There are two zodiacs: the tropical zodiac, which is fixed to seasons and which Western astrology adheres to; and the sidereal zodiac, which is fixed to constellations and is followed more in the East, CNN is reporting.
The confusion all started with an article by the Minnesota Star Tribune which reported a shift in the Earth's alignment that changed zodiac dates and added a 13th sign.
Minneapolis astronomy professor Parke Kunkle told a newspaper interviewer that the Earth's wobbly orbit means it's no longer aligned to the stars in the same way as when the signs of the zodiac were first conceived.
That means when astrologers say the sun is in Pisces, it's really in Aquarius, and so on, Kunkle said.
The story was published in Sunday editions of the Star Tribune of Minneapolis and quickly went viral, with thousands of people fretting on social networks that their sign might change.
Kunkle, who teaches at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, said Friday that all the hubbub is based on "2,000-year-old information."
He can't understand why his explanation of how a well-known wobble in the earth's orbit throws off astrology charts turned into an Internet sensation.
Star signs were created by ancient Babylonians some 2,000 years ago by tracking where the sun was in the sky each month.
However, the article stated, the moon's gravitational pull has slowly moved the Earth in its axis, creating about a one-month bump in the stars' alignment.
According to Kunkle the expected shift added a 13th Zodiac sign: Ophiuchus.
Now, during what we think as the month of Pisces, the sun is actually in the sign of Aries, according to the 13 sign theory.
The New Dates
- Capricorn: Jan. 19 - Feb. 15
- Aquarius: Feb. 16 - March 11
- Pisces: March 12- April 18
- Aries: April 19- May 13
- Taurus: May 14- June 20
- Gemini: June 21- July 19
- Cancer: July 20- Aug. 9
- Leo: Aug. 10- Sept. 15
- Virgo: Sept. 16- Oct. 30
- Libra: Oct. 31- Nov. 22
- Scorpio: Nov. 23- Nov. 29
- Ophiuchus: Nov. 30- Dec. 17
- Sagittarius: Dec. 18- Jan. 18
"This is not new news. I have no idea why it went viral this time," Kunkel said. "Almost every astronomy class talks about it."
Shelley Ackerman, an astrologer and spokeswoman for American Federation of Astrologers, said she's been swamped with e-mails from worried clients whose signs would change under the new system. Ackerman said she advises the clients not to overreact.
"This doesn't change your chart at all. I'm not about to use it," she said. "I've told all of them not to worry about it. Every few years a story like this comes out and scares the living daylights out of everyone, but it'll go away as quickly as it came."