Are zodiac signs real

Are zodiac signs real DEFAULT

NASA: We Didn't Change Your Zodiac Sign, Astrology Isn't Real

There are actually 13 astrological signs instead of 12, meaning that 86 percent of all people were actually born under a different sign. This is old news, but Capricorns, Sagittarii, and everyone in between flipped out last week and incorrectly blamed NASA. However, the space agency would like everyone to know that they didn’t. Actually. Change. Anything.

NASA’s reasoning? Astrology isn’t even real in the first place, so chill out, you superstitious dolts.

“Did you recently hear that NASA changed the zodiac signs? Nope, we definitely didn’t,” the agency posted Tuesday on its Tumblr, which feels like the appropriate medium.

“Here at NASA, we study astronomy, not astrology,” the post — which is a masterclass on shade — continues. “We didn’t change any zodiac signs, we just did the math.” NASA then proceeds to explain that the former is a science that intelligent people devote their lives to, and the later is hooey.

“Astrology is something else,” NASA says. “It’s not science. No one has shown that astrology can be used to predict the future or describe what people are like based on their birth dates.”

NASA goes on to explain what happened. Some 3, years ago, the ancient Babylonians divided the Zodiac into an even 12 pieces. Each “slice” was represented by a constellation that the sun would appear to pass through at differing points of the year as the Earth orbited around the sun.

The Babylonians, NASA says, cheated a bit. The sun didn’t actually pass through each constellation for a consistent, month-long timespan. It varied immensely. On top of that, the Babylonians knew there was a thirteenth constellation, Ophiuchus, but that wouldn’t have lined up with their calendar, so they just didn’t include it. Also, the sky has shifted because Earth’s axis has changed a bit over the course of 3, years.

To summarize, all NASA said it did was actually show what the Zodiac really looks like. It didn’t change Zodiac signs because, honestly, NASA doesn’t give a shit about whether you’re a Leo or a Virgo since astrology isn’t real.

But … you know, if it were real, here’s what sign you’d be under with the current sign Zodiac chart. NASA added the thirteenth sign, Ophiuchus, and actually noted the dates when the sun actually passes through each sign, rather than dividing them up evenly and arbitrarily. On its website, NASA explains how, since the axis of the Earth has tilted over the course of 3, years, the dates are slightly different than they were back then, since the path of the sun through the constellations has changed. It’s unlikely that there will be another axis tilt large enough to change the dates in our lifetimes, so the chart below is what you’re stuck with.

Capricorn: January 20 - February 16

Aquarius: February 16 - March 11

Pisces: March 11 - April 18

Aries: April 18 - May 13

Taurus: May 13 - June 21

Gemini: June July 20

Cancer: July 20 - August 10

Leo: August 10 - September 16

Virgo: September 16 - October 30

Libra: October 30 - November 23

Scorpio: November 23 - 29

Ophiuchus: November 29 - December 17

Sagittarius: December 17 - January 20


Is Astrology Real? Here’s What Science Says

Is astrology real? Reading horoscopes is a popular diversion, but is there any science to suggest it means anything?

Inspiration finds you if you’re willing to dedicate yourself to a cause. 

Problems may arise when you’re tempted by a familiar disruption and your willpower weakens. 

Something appearing meaningless may be a lesson to learn. 

As many as 70 million Americans read their horoscopes daily. Well, that’s at least according to the American Federation of Astrologers. According to a study done twenty years ago by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 25 percent of Americans believed that the positions of the stars and the planets affect our daily lives. In , the General Social Survey found that 34 percent of Americans surveyed consider astrology to be "very" or "sort of scientific" and also reported a decrease—from two-thirds to around one-half—in the fraction of people who consider astrology "not at all scientific."

Astrology is generally defined as the belief that astronomical phenomena, like the stars overhead when you were born or the fact that Mercury is in retrograde, have the power to influence the daily events in our lives and our personality traits. This is, of course, very different from the study of astronomy, which is the scientific study of celestial objects, space, and the physics of the universe. 

A specific aspect of astrology—the forecasting of a person’s future or the offering of advice on daily activities via horoscopes—is particularly growing in popularity. Magazines like The Cut reported an increase of  percent more hits on horoscope pages in than in

Clearly, lots of people are looking for ways to interpret the stars for advice. Astrology is founded on understanding the positions of the stars, which seems like a scientific enough pursuit in itself. But is there any science to back up whether astrology impacts our personality and our lives?

Here's the short Answer: No. None whatsoever.

But since I have you for five more minutes of this six-minute-or-so podcast to fill, let’s look at exactly how astrology has been tested. 

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Astrology fans, you’ve been reading the wrong star sign all this time

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray

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It’s official: the stars are not aligned for October In fact, they’ve shifted – which means your horoscope might not be what you think it is, apparently. On top of that, NASA has added a brand new zodiac sign into the mix. So, have the dates shifted on your star sign? Read on to find out…

Updated on 1 October As we enter a new month of the year (and embrace autumn in all its glory), avid astrology fans have once again turned to the stars for guidance.

And, according to astrologers, October is going to be – somewhat fittingly, given that this is the spookiest month of all – packed to the brim with cosmic tricks. In fact, we’re going to get a whopping six planetary retrogrades at the same time: Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

“There may be a rocky road ahead – but we can get through this intensity, team,” explains Lisa Stardust via Oprah Daily

“Be gentle on yourselves and kind to others. As always, lead with compassion, sensitivity, and care.” 

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Thanks to the ongoing Mercury retrograde (which ends on 18 October), astrologers also predict chaos, particularly with regards to our communication with loved ones; think sending an email to the wrong person, or accidentally ‘liking’ an ex’s Instagram post, or missing an important call. As such, we should take some time to reflect on which relationships from the past we’d like to bring into the future.

This ties in nicely (or not, as the case may be) to the fact that Venus is set to enter Sagittarius on 7 October, which may leave you feeling feel stuck, unsupported, and lovesick. 

“My advice?” says Stardust. “Don’t make any impulsive decisions that day.”

 “It is at this point that you should take a moment to see what’s happened in the last two weeks and check in with your intentions”

Thankfully, the full ‘blood’ moon on 20 October should set us right, as it represents completion and fulfilment after all of that emotional turmoil.

As moonologist and bestselling author Yasmin Boland explains: “This is the peak time of the lunar cycle, and it is at this point that you should take a moment to see what’s happened in the last two weeks and check in with your intentions.”

Sounds brilliant, right? And yet…

Well, astrology, on the surface, may be based on the position of the sun relative to certain constellations – and it may be influenced by the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars, too. However, is is absolutely not considered to be a ‘science’. Indeed, it’s been wholeheartedly rejected by the scientific community – with many pointing out that astrological predictions are too general, too unspecific to be subjected to scientific testing.

Despite this, there are many people who put great stock in what their horoscope says each morning. They carefully scan the pages of their morning newspaper, searching for their own zodiac sign, and drink in everything that the astrologer has written for them that day. Even after the thoroughly unpredictable events of the last 12 months!

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As reported on 24 July Even those of us who dismiss astrology as a load of absolute nonsense know which star sign we are. And we’ve probably read our horoscope (with a healthy dose of cynicism, of course) at least once. Or have we?

Because, as you’ve no doubt read already, it was recently revealed that everything we thought we knew about the zodiac was a lie. In fact, a massive 86% of us were actually born under a different constellation to our star sign, based on how the sky exists today… and it’s all to do with the “Earth’s wobble“.

NASA has added a brand-new 13th zodiac sign into the mix, too

Essentially, they reckon that the stars have shifted, we’ve been reading the wrong horoscope all this time, and there’s a new star sign – Ophiuchus – in the mix (more on that later).

However, astrologers have a word of warning to all those frantically casting the old zodiac aside.

Pauline Gerosa, the consultant astrologer behind Astrology Oracle, tells me: “Ophiuchus has always been one of the constellations that fall along the ecliptic. It just wasn’t selected by the ancient astrologers to be one of the 12 zodiac signs.”

When I ask her if NASA’s comments about shifting stars has any impact on the zodiac signs, Gerosa explains: “[The shift] is due to the precession of the equinoxes. The constellations have not shifted, the wobble of the earth’s axis creates the impression that they have. Eastern astrology (sidereal) reads the planets against the current view of the constellations. Western astrology (tropical) sticks with the unchanging positions and accounts for the apparent shift via the great ages (around 2, years in each sign). Hence the move from Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius.”

