Monday, January 17, 2011

Local Astrologer Reacts to Supposed Zodiac Shakeup

Posted By on Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 3:00 PM

I was pretty confused last week when stories from some rather reputable news sources claimed that I was no longer a Virgo. But before I set about restructuring my personality profile to suit a new sign, I e-mailed the Tucson Astrologers' Guild for clarification, and they got back to me today with the below press release.

Press Release for Those Confused by Astronomers Claiming There Are 13 Signs

By Matthew Lauten

This old story has been dredged up once again by an astronomer from Minnesota apparently. Normally, I don’t even pay attention to this stuff, but it apparently went viral on the web, and several media people have asked me my opinion. In response, I offer this press release:

Ophiuchus, the purported 13th sign in the zodiac, has been known to astrologers since ancient times. That a statement like this could even be made by someone, just shows their ignorance of astrology. The zodiac used in astrology is based on the seasons of the year on Earth. Thus, the zodiac was divided into 12 equal signs of 30* each as a measurement of time. The ancient astrologers main job was to mark the turning of the seasons: there were no clocks or calendars back then. It is nothing more than that. The confusion comes from the fact that these signs at one time (the time of ancient Greece’s apex) roughly coincided to constellations starting with Aries on the Spring Equinox. Because of precession, that is no longer the case. Precession is the apparent movement of the stars in the sky from Earth’s viewpoint due to a wobble in the earth’s rotational axis. All the stars in the sky move approximately 1* every 70 years or so. This is where we get “the beginning of the Age of Aquarius” from. The stars at dawn on the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere for the past 2000+ years have been in the constellation Pisces: thus, the years considered “A.D.” (ie — after Jesus Christ was born) have been “the Age of Pisces.” Now, the stars of Aquarius are becoming the dawn stars on the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere — thus, the Age of Aquarius is dawning. In 22,000 years, the stars of Aries will once again be aligned with the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and it will be “the Age of Aries” (again).

So what it comes down to is simply this: the zodiac is signs, not constellations. What was failed to be mentioned is that Ophiuchus is not the only other constellation on the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun across the sky over the course of the year, which ranges from 23* north on the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere to 23* south on the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere: this is where we get the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn on the globe from: both 23* from the equator). In fact, in this 46* swath of the sky, there are many other constellations besides the 12 zodiacal ones. Ophiuchus just happens to slightly touch the equator like the 12 zodiacal ones. However, to show how off base this comment is: none of the other 12 zodiacal constellations are exactly 30*. They range in size to much more to much less. Indeed, we use the zodiac also as a system of longitude measurement in space from the earth’s viewpoint: this is where astronomers get confused for they do factor in precession in these measurements. Thus, a planet in astrological terms may be in one zodiacal sign, while it is in a different constellation in the sky then the sign it is in. To show how off base this is again: stars in other constellations that are not on the ecliptic are measured according to the zodiac too; an example: Acrux, the main star of the Southern Cross is at 12* Scorpio in the sky by longitude even though it is not in the constellation Scorpio at all ever! It is just a system of measurement. Another example: when your local astronomer tells you the Moon is conjunct Jupiter tonight and where to look for it in sky, it is almost always conjunct only by longitude, not longitude and latitude. Thus, when Jupiter is conjunct the Moon it will be in a straight longitude line above or below the Moon, but not right on top of Moon! Astrology is based upon the seasons on Earth: that’s what is important to us as humans on Earth. When you open up the Farmers Almanac to find out what the ideal days for planting seeds are, it is based on the sign the Moon is in astrologically, not astronomically! Why? Because studies of seed germination rates planted at these times, show increased rates. Seeds are planted on Earth, not in space. So, no worries, your zodiacal Sun/Moon/Rising/etc sign has not changed.

In closing, I would never tell an astronomer that his theories/theorems about black holes, etc are wrong, because I have not studied it and I do not know. It is audacious for astronomers who have not studied the subject of astrology to make blanket statements like this without studying the subject matter first, getting an understanding of it, and then testing it qualitatively. Indeed, many astronomers and other scientists who were astrological skeptics in the past and did take the time to seriously study it, now believe there is truth to astrology and its methods. In fact, Isaac Newton, the father of cause and effect science, used astrology regularly, and was critical of his own theories of cause and effect falling far short of some perfect system of scientific proof, especially as more and more factors were added to the equation.

If you have any follow up questions, you may e mail me at

Matthew Lauten is a professionally accredited astrologer based in Tucson, AZ. He is Vice-President of the Tucson Astrologers Guild and blogs at:

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