What’s Your Sign Now?

January 14, 2011

Horoscope aficionados awoke to disturbing news in the morning papers.  Due to wobbles of Earth's axis of rotation (an effect known to astronomers as "precession"), the calendar dates corresponding to the various Zodiac signs have shifted by about a month since they were set by the ancient Babylonians. The answer to the perennial, shabby pickup line "What's your sign?" may now surprise you.  Has your sign -- or your fortune -- changed overnight?

The Babylonians based the Zodiac on the dates corresponding to the times of the year that the sun is actually in each constellation's "house."  According to the Minnesota Planetarium Society's Parke Kunkle, the original Zodiac calendar the Babylonians intended is as follows:

Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16.
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11.
Pisces: March 11-April 18.
Aries: April 18-May 13.
Taurus: May 13-June 21.
Gemini: June 21-July 20.
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10.
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16.
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30.
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23.
Scorpio: Nov. 23-29.
Ophiuchus:* Nov. 29-Dec. 17.
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.

* Discarded because the Babylonians wanted 12 signs per year.

Enraged astrologers are now lining up to "debunk" the offending astronomers' calculations.  Now that's entertainment.

According to popular astrologer Susan Miller, the uproar caused by the Zodiac's correction is "ridiculous," but not for reasons you might expect.  "The constellations don't suggest what's coming up," she explained.  "It's the planets! The constellations are a measuring device."


#1 gray1 on Friday January 14, 2011 at 2:16pm

News we can really use!  Well, at least it’s worth mentioning should the “What’s your sign?” thing ever come up.  Thanks once again.

#2 nikki nolan (Guest) on Saturday January 15, 2011 at 8:56am

I recently received this monthly magazine “Pulse” from Raritan Medical Center in New Jersey and was shocked to find the whole back cover article with the following heading “Medical Center Expands Intergative Medicine Services”.
This so called “Integrative Medicine” includes Accupuntcure, Massage, Energy Medicine(W.I.S.E). Reflexology, Reiki,Tai Chi, Guided Imagery and mind-body techniques developed by Peggy Huddleton.
This “expert” Peggy Huddleton has published a book and a relaxation CD; and has some academic degree called MTS which I understand is “Master of Theological Studiies”.
Raritan Bay Medical Center might as well add Astrology and Voodoo to this list.

Here is the link to Raritan Medical Center ” Integrative Medicine” page:

#3 tim dugan (Guest) on Saturday January 15, 2011 at 1:40pm

[[“The constellations don’t suggest what’s coming up,” she explained.  “It’s the planets! The constellations are a measuring device.”]]

I’m no astronomer (or astrologer) but it seems to me that the planets have different periods of revolving around the sun, so the placement of the constellations in the earth sky tells essentially nothing about the relative placment of the planets.

#4 Philby on Saturday January 15, 2011 at 1:48pm

I was born when Sputnik was flying past Taurus and now sputnik is no more. So someone help me what star sign am I

#5 Robert Subiaga (Guest) on Saturday January 15, 2011 at 1:53pm

I keep bringing this up but ... the astrologers are basing their line of crap on PTOLEMAIC astronomy. Sure, they are using the “tropical zodiac” that’s fixed—because it was fixed by PTOLEMY.

You know. Epicycles (that can be made to fit any trajectory.) Circular orbits instead of elliptical. GEOCENTRISM.

Can we please spread the word? “Sure, your Sun sign hasn’t changed. If you believe the Sun revolves around the Earth…”

#6 richbh on Monday January 17, 2011 at 9:53am

Someone on Facebook asserted that the astrological divinations have been replaced (when, the poster did not say) by divinations based on the seasons. Apparently, then, the Zodiac has been usurped by the followers of Gaia. I find Paganism far more acceptable than, say, Christianity. I cannot speak to the other “great” religions.

#7 tim dugan (Guest) on Monday January 17, 2011 at 10:17am

[[I find Paganism far more acceptable than, say, Christianity]]

Hmm…to me, it seems like more of the same, superstitious mumbo jumbo, just like astrology.  Someone makes up stuff and claims it has meaning when really it is about as meaningful as mass produced fortune cookies.

But that’s just me, right?

#8 richbh on Monday January 17, 2011 at 10:33am

I find Paganism more acceptable because it is essentially an acknowledgement of our existence on this planet, a celebration and acknowledgement of how human existence is connected to the cycle of the seasons, to the ebb and flow of tides, to the rising and setting of the sun, to the cycle of the moon. No matter how much we humans may appreciate our minds and our technologies and our abilities, we must also fundamentally acknowledge and appreciate the foundation of our existence: The Planet Earth.
So, perhaps the rites are, as you say, superstitious mumbo jumbo, like astrology, but Paganism has deep meaning in our existence.
Further, I would not - although you may, as you wish - dismiss the 30,000-year-old oral history of Australia’s indigenous people as meaningless: I assert that something so essentially human as that history, something that’s been around that long - even if distorted - must be allowed its voice in the overall complexity of Humanism and the pursuit of our mission “to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.”

#9 Darcy Cowan on Monday January 17, 2011 at 4:56pm

As a skeptic I’m fortunate to land in the “Ophiuchus Zone”, thus the question of “What’s your sign” leads to a more in depth discussion than usual.

#10 freethinker61 on Monday January 17, 2011 at 10:16pm

I can’t take this anymore! Every media outlet keeps reporting this like it is real news! Arghhh! The stupidity!

#11 acitta on Saturday January 22, 2011 at 1:31pm

I don’t understand why this has been presented as if it was a startling new discovery.  I have known about the precession of the equinoxes for 30 or 40 years.  Certainly, astrologers are quite familiar with it.  As a skeptic, I hardly want to defend astrology, but they should be criticized for what they actually believe or practice, not what some people imagine they do.  Here is a link to a post that explains the difference between the “sidereal zodiac” and the “tropical zodiac”: http://freewillastrology.com/guest_astros.html

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