“It’s important to remember that astrology is NOT astronomy,” she adds. “Astronomy is a scientific concept based on 3D material reality. Astrology is a symbolic language, a philosophy, a multidimensional concept. They used to be seen as two sides of the same coin and hopefully they will be again.”

As reported in If Gerosa’s words haven’t stopped you from struggling to make sense of NASA’s bombshell, don’t despair: it’s all very simple when you break it down.

Essentially, the date that fixes our star sign corresponds to the position of the Sun relative to constellations of stars appearing behind the Sun on our birth date.

The position of the Sun as it’s perceived from the revolving Earth passes through the constellations that formed the zodiac - Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Zodiac signs were originally determined by which constellation the Sun was ‘in’ on the day we were born. But in the more than years since our zodiac system was invented, constellations have drifted and the sky has changed.

So while we might consider ourselves to be a well-balanced Libra, or a headstrong Aries, or a “total Gemini”, that is most likely not the case. On the other hand, all of those who feel as if they just don’t connect with their own horoscope (we’re thinking of you, Scorpios), then this could be very good news indeed.

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Even stranger, however, is the fact that NASA has added a brand-new 13th zodiac sign into the mix: Ophiuchus.

“The constellations are different sizes and shapes, so the Sun spends different lengths of time lined up with each one,” a spokesperson explained.

“The line from Earth through the Sun points to Virgo for 45 days, but it points to Scorpius for only 7 days. To make a tidy match with their month calendar, the Babylonians ignored the fact that the Sun actually moves through 13 constellations, not

“Then they assigned each of those 12 constellations equal amounts of time. Besides the 12 familiar constellations of the zodiac, the Sun is also aligned with Ophiuchus for about 18 days each year.”

The constellation, which comes from Greek words meaning “serpent bearing” is commonly represented by a man wrestling a snake.

Unsurprisingly, Ophiuchus shares many of the same characteristics as Sagittarius, and people with its sign are described as healers and light-bearers.

However, astrologers have a word of caution for all those assuming their star sign has changed.

Here are the correct dates for the star signs:

  • 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 – Nov 29
  • Ophiuchus: Nov 29 – Dec 17
  • Sagittarius: Dec 17 – Jan 20

The BBC previously speculated that ancient astrologers perhaps ignored Ophiuchus because they wanted to chart the degree path of the Sun in a mathematically pleasing way of 12 equal parts, each one of 30 degrees. Whatever the reason, the unfamiliar constellation represents a man wrestling a serpent, dividing the snake’s body in two parts.

As such, Ophiuchus is considered a healer of men, a doctor of medicine, or a scientist who seeks higher education and enlightenment.  He’s also an interpreter of dreams, favoured by his father and other authority figures, and expected to achieve a high position in life.

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If you’re still not sure that your personality fits your new star sign, of course, it doesn’t matter too much; after all, there’s nobody to stop you reading your old horoscope.

As NASA themselves explain, no one has shown that astrology can be used to predict the future or describe what people are like based only on their birth date.”

They add that the zodiac is “not science” and that it simply offers comfort in a similar manner to “reading fantasy stories”. 

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Images: Getty/Anastasia Dulgier/Unsplash/iStock

This article was originally published in , but has been updated throughout to ensure all information is correct.


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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Area of the sky divided into twelve signs

For the East Asian zodiac based on the Jovian orbital cycle, see Chinese zodiac. For other uses, see Zodiac (disambiguation).

The zodiac is a belt-shaped region of the sky that extends approximately 8° north or south (as measured in celestial latitude) of the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year. The paths of the Moon and visible planets are within the belt of the zodiac.[1]

In Western astrology, and formerly astronomy, the zodiac is divided into twelve signs, each occupying 30° of celestial longitude and roughly corresponding to the star constellations: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.[2][3]

These astrological signs form a celestial coordinate system, or more specifically an ecliptic coordinate system, which takes the ecliptic as the origin of latitude and the Sun's position at vernal equinox as the origin of longitude.[4]


The English word zodiac derives from zōdiacus,[5] the Latinized form of the Ancient Greekzōidiakòs kýklos (ζῳδιακόςκύκλος),[citation needed] meaning "cycle or circle of little animals". Zōidion (ζῴδιον) is the diminutive of zōion (ζῷον, "animal"). The name reflects the prominence of animals (and mythological hybrids) among the twelve signs.


The zodiac was in use by the Roman era, based on concepts inherited by Hellenistic astronomy from Babylonian astronomy of the Chaldean period (mid-1st millennium BC), which, in turn, derived from an earlier system of lists of stars along the ecliptic.[6] The construction of the zodiac is described in Ptolemy's comprehensive 2nd century AD work, the Almagest.[7]

Although the zodiac remains the basis of the ecliptic coordinate system in use in astronomy besides the equatorial one,[8][better&#;source&#;needed] the term and the names of the twelve signs are today mostly associated with horoscopic astrology.[9] The term "zodiac" may also refer to the region of the celestial sphere encompassing the paths of the planets corresponding to the band of about 8 arc degrees above and below the ecliptic. The zodiac of a given planet is the band that contains the path of that particular body; e.g., the "zodiac of the Moon" is the band of 5° above and below the ecliptic. By extension, the "zodiac of the comets" may refer to the band encompassing most short-period comets.[10]


Further information: Former constellation

Early history[edit]

As early as the 14th century BC a complete list of the 36 Egyptian decans was placed among the hieroglyphs adorning the tomb of Seti I; they figured again in the temple of Ramesses II, and characterize every Egyptian astrological monument. Both the famous zodiacs of Dendera display their symbols, unmistakably identified by Karl Richard Lepsius.[11]

A 6th century mosaic zodiac wheel in a synagogue, incorporating Greek-Byzantine elements, Beit Alpha, Israel
Zodiac circle with planets, c – NLW MS C

Further information: Babylonian star catalogues and MUL.APIN

The division of the ecliptic into the zodiacal signs originates in Babylonian astronomy during the first half of the 1st millennium BC. The zodiac draws on stars in earlier Babylonian star catalogues, such as the MUL.APIN catalogue, which was compiled around BC. Some constellations can be traced even further back, to Bronze Age (First Babylonian dynasty) sources, including Gemini "The Twins," from MAŠ.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL "The Great Twins," and Cancer "The Crab," from AL.LUL "The Crayfish," among others.[citation needed]

Around the end of the 5th century BC, Babylonian astronomers divided the ecliptic into 12 equal "signs", by analogy to 12 schematic months of 30 days each. Each sign contained 30° of celestial longitude, thus creating the first known celestial coordinate system. According to calculations by modern astrophysics, the zodiac was introduced between and BC and probably within a very few years of BC.[12] Unlike modern astrologers, who place the beginning of the sign of Aries at the place of the Sun at the vernal equinox, Babylonian astronomers fixed the zodiac in relation to stars, placing the beginning of Cancer at the "Rear Twin Star" (β Geminorum) and the beginning of Aquarius at the "Rear Star of the Goat-Fish" (δ Capricorni).[13]

Due to the precession of the equinoxes, the time of year the Sun is in a given constellation has changed since Babylonian times, the point of vernal equinox has moved from Aries into Pisces.[14]

Because the division was made into equal arcs, 30° each, they constituted an ideal system of reference for making predictions about a planet's longitude. However, Babylonian techniques of observational measurements were in a rudimentary stage of evolution.[15] They measured the position of a planet in reference to a set of "normal stars" close to the ecliptic (±9° of latitude) as observational reference points to help positioning a planet within this ecliptic coordinate system.[16]

In Babylonian astronomical diaries, a planet position was generally given with respect to a zodiacal sign alone, less often in specific degrees within a sign.[17] When the degrees of longitude were given, they were expressed with reference to the 30° of the zodiacal sign, i.e., not with a reference to the continuous ° ecliptic.[17] In astronomical ephemerides, the positions of significant astronomical phenomena were computed in sexagesimal fractions of a degree (equivalent to minutes and seconds of arc).[18] For daily ephemerides, the daily positions of a planet were not as important as the astrologically significant dates when the planet crossed from one zodiacal sign to the next.[17]

Hebrew astronomy and astrology[edit]

