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. canusee

    Come on people if you believe that the world is going to end in 2012 then you have become what they want. Controlled to believe mans word and what ever they tell you. I'm not saying I'm a religious nut by say this either (NO MAN NOR NO ANGEL KNOWS THE DAY BUT MY FATHER) read it people. you might learn something.

    January 15, 2011 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
  2. omg people

    wow what has this world come to everyone is trashing on each others beliefs i believe that every person is who they are and that if u believe in god go for it, you are your own person no one should take that right from you, but i dnt believe that u should trash on other people just becuz they might not believe what u do per say...what would life be if we didnt make it interesting i would say...not everyone has to collide together and be as one we can all work together no matter what the situation may be. if we all trashed on each other all the time how would anything get solved and how would you think that god would like the situation...."he would most likely be like why on earth do they have to do such a thing like that you are my people and if you believe in me all the more power to you... to love me and such but dnt trash on your fellow people, i gave them life 2." idk im kinda rambling on...so all shut up now! haha

    January 15, 2011 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. Common_Commentor

    HAHA! It's funny how the Zodiac turned into a discussion about religion.

    January 15, 2011 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
  4. just a kid :)

    ok i think there is a reason why the achients (srry im tired so my typing is a little off) discarded the "13" sign. not just becuase they only wanted 12 but because 13 was a really bad number for them they liked everything even next thing you know there gnna discover a 25th hour 0.o and 61 minutes..oooh and and 366 and 367 days . you shouldnt mess with a history but this is my opinion
    p.s. if you have something negitive to say to me i dnt care dnt even bother becuase i didnt ask for your life story so ....

    January 15, 2011 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
  5. john

    i'm still a Pisces either way. I'm good!

    January 15, 2011 at 3:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. Erin

    none of this matters.

    January 15, 2011 at 4:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. Yooga

    I do enjoy how most people have just typed Zodiac or Astrology into Google or Wiki and are now pulling out "facts" about history and mythology. Solid arguments.

    January 15, 2011 at 5:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. AWESOMENESSss...

    This is the MOST epic comment-stream I have ever read! ALL OF YOU ARE EPIC ;D May the awesomeness be with you all
    ,,,[–__–],,, (bow)

    January 15, 2011 at 5:36 am | Report abuse |
  9. Daws

    Oh come on, post hoc excuses... who ever thought they were going by the seasons? It's always been about where the stars were >.<

    January 15, 2011 at 5:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. Wakiash

    Morons!

    January 15, 2011 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  11. Greg

    Why do people who believe the world is going to end, either by Mayan or Biblical predictions, have 401Ks?

    And how can I convince them to transfer their investments to me right before "the world ends?"

    January 15, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. Andy

    The end is near!!!!! lock and load, only the strong will survive!!!

    January 15, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. mechmastr

    NOT WITH IT. My sign has changed just because someone some where else says so? And then adds another sign? I guess that's how Colunbus felt. I just hope he's not holding his breath. Ok, don't go overboard with this whole change thing.

    January 15, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. Urzon Werner

    Astrology is bollocks. When will we all realize that humanity is just materialized colour operating upon the 49th vibration? Anyone would make that conclusion walking down the street or going into a store.

    January 15, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  15. anon

    who. cares..

    January 15, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
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