(The constellation Ophiuchus, courtesy Wikiwand)
Stop Freaking out, NASA Did Not Just Change Your Zodiac Sign https://t.co/0Jd4IvOZdU
— ScienceAlert (@ScienceAlert) September 19, 2016
Glamour Magazine has set off a kerfuffle with a story confusing astrology with astronomy.
I got into amateur astronomy as a teenager, and have long known that the astrological sign dates did not match where the sun is during the course of the year. Saturn right now is in Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer, who sticks his foot in between Scorpius and Sagittarius.
But astrology has nothing to do with science, at least not modern science. It is a mystical system. If you really believe that the actual position of a particular planet in the sky has any effect on your life, it is not coming from a rational place. The non-rational (as distinct from irrational) has its place. I’m interested in stars with earth-like planets because they might harbor life.
As for constellations, they are just a convention, though an ancient one. We could make up our own if we wanted. I think the real universe is vastly more interesting than the mystical one. Neil deGrasse Tyson agrees with me, as did my late astronomer friend Frank Kameny. We were all born at different times of year: Tyson on October 5, Kameny on May 21, and I on March 30. As to its meaning, I invoke Edmund from King Lear:
“This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are
sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make
guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if
we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion;
knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical pre-dominance;
drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforc’d obedience of
planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine
thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whore-master man, to lay
his goatish disposition to the charge of a star! My father
compounded with my mother under the Dragon’s Tail, and my
nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it follows I am rough and
lecherous. Fut! I should have been that I am, had the
maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing.”