Knowledge of the Babylonian zodiac is reflected in the Hebrew Bible; E. W. Bullinger interpreted the creatures appearing in the book of Ezekiel as the middle signs of the four quarters of the Zodiac,[19][20] with the Lion as Leo, the Bull is Taurus, the Man representing Aquarius and the Eagle representing Scorpio.[21] Some authors have linked the twelve tribes of Israel with the same signs or the lunar Hebrew calendar having twelve lunar months in a lunar year. Martin and others have argued that the arrangement of the tribes around the Tabernacle (reported in the Book of Numbers) corresponded to the order of the Zodiac, with Judah, Reuben, Ephraim, and Dan representing the middle signs of Leo, Aquarius, Taurus, and Scorpio, respectively. Such connections were taken up by Thomas Mann, who in his novel Joseph and His Brothers attributes characteristics of a sign of the zodiac to each tribe in his rendition of the Blessing of Jacob.[citation needed]

Hellenistic and Roman era[edit]

The Babylonian star catalogs entered Greek astronomy in the 4th century BC, via Eudoxus of Cnidus.[22][23] Babylonia or Chaldea in the Hellenistic world came to be so identified with astrology that "Chaldean wisdom" became among Greeks and Romans the synonym of divination through the planets and stars. Hellenistic astrology derived in part from Babylonian and Egyptian astrology.[24]Horoscopic astrology first appeared in Ptolemaic Egypt ( BC–30 BC). The Dendera zodiac, a relief dating to ca. 50 BC, is the first known depiction of the classical zodiac of twelve signs.

The earliest extant Greek text using the Babylonian division of the zodiac into 12 signs of 30 equal degrees each is the Anaphoricus of Hypsicles of Alexandria (fl.&#;&#;BC).[25] Particularly important in the development of Western horoscopic astrology was the astrologer and astronomer Ptolemy, whose work Tetrabiblos laid the basis of the Western astrological tradition.[26] Under the Greeks, and Ptolemy in particular, the planets, Houses, and signs of the zodiac were rationalized and their function set down in a way that has changed little to the present day.[27] Ptolemy lived in the 2nd century AD, three centuries after the discovery of the precession of the equinoxes by Hipparchus around BC. Hipparchus's lost work on precession never circulated very widely until it was brought to prominence by Ptolemy,[28] and there are few explanations of precession outside the work of Ptolemy until late Antiquity, by which time Ptolemy's influence was widely established.[29] Ptolemy clearly explained the theoretical basis of the western zodiac as being a tropical coordinate system, by which the zodiac is aligned to the equinoxes and solstices, rather than the visible constellations that bear the same names as the zodiac signs.[30]

Hindu zodiac[edit]

According to mathematician-historian Montucla, the Hindu zodiac was adopted from the Greek zodiac through communications between ancient India and the Greek empire of Bactria.[31] The Hindu zodiac uses the sidereal coordinate system, which makes reference to the fixed stars. The tropical zodiac (of Mesopotamian origin) is divided by the intersections of the ecliptic and equator, which shifts in relation to the backdrop of fixed stars at a rate of 1° every 72 years, creating the phenomenon known as precession of the equinoxes. The Hindu zodiac, being sidereal, does not maintain this seasonal alignment, but there are still similarities between the two systems. The Hindu zodiac signs and corresponding Greek signs sound very different, being in Sanskrit and Greek respectively, but their symbols are nearly identical.[32] For example, dhanu means "bow" and corresponds to Sagittarius, the "archer", and kumbha means "water-pitcher" and corresponds to Aquarius, the "water-carrier".[33]

Middle Ages[edit]

Angers Cathedral South Rose Window of Christ (centre) with elders (bottom half) and Zodiac (top half). Medieval stained glass by Andre Robin after the fire of

During the Abbasid era, Greek reference books were systematically translated into Arabic, then Islamic astronomers did their own observations, correcting Ptolemy's Almagest. One such book was Al-Sufi's Book Of Fixed Stars (), which has pictorial depictions of 48 constellations. The book was divided into three sections: constellations of the Zodiac, constellations north of the zodiac, and southern constellations. When Al-Sufi's book, and other works, were translated in the 11th century, there were mistakes made in the translations. As a result, some stars ended up with the names of the constellation they belong to (e.g. Hamal in Aries).

The High Middle Ages saw a revival of interest in Greco-Roman magic, first in Kabbalism and later continued in Renaissance magic. This included magical uses of the zodiac, as found, e.g., in the Sefer Raziel HaMalakh.

The zodiac is found in medieval stained glass as at Angers Cathedral, where the master glassmaker, André Robin, made the ornate rosettes for the North and South transepts after the fire there in [34]

Mughal kingJahangir issued an attractive series of coins in gold and silver depicting the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

Medieval Islamic era[edit]

Circular brass time measurement device with engraved Arabic toponyms and zodiac symbols.
Ottoman-style sundial with folded gnomon and compass. The sundial features engraved toponyms in Arabic and zodiac symbols. Debbane Palacemuseum, Lebanon

Astrology emerged in the 8th century CE as a distinct discipline in Islam,[35]:&#;64&#; with mix of Indian, Hellenistic Iranian and other traditions blended with Greek and Islamic astronomical knowledge, for example Ptolemy's work and Al-Sufi's Book of Fixed Stars. A knowledge of the influence that the stars have on events on the earth was extremely important in Islamic civilisation. As a rule, it was believed that the signs of the zodiac and the planets control the destiny not only of people but also of nation; The Zodiac has the ability to determining physical characteristics as well ones intelligence and personal traits.[36]

The practice of astrology at this time could easily be divided into 4 broader categories: Genethlialogy, Catarchic Astrology, Interrogational Astrology and General Astrology.[35]:&#;65&#; However the most common type of astrology was Genethlialogy, which examined all aspects of a person's life in relation to the planetary positions at their birth; more commonly known as our horoscope.[35]:&#;65&#;

Astrology services were offered widely across the empire, mainly in bazaars, where people could pay for a reading.[37] Astrology was valued in the royal courts, for example, the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mansur used astrology to determine the best date for founding the new capital of Baghdad.[35]:&#;66&#; However, whilst horoscopes were generally widely accepted by society, many scholars condemned the use of astrology and divination; linking it to occult influences.[38] Many theologians and scholars thought that it went against the tenets of Islam; as only God should be able to determine events rather than astrologers looking at the positions of the planets.[37]

In order to calculate someone's horoscope, an astrologer would use 3 tools: an astrolabe, ephemeris and a takht. First, the astrologer would use an astrolabe to find the position of the sun, align the rule with the persons time of birth and then align the rete to establish the altitude of the sun on that date.[39] Next, the astrologer would use an Ephemeris, a table denoting the mean position of the planets and stars within the sky at any given time.[40] Finally, the astrologer would add the altitude of the sun taken from the astrolabe, with the mean position of the planets on the person's birthday, and add them together on the takht (also known as the dustboard).[40] The dust board was merely a tablet covered in sand; on which the calculations could be made and erased easily.[37] Once this had been calculated, the astrologer was then able to interpret the horoscope. Most of these interpretations were based on the zodiac in literature. For example, there were several manuals on how to interpret each zodiac sign, the treatise relating to each individual sign and what the characteristics of these zodiacs were.[37]

Early modern[edit]

A volvella of the moon. A volvella is a moveable device for working out the position of the Sun and Moon in the zodiac, 15th century

An example of the use of signs as astronomical coordinates may be found in the Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris for the year . The "Longitude of the Sun" columns show the sign (represented as a digit from 0 to and including 11), degrees from 0 to 29, minutes, and seconds.[41]

The zodiac symbols are Early Modern simplifications of conventional pictorial representations of the signs, attested since Hellenistic times.[citation needed]

Twelve signs[edit]

Main article: Astrological sign

What follows is a list of the signs of the modern zodiac (with the ecliptic longitudes of their first points), where 0° Aries is understood as the vernal equinox, with their Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, and Babylonian names. But note that the Sanskrit and the name equivalents (after c BC) denote the constellations only, not the tropical zodiac signs. The "English translation" isn't usually used by English speakers. Latin names are standard English usage.

The following table compares the Gregorian dates on which the Sun enters a sign in the Ptolemaic tropical zodiac, and a sign in the sidereal system proposed by Cyril Fagan.

