Why our horoscopes have not changed despite what NASA said

Everyone, stop panicking

By Andrea Tim | Published: 20 Sep 2016

The zodiac stays
An illustration of Ophiuchus (Photo: Library of Congress)

Blame it on the Babylonians. Now, every few years, mankind gets shaken up by news that our horoscope signs have changed, due to a few cosmic phenomena. They range from subtle shifts in the Earth's orbit or the very fact that there is actually a 13th star sign that was deliberately left out by the Babylonians for the sake of convenience – it was easier to divide a 360-angle of the sky into 12 parts rather than 13.

Recently, people were freaking out over how many have had their signs altered, after a NASA Space Place blog post addressing the change was circulated. The updated list of constellations in the zodiac and their corresponding dates were said (though not by NASA) to be as follows.

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 21 – 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 – November 29
Ophiuchus: November 29 – December 17
Sagittarius: December 17 – January 20

Groundbreaking? To those who believe in astrological predictions, maybe. To those driven by scientific fact, it's something easily shrugged off.

The signs above, now including Ophiuchus (described as a man bearing a serpent), are a shift from the horoscope dates you'd be familiar with. However, the post from NASA also clearly states from the beginning that astronomy – the study of outer space – has no relation whatsoever with astrology – the 'fantastical' idea that our star signs affect how we live our lives. So while the heavens have changed from our vantage point on Earth, affecting the alignment of the constellations from what the Babylonians took note of about 3,000 years ago, it doesn't – shouldn't – tamper with the fantasy of astrology. (So you could still buy that new car if you truly believe what your horoscope sign tells you.)

In 2011, The Washington Post published a story addressing the exact same story, which also mentions the omission of poor Ophiuchus and the shift in our Earth's orbit. Like we said, this news shakes people up every few years. But the main point to remember is that astrology and astronomy are not the same thing.

"We didn't change any Zodiac signs, we just did the math," NASA spokesperson Dwayne Brown told Gizmodo in an email. "The Space Place article was about how astrology is not astronomy, how it was a relic of ancient history, and pointed out the science and math that did come from observations of the night sky."

Your panic was baseless. Now, can we get back to our Magic 8 Ball lives, please?

Related: It is possible that we can live on Mars one day


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