Horoscope Horror?

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By Ama Debrah
             In the early hours of January 13, 2011, the Internet was flooded with thousands of tweets and statuses ranging from, “OMG WHAT I’M A LIBRA NOW???” to, “what is ophiuchus forget that.”  To an uninformed passerby, there was enough commotion to make it seem like the Earth had shifted on its axis.
Surprisingly, this claim isn’t far from the truth.

According to a study by Parke Kunkle, astronomy instructor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, all horoscope signs are incorrect due to a “wobble” in the Earth’s axis. The current horoscope signs were originally created by the Babylonians, and were based on the arrangement of the sun on the day a person was born.  However, since the creation of the horoscope signs 3000 years ago, the moon’s gravitational pull has caused the Earth to shift on its axis, leading Parke Kunkle to claim that all horoscope signs should be adjusted to the new constellations, which essentially pushes back all of the signs by about a month.  
            Where does Ophiuchus come in?  In the new horoscope calendar proposed by Kunkle, the shift in the current 12 signs creates a gap between November 29 and December 17, which is where Ophiuchus now resides.  Ophuichus, which is also a constellation like the other horoscope signs, was originally part of the zodiac calendar but was taken out after the establishment of the 12 month year.  In Greek legend, Ophiuchus, the Greek god of medicine, was cast to the skies by Zeus after trying to bring Orion the Hunter back to life.  The sign for Ophiuchus is currently represented by a man holding a snake to the sky.  According to astrologers at the Minnesota Planetarium Society, Ophiuchuses are inventive, materialistic, jealous, intellectually sharp, ambitious, sexually charged, and are able to adapt easily to change.
            So is it time to trade in that lion tattoo for a cancer crab?  Not exactly, say western astrologers.  According to Daily Mail astrologer Jonathan Cainer, Kunkle’s claims are “just a load of nonsense,” and western astrologers have known about these shifting constellations since about 130 BC.  Apparently, the tropical zodiac, or the zodiac used by astrologers in the Western Hemisphere, does not use the constellations as a base for predictions, but instead bases them on a mathematically equal division of the sky that remains static through the shifting of the Earth’s axis.  However, the sidereal zodiac, which is used primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, is based on the ecliptic, or the yearly path of the sun over the celestial sphere.  Therefore, while the tropical zodiac is in no way influenced by Kunkle’s study, the sidereal zodiac may now have to be changed in order to accommodate the Earth’s shift. 
            While Kunkle’s findings have yet to be recognized by astrologers from either the tropical or sidereal zodiac, the general consensus is that if you were born in the Western Hemisphere, nothing about your horoscope sign has changed.   However, if you feel Kunkle’s study makes a legitimate point, here is a list of the horoscope signs with their dates adjusted to fit the new constellations. 
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
Ama is a first-year at Barnard College she is a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.
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