Jan 152011

Do you want to get this straightened out right now? Then let’s do it!

There’s been a huge buzz in the media and on the internet lately about the wobble of the earth forcing you into a different birth sign, and even a brand new astrological sign called Ophiuchus to further confuse things.

First off: you don’t have to change your birth sign.

Astrologers have already taken the wobble (also known as the precession of the equinoxes) into account, regardless of what a lot of scientists and so-called scientific reporters are saying. Those who claim otherwise simply haven’t done their research.

Let me explain. It’s a simple concept and will only take a minute.

The Tropical Zodiac

Most Westerners use the tropical zodiac. This is the one you find in the sun sign columns in the United States. By definition, this determines the sign placements by using the sun, not the constellations, thus the name tropical (which relates to the sun, as in “the tropics”).

Specifically, the moment of the vernal equinox, the location of the sun is declared to mark the exact beginning of Aries, the first sign of the zodiac.

That means that if you are born on the day after the vernal equinox, you by definition have an Aries sun in the tropical zodiac that’s used in the West.

This doesn’t change and is still true. It’s based on the sun and seasons so has nothing to do with the precession.

The Sidereal Zodiac

There’s another system called the sidereal zodiac. It’s used in Vedic astrology (also known as Hindu astrology, Indian astrology, or Jyotish) and by a very few Westerners. The sidereal zodiac is based on which constellation a planet actually appears to be in as we look toward it from earth, with the backdrop of stars behind it. It is not sun-based like the tropical zodiac, but star-based, thus the name sidereal which means “star”.

This is equivalent to and in complete agreement with the system used by astronomers. So if you look up and see Venus, and you see Taurus behind it, in this system you would say Venus is in Taurus.

About 2000 years ago, both of the zodiac systems lined up, and on vernal equinox, the sun actually appeared to be at 0° Aries.

So Why the Confusion?

Due to the wobble of the earth, the sun’s position in the sky as seen from earth (that’s the sidereal zodiac, remember) has since shifted backwards about 23° from where it was then.

So nowadays, the sun appears from earth to be at about 7° Pisces at the moment of the vernal equinox, not at 0° Aries.

That means that if you were born the day after the vernal equinox, you have a Pisces sun in the sidereal zodiac.

The confusion stems from the fact that the sidereal/astronomer’s (star-based) zodiac is almost 3/4 of a sign off from the tropical (sun-based) zodiac. (This is what Prof. Kunkle mentioned and what started the media frenzy.)

So you can have an Aries sun in the tropical zodiac but a Pisces sun in the sidereal zodiac. And that’s fine. They’re two different systems.

There’s Nothing New Here

But here’s the thing: this is and has been common knowledge. Astrologers have known this all along. And their systems take that into account.

By definition, the tropical zodiac does not change with the precession of the equinoxes, and the sidereal zodiac does, as it constantly shifts to account for the precession.

This is all as it should be and nothing has changed.

So, have we cleared all that up?

As for this new constellation Ophiuchus? Well. Have you ever looked up into the night sky from the mountains or desert? It’s astounding! There are hundreds of constellations! (88 official ones.) Astrology has been developed and built on a particular set of 12 (plus 27 lunar constellations in Jyotish), and there’s no reason at all for that to change.

So there really is nothing new under the sun… at least related to astrology.

And here’s hoping you rest easier tonight, by the light of that silvery moon.

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  29 Responses to “The Final Word on Ophiuchus and Astrology Signs”

Comments (23) Trackbacks (6)

    Oh thank goodness! This so called New Zodiac turns me into a Taurus. Ya right!!! I am Gemini through and through. Both of me emphatically know this to be true. *grin*


      So funny, because the astrology I practice (and which is amazing if I say so myself) is sidereal, meaning we likely would see your Sun as actually having been in the Taurus constellation when you were born. (At least that’s true for 3/4 of the Gemini’s). And I do think you, er, both of you, have a real down-to-earth sense of humor… kind of a Taurus-y thing, IMHO. 😀

      However, that’s not the whole story, by far. It could be that you actually had a lot of planets in Gemini too, or that you simply have a strong Mercury somewhere prominent. So many factors. Not the least of which is that in Jyotish, we emphasize your Ascendant (rising sign) far more than we do your Sun. (Oh, it’s all just so fun to consider but I will not go on and on. ;-))

      Thanks bunches for coming by and brightening our space!


