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

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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Filed under: Space
soundoff (1,485 Responses)
  1. dan

    dose not matter what we perseave to be our sines you need the rising sine wich is the planet you wear born under based on date time and location. one is just an index the other a story.fact or fiction tou diside

    January 14, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • some guy

      Unless you're talking about trig, you need to check your spelling.

      January 14, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. Noneya

    Ummm... why is this news exactly???

    January 14, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. ramanan50

    In Hindu system of Astrology, the Sun sign(Zodiac) ,changes .

    It moves from one sign to another periodically.

    At the same time the place where the sign was at the time of one’s birth (lagna) decides the lagna.This is the basis that gives clue to one’s tendencies and generally indicates one’s life primarily.

    When the Sun changes its position periodically in the Constellation, it indicates the present fortune of the individual in conjunction with the lagna.
    As to people who ridicule,science is as much accurate as astrology.
    Please read my blogs filed under science.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Garfield

      what's that about lasagna? it. i'm a Saggitummius, btw, and i hate mondays.

      January 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr.Knowe

      While channeling the spirit of a dead guy with no historical significance, ramanan50 wrote:
      >"As to people who ridicule,science is as much accurate as astrology."

      I knew it!! Astrology cured polio! Astrology makes my cellphone work! Astrology made powered flight possible! Astrology makes my freezer cold! Astrology made my computer! Astrology cooks my potatoes when I put them in the microwave! Astrology, with the help of Al Gore, built the internet!
      ... but Jesus Built my Hotrod!!!!

      January 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Lindsay

    Why are people freaking out? Why do we put so much stock and validity into something that CHANGES?

    His name is Jesus-WAS, IS, IS TO COME. HE, never changes : )

    January 14, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Gregg

      Except that he does. A lot. Catch up on Biblical criticism. That whole "let he who without sin cast the first stone" thing, for instance, doesn't appear to have been in the original. And by the way, does Purgatory exist or not? What happens to unbaptised babies these days?

      January 14, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lindsay

      Nope. Jesus- the God Man, does not change. WE, on the other hand do. That's the point. Our interpretation of the Bible and the resulting religiousity creates the undesired effect of Christianity appearing to be invalid. That's what happens when you mix in human beings I suppose.

      January 14, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • sami

      Wasn't Hercules 1/2 god and 1/2 man?

      January 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bustin Jieber

    They Are all myths. Especially Christianity…

    January 14, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. GT

    One less reason to take CNN less seriously anytime reality and science are important. Maybe MTv & comedy central have actual news.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |

    All of which goes to show that this stuff can mean whatever one wants it to– which means it means nothing.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Lindsay

      Yup! Exactly right.

      January 14, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  8. Proud Sagitarius

    Once a sagitarius... Always a Sagitarius!!!

    January 14, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • ???

      Yeah, that tattoo is there to stay!

      January 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cancer

    I think it is hilarious the number of people that come on here to comment and want to sound intelligent... but they fail to even spell words correctly. Seriously! I'm just saying...

    January 14, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eingstein

      I was born under the sign of the boar and so have an affinity with Sheep and Rabbits. In fact, I wish I had fweloold that some years ago but never mind!

      August 11, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Colin

    Zodiac astrology is always has been a fraud regardless of what branch of it you let fool you.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SenorPlaid

    My sign is Derry and Toms.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |

    Kind of like the Bible. They just threw out or added stuff as they went along.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mmaatttt dammmonnd

    your all funny looking!

    January 14, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mmaatttt dammmonnd

    your all funny looking

    January 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Like that

    @ new wicca= Find the meaning and origin of what your claiming by that name before you start calling the One and Only living God false. And, remember to explain to Him that you needed more proof and evidence that he was real. and, that he didnt give you a chance once you were dead to be redeemed. Because God wishes that all humans be redeemed, but for those who aren't, you dont have to worry whether or not that fire is real. You will feel it.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
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