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Stars Remain In Their Usual Places; People Panic 468

Posted by timothy
from the why-is-the-alphabet-in-that-order? dept.
asheller writes "The Star Tribune tells us the zodiac signs have shifted. Earth's wobble has shifted the signs, a new one's been added and many of us have changed signs. Formerly a Cancer, I've apparently been upgraded to Gemini and am now married to an Ophiuchus, a new sign. What's yor sign? The new Zodiac Chart is pretty interesting." Here are some priceless reactions to this celestial development. As long as the Chinese Zodiac is unaffected, I'll still be able to accurately judge people based on when they were born, so please indicate in comments your (new) sign and birth year animal, so we'll be able to know where you're coming from.
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Stars Remain In Their Usual Places; People Panic

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  • by McTickles (1812316) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @02:18PM (#34890584)

    You could care less? so in fact you do care ?

    I, however, salute your attempt to care less...

    for the last time it is: "I could'NT care less"... meaning it is impossible for you to care even less about something

    I could care less means that you care and could actually care less, someday...

  • by jimicus (737525) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @02:19PM (#34890602)

    I mean, yeah this was funny and all, but if I wanted to read an aggregation site covering spoof sites like The Onion, I'd do so.

  • by Late Adopter (1492849) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @02:37PM (#34890780)
    The ecliptic from the Earth's perspective is constant (by definition), and the Sun's travel across the ecliptic is about as constant. Astrologers don't REALLY believe that constellations occupy precisely 30 degree chunks of the ecliptic, with Aries starting precisely at the vernal equinox. The constellations were just a conventional way to label those segments.

    What's slightly more disconcerting about this article is that Astrology knew about this long long ago. They have a name for when a new constellation reaches the vernal equinox, it's the beginning of an "Age". You know, like the "Age of Aquarius"?

    Astrology is a superstitious hobby of zero scientific merit, but even within its own formulation this article should have no impact on it.
  • Bad astronomy (Score:5, Informative)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @02:37PM (#34890788) Journal

    I think that Bad Astronomy summed it up perfectly [discovermagazine.com].

  • Re:really... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @02:44PM (#34890860)

    Yup. Anyone who has taken a cursory glance at an astronomy or a biology or really any science book knows astrology is absurd. More than anything, I think this story is worthwhile for pointing out how big a place astrological signs and their "meaning" still have in our world. Hopefully this helps push it out.

    In actuality, people have known this for millennia. The precession of Earth's axis has been known about since the Greeks, and is pretty basic astronomy. The wobble of our axis takes about 26,000 years to go around once, and since the current system has been around in some form for about 2,500 years, that means we've gone 1/10 of the way around. 12 signs, 10% off - that means most people change by one sign, and lo, so it is.

    Additionally, constellations are not all the same size, so some should be much more common than others. More to the point, constellations do not form a perfectly connected circle, so many people are born technically between signs. What this means is that astrological signs are, at this point, completely dependent on a man-made calendrical system, which have changed throughout our history, sometimes radically.

  • by Mysteray (713473) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @02:45PM (#34890878) Homepage

    The real fraud here is the way the science media sets up this same straw man every year so their believers can break their arms patting themselves on the back feeling superior to "those stupid pseudoscientific wannabees who believe in astrology".

    The reality is that, as TFA hints at, western astrology hasn't been based on stars for thousands of years. ...approximately since the constellations were when they were assigned. It's based on equinoxes. Open any book on astrology that goes deeper than sun-sign horoscopes and you'll find a thorough treatment of this topic in one of the first few chapters. But most of you enjoy dumping on stuff you haven't read much about.

    I regret that I have to say this but note that I have not expressed an opinion on the merits of astrology in this post. If you reply as if I had, you're only proving your inability to participate in neutral discussion.

  • by Miseph (979059) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @02:54PM (#34890978) Journal

    My kingdom for a mod point... sadly, I think most people missed the joke...

  • by An Anonymous Coward (236011) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @03:00PM (#34891020)

    Uh, yeah. You obviously have no idea how the zodiac symbols were really decided. On the day you were born the Sun is sitting in the middle of a constellation. That was how it was determined. You are also ignoring the fact that not only do the zodiac symbols rotate slowly through the calender, because of the exact same second rotational axis, so do the seasons. In 11,500 years, Dec. 21 will be midsummer in the northern hemisphere. I don't know how you'd think it has anything to do with seasons, anyway. Leave it to the superstitious to ignore any actual facts or history.

    Uh, yeah. You obviously have no idea how the zodiac symbols were really decided. Western astrology has always used the tropical zodiac which is based on the four seasons, instead of the sidereal zodiac which is based on the location of the sun in the various constellations. I don't know how you'd think it doesn't have anything to do with seasons anyway, I've known that since at least middle school. Leave it to the self-righteous to ignore any actual facts or history.

