me to suck out my oil – it took me a long time to make all that oil and I rather liked it

    I also kind of like my Ozone layer, but hey, good luck without it guys and gals...

    January 14, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • kristian

      lmao. love it!

      January 16, 2011 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. nash

    I have always been known as
    being a Virgo and now I switch
    to a LEO and now I am
    so confused. The description of a
    LEO doesn’t match me
    one bit. My personality is that of a
    VIRGO always has been. I think
    this switch is going to throw alot of
    us off.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Montypythonlover

    "oh Lord,
    Oooh you are so big, so incredibly huge.
    Gosh, we're all real impressed down here I can tell you.
    And well, you're just so super"
    From Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
    There has never been a better parody!

    January 14, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Montypythonlover

    "oh Lord,
    Oooooh you are so big.
    Sooo incredibly huge.
    Gosh we're all real impressed down here I can tell you.
    And well, you're just so super!"
    Watch "the Meaning of Life" and learn how to enjoy a parody on life and not take things so literally and seriously.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. curtis

    what gives him this right to change our stars. none he has no right after thousands of years all of the sudden they change no i say the either fix this or we all make a pull and sue this guy i like millions of people have my leo tattooed on me so this is not right lets start a law suit

    January 14, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • athiestheathen

      Please, please, please don't breed.

      January 15, 2011 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
    • LOL @ athiestheathen's comment

      HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA!!! Thank you!!!! HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAA!!!

      January 15, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Elise

    LMAO! Do you know what that article can be summarized as?
    "Don't worry, nothing is different, because astrology has nothing to do with the stars."

    What /real/ astrology was based off of was the sidereal year, which this article denies as a "...different zodiac". That's hilarious. What's the point of calling yourself Leo or Cancer if your birth day has nothing to do with the constellation?

    January 14, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. runpoochrun

    Wow, I'm really surprised by the poll results. Anyone who takes the Zodiac seriously needs help.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. FemmeAristotleX

    I noticed several people have info in FB regarding this web article. I can see how people can without thought misconstrue this. I believe, if memory and references serve me right, that a zodiac or other spiritual sign contains intricate information from astrological sources and earthly elements along with combined social influences (which may include a higher power) gained through life experience that believe it or not, binds you generally into who you are. Generally...as in these sources which give you "opportunity" to harness and control, or even abuse your decisions based on social influences; thus explains why two Leos are not exactly alike, but close enough. For example, a Leo born within the "middle" of the Leo month (July 23-August 22, I think) is a true Leo, whereas a Leo born towards the end of the Leo month acquires some Virgo characteristics. Then add the everyday decision-making from social influences. Voila! Is this why only "groups" of people share commonalities...within the same sign or compatible sign? This suggestion can be applied virtually in any spiritual sign, including Chinese Astrology and American Indian (totem), and you will discover a near accurate answer. If not, you're mind and heart are stuck in the wrong body : )

    January 14, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • I

      Wow! Nicely said. I totally agree with your statement, and will back you up with what you said.

      You have the best, and simple answer out of everyone else's comments on this article.

      January 15, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bryon

    Breaking news! It turns out that the position of Earth relative to other celestial objects does not affect your life in any meaningful way. Story at 11.

    January 15, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
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