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Astro101: The Signs of the Zodiac

17 Jan 2011, 19:14 UTC
Astro101: The Signs of the Zodiac
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Astro101 is an occasional series touching on the very basics of astronomy.

Image copyright © T. Credner & S. Kohle, AlltheSky.com

Last week, there was a surprisingly big flurry of astronomical news. Not over all of the exciting science coming out of the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society, despite all of the exciting results. Rather, the kerfuffle erupted over comments that astronomer Parke Kunkle made in an interview with the Minneapolis-St.Paul Star Tribune regarding astrology: namely, that the sun passes through thirteen constellations, not just the twelve, and that the signs of the zodiac don't align with astrological signs.

Kunkle didn't say anything astronomers haven't known since the second century B.C., and astrologers have been making excuses for just as long. But I'm not here to talk about why astrology is a load of bunk. (If you want to argue otherwise, do a few things before trying to tear me a new one: First, devise and execute a precise scientific study proving astrology and your explanation for how it works, and get your study published in a peer-review journal. This is something I require of even my best friends before I believe their claims. Second, go ...

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