Astrologers strike back: New zodiac sign Ophiuchus is an old hoax

"The zodiac isn't wrong. Your sign isn't changing. Ignore the misinformation"

   on January 15 2011 5:29 AM

Astronomer Parke Kunkle's debunking of astrology and the viral wave of theories and anti-theories about the 13th zodiac sign Ophiuchus confounded the followers of astrology the world over, but also dealt a lethal blow to astrologers who withdrew to their shell groping for answers.

But now astrologers are striking back.

The zodiac isn't wrong. Your sign isn't changing. Ignore the misinformation, thundered astrologer Rob Brezny.

“Every year or so, another astronomer erupts into the mainstream media with a portentous announcement about how, due to the precession of the equinoxes, the astrological signs are no longer aligned with the actualconstellations, he wrote in his website.

Kunkle, who is a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, said in an interview that the Earth's position has changed vis-a-vis the Sun in the last 3,000 years when astrological signs were first allocated and there is a new sign called Ophiuchus which dictates the course of many events.

Because of this change of tilt, the Earth is really over here in effect and Sun is in a different constellation than it was 3,000 years ago.

Ripping apart the assertion of Parke Kunkle and many others of his ilk that astrology is invalid, Brezny challenges his adversaries to spend some time to really study basics of astrology. Those who are questioning the foundations of astrology should at least learn it well enough to know what they're talking about, lampoons Brezney, who runs Free Will Astrology.

Astrological signs do not line up with the constellations in the same way they did way back then, due to the precession of the equinoxes, he admits, but says this is irrelevant to modern astrologers.

Modern Western astrologers understand this perfectly. It 's irrelevant to their work because the information upon which they base their hypotheses does not involve a study of distant stars or constellations. Rather, their data have to do with the movements of the planets in our own solar system within a zone of influence defined by the relationship between the Earth and Sun.

He picks out Kunkle's theory that there is no physical connection between constellations and personality traits, saying, and rebuts it by saying that astrologers do not deal with constellations.

Western astrologers don't work with stars or constellations. Their focus is our solar system. They study the patterns of the planets and the moon as they pass through 12 zones defined by the relationship between the Earth and sun. Those zones have the same names as constellations because of a historical quirk, but they are unrelated to the constellations.

Eric Francis, a New York-based astrologer and scholar, says the latest debate is another smear on the science of astrology. He says Kunkle's revelations have no significance for the work of that for western astrologers, who use the tropical zodiac unlike the Vedic astrologers who use the sidereal zodiac.

There are two zodiacs in common use. Kunkle is describing what is called the sidereal zodiac: the backdrop of the stars. It’s not the zodiac used by most Western astrologers; it’s the one used by Vedic astrologers, the kind in India, and a few in our part of the world. The two zodiacs are offset by about 23 degrees.

He ridicules Kunkle's assertion that astrologers have got it wrong as the Earth’s position in relation to the sun has changed. Either this is a joke or Parke Kunkle is truly ignorant of his own science. It’s probably a bit of both, he wrote in an article in Planetwaves.

Here in the West, we use a zodiac that follows the seasons. It’s called the tropical zodiac. It’s based on the position of the Sun’s rays and the tropics — that’s why it’s called tropical. There is another one, based on the positions of the stars. It’s called the sidereal zodiac. If Kunkle doesn’t know this, it’s like a race car driver not understanding the concept of a tire.

And what is his take on the 'new' zodiac sign Ophiuchus that has set the Internet on fire? It's an old hoax originating from a science fiction novel, he says.

This is an old hoax. Historically, Ophiuchus has never been listed as a constellation in the sidereal zodiac. It is a constellation out there, but it’s off the ecliptic (that is, it’s not along the path of the Sun through the sky). I’ve read that Ptolemy mentions it in his literature as an off-zodiac constellation, meaning that the Sun never travels through it. In any event, there are some two dozen constellations that touch the ecliptic; but the sidereal zodiac uses just 12 of them.”

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