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.

Post by:
Filed under: Space
soundoff (1,486 Responses)
  1. Gemini_loves

    I my oppion we should not go and change them. Yes science maybe right and we got it wrong but in so many ways I am a gemini all my friends and family say that i couldn't be any other sgin. We shouldn't change becasue its wrong to change what has been for millions of years. (well not millions) but the last couple decades. we just need to leave it alone. and stay with the old!

    February 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. GEMINIFOREVER

    NO NO NO NO we should not change our signs, we should stay in with the old. everyong in my family says i couldnt be anyother sign but gemini because that represents me so much more. SO NO DONT CHANGE

    February 8, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Along The Way

    People stuck on this need a new...hobby. The Edwardian calendar of 12 months is not that old to begin with. Some cultures had 13 months. To set your mood or how your day is going to go, by how your horoscope reads is pure nonsense.

    February 8, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ronnette102

    Hey all of you out there...what about our moon sign? Was any of this supposed to have affected those signs that we were born under? Always will be a proud sun Scorpio and proud moon Aries. Heehee!

    February 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ronnette102

    That fact that your a scorpio, makes me drool. I love you...woohoo! From one scorpio to the rest of you scorpios out there, we're the most mysterious and misunderstood sign of the zodiac with the worst reputation. And I prefer to keep it like that. Scorpios are private, intense and emotional people and things are always being said about us. Who gives a rats as?

    February 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MY CABBAGES!

    Just pick a zodiac with which to align yourself and visit humorscope.com

    February 14, 2011 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jenwheeve

    привет
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecFJKWzUEiA&w=640&h=390]

    February 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. adsense tricks

    I like your topic .it is interesting for me.it provides nice infos so I' bookmarked it.thanks for posting it

    February 19, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hawkeye

    This is OLD NEWS – and not really news, anyway, it's just a lot of baloney. Back in 1970 -that's right, 1970, 41 years ago – a guy named Stephen Schmidt published a book called Astrology 14, and his theory was that there are not thirteen, but FOURTEEN zodiac signs. Along with Ophiucus he included Cetus. Well, everybody forgot all about it, and the same thing is going to happen again. We've got twelve zodiac signs, that's all, so FUGGEDABOUDIT!

    February 20, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeriecho

    ........Im a scorpion now? Aint that a load of crap.I was happy being a sagittarius.Damn.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. Vloxer

    Wow....I can't even touch this....don't even want too....My comments would fall on deaf ears because everyone is SOOOOO sure they are right, and NO BODY has the potential to grow. In the words of Gerry Spence "I would rather have a mind opened by wonder, than closed by belief." Everything changes people...EVERYTHING. Yes, even religion. It changes from Church to Church, house hold to house hold, and person to person. I can't believe there are people out there who STILL point their fingers of doom and shame....trying to validate their feelings about the unknown by forcing their shakey beliefs at best on others. I have my faith...and it is MY FAITH...as it should be. What you believe or reject does not hold weight on my relationship with the Almighty. Yet, it keeps coming up. Does no one find a balance between the glory of living and scientific approach from the devine? I feel sorry for people who cannot find that happy medium. Keep searching for the answers you seek....but do it with an open heart, and a genuine love of knowledge and your fellow man. Geesh people.

    February 24, 2011 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  12. Vloxer

    I cannot even lower myself to this same old standard that appears over and over and over again from thread to thread....RELIGIOUS BICKERING....What is going on here??? I THOUGHT being a Christian was being a Christian...did not matter where you worship, it is the fundamental foundation that is important. It's a simple insight, one that everyone knows...yet i see very little Christian Love being practiced. I have my faith....and that is what makes it so special between me and God....it is MY RELATIONSHIP. Personal, private, and genuine. Can we not balance science and faith??? Are we not evolved enough to take that leap??? Or are we afraid that in the end...we may be left with more questions than answers? Seek out the answers you long for in life...but stop seeing your fellow man as your enemy. There is a balance between the two; or at least I have found that the almighty is very scientific....leaving very little to "Magic" Science and Wonder and Divinity is all around you!!! Open your eyes!!! "I would rather have a mind opened by wonder, than closed by belief"

    February 24, 2011 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  13. BOZO

    pay the gent @ authenticastrology.com his 5 dollars and get yer new asc, sun and moon – anyone who's spent a few years studying [straight] meditatation should recognise the TRUE 'mind'-shift which follows, depending on depth of study of astrology – i was sent back a wee while from libra 2 virgo – so all those who reckoned i was a little too just and 'merciless' now have the real deal 2 cope with...? goddess help u all!!! x – [plus, who are 'scientists' 2 re-instate a discarded 13th babylonian sign??? the yahoo news version contains SEVERAL glaring errors]

    February 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ZakyD

    1. The second century thing you said happened in the East not the West. Just think about it, who would have been doing that in Western civilization at that time?

    2. Wouldn't your sign be assigned based on where the stars were when you were born and not where they are now?

    3. How does astrology have anything to do with the seasons? The basic definition only speaks of celestial bodies... Not the specific things on them. That dude at the end of the article sounds like he is making things up...or someone is making him

    Basically USA did with the zodiac signs as they did with the metric system..."oh hey that's a good idea....let's make our own different one for no reason". I don't think the Babylonians were just like eh...screw that thirteenth sign bc we only want twelve....sounds American to me hahaha

    February 24, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. yoyoyo14

    so am i a virgo or a leo? i was born on sep 8

    February 24, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46