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NASA: Your Zodiac Sign Is Wrong According to Science, but It Was Never Based on Science Anyway

The more you know.

People who care what their zodiac sign is got a little wigged out last week when (old) news made the rounds that NASA pointed out that astrology is based on nonsense—not for the normal reason that it doesn’t actually mean anything or tell the future (although that too), but because there are really 13 constellations in the zodiac, as opposed to the traditional 12, and the Sun aligns with them at different times than people previously believed. That means some people’s zodiac signs aren’t what they thought. Or it doesn’t, because zodiac signs are pretend anyway.

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Let’s back up and take a look at what the zodiac constellations are in the first place. Plotted out by the ancient Babylonians over 3,000 years ago, the zodiac constellations are organizations of stars—generally having nothing to do with each other besides humans deciding they make pictures—that fall along the path of a direct line from the Earth to the Sun as our planet makes its orbit. Over the course of the year, the Sun passes through each of these constellations, lending people born while it’s lined up with a particular constellation that zodiac sign. The Babylonians cheated, though, and skipped Ophiuchus, the 13th constellation, and assigned the rest of them equally to their 12-month character, despite the sun residing in each one for a different length of time.

NASA has simply looked at the actual constellations and how long the Sun stays in each (because astronomy is a science and that’s how it works), and they “did the math,” in their words, to show which constellations actually line up with which calendar dates. The start and end dates of constellations have shifted as a result of changes in the Earth’s orbit since the time of the Babylonians, but the astrological star signs were never based on the exact dates anyway, with constellations lining up with the Earth and the Sun from as many as 45 days to as few as 7.

That does mean that the Sun might not have been in the constellation you thought it was when you were born, but since zodiac signs already weren’t based on science or what actual constellations the Sun was in, why start now? You can just go right on ahead with the astrological sign you already had. I’m sure you’ll have a bright—if intentionally vague—future in any case.

(via Inverse, featured image via Eric Teske on Flickr)

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Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.