Why is there a ‘new’ star sign?

2011-01-15 00:00

ARDENT horoscope watchers around the world are horrified at the recent attention given to the “new zodiac sign”, Ophiuchus.

The topic has been widely discussed this week on social networks and radio shows.

The Internet is abuzz with questions about the new sign, which slots between Scorpio and Sagittarius on the chart and is said to be represen­ted by a man grasping a snake or a snake twined around a staff.

This means the horoscopes many read “religiously” every morning are, in reality, a month out of sync.

Urban Astronomer’s Allen Versfeld spoke to Weekend Witness about the shifting zodiac signs and the subsequent confusion.

“The Earth’s rotation has a slight wobble to it, exactly like a spinning top, called precession. The first effect of this is that the zodiac shifts out of date, taking a little over 2 000 years to move up one full sign. This means that all the star signs are actually on the wrong date by more than a month,” he said.

According to Versfeld, star signs are determined by the ecliptic, or the path the Sun follows through the sky. He explained the ecliptic is now “quite badly” out of alignment with the original 12 star signs.

“Some signs are now technically only about a week wide, while others cover several months. In fact, it’s actually spilled out of the zodiac altogether, passing briefly through Ophiuchus, the 13th sign,” he said.

The sudden news that many have new star signs has sent horoscope junkies reeling.

“This surely can’t be real that means I have changed from a Virgo to a Leo and I am definitely a Virgo by personality through and through!?” wrote a perturbed Witness Facebook user.

Others have bigger problems than personality crises — like tattoos of their now incorrect star signs.

While there appears to be no official body governing the changeover to the 13-sign zodiac, astrologers have begun making the shift.

And astronomers seem to be smug about the sudden change. “Astrology, not being a science, is based more on traditional knowledge than actually charting the movements of the planets,” Versfeld said.

“It’s getting hard to ignore, because astronomers have been pointing it out for decades. At some point I think they must have realised that they were going to have to update their charts. And better centuries too late than never!”

Capricorn: January 20 to February 16

Aquarius: February 16 to March 11

Pisces: March 11 to April 18

Aries: April 18 to May 13

Taurus: May 13 to June 21

Gemini: June 21 to July 20

Cancer: July 20 to August 10

Leo: August 10 to September 16

Virgo: September 16 to October 30

Libra: October 30 to November 23

Scorpio: November 23 to 29

Ophiuchus: November 29 to December 17

Sagittarius: December 17 to January 20

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