In September 2016, NASA made waves on the Internet when it announced that it changed the 12 zodiac signs because of a shift of the Earth’s axis. ‘Excuse us? They explain that in the last 3,000 years since the zodiac system was first created, “the sky has shifted because Earth’s axis (North Pole) doesn’t point in quite the same direction.”
According to NASA, this shift of the constellations from our vantage point also confirms claims made by astronomers that the constellation Ophiuchus is now the 13th star sign and a legit member of the zodiac. Screeeeeechhhhh!
While the whole world might be freaking out, here’s a friendly reminder: NASA agrees with us that astronomy and astrology are NOT one and the same. Periodically, astronomers will announce “breaking news” that horoscopes aren’t accurate because the constellations have shifted. They will announce the “discovery” of Ophiuchus as a 13th star sign and claim that the horoscope dates for Libra (and every other sign) have changed.
Here’s an interesting bit of clarification between astronomy and astrology. The actual constellations HAVE shifted over the ages, but Western astrology follows a different system, which uses “artificial” constellations. Rather than following the movement of the visible stars, Western astrology is based on the apparent path of the Sun as seen from our vantage point on earth. Within that path, astrologers have carved out static zones, and we track the planetary movements against these. That is why zodiac sign dates remain the same even as the heavens keep shifting.
THE ACTUAL CONSTELLATIONS HAVE SHIFTED OVER THE AGES, BUT WESTERN ASTROLOGY FOLLOWS A DIFFERENT SYSTEM, WHICH USES “ARTIFICIAL” CONSTELLATIONS.
In second century Alexandria, the great mathematician and astronomer/astrologer Ptolemy created the Tropical Zodiac, which is a fixed system that is not affected by changes in the constellations or the Earth’s axis. Ptolemy used the same names for the zodiac signs as he did for the constellations, which is why there is confusion around the horoscope birth date range. The Tropical Zodiac is static and not affected by shifts in the Earth’s axis. It begins every year with the Aries pseudo-constellation, which is based on the position of the Sun at the spring equinox on March 21.
Fun fact: Up until few centuries ago, astrology and astronomy were considered part of the same discipline. Students of the stars have included some of history’s most prominent thinkers: Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton, Copernicus, and Carl Jung. Now that astronomy and astrology have shifted into two different fields, do we really have the right to weigh in on each other’s turfs without proper understanding?
As sixth-grade stargazers, we traveled to Huntsville, Alabama for a week to attend Space Camp, earning our wings and learning about the likes of G-forces, freeze-dried food, and shuttle missions. Years later, we ended up studying the stars in a very different way, learning astrology and then writing professionally about it. But you won’t see us donning flight suits or trying to send a space probe to Saturn anytime soon.
Here’s a deal, NASA: We won’t meddle with the next space shuttle mission if you stop giving the world another astrological identity crisis. If you’re a Leo, you’re a Leo—and so forth. Roger, Mission Control?
Take one of our zodiac quizzes here to learn more about yourself or get a reading from a real fortune teller from all around the world today