Recently, I was having a beer with some friends and the topic of birthdays arose. Somewhat inevitably, the subject of “birth signs” came up. I was born in October, so (apparently) I was born “in” Libra, and (apparently) that says something profound about me. I beg to differ, but (apparently) that’s a Libran trait as well, so I’ll lay out my case here for your consideration.
Our conversation was very much in jest, and light hearted, but it got me thinking about horrorscopes – hmmm, I’m sure I’ve spelt that correctly, but spellcheck doesn’t seem to agree :)
Like most good counterfeits, there’s a grain of truth in the base concept behind horrorscopes, and that is that the heavens can be used to track important events. Before the advent of calendars, knowing when to sow seed or when to conduct the harvest was important, and the position of certain stars at at certain times of year became a helpful guide in this regard. But horrorscopes are no more credible than chinese fortune cookies.
For something that has no basis in reality, the whole topic of horoscopes (sp) is hideously complex and convoluted. For the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to go with the simplest version most people are familiar with culturally, that of horoscopes being based loosely on when someone was born.
Zodiac symbols making up constellations outline the earth and create the Zodiac. As they revolve around the earth, the signs become event markers – Daily Horoscopes
The Zodiac does not “revolve around the earth,” rather Earth spins on its axis each day as it revolves around the Sun each year. This statement is five hundred years out of date.
If the constellations of the Zodiac held any influence over our lives, their influence would be less at that time of year, not greater. If anything, they should exert their greatest influence when they appear directly overhead at midnight, as that’s when they’re closest.
But the distances involved are so extreme compared to Earth’s orbit of the sun that our orbit never equates to more than a fraction of the overall distance. Alpha Centauri, as an example, is the closest star outside our solar system. At 25 trillion miles, our orbit around the sun equates to 0.000006% of the distance to Alpha Centauri. If there was any celestial influence over our earthly lives from these stars it would be static and unchanging regardless of where the constellation appeared.
Astrologers use the Zodiac to learn about people’s futures and how they react to life. For them, the Zodiac is the roadmap of people’s lives – Daily Horoscopes
Such a modest claim for a concept that is as thin as tissue paper. It will come as no surprise to learn there’s no scientific basis to astrology.
The scientific method is simple. There’s nothing mysterious or mystical about science. Does an idea live up to its claim when scrutinized in detail? In essence, that’s all science is.
The premise that celestial events influence earthly events has been shown to be false.
Astrology fails to recognize that the stars we see appear as though they are all the same distance from us, but this is a line of sight illusion.
Stand on a street and look at the telephone poles stretching into the distance. Those further away appear much closer that those you see next to you even though they’re all evenly spaced. In the same way, two stars may appear close together in a particular constellation but can be separated by a greater depth of distance than two stars that appear to be spread apart in different constellations.
In this image, stars from several Zodiac constellations are clustered relatively close to our sun, while the vast majority of the hundreds of stars making up these constellations (as seen from our perspective on Earth) are thousands of light years away.
A solar-centric perspective destroys the illusion of the Zodiac.
Ah… but it gets worse… You’re probably familiar with these dates
|Aries||The Ram||March 21 to April 20.|
|Taurus||The Bull||April 21 to May 20.|
|Gemini||The Twins||May 21 to June 20.|
|Cancer||The Crab||June 21 to July 21.|
|Leo||The Lion||July 22 to August 22.|
|Virgo||The Virgin||August 23 to September 22.|
|Libra||The Scales||September 23 to October 22.|
|Scorpio||The Scorpion||October 23 to November 21.|
|Sagittarius||The Archer||November 22 to December 21.|
|Capricorn||The Fish-Tailed Goat||December 22 to January 20.|
|Aquarius||The Water Bearer||January 21 to February 19.|
|Pisces||The Fish||February 20 to March 20.|
The problem is… they’re all wrong.
The Zodiac was drawn up around two thousand years ago, when these dates coincided with the correct location of these constellations in the sky. Since then, the precession of Earth, its slow “wobble” through space, has caused these dates to shift.
If you’ve never heard of precession it might seem a little obscure, but Earth slowly precesses like a child’s spinning top. Although the top is spinning rapidly, its axis slowly points in a different direction over time.
Over a period of almost 26,000 years, Earth slowly points at a different point in outer space. Polaris hasn’t always been the pole star and won’t remain the pole star. The celestial north pole will drift as far as Vega due to precession.
|Constellation||Original Date||Actual Date|
|Aries||March 21 – April 20||April 15 – May 15|
|Taurus||April 21 – May 20||May 16 – June 15|
|Gemini||May 21 – June 20||June 16 – July 15|
|Cancer||June 21 – July 21||July 16 – August 15|
|Leo||July 22 – August 22||August 16 – September 15|
|Virgo||August 23 – September 22||September 16 – October 15|
|Libra||September 23 – October 22||October 16 – November 15|
|Scorpius||October 23 – November 21||November 16 – December 15|
|Sagittarius||November 22 – December 21||December 16 – January 14|
|Capricorn||December 22 – January 20||January 15 – February 14|
|Aquarius||January 21 – February 19||February 15 – March 14|
|Pisces||February 20 – March 20||March 15 – April 14|
And that’s a rather long-winded way of pointing out that rather than being born “in Libra” I was actually born in Virgo… so what does that tell you about me? Hah!