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. Esteban gonzolaz

    Good I hope the Zodiac does change and now maybe my luck will change and I'll get more five star days.

    January 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mandy

    I am not jewish however I do believe The koran IS the most untouched version of history because they left Lilith in there. Half of people who aclaim to be religious have no clue about the truth. And the zodiac has EVERYTHING to do with religion. It is a basis for most religions. Religion:A cause, principal, or system of beliefs held to with ador and faith. Educate yourself outside of your ignorant behaviors and perhaps this world would be much easier to live in. The bible is loose translation of metaphorical proportions. EX: do not eat the forbidden fruit, basically means to not seek knowledge, when we do it only leads to bad things. example, finding cures for cancer leads to stem cell reasearch which leads to keeping alive those meant to die(survival of the fittest.) thus we cannot move on with the strenthening of the human race, thus we are par taken with abominations of copying life in unnatural ways, which just keeps sickness in the lines of human race which while good for the immediate now of our own unseemingly selfish morals, in the very end we end uo with far worse mutations and new issues to "cure."

    January 17, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. angel

    What is the differents between the tropical zodiacs signs and the western world signs.i just dont under stand i just dont

    January 18, 2011 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Hayzues

      The tropical zodiac signs are the western signs. They're based on the seasons: spring,summer,fall,winter. The sidereal zodiac is followed in the east and based on the constellations. It was started by ancient Babylonians who based a person borns' sign on the constellation the sun was in when they were born. It comes down to wich you want to believe if you believe in zodiac signs; the one based on the seasons of the earth or the one based on where the earth is in space.

      January 18, 2011 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Cleareye

      The difference is that Kramer said Bin Laden was a Gemini and could not possible have been involved in 9/11, but George said, "nonsense! I personally know he is a Virgo and the charts told him he had a nice day ahead."

      January 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • lɐuoısnlǝpɹɯ

      The Zodiac killer never was caught. No matter which chart you adhere to.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • lilu

      Whatever they do or say, your zodiac is determined by the position of the stars the day you were born. This whole thing might affect whoever has been born from the change on but not people that was born before.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. razorrozar7

    Zodiac is bull anyway. The day I was born controls who I am? Pssh... yeah, right.

    January 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • BBBBoy

      I like that mindset =)

      January 19, 2011 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      Well it's not the day you're born, but the month, for one. Secondly, think of how much things on Earth are affected by astronomical events, such as the tides from the moon. We're 80% water, so to say the rest of the universe has no hold on us is pretty stupid. Sure we can control how we behave, but only to an extent.

      January 19, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Nathaniel

      Not really. Astrology signifies that personalities based on the zodiac signs only appears with proper upbringing. I, myself, am amazed as to how close my zodiac decribes my personality. However, without the proper life experiences and upbringing, most of the personalities based on the zodiac are wrong.

      January 20, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Sidvicious03

      Katie, what you just said is completely ignorant and is based on no evidence at all. We are in no way affected by the moon phases, mostly because we arent werewolves or a tide. Read a book.

      January 23, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Funny hats are my source of power

      Ah, if only I could "like" your comment… In lieu of that, I proclaim your comment awesome!

      February 7, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • suzyQ

      Justin Beiber is my God. My horoscope predicted I'd meet a kid with his hair. And I lit a votive for him at church.
      Both are dumb.

      February 14, 2011 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
    • iophaser

      Katie, does it matter? why moon only affect water, why it doesnt affect iron.

      its like saying sandstorm affects sand that you have in a bag in desert, because it affects the one that is beyond your bag – sand dunes ie.

      and whatsmoreover only moon affects tides, no other planets do so.

      February 18, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • educated

      Sidvicious03- Actually it is YOU who needs to read a book. Try science. It has been scientifically proven without a doubt, that many species react to the phases of the moon. Your just an idiot!

      February 26, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • gemini/ cancer

      everything on earth is swayed by the moon and space, for humans to say we are the only ones who are not would be nieve.

      March 19, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Christopher

    I was doing some research and i found some stuff that said they knew about the ophiuchia zodiac since 1970 I don't know why they didn't change it then instead of waiting 31 years

    January 18, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • anthony

      that would be 41 years but i know what you mean

      January 18, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • jonathan

      Well just like they mentioned in this article, they've known about the 13th sign since Babolyian times when they first came up with this. They just decided to push that one off to the side because 12 (12 months) just makes it that much easier. Then slowly a newer breed of telling what zodiac sign you are came into play, the Western style. Where we just base it off the seasons of the year.

      January 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Hard telling why they waited, but I really don't think it matters anyway. I go by what I was on the day I was born...a Capricorn. Even if the signs have changed since then, it's what they were when I came into this world that counts as far as I'm concerned.

      And, for the record...1970 to 2011 is, in fact, 40 years.
      70-80 = 10
      80-90 = 10
      90-00 = 10
      00-11 = 11

      January 19, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike

      I would suspect seasonal based zodiac to be more likely the constellation based. Why? I think it is more likely that people born in the winter versus the summer has a common affect on people than the position of stars that are thousands of light-years away. It might be more romantic or mysitical or spiritual to believe that the position of the stars knows no boundaries and sets our clock, but not likely. But very likely to think that people born in December, because of evolution their clock are set a certain way because they reach maturity levels in rythym with climatic environmental conditions. Much more plausible than the mystical zodiac.