    Hi Patti,
    I’m glad you’re getting the word out about the Procession of the Equinoxes. As soon as I heard this story I knew it was an “old story.” I’m still a good old Scorpio and will be until I die.
    Hope you’re having a great weekend.


      Hi Angela,
      Yes, I’m sure the excitement will die down pretty soon, but all the misinformation flying around out there drove me a little batty so I quickly pounded this out when I was supposed to be going to bed. Not as clear as when I’m talking with people, but it’s something, anyway.
      Scorpio, hey? Pretty fascinating sign.
      Thanks for coming by (and for the tweet too)!


    Hi Patti,

    Perfectly clear! Very easy to understand. Thanks so much. An undying Virgo you have here!

    But what’s that earth wobble about, I wonder? Are we safe on a wobbly earth? Just kidding. 🙂


      Oh you’re too funny! I figure I’m safe cuz I wobble one way and the earth wobbles the other and we balance each other out.

      And I hope this was clear because it’s nice to be able to reassure so many die-hard whatevers. (Even though I use the sidereal zodiac and can’t for the life of me grok how tropical (Western) astrology can possibly make sense! Still, I get that it’s its own system and we astrologers have to stick together.)

      Thanks so much for visiting! OH, and thanks for the tweet!


    Hi Patti! Thanks for clearing this up. I knew about the two zodiacs but I wasn’t aware about the confusion. I’m glad to hear that it says the same. How does the Chinese zodiac fit in this equation if at all?
    Thanks for the info. Loving blessings!


      Hi Andrea,
      Nice to see you here — welcome!
      And gee, good but difficult question! I’ve got only a little knowledge of Chinese astrology, but one of the most important pieces of info I have is that there is a lot of misinformation “out there” about it. Even in published books (by Western authors especially, I hear). Perhaps because they have always been quite secretive about it. Or perhaps because they have many systems, all quite complex. And some (or maybe all?) of them don’t even use the zodiac we know and love at all.
      So, in short, I don’t know! Sorry! (I get curious myself and have an urge to research it but I am way late for dinner, and I do have my priorities, lol.)
      Boy, you’re tough! But still a pleasure. Thanks so much for coming by!


    Why Patti, what a lovely job you’ve done of clarifying this matter. I have to admit astrology is a bit outside my ken but you’ve done a fine job of simplifying this for a layman like me. A hug. You’ve earned the right to put your feet up for a few moments and have a nice coffee.


      Hi Christopher,
      So nice to see you in this neck of the woods! And this is even a little bit of an unusual post for me, such a general “technical information” post, but I kind of impulsively typed it up when I heard so much misinformation flying around out there. So here it is.
      And here you are! How nice. Thanks for coming by, and hugs back.


    Hi Patti,

    This really clears up the confusion I have been having. I have always been an Aries and would not want to change that. Although I had a fascination with astrology early in my life, I never went beyond my Sun, Moon and Ascendant. And I also never went into sidereal astrology. It helps to know that I can always come to you if I have any questions about astrology amongst other things. 😀

    Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Irving the Vizier


      Hi Irving,

      Good! I’m glad to be able to clear it up.

      I wasn’t aware of any of this before getting involved in astrology. I think you are more ahead of the game than most if you actually know your Ascendant and Moon, since most only know their Sun according to the dates for the tropical/Western system.

      I really like sidereal because it’s where the planets truly are, as I see it – literally and figuratively! And I am amazed at how well it works. I wrote about my discovery of this in one of my posts, How to Get Your Own Unique Road-Map For Life. Before that I had a pretty poo-poo attitude about astrology. Yes!

      And you do know where to go now with astrology questions. I’m happy to answer whatever I can for you.

      Thanks for coming by, always a pleasure.


    Hi Patty,
    my name is Anish and I am from Mumbai, India. It is nice to know that astrologers take into account the precession of the earth and people need not worry about the “13th sign”. My grandpa was an astrologer (vedic) and I have seen his predictions being excellent. So before reading this I had a feeling that this new sign thing would not affect astrology otherwise my grandfather’s study wouldn’t have been so good. I had also planned to write in my own blog about this issue once I had the correct information. It will be nice to give a reference to your article.

