spaceSpace and Physics

NASA Is Not Changing The Signs Of The Zodiac (But Your Horoscope Is Still Meaningless)


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer


Not pictured: science. Photosani/Shutterstock

There’s trouble afoot in the world of make-believe. Astrologers were left up in arms over the weekend after Cosmopolitan reported that NASA would be changing the zodiac signs, leaving countless people directionless in their lives.

“NASA has decided to update the astrological signs for the first time in 2,000 years, meaning that a whopping 86% of us now have a different sign,” the magazine claimed. “If you want to get all technical about it, the reason for this radical change is down to the fact that the sky today is extremely different to how it was thousands of years ago, which makes sense.”


Well, we’ve got bad news (or good, depending on how you look at it). NASA has not changed the signs of the zodiac. Also, the scientific agency has not decided to shift its focus from factual research to studying Harry Potter.

The misunderstanding seems to have come from a NASA Space Place page for kids, written back in January this year. The writer for Cosmopolitan has taken information from this page and used it to make their rather bold claim.


Above, a tweet from NASA's Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications

Now, on this page NASA has delved into some actual science. They explain how the signs of the zodiac were first derived by the Babylonians 3,000 years ago by drawing an imaginary line between Earth and the Sun. Extending this line into space, the Sun seems to pass through various constellations made up of stars hundreds to thousands of light-years away.


They picked 12 constellations, but there were actually 13 constellations in the zodiac, so the Babylonians left one out, Ophiuchus. What’s more, Earth’s axis has shifted in the last 3,000 years, so the sky doesn’t look the same.

So, NASA explains, the signs of the zodiac don’t really fit with what we use today. Someone born into Leo, for example, would actually be Cancer nowadays. This has actually come up before, as Snopes explains.

Of course, this is all just a scientific explanation for the zodiac, not a validation of horoscopes. “NASA studies astronomy not astrology,” NASA spokesperson Dwayne Brown told Gizmodo. “We didn’t change any zodiac signs, we just did the math.”

So, your sign hasn’t changed. But even it did, well, horoscopes are about as real as Bigfoot. Aside from the Sun, no star is close enough to our Solar System to have a meaningful effect on our lives, let alone dictate your personality.


Rest assured, if you want to be an Aquarius, you can still be an Aquarius. You can be whatever you want to be. How about a sentient collection of trillions of cells in a vast and wonderful universe? That's a lot more impressive to us.


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