      Westerners 1, Easteners 0.

      January 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark McSmart

      Laura – you are indeed very confident in your ignorance. You don't seem to get it – the earth didn't change it's position after you were born – the earth is constantly changing and since the charts were developed 3000 years ago they were already way off by the time you were born. You were not and never will be a Capricorn. The funny part of this is that if you truly understood any of this you would come to the same conclusion that I have – it's all bogus goobly guck...

      February 11, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • educated

      It is explained in the article why it wasn't changed. It's not a zodiac sign, its a constellation. It is not the type of zodiac we westerners use, so its existence doesn't change ANYTHING.

      February 26, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Christopher

    I don't get why they changed the zodiac sign dates now when the knew there were thirteen since 1970 (31 years)

    January 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      They didn't change anything. Some no-name astronomer in Minnesota is trying to make a name for himself by saying something most people already knew. And FYI, people have known about Ophiuchus since Ancient Greece/ Rome. Ptolemy noted the constellation.

      January 18, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • brooke

      U r all idiots that need to go back to 1st grade and relearn how to add and subtract. 1970-2011 Is 41 years not 31 or 40. 41.

      February 13, 2011 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  7. Aries/TAURUS

    i cannot stand scientist's because everything does not have to be prooven to make it plausible , nor am i saying to jus believe in everything . Im just saying keep an open mind and stop trying to figure out everything somethings are better left unknown

    January 18, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will S

      Is the proper use of an apostrophe also better left unknown?

      January 23, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      lol, Will S knows what's up.

      January 26, 2011 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Carl

      You must be a republican. It is pretty much a prerequisite for them to discount science. Congrats on your ignorance.

      February 10, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. jonathan

    Hence that's the brilliance of science and the downfall of faith. Religion does not exist without the individual putting all his/her faith into it. "FAITH" not intelligence. The brilliance of science is the fact that, YES, it does change and is generally revised and/or debunked completely. But atleast at that point we have checked that scenario off the list of hypothesis and moved on. Faith has not changed since a day and age when lightning was the god's striking down. When droughts were a way the god's punished us (starving women and children is always divine, ha.) Before we had a scientific understanding of the world around us. It's really hard for science to convince people who believe in something that does not exist.... when it does not exist! People will believe what they want to believe and that is that, especially when it comes to faith. I love how when speaking about the Big Bang Theory or evolution you're like "well how does everything, all this, come from nothing in a split second?" Hmm gee, "How did god come about then? Following simple logic if he created all around us surely something created him? Yes?" What also gets me is the whole incest is a sin thing. Well how else did Adam and Eve, and their children procreate? By incest right? Killing is also a sin, yes? Well what about all the children that die of hunger and disease every year. Completely sin free. And the Crusades? Killing in god's name is all right? Who decides that it's "God's word" that is actually commanding them to kill? Probably a human who has a interest in those people being dead, ha. Common sense truely isn't that common at all... Please answer any of these questions with some logic, some intelligence and i'll be more than happy to read them. But i'm pretty sure you'll just tell me i'm wrong and leave it at that??? Right?

    January 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • ☮chsclaireerose☮

      Right. 🙂

      January 19, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • ZJ

      I just had to, HAD TO, reply to this post.

      I agree with everything you've said and it's almost like my own thoughts are written word by word before me in your post. It's true that their are many holes in each telling of the beginning of space and time, and let us be honest, there is more in religion and far more far fetched stories. The difference is Science continues to try discover these holes and revise their theories at each step and even admit when they are wrong. That is the simple beauty of Science.

      Plus Religion is based from story telling and we all know how the Chinese Whispers game goes, where as Science today can still be proven.

      I'm not against Faith, everyone needs a little faith in something, but Organised Religion is a whole different thing.

      January 19, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • shannon

      I'm a christian...so what if I'm wrong, nothing happens to me...but what if ur wrong? Did you think about that...im just saying...if God doesn't exist an your right..then nothing happens to me(other than maybe my pride)...but what if I'm right an God does exist an you have been a non believer this whole time, where do you think you will go? Just a thought.

      January 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Please remember that many of the earliest scientists were religious folks trying to get a better understanding of God's creation. The war between science and religion is not inherently natural or necessary. It is the result of a political struggle by Pope Urban VIII (if I remember correctly) that a wall went up between the two and has been hanging around ever since.

      January 19, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will S

      Religious types believe that god is in the gaps of knowledge. What happens when we fill in enough of the gaps? We will, eventually.

      January 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • EOH

      OK, so if something created God, and who created the something that created God and so on and so on...Who or what is the architect of all things we see...feel...

      Science explains everything and supposedly provides some solutions with side effects...Maybe science will eventually find God and explain he/she/it to the rest of us, and maybe science will create life, and bring us back from the dead....
      and the icing on the cake...most want to know. WHY ARE WE HERE...we live...we ? (die)...we Live(?) are we living...you ever notice how time and things seem to go by so quickly although while we are "living in the moment, time seems endless for us? Why are we....where?

