The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Astrological Clarification

Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2003 09:55:23 -0400 (EDT)
From: Jason <XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX>
To: spc@conman.org
Subject: elaborate please

Sean,

Could you make a post elaborating on this one http://boston.conman.org/2003/07/03.1

You have me throuroughly confused. (see I cant even spell now … BAH!)

Email from Jason

This is certainly harder than I thought.

If (and this is a big hypothetical situation here), if you could see the stars when the sun is up in the sky, you would notice that slowly over the course of a year the stars would slowly shift relative to the sun (you can, however, notice this at night when certain groupings of stars, called contellations, rise a few minutes earlier each night). The path the sun makes through the backdrop of stars is called the ecliptic; the planets also appear along this path as well. Along this path are constellations—there are thirteen along the ecliptic, that the sun passes through during the year.

Why astrologers only consider twelve I do not know (I can speculate and say that twelve had religious significance as the Sumerians, Akkadians, Greeks and Romans had 12 major gods in their respective pantheons, and twelve is also easily divisible in half, thirds and fourths, and is a factor in 60, which the Sumerians used as their counting base, but like I said, this is speculation on my part) but only twelve signs are counted in the Zodiac house. The dates that the sun is travelling through a particular Zodiac constellation become the dates for that “sign,” so the sun is in Aries between March 21st (or the 20th or 22nd) through April 20th (or the 19th or 21st—depending upon which astrologer you listen to).

Only that's not true. It was, about 2,100 years ago. But the earth “wobbles” as it spins and this “wobble” (called precession) causes the sun to shift its path along the ecliptic for another cycle of about 26,000 years (the North Star is also affected by this—13,000 years from now Polaris will be some 23° away from the North Pole, but 26,000 years from now it will again be the Pole Star). This shifting means that the dates the sun is travelling across Aries (and the rest of the signs) has changed over the years, until today, when the sun is in Aries between April 19th through May 13th.

Also, the constellations are not the same size; Virgo is easily twice the size as Libra. This messes things up even more as the “longest” sign (Virgo) is 45 days, the shortest sign (Scorpius) is only 7 days with the average being 28 days (actually, it gets even worse—I added up the days given for each sign and came up 5 days short so you can't even trust the astrology debunking sites to get this right!).

So, even assumign that astrology is “legit,” every astrologer (and horoscope) is working under wrong assumptions and are a sign behind the times (more or less).

Does this clear things up?

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