The zodiac signs in a 16th-century woodcut

The beginning of Aries is defined as the moment of vernal equinox, and all other dates shift accordingly.[46] The precise Gregorian times and dates vary slightly from year to year as the Gregorian calendar shifts relative to the tropical year. These variations remain within less than two days' difference in the recent past and the near-future, vernal equinox in UT always falling either on 20 or 21 March in the period of to , falling on 19 March in the last time and in the next. Except for and , the vernal equinox has started on 20 March since , and is projected to until [47]

Depiction of the southern hemisphere constellations in an 11th-century French manuscript (from the Limogesarea, probably in the milieu of Adémar de Chabannes, fl. &#;)

As each sign takes up exactly 30 degrees of the zodiac, the average duration of the solar stay in each sign is one twelfth of a sidereal year, or standard days. Due to Earth's slight orbital eccentricity, the duration of each sign varies appreciably, between about days for Sagittarius and about days for Pisces (see equation of time). In addition, because the Earth's axis is at an angle, some signs take longer to rise than others, and the farther away from the equator the observer is situated, the greater the difference. Thus, signs are spoken of as "long" or "short" ascension.[52]


Equirectangular plot of declination vs right ascension of the modern constellations with a dotted line denoting the ecliptic. Constellations are colour-coded by family and year established. (detailed&#;view)
18th c. star map illustrating how the feet of Ophiuchuscross the ecliptic.

In tropical astrology, the zodiacal signs are distinct from the constellations associated with them, not only because of their drifting apart due to the precession of equinoxes but because the physical constellations take up varying widths of the ecliptic, so the Sun is not in each constellation for the same amount of time.[53]:&#;25&#; Thus, Virgo takes up 5 times as much ecliptic longitude as Scorpius. The zodiacal signs are an abstraction from the physical constellations, and each represent exactly one 12th of the full circle, but the time spent by the Sun in each sign varies slightly due to the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit.

Sidereal astrology remedies this by assigning the zodiac sign approximately to the corresponding constellation. This alignment needs re calibrating every so often to keep the alignment in place.

The ecliptic intersects with 13 constellations of Ptolemy's Almagest,[54] as well as of the more precisely delineated IAU designated constellations. In addition to the twelve constellations after which the twelve zodiac signs are named, the ecliptic intersects Ophiuchus,[55] the bottom part of which interjects between Scorpio and Sagittarius. Occasionally this difference between the astronomical constellations and the astrological signs is mistakenly reported in the popular press as a "change" to the list of traditional signs by some astronomical body like the IAU, NASA, or the Royal Astronomical Society. This happened in a report of the BBC Nine O'Clock News and various reports in and [56][57][58]

Some "parazodiacal" constellations are touched by the paths of the planets, leading to counts of up to 25 "constellations of the zodiac".[59] The ancient Babylonian MUL.APIN catalog lists Orion, Perseus, Auriga, and Andromeda. Modern astronomers have noted that planets pass through Crater, Sextans, Cetus, Pegasus, Corvus, Hydra, and Scutum; with Venus very rarely passing through Aquila, Canis Minor, Auriga, and Serpens.[59]

Astrophotos of the twelve zodiac constellations

Some other constellations are mythologically associated with the zodiacal ones: Piscis Austrinus, The Southern Fish, is attached to Aquarius. In classical maps, it swallows the stream poured out of Aquarius' pitcher, but perhaps it formerly just swam in it. Aquila, The Eagle, was possibly associated with the zodiac by virtue of its main star, Altair.[citation needed]Hydra in the Early Bronze Age marked the celestial equator and was associated with Leo, which is shown standing on the serpent on the Dendera zodiac.[citation needed]Corvus is the Crow or Raven mysteriously perched on the tail of Hydra.

Precession of the equinoxes[edit]

Further information: Axial precession, Epoch (astronomy), Sidereal and tropical astrology, Astrological age, and Ayanamsa

Path taken by the point of the March equinoxalong the ecliptic over the past 6, years

The zodiac system was developed in Babylonia, some 2, years ago, during the "Age of Aries".[61] At the time, it is assumed, the precession of the equinoxes was unknown. Contemporary use of the coordinate system is presented with the choice of interpreting the system either as sidereal, with the signs fixed to the stellar background, or as tropical, with the signs fixed to the point (vector of the Sun) at the March equinox.[62]

Western astrology takes the tropical approach, whereas Hindu astrology takes the sidereal one. This results in the originally unified zodiacal coordinate system drifting apart gradually, with a clockwise (westward) precession of degrees per century.

For the tropical zodiac used in Western astronomy and astrology, this means that the tropical sign of Aries currently lies somewhere within the constellation Pisces ("Age of Pisces").

The sidereal coordinate system takes into account the ayanamsa, ayan meaning transit or movement, and amsa meaning small part, i.e. movement of equinoxes in small parts. It is unclear when Indians became aware of the precession of the equinoxes, but Bhaskara 2's 12th-century treatise Siddhanta Shiromani gives equations for measurement of precession of equinoxes, and says his equations are based on some lost equations of Suryasiddhanta plus the equation of Munjaala.

The discovery of precession is attributed to Hipparchus around BC. Ptolemy quotes from Hipparchus' now lost work entitled "On the Displacement of the Solstitial and Equinoctial Points" in the seventh book of his 2nd century astronomical text, Almagest, where he describes the phenomenon of precession and estimates its value.[28] Ptolemy clarified that the convention of Greek mathematical astronomy was to commence the zodiac from the point of the vernal equinox and to always refer to this point as "the first degree" of Aries.[63] This is known as the "tropical zodiac" (from the Greek word trópos, turn)[64] because its starting point revolves through the circle of background constellations over time.

The principle of the vernal point acting as the first degree of the zodiac for Greek astronomers is described in the 1st century BC astronomical text of Geminus of Rhodes. Geminus explains that Greek astronomers of his era associate the first degrees of the zodiac signs with the two solstices and the two equinoxes, in contrast to the older Chaldean (Babylonian) system, which placed these points within the zodiac signs.[63] This illustrates that Ptolemy merely clarified the convention of Greek astronomers and did not originate the principle of the tropical zodiac, as is sometimes assumed.

Ptolemy demonstrates that the principle of the tropical zodiac was well known to his predecessors within his astrological text, the Tetrabiblos, where he explains why it would be an error to associate the regularly spaced signs of the seasonally aligned zodiac with the irregular boundaries of the visible constellations:

The beginnings of the signs, and likewise those of the terms, are to be taken from the equinoctial and tropical points. This rule is not only clearly stated by writers on the subject, but is especially evident by the demonstration constantly afforded, that their natures, influences and familiarities have no other origin than from the tropics and equinoxes, as has been already plainly shown. And, if other beginnings were allowed, it would either be necessary to exclude the natures of the signs from the theory of prognostication, or impossible to avoid error in then retaining and making use of them; as the regularity of their spaces and distances, upon which their influence depends, would then be invaded and broken in upon.[30]

In modern astronomy[edit]

Astronomically, the zodiac defines a belt of space extending 8°[65] or 9° in celestial latitude to the north and south of the ecliptic, within which the orbits of the Moon and the principal planets remain.[66] It is a feature of the ecliptic coordinate system – a celestial coordinate system centered upon the ecliptic, (the plane of the Earth's orbit and the Sun's apparent path), by which celestial longitude is measured in degrees east of the vernal equinox (the ascending intersection of the ecliptic and equator).[67] The zodiac is narrow in angular terms because most of the Sun's planets have orbits that have only a slight inclination to the orbital plane of the Earth.[68] Stars within the zodiac are subject to occultations by the Moon and other solar system bodies. These events can be useful, for example, to estimate the cross-sectional dimensions of a minor planet, or check a star for a close companion.[69]

The Sun's placement upon the vernal equinox, which occurs annually around 21 March, defines the starting point for measurement, the first degree of which is historically known as the "first point of Aries". The first 30° along the ecliptic is nominally designated as the zodiac sign Aries, which no longer falls within the proximity of the constellation Aries since the effect of precession is to move the vernal point through the backdrop of visible constellations (it is currently located near the end of the constellation Pisces, having been within that constellation since the 2nd century AD).[70] The subsequent 30° of the ecliptic is nominally designated the zodiac sign Taurus, and so on through the twelve signs of the zodiac so that each occupies 1/12th (30°) of the zodiac's great circle. Zodiac signs have never been used to determine the boundaries of astronomical constellations that lie in the vicinity of the zodiac, which are, and always have been, irregular in their size and shape.[66]

The convention of measuring celestial longitude within individual signs was still being used in the midth century,[71] but modern astronomy now numbers degrees of celestial longitude continuously from 0° to °, rather than 0° to 30° within each sign.[72] This coordinate system is primary used by astronomers for observations of solar system objects.[73]

