An anonymous woodcarving from the late 19th century depicts a medieval pilgrm looking at the hidden workings of the universe -- an image commonly associated with the world of astrology.Wikipedia
Brace for the worst: You may be a Virgo, scientists say.
There are many newspapers and websites that promise to tell your fortune, detailing where the planets were when you were born and what their future movements suggest about your future. It's called astrology, and whether or not you believe in the signs of the zodiac, you won't believe this: It's all wrong.
Astronomers with the Minnesota Planetarium Society have dropped a bomb on the zodiac, noting that thanks to the millennia-long effect of the moon's gravitational pull on the Earth, there's about a one-month bump in the alignment of the stars. The result?
"When [astrologers] say that the sun is in Pisces, it's really not in Pisces," Parke Kunkle, a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, told the Star Tribune.
And if the sun isn't in Pisces, YOU'RE not in Pisces. Surprise! You're an Aquarius! New zodiac sign dates are in order, it seems.
Much of astrology -- called an ancient and complex system that uses math and science to predict the future -- relies upon careful observation of the heavens. And your astrological sign is based on the date of your birth, something that was tied very tightly to the position of the heavens back in Babylonian times.
"When someone asks you what your sign is, they're referring to your Sun Sign -- where the sun was in the Zodiac at the exact moment of your birth," explains the website of noted astrologer Kelli Fox. As the years have worn on, the position of the heavens has shifted ever so slightly -- but those signs haven't.
Could this be true? Is an Aries really a Cancer -- or worse yet, a Virgo? It's a question for Paul the Psychic octopus, of course. But sadly, the soccer-predicting sea creature died last year. So we asked Kunkle for clarification.
"Ever since astrology began back in 3000 B.C., we've known there were problems with it," he said with a chuckle. "The ancient Babylonians had 13 constellations, for example, so they just threw one out."
Ophuchicus, or the snake holder, was ejected from the charts when the Zodiac was codified at the 12 we know of today, to align it more accurately with the calendar. And Libra didn't come into things until Julius Caesar's time, Kunkle told FoxNews.com.
Seeing stars yet? It all comes down to the 26,000-year precession of the planets through space, he said, noting that a variety of gravitational forces have changed the position of the planets in the sky over time.
Bottom line, the astrological forecasts we've all been turning to may -- gasp! -- not be accurate at all, or at least they may be intended for other readers.
"We're off by about 10 degrees or so, a twelfth of the way around," Kunkle said.
Indeed, most horoscope readers who consider themselves Leos are actually Cancers, explained the Star Tribune. So instead of being courageous, natural-born leaders, they actually are sensitive and emotional -- ruled by moodiness, not innate rulers.
And those folks who have for decades considered themselves Sagittarius, the sign governed by the truth-seeking archer and ruled by Jupiter, are actually Scorpios -- stubborn, passionate people ruled over by Mars and Pluto.
So read with a grain of salt when Sally Brompton advises the Aries that January’s midheaven Solar Eclipse will move you closer to a long-term goal, or that you must keep a sense of perspective, and be prepared to change course in midstream if necessary. Your real sign may just be Pisces, and her real forecast advises you that some mountains can be moved and others very definitely cannot -- your predicament this year is to try to distinguish between the two.
And Capricorns, rejoice! NO need to worry about over-reacting to pressure from the powers that be, as Brompton warns. Instead, turn to the forecast of Aquarius, and know that a major conjunction between wealth planet Jupiter and changes planet Uranus means fundamental adjustments to the way you handle your finances are likely this year.
But whatever you do, keep this in mind: All signs point to fulfilling and rewarding year. For Geminis, anyway.
Jeremy A. Kaplan is Science and Technology editor at FoxNews.com, where he heads up coverage of gadgets, the online world, space travel, nature, the environment, and more. Prior to joining Fox, he was executive editor of PC Magazine, co-host of the Fastest Geek competition, and a founding editor of GoodCleanTech.