Barlow SkyWatch: Horoscopes

Mind Bending | April 1, 2019

By Alan J Peche, Director, Barlow PlanetariumScience is super powerful. Science is not a class like other subjects. Science is a method for testing the world around us to allow us to understand it. Science isn’t always right – but, it is usually the closest to being right until science corrects itself with a better answer.

In our modern age of awesome medicine, amazing technology, and nearly instant communication there are still unproven things that can sneak into our lives. Astrology is a great example. Astronomy, the science, tells us that the Earth has 3 motions: rotation (day and night), revolution (orbiting the Sun) and precession (the Earth wobbles like a toy top). Two of the motions are easy
to measure. Rotation takes 24 hours and revolution takes 365 days. Precession, however, takes about 26,000 years!

Astrology Then & Now

When astrology was created millennia (thousands of years) ago, astrologers did not know about precession. The result is that the dates astrologers determined for each of the astrological signs (the dates when the Sun is in each of those constellations) are now incorrect – by an entire zodiac sign!

For example, the astrology column in your local newspaper (and literally every other astrology place you can find) will say someone with who was born on April 5 is right in the middle of being an Aries. However, for the person born on April 5, we now know the Sun was actually right in the middle of the constellation of Pisces!

Several years ago in Minnesota, Astronomy Professor, Parke Kunkle, suggested that the dates used for the astrological signs were terribly incorrect and offered more correct dates for each of the astrological signs AND even added an additional sign; Ophiucus!

New Horoscope Signs

Aquarius: The Water Bearer January 20 – February 19 February 16 – March 11
Pisces: The Fish February 19 – March 20 March 11 – April 18
Aries: The Ram March 20 – April 19 April 18 – May 13
Taurus: The Bull April 19 – May 21 May 13 – June 21
Gemini: The Twins May 21 – June 21 June 21 – July 20
Cancer: The Crab June 21 – July 23 July 20 – August 10
Leo: The Lion July 23 – August 23 August 10 – September 16
Virgo: The Virgin August 23 – September 23 September 16 – October 30
Libra: The Scales September 23 – October 23 October 30 – November 23
Scorpio: The Scorpion October 23 – November 22 November 23 – November 29
Ophiucus: The Serpent Bearer Not Applicable November 29 – December 17
Sagitarrius: The Archer November 22 – December 22 December 17 – January 20
Capricorn: The Goat December 22 – January 20 January 20 – February 16

Additionally, since there is a planet component to all horoscopes, at the time horoscopes were created only the easily visible planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – were known. In the past 2000 years we have added Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, numerous dwarf planets and smaller solar system bodies, and thousands of exoplanets outside of our solar system!

Horoscope Accuracy & Believability

Humans automatically attempt to see patterns – even when there aren’t any. People will remember positive outcomes more frequently than negative. For example, if a horoscope says “you will increase your wealth today” a person will likely remember finding a quarter on the sidewalk and may believe the horoscope is correct. However, if the same person doesn’t find any money on the same day, the person likely won’t remember the horoscope being inaccurate. As Pope Francesco Guicciardini (1483 -1540) said, “How happy are astrologers if they tell one truth to a hundred lies, while other people lose all credibility if they tell one lie to a hundred truths.”

Over the years astrology has been scientifically tested numerous times – including the offering of a $1,000,000 prize if it was proven true. Each of the tests failed in spectacular fashion and, to date, the prize money has not been awarded.

The Universe is a truly fascinating place – just on science alone!

Each month, the Barlow Planetarium, Wisconsin’s first major planetarium, provides interesting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics for students of all ages.

TO GET A CURRENT SKYCHART: Visit the Skymaps link under the “Astronomy Resources” link at

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