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. Trudy

    I'm still a Virgo, because I said so. Yep, that's pretty much it. Hee hee.

    January 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ali Mostofi

    Long before anyone lived in the "West" we Iranians worked out the Equinoxes from here http://www.iranian.com/Arts/2002/November/TS/1.html. Our calendar is the most accurate in the world.

    January 15, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Matt

    My girl friend's cycle constantly changes. I can't ever predict when she's on the rag! Must mean that the Mayan calendar was off a few days, since she seems to cycle every 21 days! Ultimately making all of us younger, we now have to subtract one month off every year of age to determine our actual ages! Lol, this is as ridiculous as everything about this post and comments!!!! Get a life people!

    January 15, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Matt

    Duh

    January 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Cecilia

    Thankfully, either way August 12 is still Leo. I still occupy my throne!
    " If I were king of the forest"<-singing from Wizard of Oz

    January 15, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mihara17

    what a crock of s***

    January 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Donn Donlon

    The Wiccans are the funnies... this is about about a zodiac sign people... nothing serious. Why do you bring all the religions into it. Get a LIFE

    January 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sara somes

    Thank you for clarifying that. My friend and I got into a big argument about our "new" signs and I disagreed that I was now a Leo instead of a Virgo. I am glad to know that my sign hasn't actually changed.

    January 15, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. max

    Why would anyone follow western astrology? I think i would stick to what the actual people who made up Zodiac symbols in the first place. Just because you are butt hurt about the change doesn't mean you have to be like, "ohh I'm gonna follow western because i hate being a Pisces now". Thats just a bull **** move. I think im just gonna stick to the original more so, because its all fake anyway, so might as well follow star alignment. Basically if your an Aries, in your month the sky will show Pisces. I guess if you want to pretend you can.

    January 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rod

    ET BILU! HE HAS THE ANSWER

    January 15, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Elizabeth

    Last time I checked, there was a zodiac for each month. 12 months... 12 zodiacs. When are we gonna learn about this new month?

    Why does everybody have to change things when they were fine as they were? As far as I'm concerned, there will never be a 13th zodiac. My kids will be what they are, not what they "should be."

    January 15, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Elizabeth

    Last time I checked, there were 12 zodiacs for 12 months. So this means there must be a 13th month. Where?

    Why does everybody have to change things that were just fine as they were? As far as I'm concerned, my kid will be what he is according to the original zodiac, not what some person says because he wants to get his name out there. Leave things as they are. Seriously.

    January 15, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Nyaih

    Glad I'm still a Libra! 😀 I was getting worried. Though, it would have been cool to be a Virgo 🙂

    January 16, 2011 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. sebastiandeline

    i welcome the change of my sign to aquarius. i've never found astrology readings to be accurate, in what they tell me about my personality, compared to how i actually am in real life. i looked up the whole sidereal natal chart, and most of the signs have changed, moon, venus, etc.

    even though it's a mind boggler to adjust a perception i've socialized to believe, in reality, it seems more accurate.

    the whole point astronomer's like this guy, try to make. not to discredit astrology, but to be fuse astrology with actual astronomy and be more accurate, instead of making adjustments.

    i'm going for accuracy and welcoming the new sign!

    January 16, 2011 at 6:45 am | Report abuse |
  15. kyanto

    This zodiac change is a bunch of bullcrap. there is no way in heck that i am a picses instead of an aries. even if this change actually becomes more recognized and everyone's horoscope changes, i'm still saying i'm an aries. that's the way it was when i was born, that's the way it will be when i die.

    January 16, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
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