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. Tony'sGirl

    I agree with firefightersgurl

    January 14, 2011 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. taurus

    *yawns*

    January 14, 2011 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Taurus2

      That's so Taurus!

      January 14, 2011 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  3. Tony'sGirl

    F60.....only to confuse people

    January 14, 2011 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Shut up woman

      January 14, 2011 at 3:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Tony'sGirl'sFriend

      You leave her alone Tony!

      January 14, 2011 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  4. variax

    Astrology is a myth, if not a crime. The positions of a few stars trillions and quadrillions of miles away cannot POSSIBLY have any effect on any aspect of anyone's life here on Earth.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
    • neutral agent

      You've completely missed the premise of astrology.The constellations were an afterthought: imposed interpretations of random shapes in the stars that were picked out as symbols of basic human archetypes, and come into play in different combinations over the course of the year. Astrology is focused mainly on the influences of the bodies in our solar system, and how they vary in shorter and longer cycles, creating changes in energies on Earth. An obvious example would be the Moon's influence in the oceans' tides, and your mama's menstrual cycle. Take a look around; there's more to life than your narrow little scope has let in.

      January 14, 2011 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
    • btinc

      Uh, no neutral agent, you've missed the premise of variax's post: astrology is a myth. Even if the moon has some effect on our personalities, the effect described by astrological adherents is wholly made up, a myth.

      Nice of you to dismiss the effect of the stars, since the whole discussion here is about the zodiac constellations, which are stars. If they have no meaning in astrology, why is their position used to mark what effect planets have if they are insignificant in the myth?

      January 14, 2011 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Mickmeister

      Neutral Agent, the moon influences the tides because of gravity. The ocean weighs just a tad more than a person – the gravitational pull on a human from heavenly bodies is about as close to zilch as you can get. The idea that it can have any influence on our lives is ridiculous.

      January 14, 2011 at 6:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Unfortunately this is a logical fallacy. Just because you don't know the mechanism doesn't mean there is no effect. The fact that psi seems to violate the laws of physics and there isn't anything in the brain that would explain it doesn't change the results if the effect is proven (idk if psi is real or not) I think that astrology picks up on some natural rhythms on earth and invents the rest due to pattern seeking. But you can't rule out that alignments or relationships to other galaxies influence or have meaning to us. Hey if you look at the cosmic microwave background and you see the pattern of unevenness that led to the variance we see in todays universe, you could argue everything is part of the same explosion and the relationships are harmonic and... Focus on the effects! In astrology you can give a $500 reading to a hundred people and most will think it's perfect for them which is the best debunking.

      January 14, 2011 at 6:31 am | Report abuse |
    • ashley deans

      The way to test your hypothesis is through scientific research. History is full of examples where people thought something was impossible but it turned out that it was possible. For example, a particle existing in many places at once is impossible in classical physics but is standard in quantum mechanics. Using accurate birth times and locations it would be quite possible to construct experiments to compare western astrological predictions to eastern jyotish predictions. If neither turn out to be accurate then your hypothesis is reasonable. Some experiments have been done on western astrology and have not found any evidence of accuracy. However, I am not aware of any experiments that have been done on jyotish predictions.

      January 14, 2011 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
    • coffegirl

      My guess is variax is either a Taurus, Virgo, or Capricorn.

      January 14, 2011 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
    • labrat

      There's a new branch of astrology called Jetology that predicts your life based on the positions of airplanes at nearby airports and the skies around you. The planes have a far greater gravitational pull on your body than the moon, planets or any of the stars or galaxies. So if Southwest is taking off, United is landing and American is high overhead there's a good chance that I'll meet a brunette today and cross a body of water on my way home.