The use of the zodiac as a means to determine astronomical measurement remained the main method for defining celestial positions by Western astronomers until the Renaissance, at which time preference moved to the equatorial coordinate system, which measures astronomical positions by right ascension and declination rather than the ecliptic-based definitions of celestial longitude and celestial latitude.[70]

The word "zodiac" is used in reference to the zodiacal cloud of dust grains that move among the planets, and the zodiacal light that originates from their scattering of sunlight.[74]

Unicode characters[edit]

In Unicode, the symbols of zodiac signs are encoded in block "Miscellaneous Symbols":[48]

  1. U+ &#x;ARIES (HTML )
  2. U+ &#x;TAURUS (HTML )
  5. U+C LEO (HTML )
  6. U+D VIRGO (HTML )
  7. U+E LIBRA (HTML )
  10. U+ &#x;CAPRICORN (HTML )
  11. U+ &#x;AQUARIUS (HTML )
  12. U+ &#x;PISCES (HTML )

There is also a character defined Ophiuchus: U+26CE ⛎OPHIUCHUS (HTML )

See also[edit]


  1. ^"zodiac". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 September
  2. ^Because the signs are each 30° in longitude but constellations have irregular shapes, and because of precession, they do not correspond exactly to the boundaries of the constellations after which they are named.
  3. ^Noble, William (), "Papers communicated to the Association. The Signs of the Zodiac.", Journal of the British Astronomical Association, 12: –, BibcodeJBAAN
  4. ^Leadbetter, Charles (), A Compleat System of Astronomy, J. Wilcox, London, p.&#;94; numerous examples of this notation appear throughout the book.
  5. ^Skeat, Walter William (). A Concise Etymological Dictionary of the English Language. Clarendon Press. p.&#;
  6. ^See MUL.APIN. See also Lankford, John; Rothenberg, Marc (). History of Astronomy: An Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  7. ^Ptolemy, Claudius (). The Almagest. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN&#;. Translated and annotated by G. J. Toomer; with a foreword by Owen Gingerich.
  8. ^Shapiro, Lee T. "Constellations in the zodiac." NASA. 27 April
  9. ^B. L. van der Waerden, "History of the zodiac", Archiv für Orientforschung16 () –
  10. ^OED, citing J. Harris, Lexicon Technicum (): "Zodiack of the Comets, Cassini hath observed a certain Tract [] within whose Bounds [] he hath found most Comets [] to keep."
  11. ^&#;One or more of the preceding sentences&#;incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain:&#;Clerke, Agnes Mary (). "Zodiac". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 28 (11th&#;ed.). Cambridge University Press. p.&#;
  12. ^Britton, John P. (), "Studies in Babylonian lunar theory: part III. The introduction of the uniform zodiac", Archive for History of Exact Sciences, 64 (6): –, doi/SZ, JSTOR&#;, S2CID&#;,
  13. ^Steele, John M. () [], A Brief Introduction to Astronomy in the Middle East (electronic&#;ed.), London: Saqi, ISBN&#;
  14. ^Plait, Phil (26 September ), "No, NASA hasn't changed the zodiac signs or added a new one", Bad Astronomy
  15. ^Sachs (), p.
  16. ^Aaboe, Asger H. (), Episodes from the Early History of Astronomy, New York: Springer, pp.&#;37–38, ISBN&#;
  17. ^ abcRochberg, Francesca (), Babylonian Horoscopes, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 88, American Philosophical Society, pp.&#;i–, doi/, JSTOR&#;
  18. ^Aaboe, Asger H. (), Episodes from the Early History of Astronomy, New York: Springer, pp.&#;41–45, ISBN&#;
  19. ^E.W. Bullinger, The Witness of the Stars
  20. ^D. James Kennedy, The Real Meaning of the Zodiac.
  21. ^Richard Hinckley Allen, Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning, Vol. 1 (New York: Dover Publications, , p. ) argued for Scorpio having previously been called Eagle. for Scorpio.
  22. ^Rogers, John H. "Origins of the ancient constellations: I. The Mesopotamian traditions." Journal of the British Astronomical Assoc. (): 9– Astronomical Data Service.
  23. ^Rogers, John H. "Origins of the ancient constellations: II. The Mesopotamian traditions." Journal of the British Astronomical Assoc. (): 79– Astronomical Data Service.
  24. ^Powell, Robert, Influence of Babylonian Astronomy on the Subsequent Defining of the Zodiac (), PhD thesis, summarized by anonymous editor, Archived 21 May at the Wayback Machine.
  25. ^Montelle, Clemency (), "The Anaphoricus of Hypsicles of Alexandria", in Steele, John M. (ed.), The Circulation of Astronomical Knowledge in the Ancient World, Time, Astronomy, and Calendars: Texts and Studies, 6, Leiden: Brill, pp.&#;–, ISBN&#;
  26. ^Saliba, George, A History of Arabic Astronomy: Planetary Theories During the Golden Age of Islam. New York: New York University Press. ISBN&#; Page
  27. ^Derek and Julia Parker, Ibid, p16,
  28. ^ abGraßhoff, Gerd (). The History of Ptolemy's Star Catalogue. Springer. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  29. ^Evans, James; Berggren, J. Lennart (). Geminos's Introduction to the Phenomena. Princeton University Press. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  30. ^ abAshmand, J. M. Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos. Astrology Classics. p.&#;37 (I.XXV).
  31. ^James Mill (). The History of British India. Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy. p.&#;
  32. ^Schmidt, Robert H. "The Relation of Hellenistic to Indian Astrology". Project Hindsight. Retrieved 4 July
  33. ^Dalal, Roshen (). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books India. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  34. ^King, David. 'Angers Cathedral’, (book review of Karine Boulanger's book, Les Vitraux de la Cathédrale d’Angers, the 11th volume of the Corpus Vitrearum series from France), Vitemus: the only on-line magazine devoted to medieval stained glass, Issue 48, February , retrieved 17 December
  35. ^ abcdAyduz, Salim (). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Science, and Technology in Islam. Oxford University Press.
  36. ^Andalusi, Salem (). Science in the medical world: 'Book of the categories of nations. Austin: University of Texas Press. p.&#;XXV.
  37. ^ abcdSardar, Marika. "Astronomy and Astrology in the Medieval Islamic World". Met Museum.
  38. ^Varisco, Daniel Martin (). Selin, Helaine (ed.). Astronomy Across Cultures: The History of Non-Western Astrology. Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  39. ^WInterburn, Emily (August ). "Using an Astrolabe"(PDF). Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation: 7.[dead link]
  40. ^ abSaliba, George (). "The Role of the Astrologer in Medieval Islamic Society". Bulletin d'études orientales. 44: JSTOR&#;
  41. ^Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris for the year . London: Board of Longitude,
  42. ^MUL.APIN; Peter Whitfield, History of Astrology (); W. Muss-Arnolt, The Names of the Assyro-Babylonian Months and Their Regents, Journal of Biblical Literature ().
  43. ^"ccpo/qpn/Agru[1]".
  44. ^Alternative form: ΣκορπίωνSkorpiōn. Later form (with synizesis): Σκορπιός.
  45. ^American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 3rd ed., s.v. "Pisces."
  46. ^""Why is the vernal equinox called the "First Point of Aries" when the Sun is actually in Pisces on this date?" | Planetarium | University of Southern Maine". Retrieved 9 February
  47. ^See Jean Meeus, Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon, and Planets, published by Willmann-Bell, Inc., Richmond, VirginiaArchived 9 April at the Wayback Machine. The date in other time zones may vary.
  48. ^ ab"Zodiacal symbols in Unicode block Miscellaneous Symbols"(PDF). The Unicode Standard.
  49. ^Powell, Robert (). History of the Zodiac. Sophia Academic Press. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  50. ^Dates are for a typical year; actual dates may vary by a day or so from year to year.
  51. ^Not in use in either astronomy or mainstream astrology, based on Cyril Fagan, Zodiacs Old and New ().
  52. ^Julia Parker "The Astrologer's Handbook", pp 10, Alva Press, NJ,
  53. ^James, Edward W. (). Patrick Grim (ed.). Philosophy of science and the occult. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN&#;.
  54. ^Peters, Christian Heinrich Friedrich and Edward Ball Knobel. Ptolemy's Catalogue of Stars: a revision of the AlmagestArchived 29 August at the Wayback Machine. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Ptolemy () [2nd cent.]. "VII.5". In R. Catesby Taliaferro (ed.). Almagest. p.&#; Ptolemy refers to the constellation as Septentarius "the serpent holder".
  55. ^Tatum, Jeremy B. (June ). "The Signs and Constellations of the Zodiac". Journal of the Royal Society of Canada. (3): BibcodeJRASCT.
  56. ^Kollerstrom, N. (October ). "Ophiuchus and the media". The Observatory. KNUDSEN; OBS. : – BibcodeObsK.
  57. ^The notion received further international media attention in January , when it was reported that astronomer Parke Kunkle, a board-member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, had suggested that Ophiuchus was the zodiac's "13th sign". He later issued a statement to say he had not reported that the zodiac ought to include 13 signs instead of 12, but was only mentioning that there were 13 constellations; reported in Mad Astronomy: Why did your zodiac sign change? 13 January
  58. ^Plait, Phil (26 September ). "No, NASA Didn't Change Your Astrological Sign".
  59. ^ abMosley, John (). "The Real, Real Constellations of the Zodiac". International Planetarium Society. Retrieved 21 March
  60. ^ abThe Real Constellations of the Zodiac. Lee T. Shapiro, director of Morehead Planetarium University of North Carolina (Spring )
  61. ^Sachs, Abraham (), "A Classification of the Babylonian Astronomical Tablets of the Seleucid Period", Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp.&#;–
  62. ^Rochberg, Francesca (), "Babylonian Horoscopes", American Philosophical Society, New Series, Vol. 88, No. 1, pp i
  63. ^ abEvans, James; Berggren, J. Lennart (). Geminos's Introduction to the Phenomena. Princeton University Press. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  64. ^"tropo-". Random House, Inc. Retrieved 21 May
  65. ^Holmes, Charles Nevers (November ). "The Zodiac". Popular Astronomy. 22: – BibcodePAH.
  66. ^ abEncyclopædia Britannica. "Zodiac". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 7 May
  67. ^Encyclopædia Britannica. "Ecliptic". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 7 May
  68. ^"Zodiac". Cosmos. Swinburne University of Technology. Retrieved 31 May
  69. ^"International Occultation Timing Association". 18 December Retrieved 6 March
  70. ^ abEncyclopædia Britannica. "Astronomical map". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 7 May
  71. ^G. Rubie (). The British Celestial Atlas: Being a Complete Guide to the Attainment of a Practical Knowledge of the Heavenly Bodies. Baldwin & Cradock. p.&#;
  72. ^The Astronomical Almanac for the Year , Washington D. C.: U.S. Government Publishing Office, October , pp.&#;C6–C21, ISBN&#;
  73. ^Clark, Alan T.; et&#;al. (). Observing Projects Using Starry Night Enthusiast (eighth&#;ed.). W. H. Freeman. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  74. ^Licquia, Timothy C.; Newman, Jeffrey A.; Brinchmann, Jarle (August ). "Unveiling the Milky Way: A New Technique for Determining the Optical Color and Luminosity of Our Galaxy". The Astrophysical Journal. (1): arXiv BibcodeApJL. doi/X//1/ S2CID&#;

