The Current Zodiac as Corrected for the Axial Precession of the Equinoxes

Astrology is fun narishkeit but to misquote Saul Lieberman saying something pithy in 1947,[ref]Find Abe Socher, “The History of Nonsense” in AJS Perspectives (Fall 2006).[/ref] the study of narishkeit is scholarship! After all, observing the movement of the sun and our planetary neighbors through the constellations on the plane of the Earth’s ecliptic has a long and important pedigree in the history of scientific observation and mythopoesis.

And so, in this spirit I want to share a helpful astrological reference explaining how the gloss of Zodiacal periods on the calendar is witness to the position of the Earth a couple thousand years ago and there’s been a certain degree of calendrical drift since then.

Folk interested in what their Zodiac sign is nowadays (taking into account the 25,800-year cyclical wobble of the earth on its axis) should read on as to what Pedro Bragança wrote for Live Science last September (back when I was certain I was a Virgo instead of a Leo!).

The table below lists the dates when the sun is actually within the astronomical constellations of the Zodiac, according to modern constellation boundaries and corrected for the Precession of the equinoxes (these dates can vary a day from year to year). You will most likely find that once precession is taken into account, your Zodiac sign is different. And if you were born between Nov. 29 and Dec. 17, your sign is actually one you never saw in the newspaper: you are an Ophiuchus! The ecliptic passes through the constellation of Ophiuchus after Scorpius. Check out your “real” zodiac sign, based on the sun’s current path, and compare it to the date still used by astrologers:

Zodiac Sign Period (corrected) Period (uncorrected)
Capricorn Jan. 20 to Feb. 16 Dec. 23 to Jan. 21
Aquarius Feb. 16 to March 11 Jan. 22 to Feb. 20
Pisces March 11 to April 18 Feb. 21 to March 19
Aries April 18 to May 13 March 20 to April 20
Taurus May 13 to June 21 April 21 to May 21
Gemini June 21 to July 20 May 22 to June 22
Cancer July 20 to Aug. 10 June 23 to July 22
Leo August 10 to Sept. 16 July 23 to Aug. 22
Virgo Sept. 16 to Oct. 30 Aug. 23 to Sept. 22
Libra Oct. 30 to Nov. 23 Sept. 23 to Oct. 22
Scorpio Nov. 23 to Nov. 29 Oct. 23 to Nov. 22
Ophiuchus Nov. 29 to Dec. 17 hidden by the Sun/not included in the Zodiac
Sagittarius Dec. 17 to Jan. 20 Nov. 23 to Dec. 22

This post was first published on my Facebook page on 12 June 2018.

About Aharon N. Varady

Aharon's Omphalos is the hobbit hole of Aharon Varady, founding director of the Open Siddur Project. He is a community planner and environmental educator working to improve stewardship of the Public Domain, be it the physical and natural commons of urban park systems or the creative and cultural commons of libraries and museums. His advocacy for open-source strategies in the Jewish community has been written about in the Atlantic Magazine, the Yiddish Forverts, Tablet, and Haaretz. He is particularly interested in pedagogies for advancing ecological wisdom, developing creative and emotional intelligence, and realizing effective theurgical praxes. He welcomes your comments, personal messages, and kind words. If you find his work helpful to your own or you'd simply like to support him, please consider donating via his Patreon account.

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