      January 14, 2011 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
    • coffegirl

      small questions come to mind after reading this article and comments...who wrote the characteristics of each astrological signs – what they mean is more important than where they are located? I find that Leo fits my personality traits a whole lot more than say Aries...I also find, oddly enough, that I have more Capricorn friends than any other, is this just a coinciedence? Even though my astrological sign of Leo is not the most compatable with Capricorn compared to Aries and Sagittarius...Astrology has a place in this world. There is no doubt that the the planets in our universe affect us using the moon and it's affect on our tides is proof enough, not to mention Sun flares and their affect on causing Earthquakes and Volcanoes, same as Lunar Eclipse's.

      Astrology definitions are never 100% but the do offer a guideline in defining the many characteristics of people.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Q: So if I was an Aries, does that now make me a Pisces? Soo confusing. I'd rather be a Pisces bc that totally explains me better

      January 16, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. Cat MacLeod

    This wouldn't have to do with the grand procession of constellations that signifies the passing of an age (2150 years) would it? This has to do with the constellation that coincides with the spring equinox every year, it shifts VERY slowly. I know we are currently in the age of Pisces which began at year 0 before that was age of Aries which began 2150 BC. The age of Aquarius begins in another 139 years. It takes almost a whole age for a sign to shift. Is that what this is all about?

    January 14, 2011 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
    • B

      So in 139 years the moon will be in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars? Good to know.

      January 14, 2011 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Aries4-eva

      Then peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars.

      January 14, 2011 at 6:25 am | Report abuse |
  6. Pito

    Eh, I like my new Zodiac sign over the one from the traditional Tropical system. The Cosmic Connect-The-Dots can suck it for all I care.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  7. Atman

    All of you are shortsighted. If your own beliefs are at odds with another's and it makes you angry, that is a personal problem.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
    • HOUSTON

      I KNOW RIGHT?!

      January 14, 2011 at 5:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. DosX

    He once went to a psychic... to warn her.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
  9. Benjamin

    Im sure Yogi Bear and Santa Claus are really upset about this. Please report some real news, and not just bank money on what's hot on the net. kthxbye

    January 14, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Leila Pilien

      Lol.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:30 am | Report abuse |
  10. Wes Johnson

    wow...say what you want: I will always be a capricorn

    January 14, 2011 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Jake Webb

      Hell yeah!! And I will ALWAYS be a Taurus!!

      January 14, 2011 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Bogie

      Well, what they're sayin is if you live in the Western hemisphere... then yeah. You still are. Nothing changed. Did you read the article?

      January 14, 2011 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    God these comments are full of epic butthurt... I am a staunch atheist who doesn't put an ounce of credence in this new-age hippie crap, but even I will read the occassional horoscope out of boredom or for a quick laugh.

    ...Whiners.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Christopher

      I completely agree with you that astrology is total crap, but it's crap that preceeds hippies and new agers by 2,000 years.

      January 14, 2011 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Your Mom

      Let the kid's have their fun, Mike. No one keeps you off of your World of Warcraft at night. ;3

      January 14, 2011 at 3:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Leila Pilien

      Lol. These comments crack me up! :)

      January 14, 2011 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jay

    Astrology may be silly but there far worse things many believe in. Seems we are hard wired to believe something, its an offshoot of evolution. Our brains are associative and emotional first and reason is only an element of who we are, not who we actually are. Belief systems provied comfort in a world that we are simply not equiped to fully comprehend. A world without belief is sterile and inhuman. I am sure that everyone here holds beliefs that are based on unproven faith of some sort. I am not saying that all beliefs are equivalent only that all humans hold them to varrying degrees and that one should not be to smug, after all we are only human.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
    • mike

      i am not hard wired to believe any of this crap. keep your assumptions to yourself. some of us are immune to these ridiculous beliefs – astrology, religion, dogma of any sort. many of us have seen the truth that is absent from your dark world....

