Does the 13th Sign and The Earth's Wobble Disprove Astrology?
“Am I still a Taurus? Or am I a Gemini now?” This is the phone message I received from my 81-year-old grandmother today in response to all the buzz around the “13th Sign” article published in the Star Tribune and circulated widely, about the "discovery" that the earth’s wobble now supposedly changes everything for astrologers.
I reassured her: “Yes, Grandma, you are still a Taurus.” She seemed a bit disappointed; perhaps she was hoping for a new Sun sign. But even if it were discovered today that in fact, the zodiac has always been “wrong” and that my Grandma was really a Gemini, I would have to argue that, well, Geminis must act like Tauruses then, because my Grandma is one of the most Taurus-ey Tauruses I know.
Several good astrologers have stepped forward to set the story straight. Astrologer Eric Francis eloquently deconstructed the silly argument with aplomb. And to my surprise, CNN allowed an astrologer to get in several intelligent good sentences in response to the story (the task was in good hands with Jeff Jawer).
Many other astrologers have already been out there talking about this, but here’s a short summary of the facts you need to know:
- There is no “13th Sign” in Tropical Astrology, the type that most Western astrologers use.
- The constellation of Ophiuchus (aka "The 13th Sign) only dips partially into the ecliptic, while the twelve signs Western Astrologers count as part of the zodiac are fully intersected by the ecliptic. If we were to count all the constellations that just touch the ecliptic with their tippy toe, we’d have not only 13 signs, but perhaps three or four more. But that is not the case.
- Astrologers have always been aware of the precession of the equinoxes. This is not news to us.
- The precession of the equinoxes does not disprove astrology. There are different ways of calculating a chart (see Francis’ article). And again, astrologers are aware of the differences.
- Astronomers will continue to resurrect this story every few years just to bug astrologers on a slow news day.
OK, so the last one is not a “fact,” but let’s call it a very probable astrological prediction.
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