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. Magnificent Minimalist

    Thanks for this. I was so confused!

    January 14, 2011 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. John Kelly

    This was news to me - about forty years ago. Now if CNN were to report that astrology has been proved to be absolute bunk - or the opposite - that would be news.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  3. ohyouknow

    since everyone's going crazy, does anyone mind if i just pick my sign? i think i'll do that. my sign is now...nachos.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  4. sterling

    is this article a bailout of the foutune telling industry or what

    January 14, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sitnalta

    Tropical or sidereal, it's all nonsense. It was invented by people who had very little understanding of a vast and indifferent universe.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  6. scout

    Thank you, Dez. a lot of my friends believe in this bogus. it hurts me to see how they can find it in their hearts to accept this as truth but scoff at the thought of a wonderful God who loves them. it doent make any sense!

    January 14, 2011 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
    • there is no god

      as for astrology being bogus i am not saying it is or is not however, the bible was created by man and amended many times therefore it should be just as bogus to you as astrology is.... jus sayin!!!

      January 14, 2011 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. tiffmae

    I love how this is causing such an uproar. I think I am going to quit watching cnn if this is the MOST IMPORTANT NEWS. This is ridiculous people! People are dying every day and not to mention what else is going on in the world and they are talking about stupid zodiac signs. Who really cares. I know when I turn on the news that zodiac signs changing are what I want to hear about....

    January 14, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Kyle

      I am not entirely sure why people are so upset, If you think about it you never were what you thought you were before. You just thought you were that sign. I am just glad CNN is stepping away from people dying and in pain for a few minutes, sure death is a very important matter, but when it is constantly shoved down our throats, it loses its effect and intensity. Shouldnt we shed light on the happier things in this world, not just sad and depressing? Granted this adjustment has a ton of people angry, it still is a good step up from the every day depressing news. I think people would be more charitable to those in need if we focused less on the suffering parties. That sounds terrible but think about it. Turn on any news channel for five minutes and count how many happy stories there are vs how many horror stories and then form your own opinion

      January 14, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. Don't be so CNN.

    There's nothing odd about it. It's just CNN.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. firefightersgurl

    Well I think this all is bs because I've always considered my self a Taurus but now I'm supposed to be an aries it just does not make any sense they should of left it alone cause now there's more uproar than needed...

    January 14, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. Cinque

    I was born on the cusp (early afternoon of july 22) between leo and cancer... I have always considered myself leo with hints of cancer. Does this mean I'm solidified into one of the two, or that I'm on a different cusp?!?!?!

    January 14, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Leo

      I have cancer and take offense. I'm calling Obama.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Garfield

      if you think you have hints of cancer you should see your docotr immediately.

      January 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Don't be so CNN.

    Like I wrote, nothing odd about it. This is CNN, news channel of the liberal ass-clowns.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. Kate

    People are freaking out over nothing. Zodiac signs are set in stone. They won't change.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. Justin

    this whole thing about the sign changes is not completely false. the signs are gradually shifting just as our planet, the sun, our solar system and even the galaxy is always shifting. what i think is that as we move through the ages(roguhly 2000 years) every 100 years the signs shift about 1.5 days on the calendar. and when the end of an age comes by which we are at now, what this means is that from 1 AD to present day the total shift has been a month.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  14. E.

    I'm so happy to see that I remain a Sag, no matter which chart is applied, and I think it's fun to read my horoscope and chart. It's not healthy to be a rocket scientist all the time. LOL

    January 14, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  15. Porter

    New Virgo's unite!!!!!!!

    January 14, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
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