    I am also trying to read more on astrology to the extent of knowing how an individual’s nature is influenced by the various planets, the Sun, the moon etc. That is why the interest in finding out the views of an astrologer.


      sorry for the typo..(Hi Patti!)


      Hi Anish,

      Wow, you’ve come a long way! 😉 I notice a lot of people from India come by here but you are the first to comment. So thanks for that; I’m happy to make your acquaintance. I think it’s great that (Vedic) astrology is so common there and such a part of dialy life.

      As for this, I’m glad it’s helpful. I wrote it pretty objectively but personally a big reason I’ve been able to accept (and come to almost revere) Vedic astrology is because is does use the sidereal zodiac. We/sidereal/Vedic have always been astronomically correct, adjusting the ayanamsa accordingly. You might also like this article by Liz Duncan. She always goes into great detail.

      And I periodically write about our nature as it relates to the planets and plan to do that even more than I have. It helps to know what you want to see more of so thanks for that.

      Thanks so much for coming by and joining in!


    Hi, thank you! I was confused, and a little bit now but not as I was when I heard about this sideral zodiac. The only things that frustrates me was the personality chart, it was like a confirmation rading the meaning of being born with the Sun in Aries and Saggitarius rising for tropical Zodiac, but when I saw that the Sun was actually in Pisces constellation I was like : “Nooooo!” … very frustrating for me. I don’t have bad feelings about pisces but I really like to be an fire sign with fire ascendant, it’s enough with me having the Moon in Pisces, to have that strong personality, to read the personality and all things from the planets ant houses as they are in tropical zodia. I wonder if personality charts are the same in sideral for each zodiac sign. By the way, I am 22, born on 5 April, ARIES with Sagittarius rising and I am from Romania! Sorry for my bad english and for my annoying message!

    With love,


      Hi Bogdan,

      Welcome! This message is not annoying at all, and your English is excellent. I’m thrilled that you commented. And maybe you will be too, because I can probably help you feel a little better…

      First, if you are Sagittarius rising in tropical, chances are you are Scorpio rising in sidereal. That’s ruled by Mars, a very fiery planet! In jyotish at least, rising sign has much more influence than Sun sign. And so does the location of your Moon, its nakshatra as well as its sign.

      But besides all that, remember there are lots of influences shown in a chart. It may be that you have lots of really strong fiery planets. Or you may have lots of planets in fire signs. Looking just at one planet is really just a shorthand and although it’s fun and sometimes useful, don’t put all your eggs in that one basket.

      I’m so glad you came by! It shows you left this comment days ago but it only just now showed up here. Sorry for the delay.


        Thank very much for the reply, and yes, I am thrilled too of your reply, I didn’t expect that, you are such a wonderful person. Confusion and illusion may rule my mind, and I think with power of mind, of believing that I am an Aries with Sagittarius rising just makes me one, I believe it’s like a Placeebo effect. Naive me again.

        Anyway I was born on 5 April 1989 at 00:15 (Location: 45°17′N 26°33′E 45°17′N 26°33′E). So I understand now that the Planets may influence your character much more that the Sun does. I can be happy with that so far. Thank you again and have a nice weekend and a lovely living!


          Hi Bogdan,

          Ah, ya, well, sometimes I think we can use our placebo effects from anywhere we can get them, ha ha!

          I’m glad this gave you a more full understanding of why you might identify so much with your fire.

          I put some links into this post where you can actually calculate your sidereal chart if you’re curious. Alternatively, if you already know your tropical positions, you can just move each planet backward in the zodiac by about 23 degrees (this difference, called the ayanamsa, is always changing) from its tropical position and that gives you your sidereal sign placement too.

          Thanks for your visits and your comments!


          Thanks for your tips and hints and for doing this. I will visit more and more your site and recommend it to others. If I had any money I would glad make a donation but not yet, my account is empty. Again, have a nice weekend and …. keep the good work!

          Love, Bogdan.


            Hi Bogdan,

            Oh thank you, I’m glad to be of help! And you already are contributing by your visits and comments. That’s all I want — no donations necessary.

            Thanks so much!

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