    See also: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/13/no-your-zodiac-sign-hasnt-changed/?hpt=C2 [cnn.com]

  • by mrsquid0 (1335303) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @03:09PM (#34891084) Homepage

    That is true, for anyone who is 2000 years old.

  • by leuk_he (194174) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @03:36PM (#34891282) Homepage Journal

    From your article "That's because Western astrology strictly adheres to the tropical zodiac, which is fixed to seasons. "

    that is a simple one. The seaon one is born is affects people. e.g. baby's get more light in the summer in their first 3 months when born in the start of the summer.

    In school the child born in march are a half year older then thos born in august, but are put in the same class (at the age of 5 that is is a huge difference. ) and will affect their behaviour.

    And yes there are real studies [webmd.com] on this.

    And yes, unless you are karma capped your karma can rise from this.

  • by bmo (77928) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @04:57PM (#34891818)

    I'm sorry, but your last two sentences are BS. And your first sentence sounds like a lot of butthurt, honestly.

    If "neutral discussion" means accepting Astrology on par with Science in a discussion, I think you have the misapprehension that all ideas have equal weight in discussions. They don't. There are good ideas with evidence behind them, and there are those that have not gathered any hard evidence in the past 3000 years. Guess which one is Astrology?

    --
    BMO

  • by KingSkippus (799657) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @05:00PM (#34891840) Homepage Journal

    Hello from your fellow Ophiuchus! I was a little depressed about losing the macho points associated with having the only zodiacal symbol that was armed with a weapon until I looked up what "Ophiuchus" is. The serpent bearer, represented by a guy clutching his snake. (No, that's not a euphamism; but even if it were, it'd still be a hell of a cool sign.)

    According to the definitive authority on the matter (Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]):

    According to Roman era mythography, the figure represents the healer Asclepius, who learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one serpent bringing another healing herbs. To prevent the entire human race from becoming immortal under Asclepius' care, Zeus killed him with a bolt of lightning, but later placed his image in the heavens to honor his good works.

    That's the same Asclepius whose staff (with the serpents) is the modern symbol of medicine.

    I'll let others argue over whether the new Zodiac is valid (well, as "valid" as the zodiac can be...). As for me, I don't mind being an Ophiuchus. Maybe we should insist that we be referred to by its old name, Serpentarius.

  • by ThePeices (635180) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @05:38PM (#34892104)

    Western Astrology being based upon equinoxes does not change the fact that astrology, in all its forms, is still superstition. It does not have any scientific merit or physical evidence to support its claims.

    We do not have to read too much about astrology before the superstition/magic element becomes obvious.

    You can change the details, but fundamentally, it is still based upon superstition/magic.

  • by tragedy (27079) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @06:33PM (#34892494)

    Actually the staff of Asclepius only has one serpent. For some reason, the US medical industry especially, uses a staff with two serpents and wings, the Caduceus. Apparently, that symbol was used by a medical publisher and became a default symbol. The Caduceus was the symbol of Hermes (although it may date back before greek culture), who was the messenger god and also god of liars, thieves and of the dead who were passing from life to the underworld. Depending on your opinion of doctors, you might think that's spot on, or you might think it's bad advertising for their profession.

  • by Surt (22457) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @06:52PM (#34892656) Homepage Journal

    I only claimed the evidence was better than for Santa Clause.

  • by Suffering Bastard (194752) on Saturday January 15, 2011 @08:20PM (#34893252)

    Please explain this part. Especially what kind of understanding it brings, and how the synchronization thing works.

    I am happy to give it a shot. The understanding afforded by astrology is similar to what you might get from a good psychotherapist. It can paint a picture that can reveal insights that are not easily discovered any other way. At it's essence, astrology is simply another language for understanding oneself in context with the surrounding world.

    As for how the synchronicity works, well that's the great mystery. It is the point where this philosophy, like all philosophies do at some point, including science, begins to dream. Some like to say the planets "beam" energy to us and influence us. In my view, this is a naive misunderstanding of astrology and human free will. I think of the planets as more like a map. They hint at potentials that can be derived, understood and applied to make life richer and more engaging.

    Also what predictions are made? Give a few examples

    As I stated, astrology is not about making absolute predictions. It can, however, provide a guidance system for navigating life and, often times, in dealing with a crisis scenario. My own example has to do with a health crisis I experienced in 2008. I began having digestive problems and a great deal of pain and tension in my pelvic floor. At this time, Pluto, in Capricorn, was at a 90 degree angle (a "square aspect" in astrology, an aspect of tension) to my natal Pluto, in Libra. In astrology Pluto rules digestion as well as the area of one's nether-regions, including the pelvic floor. My 6th house (the area of the chart that rules health, among other things) is cusp Scorpio, the sign that Pluto rules. In other words, my chart makes it rather clear that I would suffer health issues in the area of my body that Pluto rules, and these issues were set off just as transiting Pluto began to make an "adverse" aspect to my natal Pluto. Moreover, according to an ancient chart on medical astrology, zero degrees Libra (where my natal Pluto is stationed) represents the pelvis. Note that I did not deduce these factors until after the fact, I had only just begun looking at astrology when my health issues first began.

