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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soundoff (1,485 Responses)
  1. Observer

    The easiest way to see that astrology is pure nonsense is to consider identical twins. In some cases they have similar personalities, but in many cases they don't.

    January 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scorpio doesn't care for a*

      Look, religion, astrology, supernatural, they wouldn't be what they are today without good reason. Most of these concepts have had some sort of proof or reason behind them

      January 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Josh

    It seems that the Ophiuchus debate is ongoing – the claim that the tropical zodiac signs are unaffected seems to be a conservative view, many purists seem to agree that the 13th zodiac sign "should" be included but then much explaining would need to be done to account for any "respectability" to the "science/art" when it was not included (source) – fun, conspiracy story for the pseudo science

    January 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Latunya Gail Williams


    January 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Prairieson

    Now THIS is news.
    Back to normal everyone...nothing to see here.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. hh33

    i can't believe people are more interested in their zodiac signs and not other important events happening right pathetic!!!

    January 14, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cameron

    Athiesm is foolish because it permits lying (lying is a sin, but they don't know that, allowing for further distance between a person and God), they continually struggle to represent the world without God in the equation (good luck), and, since 80% of the world believes in a religion of some sort, athiests are merely rejecting something the rest of the world knows to be true (in their own ways).

    And I don't care if I'm a Taurus or an Aries–i just hope someone irrationally got a tattoo because of it.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scorpio doesn't care for a*

      There's no proof of Astrology, I give you that, but there is also no proof of Christianity, and if God is real, He said he forgives all, so we are all on a one-way ticket to Heaven, believers or not. Make of that what you will.

      January 14, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Robert

    If my zodiac symbol has been changed to a vergo that is koll. and in 3000 years it will be leo, but for astrology not to take in the wobble of the earth is wrong, and all they after money and they do not want to take the time and work to get it right.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. David in Corpus

    For all you christians (lower case c intentional) out there who get all messed up in the head over us atheists, I give the following advice:
    Do not read the bible. I have read it several times (many sections are pretty much unbearable to read, very monotonous) and can tell you that reading the bible will turn a christian into an atheist quickly. Just read the whole thing sometime. You won't want to support Jehovah as your creator anymore, unless of course you like worshipping a demented sadist. Enjoy!! I am especially fond of Genesis, Leviticus, and Exodus, some really sick sh%t in those sections.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ted Jones

    let's all fight about religion over the internet! you guys are real cool.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Marina DelMar

    Why is it that I always guess someone's sign correctly, at least 75% of a time? I'm lucky at guessing, or is there a pattern of behavior that they exhibit.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr.Knowe

      Saying on the internet that you can correctly guess peoples astrological signs 75% of the time means very little-
      but I'll bite:
      what's my sign?

      January 14, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. CarrotOnAStick

    i like astrology. not because i base my daily routine on what my morning newspaper says; lord, all have to do is look at two different newspapers to confuse myself. what i most like about it is the whole feng shui (if i spelled that right) idea of the universe and all its parts having an effect on your development given your "starting" point. there's not really a science that deals with that on a quantum scale, but i imagine it might one day be the more we learn about particle physics. just like how alchemy is something of a predecessor to chemistry. til then i can't be one of these morons that calls astrology complete BS, because as misguided as it might be, it may come to have relevance decades or even centuries from now through scientific means. at which time i would hope they still called it astrology and not something else.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gumby

    my sign is *STOP* !! LOL

    January 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Samain

    Dunno if this zodiac update was a very good idea. Many end time prophecy talks about the rising of Ophiuchus and how it's a sign of the Apocalypse. Aren't articles and actions like this playing into peoples fears?

    January 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. lms

    Good gracious, I hope they're on top of how this anchor "explain[ing] the new astrological chart" has the science completely wrong! "The earth's position in relation to the sun"??? NO, NO, NO! It's the wobble of the earth's axis induced by the moon's pull on the equator.
    In case you didn't know, CNN dumped its entire science desk. So this is what you get.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dave

    Tropical zodiac or sidereal zodiac? Doesn't matter. Astrology is still a load of Taurus.

    January 14, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
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