Since a few days, a news spread that NASA had decided to update the astrological signs for the first time in 2000 years, and people were freaking out that many of us will now have a different star sign.
So here’s a bit of background on what actually happened :
There’s an educational page for kids run by NASA called Space Place, and it discusses how, some 3000 years ago, the ancient Babylonians were keen sky-watchers, and thought that the changing positions of constellations throughout the year could be linked to certain behaviours on Earth. So they invented the zodiac – the circle of 12 constellations based on the apparent path that the Sun takes across a sphere over the course of the year. So, as Earth orbits the Sun, the Sun would appear to pass through each of the 12 parts of the zodiac. Since the Babylonians already had a 12-month calendar (based on the phases of the Moon), each month got a slice of the zodiac all to itself. But seeing as this happened 3000 years ago, things were a bit random, and for some reason, the Babylonians left a constellation out of their zodiac – Ophiuchus. “Even then, some of the chosen 12 didn’t fit neatly into their assigned slice of the pie and slopped over into the next one,” says Space Place. To make a tidy match with their 12-month calendar, the Babylonians ignored the fact that the Sun actually moves through 13 constellations, not 12.
Now NASA notes that because of a tiny wobble in Earth’s axis, the constellations are no longer in the same position as they were 3000 years ago. This wobble in the axis can be ignored as it takes 26,000 years to wobble around once – but the effects can build into something noticeable.
In spite of a massive clarification right at the top of NASA’s Space Place page that “Astrology is not astronomy!” quite a few publications decided to publish a whole lot of new star sign dates, as under:
Capricorn: Jan 20 – Feb 16
Aquarius: Feb 16 – March 11
Pisces: March 11 – April 18
Aries: April 18 – May 13
Taurus: May 13 – June 21
Gemini: June 21 – July 20
Cancer: July 20 – Aug 10
Leo: Aug 10 – Sept 16
Virgo: Sept 16 – Oct 30
Libra: Oct 30 – Nov 23
Scorpio: Nov 23 – Nov 29
Ophiuchus: Nov 29 – Dec 17
Sagittarius: Dec 17 – Jan 20
As NASA spokesperson Dwayne Brown told to Gizmodo:
“We didn’t change any Zodiac signs, we just did the math. The Space Place article was about how astrology is not astronomy, how it was a relic of ancient history, and pointed out the science and math that did come from observations of the night sky.”
So, if you just saw a facebook post or got a WhatsApp message from a friend that NASA has changed the Zodiac signs, then please don’t blindly believe them. Tell your friends to read this article. 🙂
Information source: http://www.sciencealert.com/stop-freaking-out-nasa-did-not-just-change-your-zodiac-sign