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The Wobble of Earth Messes with Astrologers

It’s been known for some time that planets follow the straightest path through curved space. Space is neither a flat plain nor an empty void, but is subject to warping by significantly massive bodies. The most obvious example for terrestrial life is the influence of the moon’s gravity on the tides (a fact which evaded former schoolteacher Bill O’Reilly in a recent interview.)

The Earth therefore hurtles through space following the straightest line in the space curved by the sun’s mass, a journey we know of as the year. Earth also rotates at just under 24 hours (Mars actually has the truest 24 hour rotation, whereas ours is around 23 hours and 56 minutes). It is also true that Earth wobbles on its axis like a top, and that a complete wobble is made every 26,000 years.

Astrology relies on an entirely different worldview. As a leftover from the earliest days of divination, it prefers a static universe that operates like clockwork. Indeed, the astrological calenders of ancient China were wildly intricate devices predicated on the notion that the universe was orderly. In the early Chinese view, the world itself had hatched from the egg of chaos. This theme is revisited by many classical cultures, including the Babylonian dragon of chaos Tiamat, who had to be slain in order for order to prevail. Even the Biblical God’s first action is to promote order (as light) from the void, before he commits to his tiered Creation process.

The popular Western zodiac, for example, was determined two thousand years ago, but it didn’t take into account the Earth’s wobble. Therefore, the zodiac signs today are off by approximately one month.

As Joe Rao of Hayden Planetarium recently pointed out, that original zodiac also included a thirteenth sign — Ophiuchus — for births between November 29 and December 17.

Nearly a third of Americans claim to believe in astrology. I do wonder if there will be any retconning of birth-signs now.

Then again, there hasn’t been much revisionism being done when the Number of the Beast was recently shown to be 616, rather than 666…

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