      January 30, 2011 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
    • EOH

      on the light side...I have all the answers but if you choose not to listen to me. Oh , yeah then some of you can listen to her....You know Oprah!

      January 30, 2011 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Richie

      Religion is always changing – that's one reason there are so many religions. Religion changes to fit new outlooks on life, though sometimes it is a bit slow to catch up.
      I have been reading "A History of God" by Karen Armstrong, but plenty of other books about the history of religion will also confirm that religion is not a static, immutable thing.

      February 2, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • tim man

      Well, you have a point that most atheists have long pondered.

      However, maybe leave out the incest thing. It's icky. Well, unless I guess your cousin's name is Olivia Wilde. Than you get a repreive.

      February 5, 2011 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Carl

      @Shannon,

      Ok, if you want to use that logic... what if Islam faith is the correct path to God? Then you would be in just as much trouble as us atheists.

      February 10, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Here

      First of all, kudos! great post! However, I do believe... in something out there. BUT, I LOVE science! I like to think that when we used to think the world was flat, and found out it is round, it is just a testament to how GRAND that something really is. And that it is much much more grander than we can imagine. But, the more we discover, the more questions we have!! Is that not what really makes us human?? On another note... Shannon, if your faith is correct and others are wrong... I wouldnt want to live there, I'd rather be in hell. That goes for all those other retarded religions out there.

      February 26, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • boaterman

      i agree with your analogy. i just wanted to add that also in the old days they sacrificed young female virgins and first born males as a way of saying, god i proved my devotion to you, so now, please, bless me until my cup runneth over. severely cult'ivated religion passed down over many years, allowing foran over abundance of self rightous, conceited hippocrates. and yes why do they call it common sense, when it is not common. lastly i found your reading to prove you to be quite educated. aloha

      March 2, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • boaterman

      good post jonathan

      March 2, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Schaffer

    So all these people saying they have proof Jesus never existed, do they have the same proof about the Buddha? Or is he safe from internet scrutiny?

    January 18, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • pharmaecopia

      oh jesus existed. he was a great story-teller.

      January 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Your mom

      Jesus did exist. He was a devout Jew. And then the Romans killed him, brutally. Then they decided to worship his dead body by killing and oppressing millions of Jews, Muslims, Polythiests.

      How hypocritical.

      February 1, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. you guys are great

    I'm amazed how ppl can argue all the way from signs to religion to politics simply by an entertaining topic.

    January 19, 2011 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. hillson

    Who is doubting the existence of God and Christ? What about the miracles he performed and still being performed in his name. I am a living witness of the wonder working powers of the name Jesus Christ. They may be fake pastors,priest etc but it does erase the fact that Christ was and is still very much around. Look deeper and you shall find the truth. Satan is at work deceiving people.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:01 am | Report abuse |
  12. Face Man

    Don't forget that astrology is complete nonsense to begin with.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. butter

    good call.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. David

    Eh religious people don't completely let go of science. They just drop the more unclear parts for other explanations. Either way the real waste of time is arguing about it.

    Either way both have some ridiculous explanations. Either you believe a creator created things or you believe that all the conditions on earth were made perfect by a random incident and everything was fortunately perfect for human life on this ONE planet.

    If you ask me both sound far-fetched. One however requires you believe in yourself and a creator or other people. In any case you have to remember that religious people aren't stupid, some of them work at jobs that require science in some way but they simply choose religion for the unclear parts which neither Science nor religion can be proved right or wrong in.

    Neither the religious person or the scientific believer is stupid, cause when it comes down to it the only thing they really disagree on is the theories that neither religion nor science have proved, both however believe in the solid facts of science.

    Neither can call the other stupid cause the creation of the universe is simply a theory on either side and as I said for the rest of science a religious person will agree with you, it's not like religious people don't believe in gravity or something, they just choose an alternate source for information about creation which science hasn't totally proven either.

    -Also anybody who references things like woman go to hell for cutting their hair, that is no longer a problem due to the new testament, the old testament are not the rules followed today in the original Christianity, maybe it's like that in a branch of Christianity or Catholicism but not the original Christianity.

    I digress, we only disagree on one part of science and that's the creation part, neither sciences or religions explanation is proven and the rest of science is believed by all religious or not so arguing aggressively is what really shows your ignorance.

    Now to put it short and sweet.

    Science-Simply contains theories of creation

    Religion-Contains another theory of creation

    Science-Contains things that both religious and non-religious people believe in. The only point of disagreement being creation.

    You believe in other humans that weren't there at creation and are just full of theories and I believe in my "magic space genie" as is so often called by atheists. Either way your belief of creation is as flawed as mine.

    If you actually understand what I've said here there's little room for argument. You can't convince me and I can't convince you but both our beliefs of creation are far-fetched and have little or no solid proof.

    January 19, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. El Dickobaggo

    What's everybody's problem? We all KNOW that the Mormons are the right ones! This Easter when Jesus rises from the grave and joins Sarah Palin on her reality show, we'll get to the bottom of this nonsense! I just can't wait for the unbelievers to fry!

    January 19, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
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