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

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
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Detail of Astronomical Clock Prague Town Hall - stock photo

The stars have shifted – which means your horoscope isn’t what you think it is…

Astrology, on the surface, sure sounds a lot like astronomy. It’s based on the position of the sun relative to certain constellations – and it’s influenced by the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars, too.

However, astrology 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.

And yet… well, and yet 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.

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

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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.

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.”

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.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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