External links[edit]


Zodiac signs real are

In an age of birth chart gifts at baby showers, a non-trivial portion of the population checks Costar as much as the weather application, and Cosmopolitan dedicates nine full pages of its magazine to the zodiac. When I was looking to fill a room, one potential subletter only asked one question of me: What are your big three? Because horoscopes occupy so much attention, marketers seize opportunities to align astrology with inventory. 

Amazon Prime’s Insider newsletter sends monthly shopping horoscopes. A Zillow email’s subject line once read “5 homes a Scorpio would love,” and featured a moody Victorian with a “porch to process feelings.” Last month, Subaru assigned many of their car models to each astrological sign. HBO Max introduced a quiz promising “cosmic streaming and personalized watchlist curated by the stars.” ThreadUP came out with “Top Brands for Every Sign” and Venmo partnered with astrology app Sanctuary to release “The signs as the Venmo Credit Card.” Last week, Philly Cream Cheese released “The signs as Philly products,” assigning various cream cheese to star signs. I, a Sagittarius, am French onion cream cheese dip.

Buying overpriced athleisure is, apparently, about pursuing cosmic wellness. Outdoor Voices assigns a Zodiac sign to its products, describing its “Doing Things Bra” as “Sagittarius/Capricorn cusp (Ready for anything / The GOAT).” 

Brands have calculated (with about as much scientific rigor as a Buzzfeed quiz) what each sign should buy. Spending, according to the brands, is written in the stars. Interestingly, the stars always seem to want us to spend. What planet should we blame for lame Brand Twitter? 

Sometimes the stars expect a lot from us, like joining the military. If a significant overlap exists between military prospects and zodiac enthusiasts, the army is targeting it. In June, the official GoArmy Instagram page posted a video captioned “Wondering what your Zodiac sign says about the kind of Soldier you could be in the Army?” Many of the comments were simply “no.” Others said “hello fellow youth vibes” and “my zodiac sign says I don’t support imperial wars for oil.”  I clicked on a slide assigning Capricorn to human intelligence collectors and read about how the last earth sign can go “to great lengths to successfully analyze and understand our enemies.” Intense Army interrogation — total Capricorn behavior! The unconventional military marketing strategy suggests that Zodiac-themed drinks, once the hallmark of grungy nightclubs in Bushwick, now populate chalkboards at residential Starbucks.

On social media, everyone can be an astrologer. “Gemini season is having 37 tabs open but in real life” tweeted @venuspriestess. User @reniadeb introduced the world to pastrology, which is pasta shapes as horoscopes, and astrology meme accounts make horoscopes short enough to be shareable and punchy enough to make us laugh. Julie Beck wrote for The Atlantic about how the signs can be “literally anything: cat breeds, Oscar Wilde quotes,Stranger Things characters, types of french fries” I’ve been a longtime follower of Not All Geminis, whose recent posts have included “The signs as TikTok comments” along with a smattering of relatable memes with varying levels of astrology tie-in. While they have been in print for some time now, The Michigan Daily has published horoscopes online since May, and analytics indicate that people are interested in reading them. 

Astrology is everywhere. How did we get here? 

Stars: they’re just like us!

The past several years have seen a renewed cultural acceptance of the zodiac, perhaps because of the decline of organized religion or the rise of political precariousness. Astrology-speak has penetrated the vernacular. She’s such a Leo! Gemini szn! That was Aries behavior! Even Nickelodeon’s Twitter ushers in #LeoSzn. But the zodiac has a long and storied history.

A number of ancient cultures believed before the advent of modern science, celestial movements informed earthly minutiae. But astrology’s recent comeback occurred in the past century. The first newspaper astrology column was commissioned in for the British tabloid the Sunday Express for the birth of Princess Margaret. With an assistant standing in as a makeshift astrologer (the main astrologer was out of office), the newspaper horoscopes were equal parts fluffy and flashy. “What the Stars Foretell for the New Princess” was a smash hit, and newspaper astrology was born.

Over the pond, horoscopes gained traction too. American astrologer Evangeline Adams began reading, telling, narrating and broadcasting radio horoscopes in addition to her private consultations with high-profile figures like JP Morgan and Charlie Chaplin. The New York Post began running horoscope columns in the s, and as a century of seismic technological advancements occurred, pre-Copernican dabblings captivated America. 

Today, the zodiac has reached broad cultural acceptance that seems reminiscent of the s, when Nancy Reagan’s personal astrologer was consulted before major White House decisions. As Linda Rodriguez McRobble wrote in Smithsonian magazine, “According to a Harris poll, 26 percent of Americans believe in astrology; that’s more people than believe in witches (23 percent), but less than believe in UFOs (32 percent), Creationism (40 percent) and ghosts (42 percent).”

Western astrology may be at odds with Newtonian physics and rationalism, but it has still stolen the moment, and brands want to catch some of its spotlight. What was once a practice reserved for little-known mystics is now common small talk among well-to-do urbanites, the same ones who call for politicians to follow the science.

The science, the stars

Astrology has also gained popularity on campus, even among students who consider themselves rational. The tension between science and astrology has always perplexed me. Call me a cynic, call me a skeptic, but I’ve never been able to suspend my doubt. Admittedly, I’ve been into Myers-Briggs (I’m an ENTP), Enneagram (seven all the way), and sorting houses (Ravenclaw), which don’t hold much scientific rigor. Astrology just seems a smidge too far-fetched for me to entertain. If it’s completely made up, why bother? I asked an expert in cosmology if astrology holds a kernel of truth.

