In episode 88 of the podcast Austin Coppock and Kelly Surtees join the show to discuss and dispel recent rumors that NASA has changed the signs of the zodiac, and clarify the relationship between the zodiacal signs and constellations.
Below you will find the show notes, followed by links to download or stream the recording of our discussion.
An outline of some of the topics we talked about and points made during the episode:
Timeline of September NASA Rumor
This is a short timeline that I attempted to put together in order to explain the sequence of how the September 2016 NASA rumor came out:
- Last big zodiac controversy happens in January of 2011.
- January 13, 2016 – Short astrology page updated on NASA education blog
- The original article was shorter, and written a few years earlier.
- The article doesn’t say anything about NASA changing the signs.
- January 20, 2016 – High school newspaper blog notes article, but doesn’t gain traction
- September 2, 2016 – Spirit Science blog publishes original sponsored click-bait post.
- “Your Astrological Sign Has Shifted: NASA Updated The Zodiac Signs For The First Time In 2,000 Years”
- Article makes it seem like NASA itself has recently changed the signs.
- September 3–4+, 2016 – Spirit Science post gets shared widely on Facebook
- September 12–17 – Story picked up, esp. by women’s magazine sites in second week.
- September 20/21 – NASA issues updated article/statement on Tumblr blog
- BBC runs story talking about how the NASA story spread September 21.
- September 22-26 – Coverage from local news networks + lots of other sites.
- NPR runs story on zodiac issue on September 25.
- The three “zodiacs”: constellational, sidereal, tropical.
- Only the tropical and sidereal zodiacs are typically used in practice as reference systems.
- Tropical zodiac aligned with equinoxes and solstices, sidereal with constellations.
- Zodiac standardized to 12 signs of 30 degrees each around 5th century BCE.
- Around the same time natal astrology was developed.
- Most of the qualities associated with the signs didn’t come about until 1st century BCE.
- Tropical and sidereal zodiacs roughly aligned then.
- Some qualities taken from the tropical zodiac, some from sidereal.
- Part of the misconception is the assumption that all of the qualities that astrologers associated with the signs are derived from the constellations, which is not true.
- Precession – slow drift apart – 1 degree every 72 years.
- Tropical zodiac already used by Hipparchus in the 2nd century BCE.
- Ptolemy firmly establishes tropical zodiac for western astrologers in 2nd century CE.
- Western astrologers largely using tropical zodiac since 2nd century.
- Sun-sign columns developed in 1930s predicated on tropical zodiac.
- To the extent that western astrology has been predicated on the tropical zodiac for 1800 years now, nothing has changed.
Articles each of us wrote in response to the original 2011 zodiac controversy, which are still relevant today:
- Chris: The Tropical, Sidereal and Constellational Zodiacs
- Austin: “OMFG I’m Not An Aries?!”
- Kelly: My two cents on the 13th sign controversy
A full transcript of this episode is available: Episode 88 transcript
Watch the Video Version
Update 7/17/2020: This episode was recorded before I started doing video versions of each episode regularly, although I did re-release an audio version on YouTube on July 17, 2020, for those who prefer to subscribe or listen to the podcast through YouTube:
Listen to This Episode
You can either play this episode of the podcast directly from the website or download it as an MP3 to your computer by using the buttons below: