Every so often a news story breaks that scientists have identified a 13th “sign” of the zodiac and therefore astrology is based on false premises. Usually this hoax is perpetrated by the media which is more interested in attracting viewers than in uncovering the truth. Typically a reporter who knows next to nothing about astrology finds an astronomer who is equally ignorant about the celestial art and manipulates the scientist into implying that the current zodiac is scientifically flawed because of the precession of the equinoxes.
Unfortunately, astrology is not taught in universities so most astronomers know very little about its theoretical basis and they are left to wallow in their ignorance. Reporters, for their part, rarely check their facts or seek an expert opinion from a knowledgeable astrologer. Equally unfortunately, the astrologers whom reporters choose to interview are often just as ignorant as the astronomers about the theoretical construct of the astrological zodiac.
The ancient astrologers were aware that the earth was round and that the date of the first day of spring was shifting over the years due to the precession of the equinoxes. To resolve this dilmemma, the ancient Greek astrologers developed a mathematical model of the zodiac in which each “sign” was defined to contain exactly 30 degrees of the 360 degree circle. The signs were named after the constellations along the path of the sun. The first day of spring back then began when the sun entered the constellation of Aries, so astrologers named their first sign Aries.
Astrologers were aware that the constellations had varying lengths. They were not all exactly 30 degrees. They were also aware of a 13th constellation called Ophiuchus, but it didn’t matter because there were 12 major constellations whose names they could use for their mathematical “signs.” The early astrologers defined a “sign” to be a twelfth part of the zodiac circle. One twelfth of a circle is exactly 30 degrees. A sign is not a constellation. Why are astronomers unable to comprehend this simple fact?
The bottom line is that the astrological zodiac is a mathematical model in which there are exactly 12 signs of 30 degrees each, just as there are exactly 12 items in a dozen. To say that astronomers have discovered a 13th sign is akin to saying that astronomers have discovered that there are really 13 items in a dozen, and grocers have been miscounting all along.
It is surprising that scientists are willing to pontificate about a subject they know almost nothing about. Science is supposed to be based on evidence and checking the facts, not on mere bias against astrology. It is not surprising, however, that reporters spread such nonsense because by and large they make a living peddling false reports and spreading gossip. I realize that what I just wrote probably goes over the heads of most members of the media, but scientists should be able to get it. Let me repeat the bare essentials that astrologers have been aware of for the past 2000 years, if not longer:
- There are 13 CONSTELLATIONS that lie in annual path of the sun around the heavens.
- The precession of the equinoxes makes the first day of spring shift over the centuries by about 1 degree every 72 years.
- To avoid confusion, the highly intelligent developers of astrology in the West decided to design a mathematical model of the path of the sun which always began on the first day of spring. These early astrologers had significantly higher IQs than the average member of today’s media.
- Astrologers divided the 360 circle traveled by the sun into 12 equal segments which they called the SIGNS of the zodiac.
- As a shorthand, they named the first SIGN Aries after the first constellation of spring, and they continued naming SIGNS after the CONSTELLATIONS.
- Because there were exactly 12 SIGNS of 30 degrees each (12 x 30 = 360), there was one name left over, so Ophiuchus was never needed as a name. There are and always will be 12 SIGNS of the zodiac because SIGNS are a mathematical division of a circle into 12 parts.
- For homework, I would like all reporters and astronomers to write 100 times: There are 13 constellations but only 12 signs in the zodiac. Signs are not constellations. The signs all have exactly 30 degrees but the constellations are of varying length. The signs got their names from the constellations. Having the same name does not mean they are the same thing. There are still 12 items in a dozen.
I hope this clarifies the issue even for members of the media who will probably choose to ignore the facts and spread the gossip and misinformation when the feeling moves them.
By the way, I just came across a revolutionary piece of news that challenges the very foundation of modern engineering. In the year 1173 architects in Pisa, Italy, began the construction of a vertical tower based on a widely held theory that vertical structures stood 90 degrees from the ground. Scientists have recently reported that the Tower of Pisa leans horizontally at about 3.99 degrees, thus challenging the old notion that vertical towers form a 90 degree angle with the horizontal. The world of engineering has been turned upside down. People around the world who live in high-rise buildings are calling their local architects to ask what this means about their so-called vertical habitats. Can we believe anything that engineers tell us any more?