      January 14, 2011 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Eli

      Mike, isn't being so adamantly biased saying everything other than your atheism being crap also a form of being hardwired into some belief? Seems to me you do believe in something.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Tamooj

      Mike is flatly wrong here. We are all semi-slaves to our biology, and evolution has left a lot of trash behind in our brains; structures whose usefulness is vestigial at best, but they still cast long shadows on our thinking. I don't 'believe' in anything supernatural (including God), but I understand why many people still do, and seem to need to. I also recognize that I likely have 'beliefs', or at least predilections to think in one way or another, because of my hard-wired instincts; try as I might to look past them, they will influence me to *some* degree. Especially if I'm not paying attention to them – thinking about how we think is very hard (which is why most people don't do it very often or well). Astrology is really about a deep emotional need to see patterns in the noise. Our brains are soooo good at doing this that they will invent a signal when they fail to discern a real one. This is why we sometimes think we hear a tune in the air conditioner hum, or why we believe in God or Astrology.

      January 14, 2011 at 3:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Name*flaca

      Astrology could be what ever it wants but people still like using it like I love to say im a scorpio and it may not mean a damn thing but its something that many people enjoy having in their life juss for fun or what ever the case may be so if u think its a crime then that's u but many of us love the fact of having to say what their sign is and it simply wont matter Wat anyone or anything else will say I know imma be a scorpio no matter what anyone say so have a good day

      January 14, 2011 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  13. AJ

    Does this take into account that there used to be 10 months in the year? Sept-ember once was the 7th month, Oct-ober the 8th, Nov-ember the 9th and Dec-ember the 10th. The original calendar got out of sync with the seasons so new months were added in the middle.

    January 14, 2011 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      That is completely untrue. The Roman year, when it had ten months, began on the vernal (spring) equinox, and lasted 304 days, comprising 10 months (that much you had correct), however 'winter' (about 61 days in the middle) did not have months associated with it. The new months, Ianuarius and Februarius (January and February), were added at the beginning of the year. Contrary to popular belief, it was not Julius and Augustus (July and August) added to the calendar: those months already existed; they were called Quintilus and S*xtilus and merely renamed in honor of the emperors.

      The Romans added a 'leap' period to keep the solar and calendar years aligned, but they did it every so often, with the leap year being around 378 days from the Kalends of Martius (March 1) to Kalends of Martius of the next year.

      January 14, 2011 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
    • arielle

      I read once that there are actually 13 months in a year, that each month is supposed to be between 27 &29 days, like Feb. & that the remaining days comprise a 13th month.
      Just something to think about.
      Our months &stars& constellations &astrology are all irrelevant anyway Because they are all man-made concepts.

      January 14, 2011 at 5:48 am | Report abuse |
    • ravenlynne

      @Arielle: OOO we can mamufacture stars now? Wow!

      January 14, 2011 at 6:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Arielle: There are 13 LUNAR months in each year. This article (and astrology in general) are pertaining to the solar cycle.

      Of course they are man-made concepts: but that doesn't make them irrelevant. You go through your entire life adhering to concepts that man has created out of thin air: like MONEY (and economics), mathematics, religion, and language.

      January 14, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jane

    Hmm. I was directed towards this article by someone who said our signs didn't change, but I'm not an astrologist, I barely understood what was going on. What is this article generally saying??

    January 14, 2011 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Lauren

      It's saying that there are two different kinds of astrology. The one you are most familiar with (assuming you are in the Western Hemisphere) is not based on the apparent position of the sun & planets in relation to the stars, so the fact that the Earth moves on its axis gradually over time has no effect on your astrological sign.

      January 14, 2011 at 6:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Snapdragon

      Don't feel bad, it's a little complicated. Here's a different article http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/your-astronomical-sign.html . Basically, if you look into the sky at noon on the equinox (the first day of Spring, when day and night are the same length), you are pointing at a particular constellation. But because the rotation of the Earth changes over the centuries, a few thousand years from now you will be pointing to a different constellation at noon on the equinox. That's what precession is, and it's the change in astrological signs that the article is talking about.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
  15. MiniKat

    A change in the signs of the zodiac shouldn't affect people too much. If they are born that closely to the other sign, then they are in the cusp of each sign, and are probably a mixture of both signs...

    January 14, 2011 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
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