University of Michigan astrophysicist Fred Adams took a break from studying star formation to confirm what I assumed all along: astrology is horse shit. 

“In my experience, absolutely no one in astronomy takes the subject of ‘astrology’ seriously. In fact, most ‘real’ astronomers have outright disdain for the subject (perhaps even more than you would expect),” Adams wrote in an email.

He went on: “I do know one professional astronomer who has a sister who is an astrologer. Their parents are very confused.” 

U-M chemistry professor Brian Coppola struck astrology down unequivocally.

“​​It’s difficult to have serious thoughts about something as nonsensical as astrology,” Coppola explained. “Giving it actual serious consideration also gives it an undeserved and unearned platform. Even calling it a pseudoscience gives it too much status. I cannot honestly say I have known anyone who takes astrology with even a mote of credence.”

Not even a mote! The Barnum effect, the phenomenon in which people believe generic personality descriptions are specifically made for them, famously illustrates the way vaguely personal statements and pithy generalizations can feel eerily intimate. When scientifically tested, the zodiac fails over and over. A study found that astrologers were no better at matching star charts than a non-astrologer control subject or random chance. 

Another knock to astrology is its self-fulfilling nature. Would a Leo be such a Leo if they didn’t know they were a Leo? If a tree fell in the forest and no one heard it, would it even make a sound? One ponders. 

But not every astrology enthusiast cares. Some students feel no need to rationalize their astrology appetite. In science classes, zodiac stickers pepper laptops and students check Costar during lulls in lectures. As professors finish lessons on the chirality of methylphenidate, I overhear zipping backpacks and chatting with friends. “I’m done going on dates with Scorpios. They’re too manipulative! You should see his birth chart.” Everyone seems to know when mercury is in retrograde, somehow. 

At a dinner recently, my friends discussed their birth charts in great length, and one friend said she purposely scheduled an important interview on an astrologically auspicious day. Another said she’d started her astrological journey by dipping her toe in the water, checking an app once a day, and pretty soon she found herself immersed in it. They asked for my new boyfriend’s sign, and when I said “Aries” they said that it “totally made sense.” Their attitude toward scientific reason seamlessly flipped when they then went on to chide anti-maskers and mourn the politicization of science. 

A half-serious belief in astrology seems to be harmless enough entertainment even though it has no basis in science. Then again, denial of anthropomorphic climate change, a common belief of flat-earthers, also seems harmless enough entertainment with no basis in science, yet it has turned out to be a threat to humanity. Astrology isn’t actively harming anyone in the way that vaccine refusal, climate denial, and antiscience campaigns do, but it does allow unscientific thought to creep into culture. 

The stars down to earth

There are varying appetites for astrology. There are also varying levels of seriousness to which you can approach it. Zodiac-curious people can view their horoscopes for fun, not for facts, and they can gain value from it even if they don’t believe in it.

Information junior Ashley Anderson enjoys astrology but views it more as entertainment than prophecy. 

“I think it’s really fun to learn about the zodiac, but I don’t base major life decisions off of it,” Anderson said. “I know that it’s vague enough to match almost anyone, but I keep coming back because some of it is just really accurate, which is fun.” 

LSA junior Samantha Dell’Imperio told me that she believes in astrology but only to a certain extent. 

“​​I’m a Biology major. I still like to learn about it and other new age spirituality not because I think they’re telling me absolute truths about the world but because they help me learn about myself… astrology forces you to look inward,” Dell’Imperio said. “For example, say you’re a Leo and you read that your sign is known to be loud and exuberant. You can reflect on that. In what ways is this true? In what ways is this not true? It brings about personal reflection and self-improvement in a fun way.”

Perhaps astrology has arisen because it gives, even if for a brief moment, the peace of mind that comes from believing the human condition is known and quantifiable. It gives its audience a precise balance of control and predestination: the cold comfort that life is not random, but the empowerment to change our future. It can’t hurt, and it might help. Many professional astrologers’ jobs look more like life coaching than anything else, and astrology can be a tool to give criticism in a less offensive way. “You should switch careers because Cancers aren’t a good fit for marketing analytics” might not hit with the same gravity as saying, “you should switch careers because you’re bad at yours.” 

Sometimes, even an unscientific prediction feels better than nothing at all. As much as I rolled my eyes at the faux-horoscope telling me to buy French onion whipped cream cheese dip, I eyed it at the grocery store for a while and threw it into my cart. It ended up being great. I guess it was meant to be, or, dare I say, written in the stars.

Statement Correspondent Annie Rauwerda can be reached at [email protected]

An Astrologer Guesses Strangers' Zodiac Sign (Ray) - Lineup - Cut

The astronomy behind astrology

  • Do you know that what you consider to be your zodiac sign, might not be correct?

  • Do you know that since the invention of the zodiac system more than years ago, the sky has actually changed and the traditional zodiac signs do not correspond to the actual ones?

In this page, I try to give a scientific explanation to these questions and on the way, let you discover your real zodiac sign. I start by introducing some astronomical concepts which I hope will give you some insight about the geometry and the physics of the rotation of the Earth around the Sun and the apparent movement of the objects on the sky.

I like to point out that the main purpose of this page is to show the astronomical facts behind what we call zodiac signs, and I just did it for fun! (after all, being an astronomer I am always asked about other people's horoscopes!). It is not my intention to discuss in depth the validity of astrology or its predictions, however I give my personal opinion as an astronomer, if you're interested.


The zodiac and astrology are common concepts among many countries in the Western civilization. Surveys show that around 90% of the population know their zodiac sign, and almost half read their horoscopes regularly. Astrology columns help to sell millions of newspapers and magazines; and are a popular topic in television and radio programs. Although only a small percentage actually admit to take horoscopes seriously, the vast majority of the people do not know the astronomical concepts behind their birth sign.

Astrology originated in Mesopotamia around years ago. The ancient Babylonians performed methodical observations of the night sky and built great observatories where priests would study the skies, and the celestial bodies that they believed controlled life and events on Earth. In those times, objects in the sky were believed to be affixed to transparent celestial spheres and their motions were thought to be a result of the motion of these spheres as they revolved around the Earth. Groups of bright stars were observed to form prominent patterns in the night sky called constellations, which have been historically ascribed to mythological figures. The early astronomers recognized that constellations appeared and disappeared with the change of the seasons throughout the course of a year. In the same way, the Sun, Moon and planets were observed to move in relation to the fixed background of stars, or constellations. The Earth travels in space as it revolves about the Sun in a planar orbit that is approximately circular. If one drew a line from the center of the Earth through the center of the Sun, that line would "draw" a large plane in the heavens as the Earth orbits the Sun. This large plane is called the ecliptic plane, as is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1
The ecliptic plane and the ecliptical coordinate system

Figure 2
The equatorial plane, the annual seasons and the equinoxes

Figure 3
The band of the zodiac and the apparent position of the constellations with respect to the Earth-Sun system

Based on their observations of the night sky, ancient astronomers determined that during the daytime, the Sun would appear to "enter" or pass through different constellations throughout the year. Because of their perspective from Earth, they observed that the Sun, the Moon and all the planets visible with the naked eye seemed to pass in the course of a year through a region in the sky occupied by twelve specific constellations. Those constellations are the ones that we would intersect if we extend the ecliptic plane out into space. These twelve constellations were called the Zodiac. Many ancient people believed that a person's behavior, emotions, and fate were heavily influenced by the time of that person's birth i.e. that person's zodiac sign.

The zodiac constellations, as envisioned by ancient astronomers, were ascribed specific patterns that resemble the shapes of animals and human beings. The constellations of the zodiac actually form an imaginary belt in the sky that extends about eight degrees above and below the ecliptic plane as is shown. As we look at the position of the zodiac constellations at any given time of the year, the Sun is between the Earth and one of these constellations, as Figure 3 shows.