    Also during this time, Jupiter was moving into conjunction with my natal Jupiter in Capricorn (what is termed a "Jupiter return"). Because my Jupiter is in the 8th house (the house of money, inheritance, taxes, among other things) I had already wondered if the Jupiter return would bring about an inheritance or some kind of money windfall. As it turned out, my grandfather passed away at this time and left me a sizable inheritance, much more than I had assumed he had saved.

    This post is already long winded, so I'll skip other examples. Again, no one made any hard predictions, but the clear relationship between astrological interpretation and my own life experience cannot be ignored, not by me at least. So I have looked to astrology for a greater sense of context and guidance, and it has been of valuable help.

    For astrology to really work, it does require a surrender of one's bias against phenomenon that cannot be directly sensed by physical senses. It requires an acceptance of at least the possibility that there is greater intelligence at work than what our human brains can initially perceive; that the synchronicity of "as above, so below" can only exist if a universal consciousness is extant. Modern science has difficulty getting around its perceptual biases because it requires direct physical proof to stake a claim. This is of course as it should be. However, that does not mean that what science cannot falsify does not exist, such as a higher governing intelligence (note I am not referring to "God" in the religious sense). For my money, my direct experience trumps any scientific journal or academic teaching. My direct experience is also mutable. I don't claim to know anything with absolute certainty, and I hold all other sources of kno

  • by jc42 (318812) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @12:01AM (#34894456) Homepage Journal

    The ecliptic from the Earth's perspective is constant (by definition), and the Sun's travel across the ecliptic is about as constant.

    This brought to mind an image of hundreds of astronomers grinning and chuckling as they read it. ;-)

    The ecliptic, generally defined as the plane of the Earth's orbit around the sun, is hardly a constant for most astronomers' purposes. There are all sorts of variations happening to the Earth's orbit over time, and most of them have been measured to at least several decimal places. For example, the Earth is strongly affected by the Moon, whose orbit is inclined by a bit over 5 degrees to the ecliptic, producing a quite measurable up-down motion of the Earth relative to the supposed plane of its orbit (which isn't nearly a plane due to this motion). Over longer periods, larger up-down wiggles in the Earth's motion are induced by Jupiter and Saturn (and all the other planets, but those are the two biggies). Jupiter and Saturn have orbits inclined 1.3 and 2.5 degrees relative to the Earth's orbit, so their pull has a small vertical component that's quite measurable, and causes slow changes in the Earth's orbit over the years.

    As for the Sun's "travel" around the ecliptic, that presumably means its apparent motion in the sky due to the Earth's rotational speed. If you look that up, you'll find that the current estimate of the Earth's mean orbital speed is 29.78 km/s, but this varies from 29.29 km/s at aphelion (~ July 4) to 30.29 km/s at perihelion (~ Jan 3). This 1 km/s difference is about 3% of the orbital speed, so the Earth's orbital speed is only "constant" to one decimal place, but not to two places. The sun's apparent motion relative to the background stars would be the same as these numbers, and calling a 3% speed variation a constant would get you laughed out of amateur astronomer clubs.

    Over longer periods of time, these variations in the Earth's orbit are fairly large relative to the current numbers. And, of course, there's the problem of the solar system's motions around the galaxy, which include interactions with all the nearby stars. Astronomers have accurate measurements of the "proper motion" of at least several hundred of the closest stars, none of which is quite in a constant position relative to the solar system. Their gravitational pulls on us produce small variations in the orbits of everything in the solar system, adding to the general chaos that gives large error bars to orbital predictions more than a thousand or so years in the future.

    Actually, I read an interesting article a few years back that gave numbers for the effects on the Earth's orbit from the passage of several large near-Earth asteroids, and also for a few of the recent mass ejections from the sun. These also have a measurable effect on the Earth's orbit, which add up over the eons. This makes the concept of the "ecliptic" as a fixed plane an extreme over-simplification. The ecliptic is actually a very fuzzy concept. It describes a roughly planar volume that's a few thousand km thick (over a few years' time), and which slowly warps over eons. The Earth's actual position relative to this fuzzy volume varies in a complex manner that requires some extremely difficult calculations involving all the other massive bodies in the vicinity (including those near-Earth asteroids, which aren't entirely known, and solar mass ejections, which aren't predictable at all).

      But I suppose it's all constant enough for an astrologer. ;-)

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