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. bk

    Yes, that's right. Astrology is still *exactly* the same BS it was last week...

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

    yeyeyee
    this is totally disgusting
    LOL

    January 14, 2011 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  3. settherecordstraight

    Indian (vedic) astrology takes into account the precession of the earth axis, western astrology does not, so they used to line up, but are now a month apart. Which is correct ?

    January 14, 2011 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  4. Ajna

    Actually I did a statically study of astrology in college to prove it wrong. I created a bunch of tests of likes and dislikes, personality, life events, and physical characteristics to see if there were any common denominators in each sign. The results were very surprising. They are a lot so much so. That I have become intrigued to study ever since.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
  5. shunrican

    the origins of astrology is based on the constellations. Which is why they are named after the constellations. That's just common sense. There's no summer sign or any autumn sign cause they atte not constellations.do I in fact agree that our signs have changed

    January 14, 2011 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. R&T

    If the Earth tilted it's axis, why can't we all just run to the other side at the same time and make it go back?

    January 14, 2011 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      LOL>>Thats a good one!!!

      January 14, 2011 at 1:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. Pat

    once a Scorpio always a Scorpio. Once the Best always the Best. Too bad to the other eleven....who can only wish they were a Scorpio.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
    • didge

      No thanks, too much drama for me 😉

      January 14, 2011 at 3:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Khushboo83

      Ew

      January 23, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  8. krozar

    I love how everything has to be mysterious; preferably including incense, candles, and a human skull. Many iPhone apps are divination and Youtube is conjuration. Give the ancient people a break! The sky was one of the few apps they had.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mitsuo Kenkichi

    The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster extends it's noodly appendage to all those suffering from the disorientation of changing zodiac signs.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Clark Nova

      That's 'its', not 'it's'. You know how the FSM is about correct punctuation when referring to him. Expect a visit from an enraged pirate very soon.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hello

    for all you researchers out there...believer and non believers alike. :))

    http://www.godandscience.org

    January 14, 2011 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. JUSTIN

    i hope you people dont really let this get to your head, your still the same person, whether or not your sign has changed, and watch if you get your tattoo changed and then find it was all BS then your gonna regret it.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
  12. happylom

    Personally, I don't pay attention to my horoscope. But it's all over my Twitter Feed!

    What I get from this article and love about it being here is knowing that this isn't some spoof from an attention seeking person or a new discovery that will unsettle some people's RESPECTABLE beliefs. This theory existed before and article in a Minnesota newspaper got blown into some huge media story.

    I think the West has driven itself towards thinking about science in a very close-minded way. This is just another small piece in the puzzle that is human knowledge.

    Thanks for the article.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
  13. Engin

    Aries :Ariete Libra :Bilancia
    Taurus :Toro Scorpio :Scorpione
    Gemini : Gemelli Sagittarius :Sagittario
    Cancer :Cancro Capricorn :Capricorno
    Leo :Leone Aquarius :Aquario
    Virgo :Vergine Pisces :Pesci

    http://www.myloveitalian.com/basic_italian_grammar_lessons/italian_basic_grammar_lessons_zodiacal_sign.asp

    January 14, 2011 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. useitwisely

    that's not what the zodiac is for;
    'the world turns?screwthat!'
    'Morning, Noon, and Night'
    'The Sun, The Moon, and The Truth'
    'The Cave Dwellers...' apageinthelife

    January 14, 2011 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Professor

      I agree with useitwisely. He's right on with this one.

      January 14, 2011 at 5:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      Hey useitwisely..you dont sound too stable. Did you miss your Therapist appointment???????

      January 14, 2011 at 6:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel Patrick Lanman

      I posted that info 6 years ago! It's been around for a long time. Many friends of mine have been coming to me and inquiring about this, I'll post my now well-versed response.
      The main question regarding Ophiuchus is simply what qualities are inherent to that sign, and considering it's only around for a two week period, what can the fourth water sign truly add that isn't already inculcated in the Sagittarius/Scorpio cusp?
      Utilizing the Astronomical calender for Astrology in my opinion is counter-productive.
      Astrology relates to seasonal gestation periods, and bio-electromagnetic as well as gravitational imprinting upon RNA. I do not subscribe to the theory that Astrology relates directly to the Constellations. The constellations merely act as an upward time-tracking symbol. The true Astrological tendencies are derived directly from the Earth's natural biorhythms.

      January 14, 2011 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. ThieF60

    So in the western zodiac the signs aren't based on the stars? Why are they named after constellations then?

    January 14, 2011 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
    • xyz789

      http://adsg.syix.com/linda/cecilia/constellations.htm

      January 14, 2011 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
    • PushToToke

      Zodiac constellations and zodiac signs are different things. Leo, for example, can mean the group of stars called Leo (the constellation Leo) or how many degrees the Earth has traveled since the day of the spring equinox (the sign Leo or 120 to 150 degrees). So when you say I'm Leo you can mean that the constellation Leo was behind the Sun from our viewpoint on Earth (and this is what Indian astrologers mean), or that the Earth has moved anywhere from 120 to 150 degrees since the spring equinox (and this is what Western astrologers mean).
      The signs were the same as the constellations for a period of a 1000 years before and after the year 293 AD but since then the difference grew to about 24 degrees today.
      For my part, I'm wondering at what age typically do most people realize that different theories are seldom mutually exclusive.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
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