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. Eric Chappell

    Darn you CNN for breaking this 'news' only an hour before me!

    http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=169276599783651&id=1427232205

    But thanks for helping to end the confusion. ‚̧

    January 14, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jennifer C

    Years ago, at a birthday party it was announced that "Jack's" (not his real name) birthday was April 5 and that he was an Aries. Later at the party, I quipped to Jack that he couldn't be an Aries, because although he was stubborn, I didn't see him as a fire sign (which was true). After the party, he stopped by my desk, and quietly said he was amazed at what I'd said, that he actually was a Taurus, but he was born at home without a birth certificate and lied when he went into the military due to some hiring peculiarity when he was 17!

    January 14, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
    • GirlaPH

      I was born on April 5. Does that mean that I'm Taurus too? Pffffffahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!

      January 14, 2011 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  3. E.

    @Sterling "Did god make us because he was bored?" Probably, considering the Christian version of the story has God being completely alone in a vast unit of nothingness...wouldn't YOU be bored? We blog on such topics when WE are bored...what would you do if this was your ENTIRE existence? LOL I'm a cuspie, so I'm use to being 2 signs. Hehehe.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
  4. Bi-Astral

    I, personally, am going to straddle the fence between Serpentius (which I read on another website as the AKA for Optimusprime, or whatever it's called, and which I'm embracing due to increased badassedness) and Sagittarius. I'll tell old guys I'm bi-astral when they ask at the bar.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Lj

      Baaaaahahahahahahah! I will steal this and tell the same, even though I'm still a Pisces.

      And just to say for the sake of it: I think it's a lot of fun to read horoscopes! However, I don't sit there and fret over it. I just take it with a grain of salt. Some of you people should relax a little! ūüôā

      January 14, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. Kayla

    I remember reading about this years ago in one of my astronomy CD-ROMs when I was in elementary school. It was just some random trivia it offered. Definitely not news!

    January 14, 2011 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  6. TriB

    Stick with the Chinese Zodiac. It rotates on a 12 year basis.That's harder to mess with. Unless you are a cat lover. But, my 10 yr old daughter has a solution for this... we are all year of the cat, and then divided into sub years. Go figure. Her logic is as good as anyone else's on this subject.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. Bill

    Not only is this just BS to begin with, but the astrologer Jawer got his signs wrong trying to explain them! Aries is not opposite Capricorn on the astrological calendar. Big hint: look at any globe, you will see the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. They are solar opposites, North and South, for the two annual solar extremes on the two Solstices, in June and December. Aries and LIBRA are the opposites on the equinoxes, in March and September. Just look it up to see.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. bruce

    for all the astrology skeptics, i highly recommend you getting a birth chart interpretation done. not trying to advocate astrology as a valid science, but i have yet to find one person read their interpretation and find it completely wrong. try it. don't be so quick to dismiss anything without testing it for yourself. after all, doesn't science teach us that we can't really know anything until we've tested it and seen the results for ourselves? i should also mention that science, too is not without it's share of accepting things on faith. whether its a preacher or scientist, it's all a matter of who you deem worthy of being an authority worthy of your trust.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      That's what I'm saying! If you don't know anything of astrology but your Sun sign based news paper horoscope, then you don't really have much grasp of it. Get a reading of your whole chart done by a pro.
      Get some understanding. Maybe read Cosmos & Psyche by R. Tarnas.. Those that just say astrology is BS with no experience and understanding of it just sound like defensive lumps.

      January 14, 2011 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. DeeNice

    This new zodiac is bull. These days are overlapping and it doesn't make any sense. In the last zodiac sets the days didn't overlap and this is causing mayhem.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
  10. DAVINCIKODE

    Astrology is one of the oldest sciences, dating back 5000 years ago and is about interpreting God's handwriting in the sky. The fact that Darwinists know nothing about it does not mean it's wrong. They are simply too pre-occupied by studying death fish and explaining things after they have happend. This is one of the divine sciences materialists never have access to by virtue of their skepticism and death outlook on life, so no need to cry for proof cos nobody is going to demonstrate to a wall that a Creator exists, let alone how He organizes life.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. IfYouWantAnswersDoResearch

    People... hello... this is a BLOG. (no credentials) and FYI Wikipedia is NOT a credible source

    January 14, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  12. IfYouWantAnswersDoResearch

    Hellooo... anyone realize this is a blog? that means no credentials. and FYI Wikipedia is NOT a credible source. Do some research

    January 14, 2011 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
  13. nikki

    I just think this whole zodiac thing is a crock but if it is true I don't see how it much changes anything other then some ppls sign either way its not like neone will acually die over it, yes if it is true it does suck but obviously there's nothing anyone can do about it so mides well suck it up and just go with it!! Right!

    January 14, 2011 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  14. aparna

    yeah, anyone that believes astrology is an actual science has got to be kidding themselves. you cant determine someone's personality and characteristics from precession and alignments in the solar system....if anything, this article and those like it just furthermore proves the falsity of astrology...its all a hoax and im a bit puzzled as to why people still think its legitimate. before modern science, it was simply the "doctrine" that people used to make some sense of how things worked. luckily we now possess enough information, resources and technology to stray away from these types of beliefs which were never legitimated by actual scientific evidence

    January 14, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  15. s. villafania

    good thing that my zodiac sign hasn't changed. still an aquarian hehe

    January 14, 2011 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
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