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Image / Editorial

Debunked: NASA confirms that they didn’t change the star signs


by Holly O'Neill
17th Jul 2020
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NASA says we can all forget about Ophiuchus


Earlier this week, a lot of people previously unconcerned about their horoscope had their world rocked when a 2016 blog post resurfaced online saying that an “extra” star sign ignored in Western astrology meant that everything you thought you knew about your zodiac sign was wrong.

Related: An astrologist on what’s coming for your starsign in 2020

So if were among those thinking, “there’s no way I’m not a Cancer! I’m terrified of being trapped but also terrified of being abandoned and I have an Oedipus complex” or, “I have to be a Capricorn! I’m stubborn, I’m materialistic, I control everything and I put myself under too much pressure!” then don’t worry. NASA says you’re right as always Capricorn, not that you ever believed you weren’t for a second anyway.

A quick background on astrology: it posits that the positions of stars and planets can influence human events. Renewed interest in horoscopes always seems to come in tandem with a decline in religious faith and economic uncertainty.

The first astrology column to appear in a newspaper appeared in the Sunday Express in August of 1930, post-Wall Street stock market crash, with the birth of Princess Margaret. “What the Stars Foretell for the New Princess” predicted that “events of tremendous importance to The Royal Family and the nation will come about near her seventh year”. In 1936, her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne, and the Sunday Express began writing weekly star sign columns. Many other newspapers soon followed suit.

The horoscope apps of today are not the woolly newspaper columns of the past. They go off your birth chart, which posits that the location of the planets in the sky at the time and place of your birth reveals deep information about you, your personality, your desires, experiences, relationships and motivation.

Yet, astrology is not a science, and NASA are not in the business of astrology, it’s astronomy they do, so they don’t want to be held responsible for Ophiuchus. “We didn’t change any zodiac signs, we just did the math,” they said.

NASA says Ophiuchus, the”13th star sign”, has been known for thousands of years. “The Babylonians lived over 3,000 years ago. They divided the zodiac into 12 equal parts – like cutting a pizza into 12 equal slices,” clarified NASA. “They picked 12 constellations in the zodiac, one for each of the 12 ‘slices’… But even according to the Babylonians’ own ancient stories, there were 13 constellations in the zodiac. So they picked one, Ophiuchus, to leave out.”

So there you have it — there’s no change to the zodiac and you don’t have to identify with a new star sign. Libras, you can stay passive-aggressive, Virgos you can stay nosy, Aries you can stay wanting anything you can’t have. I’ll stay overthinking the insignificant details and thriving on insulting you all, like a classic Sagittarius.

Digital illustration by Laura Kenny. 

Read more: A (very skeptical) beginner’s guide to reading tarot cards

Read more: These are the 5 best horoscope accounts to follow in 2020

Read more: Inside the modern world of incredibly accurate horoscope apps

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