Parke Kunkle, the scientist behind the new zodiac rumors, teaches astronomy at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Zodiac signs change due to Earth's rotation

Yesterday I was a Leo. Today I'm a Cancer. All thanks to (unwelcome) scientific research in Minnesota


Adam Clark Estes
January 14, 2011 1:05AM (UTC)

Yesterday -- and for my entire life -- I was a Leo. Today I'm a Cancer. And I am anti-happy about it.

Some researchers at the Minnesota Planetarium Society took it onto themselves to double check the calculations that determine the signs of the Zodiac. Babylonian astronomers drafted the original Zodiac during the early first millenniua B.C. by determining the position of constellations along various spots of the ecliptic, the path of the sun, and dividing it into 12 sections -- actually 13, see below. Your star sign is based on the position of the sun along the Zodiac on the day you were born.

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Well, guess what, the Earth moved and wrecked everything! Over the past several thousands of years, the pull of the moon's gravity has shifted the Earth by about a month, says Parke Kunkle, a board member at the society.

Like the cast list of the high school play your mom made you try out for, here's your new part:

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 by the Babylonians because they wanted 12 signs per year.

If you need me, I'll be feeling crabby or "tried and true" instead of my usual "masculine."

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UPDATE: It's all fake! Sort of.

Professional astrology and author Matthew Currie contacted Salon to point out the fact that this kind of story is nothing new. Apparently, the Minnesota Planetarium Society is engaging in what Currie quickly called a "straw man argument" constructed to debunk the field of astrology.

Currie makes this basic distinction. Astrology is NOT astronomy and vice versa. The two fields diverged a long time ago and today, the very term "Zodiac" is used differently within each discipline. Currie explains the two meanings of the Zodiac:

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The Zodiac, the twelve divisions of the sky made up of the horoscope signs, and the Zodiac, the band of constellations in the sky, are two different things. This is how a lot of skeptics of astrolgoy trick people to convince themselves and others that there's nothing to astrology. But in reality, we're talking about two different things.

So it might be safe to assume that the ASTRONOMERS in Minnesota recalibrated the Zodiac made up of the constellations while the ASTOLOGERS actually all agree on the twelve divisions.

Are you as relieved as I am?


Read more about astrology on Matthew Currie's blog.

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Adam Clark Estes

Adam Clark Estes blogs the news for Salon. Email him at ace@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @adamclarkestes

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