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The age of Ophiuchus

January 17, 2011 - Nikki Younk
How many of you out there are enraged over the alleged changing of the zodiac? Supposedly, we now have a 13th sign called Ophiuchus, and the original dates for each sign have shifted. Thought you were a Capricorn? Wrong! All this time, you were actually a Sagittarius.

Guess what? This isn't news, people. It's simply a distinction between astrology and astronomy.

Astrology is the study of how planets and stars influence our personalities and futures. It is a pseudoscience, meaning it cannot be proven by scientific methods. On the other hand, astronomy is the scientific study of planets, stars, galaxies, etc. Zodiac "signs" are part of astrology. Zodiac "constellations" are part of astronomy.

True, the signs derive from the actual constellations that can be viewed from Earth. Back when the ancient Babylonians and Greeks were studying astronomy and astrology, they recorded when the sun was in each constellation of the zodiac. At that time, the sun was in the constellation of Capricorn between Dec. 20 and Jan. 19, in Aquarius between Jan. 20 and Feb. 19, and so on. We still use these dates for Western astrology.

Unfortunately for the ancients, they hadn't counted on the fact that the Earth wobbles like a top. What does this mean? Here's an example. Polaris has not been and will not be our North Star forever. In 13,000 years, our North Star will be Vega. Basically, the Earth's "north" and "south" point in different directions over time.

Likewise, the constellations of the zodiac are not always in the same position relative to observers on Earth. The way they appear to us now are not the same way they appeared to the ancients. Now, the sun doesn't appear in Capricorn until later in January. As a result, an astrological Capricorn, is a astronomical Sagittarius.

Bottom line: If you believe in astrology, you're still what you always were. The sun just might not be in your sign on your birthday.

 
 
 

 

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