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 (1,487 Responses)
  1. ilcssz

    Social Security is going bankrupt and people are worried about their new zodiac signs. Give me a break!

    January 27, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • kat

      indeed kinda funny but really sad

      January 28, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  2. JT

    how about that new planet that has nothing but ocean the once that is next to libra's stars its got to be libra's planet because where talking about venus right and venus is nothing but acid and the ocean in libra's stars are nothing but calm ocean and empty pretty much thats gotta be libra's planet.

    January 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • JT

      I KNOW NOW... maybe why who ever desided to take out the 13 month and the sign er just the sign or whatever maybe why they did that was because it was just to much for them so they could have taken it off and said something like well it seems most ppl are having to much trouble even pronounsing this sign so they took it off..ethere or that or its something that has to do with building something and us not realizing what they were building.....yeah i think i'm losing you now..anywayz if you get what i mean by reading whats about this hole mumbo jumbo stuff and that video up there then i bet youd get me.

      January 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JT

    i'm a libra i'm also same as a dolphin other then the agressive part but almost the same..its super difficult to get me angry thats what makes me libra but at the same time it makes it more difficult to calm me down how i know all this is because i was born in 1988 so maybe its the year that you were born at to..should of planned way earlier i must be libra i also learned some libra's can be quiet some are calm and cool like me so meaning i can be a quiet guy same goes with girls or other whise i can be very talkative guy if you talk with me i'm a listener i listen and talk but libra's like me we dont like making facts ppl stopped listening to us libra's and started to call us liers but we were trying to make a point and opinion not facts.

    January 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Rod

    2011 is actually the Year of Cat#13 for the Vietnamese. For the Chinese, it is the Year of Rabbit#4. Both numbers are usually associated with bad luck.

    The confusion is similar to the recent anomaly created by the Minnesota Planetarium Society which raised the exclusion of Ophiuchus#13. The 13th sign is considered to be the sign of a "terrorist." Here's more info: http://syncmyworld.blogspot.com

    January 29, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Star Signs

    It's funny that so many people are so stuck on their sign. I know I am. I'm a gemini and will always be a gemini....

    January 31, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. JP

    Sigh. And you wonder why America is so terrible at scientific knowledge. You've gotten rid of your science department, CNN, and replaced it with a belief blog (lol!). Now, you're trying to pass off astrology as being something factual. What next? You're going to start claiming that dinosaurs and humans lived together? When are you going to get it through your heads that what you believe is irrelevant?

    January 31, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Koko

    Your article is very good, let me get to know you, because you still learn a lot about the virtual world, and introduce my blog: Newsflava.com

    February 2, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Richie

    You are quite right LeAndra. Ass holes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are not exclusive to Scorpio. I'd guess that a twelfth of ass holes are Scorpio. So many people have a misunderstanding of the Scorpio persona. The fact that V Babe is an ass hole is down to a variety of complex interlinking factors; social, biological and celestial.
    In a lifelong study of ass holes I have concluded that there is one per person, present from birth, so the ass hole shares the same horoscope as the rest of its human.

    February 2, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. John Smith

    If you believe in Zodiac you're an idiot.

    That is all.

    February 3, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Raven

      Sorry to tell you, but the Zodiac has been part of culture for years. Thus, it has been part of a lot people's lives. Unfortunately for you, you are the stupid one. Actually think about it.

      That is all.

      February 8, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeriecho

      Zodiac signs tell you all about your personallity from the looks of me your a leo.But really.Learn some zodiac signs.Jeez.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. peppes

    I'm not freaking out!

    To go on with the science vs religion thing... if it was such a huge debate, why don't devout christians live in caves with their water and bread science free? Nice how convenience rears its pretty head at just the right time... "Why yes, I do believe jesus is more important than electricity... let me put some hotpockets in the microwave and then we'll discuss it..".

    Fact is, it doesn't matter what can be proven or believed in, because that "fact" comes from science which we can only measure as our own scientific gadgets can. So it is in fact limited. So that means you have to BELIEVE and have faith in science in order to prove science.

    Sounds like religion to me.

    February 3, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Energy

    What a perfect Scientist God, Creator, Absolute must be – to create everything in all the universes with such mastery and skill and deep knowledge. And what a sense of humour that Person has – being annoyed by religionists, atheists, scientists and all folks fighting with each other.. still He loves all and cares and maintains everything... This Person fascinates me more and more as I try to see Him directly through His (or Her) intelligent creation. As energy wave we are in constant flow through Absolute's creation, It takes a lot of time and lot of Science and Wisdom to understand the Truth. It requires lot of humility as well and seems humanity lacks it nowadays wasting its time quarelling instead of researching. Anyway... wish you all the best on your path.

    February 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. br3tt

    Good.
    I'm happy with being a Sagittarius. Luckiest sign in the zodiac and that extends into every aspect of my life.

    February 3, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Qspeed

    Hi, regards all :)

    February 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Knowledge

    Even the most amateur, no name astronomer has more credibility than an astrologer.

    February 4, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. annie

    i dnt even noeee wat is it, bt im still scorpio cuz i dnt want to be virgo , the new one ophicus is a liee, for suree!!

    February 4, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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