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Sorry, astrology fans: you’ve been reading the wrong star sign all this time

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Kayleigh Dray
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Star signs shifted? Astrologers weigh in on new zodiac

It’s official: the stars are not aligned. 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 14 July 2020: avid astrology fans will no doubt have noticed that everyone is talking about NASA’s big announcement. Namely, 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 2,500 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.”

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As previously reported: 2020 marks the start of not only a new decade, but a new astrological era. And, back in January, astrologists everywhere claimed that this meant our year would be an intense one. Indeed, Astrology.com even likened it to a “birthing process”. 

Why? Well, with no less than six solar and lunar eclipses to contend with, not to mention a union between Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn and a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius, they insisted that 2020 would prove a time for change, challenge, and shifting perspectives. And, based on the year’s events so far, we begrudgingly admit that they may have been onto something.

And yet…

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 during the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.

“Fancy,” they say, “Mercury is in retrograde. That explains everything.”

Earth's wobble causes horoscopes to shift
Earth's wobble causes horoscopes to shift

It’s worth noting that 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?

That’s right: it’s now been 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 – as in, yes, actual NASA – have confirmed that the sky today is completely different to how it was almost 3,000 years ago, when the Babylonians first invented the 12 signs of the zodiac.

They explained: “The sky has shifted because Earth’s axis (North Pole) doesn’t point in quite the same direction. Now Mimi’s August 4 birthday would mean she was born ‘under the sign’ of Cancer (one constellation ‘earlier’), not Leo.”

The skies have shifted, say NASA, and the zodiac signs have moved, too

The skies have shifted, say NASA, and the zodiac signs have moved, too

If you’re struggling to make sense of this bombshell (and why wouldn’t you?), 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 3000 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 12-month calendar, the Babylonians ignored the fact that the Sun actually moves through 13 constellations, not 12.

“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.

There are now 13 zodiac signs

There are now 13 zodiac signs

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 360 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.

Not too shabby, eh?

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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 2016, 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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