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January 14, 2011

You say Sidereal, I say Tropical


Presumably hoping to finance a digital surround system, the Minnesota Planetarium Society (MPS) has been making non-news this week with the "revelation" our astrological signs are out of alignment with the sky overhead.

Stargazers from the Minnesota Planetarium Society (MPS) have revealed the alignment of the stars has been pushed out by about a month because of the moon’s gravitational pull on Earth. This means that most of those born under the sign of Virgo are now Leos, and those born between November 29 and December 17 could belong to a new sign altogether.

The 13th sign - known as Ophiuchus - represents a man wrestling a serpent and was discarded by the Babylonians because they only wanted 12 constellations.

Such are the hazards of running a five thousand year old longitudinal correlational study and expecting journalists to follow the bouncing ball. Though, in fairness, the Daily Mail is doing a much better job with the problem than the Minnesota Planetarium Society.

What the astromers are failing to understand about claims made by Western astrology is that the stars are meant to be placeholders for cosmological influences and not, for example, to literally represent two fish swimming (not) swimming overhead for people born under the sign of Pisces. If a Pisces discovers she is literally "Aquarius" it means her Pisces behaviours and tendencies should technically be renamed Aquarius behaviours and tendencies, not astrologers believe she was somehow magically born at an earlier time of the year (unless they are practicing Hindu astrology in which case it may be another kettle of fish).

Pace my speculation as to the motives of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, I am also not clear why any of this is suddenly news. Devotees of Aleister Crowley are all familiar with the Precession of the Equinox and the heralding of this New Age of Horus people are always on about.

Though I would be happy to tell people I was an Ophiuchus.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at January 14, 2011 09:58 AM