Vernal and autumnal equinoxes

We are familiar with the Earth's equator because of our knowledge of geography. If we could extend the earth's equator into space so that it could be viewed against the background of stars, we would be able to see what in astronomy is called the celestial equator. Because the Earth's axis of rotation is tilted with respect to the ecliptic by &#;, the celestial equator and the ecliptic do not lie on the same plane, but cross each other at an angle of degrees as is shown in Figure 2. The two points in the sky where these two planes cross are called the equinoxes. We call the vernal equinox the intersection point where the Sun, in its apparent motion against the background stars along the ecliptic, crosses the celestial equator from south to north, usually occurring around March 21st. Similarly, we call the autumnal equinox the intersection point where the Sun, in its apparent motion against the background stars along the ecliptic, crosses the celestial equator from north to south, usually occurring around September 21st. The first day of Spring then corresponds to the vernal equinox and the first day of Fall corresponds to the autumnal equinox. During the time of the equinoxes, we on the Earth experience twelve hours of day and twelve hours of night.

The precession of the equinox

Figure 4
The precession of the Earth around its axis

The Earth's rotation on its axis has caused the Earth's shape to diverge from a sphere, and has caused the Earth's equatorial regions to bulge out. Because the Earth's equator is tilted with respect to the orbital plane of the Earth around the Sun, the Earth's equatorial bulge is also tilted with respect to the plane along which the Sun and Moon travel. The Moon and the Sun exert a gravitational drag on the Earth's equatorial bulge, trying to pull the Earth's equatorial region to be aligned with the ecliptic plane. This pull, along with the rotational motion of the Earth on its axis, the revolution of the Earth around the Sun, and the revolution of the Moon about the Earth, cause the Earth to wobble about its axis of rotation, similar to the motion of a spinning top. This motion is called precession. It is the wobbling of the equatorial plane that causes the line of the intersection of the equatorial and ecliptic planes to move. As mentioned above, the intersection of these two planes determine where on the zodiac our spring and fall equinoxes occur. This line of intersection is said to precess or move around the zodiac because of the wobble.

Figure 5
Circular path that the north equatorial pole describes due to the precession of the Earth

Figure 4 shows a schematic of the Earth's precession, this effect gradually changes where on the zodiac the equinox points fall. It takes about years for the equinox to travel 30&#; or 1/12th of the ecliptic. This precession means that the spring equinox was just entering Pisces years ago and it is about to enter the constellation of Aquarius (that is the reason why many astrologers say that we are going to start the Aquarius epoch).

An extension of the Earth's axis out into space traces out a conical figure with a time cycle or period of 26, years. The Earth's precession implies that although Polaris is currently the star above our north pole, in about 13, years Vega will become our north star; only after yet another 13, years, will the north pole will once again point towards Polaris, as shown in Figure 5. Therefore, because of the Earth's precession, the constellation which is behind the Sun nowadays is actually different from the one predicted by astrologers.

Ophiuchus, the 13th constellation of the zodiac

The constellations of the zodiac at the present

Unlike the zodiac signs in astrology, the astronomical constellations vary widely in size. If we think of the sky as a great sphere, the areas that different constellations cover can be drawn fairly accurately. There are a number of days of the Earth's orbit when the Sun is between our planet and any one of the zodiacal constellations. Since each constellation is of different size and since the ecliptic passes through larger or smaller portions of each constellation, and the speed of the Earth around the Sun varies along its orbit, the Sun is between the Earth and each zodiacal constellation for varying periods. For example, more days (44 days) are spent with the Sun between the Earth and the largest constellation, Virgo, than are spent with the Sun between the Earth and the smallest constellation, Scorpius (7 days).

The boundaries of all the constellations in the sky were set by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in This was essentially a mapping exercise to make the work of astronomers more efficient. years ago, there were 12 constellations in our zodiac. At present our ecliptic passes through the boundaries of 13 constellations, the usual 12 and a new one known as Ophiuchus (or Serpentarius). Ophiuchus is depicted as a man supporting a serpent, the interposition of his body divides the snake into two parts, Serpens Caput and Serpens Cauda. Ophiuchus, is located in a position near the center of the Milky Way galaxy amid clouds of molecular hydrogen and dust. In addition, although not part of the original constellation stars, the so-called Barnard's Star is located within Ophiuchus; this object has the largest known proper motion relative to the Sun. Just as a remark, within a few hundred years the ecliptic will no longer pass through Scorpius but will also include the constellation of Orion.

Most astrologers use a different system to determine the size of our zodiacal constellations. The ecliptic (which is also the name to the apparent path of the Sun on the sky, which creates a circle of &#;) is simply divided up into twelve equal segments (of 30&#;) corresponding to the same amount of months in the calendar, just by convenience, marking the start of the year cycle at the so-called first point of Aries, i.e. the point on the sky where the ecliptic and equatorial planes intersect, i.e. the vernal equinox. This point occurred years ago in the constellation of Aries, but nowadays this occurs in the constellation of Piscis, making this constellation the start-point of the current zodiac solar system.

Your REAL zodiac sign

The following table provides the dates at which the Sun is located within the boundaries of a specific zodiac constellation as defined in by the International Astronomical Union, i.e. the periods of the real zodiac signs.

The dates can vary by as much as 2 days from year to year, depending on the cycle of leap years. The solar zodiac column indicates the actual dates when the Sun is located within the boundaries of the named constellation. If you are on the boundary between any two signs and you want to know your real sign (together with your ascendent and descendent signs, defined below), use the free software called Stellarium indicating the date, time and location of birth and it will give you a nice sky chart of your birthday through a nice interface.

The ascendent and descendent signs

The ascendent sign constellation correspond to the position on the sky in which the ecliptic intercepts the horizon on the east at the local time and place of birth. At this point, there is a zodiac sign on the sky which is just rising from the horizon. Due to the Earth's rotation, approximately every 4 minutes any object on the zodiac belt would elevate 1 degree from the horizon; hence the ascendent sign changes during the course of the day. On the other hand, on the west horizon, the constellation which is setting below the horizon at the time of birth constitutes the descendant sign. Therefore, in order to find the ascendant and descendant signs, one needs to know the precise local time and location (geographical latitude, longitude and even altitude) of birth. Just as a remark, the ascendent and descendent signs have no astronomical meaning or importance whatsoever.


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Fact Check-False posts about NASA changing the zodiac resurface

Posts sharing the claim that NASA changed the zodiac to include a 13th astrological sign are false. NASA addressed the claim on its Twitter page, explaining that it did not change zodiac itself but included a sign that has been left out since Babylonian times.

Example posts can be seen here and here .

The text on one post reads: “Apparently NASA did some research and said they have been reading the zodiac signs incorrectly and these are the correct dates anyone heard about this??”

The image in the posts features shifted dates for the existing astrological signs and includes a new one called “Ophiuchus” for the dates of Nov. 29 to Dec.


NASA explained in a tweet posted on July 16, here , that it did not change the zodiac. The tweet reads: “We see your comments about a zodiac story that re-emerges every few years. No, we did not change the zodiac. When the Babylonians invented the constellations 3, years ago, they chose to leave out a 13th sign. So, we did the math.”

The tweet links to a NASA Tumblr page here , where it explains the story in more depth and points out the difference between astronomy, which is “the scientific study of everything in outer space”, and astrology, “the belief that the positions of stars and planets can influence human events.”

The page also explains that the Babylonians, who lived over 3, years ago, divided the zodiac into 12 parts and chose a constellations for each one, corresponding with 12 months of the calendar.

“But even according to the Babylonians’ own ancient stories, there were 13 constellations in the zodiac. So they picked one, Ophiuchus, to leave out. Even then, some of the chosen 12 didn’t fit neatly into their assigned slice of the pie and crossed over into the next one.”


Astrology believers questioning whether their signs have now shifted can rest at ease. Reuters reached out to astrologers to find out if Ophiuchus resulted in people’s star signs shifting, the primary apparent concern among comments on these social media posts.

“As an astrologer, I can assure you that your zodiac sign didn't change,” assured Nina Kahn, author and astrologer ( She told Reuters via email, “Ophiuchus is a real constellation, but it's not a zodiac sign. As you may know, there are many constellations in the sky, but not all of them are included in the zodiac.”

Rebecca Gordon, professional astrologer (here), reiterated that while Ophiuchus is a constellation, this does not make it a zodiac sign. She told Reuters in a statement that Ophiuchus has nothing to do with the 12 zodiac signs that have been in use "for thousands of years to create an accurate calendar which aligns us with the natural cycles and Sun's apparent path.”

Echoing NASA’s point, Kahn added, “Astronomy and astrology are two very different things!”

Further reading on the topic can be found here , here , here , here .


Misleading. NASA did not change the zodiac to shift dates and add another astrological sign.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .         


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