What’s Your Sign Now?

January 14, 2011

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Horoscope aficionados awoke to disturbing news in the morning papers.  Due to wobbles of Earth’s axis of rotation (an effect known to astronomers as “precession”), the calendar dates corresponding to the various Zodiac signs have shifted by about a month since they were set by the ancient Babylonians. The answer to the perennial, shabby pickup line “What’s your sign?” may now surprise you.  Has your sign — or your fortune — changed overnight?

The Babylonians based the Zodiac on the dates corresponding to the times of the year that the sun is actually in each constellation’s “house.”  According to the Minnesota Planetarium Society’s Parke Kunkle, the original Zodiac calendar the Babylonians intended is as follows:

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. 23-29.
Ophiuchus:* Nov. 29-Dec. 17.
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.

* Discarded because the Babylonians wanted 12 signs per year.

Enraged astrologers are now lining up to “debunk” the offending astronomers’ calculations.  Now that’s entertainment.

According to popular astrologer Susan Miller, the uproar caused by the Zodiac’s correction is “ridiculous,” but not for reasons you might expect.  “The constellations don’t suggest what’s coming up,” she explained.  “It’s the planets! The constellations are a measuring device.”