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Americans Take Their Zodiac Signs Really, Really Seriously

Nowadays, the stars have shifted in the night sky so much that horoscope signs are nearly a month off.

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The shift is caused by precession, the wobble in the Earth's axis caused by the gravitational attraction of the moon to the Earth's equator. Precession popped into the spotlight this week after Minnesota Planetarium Society board member Parke Kunkle told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about the gap between the astrological and the astronomical view. The story spread around the Internet quickly, but it's actually old news, Rao said.

The attention triggered by his interview with the newspaper has been "astounding. Here's what astronomers know: The Earth is like a wobbly top. As it rotates, its axis swings in a circle, pointing in different directions.

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As the Earth's position shifts, so does our perspective of the night sky. For example, Rao said, we take the North Star, Polaris, for granted. It's the star most closely aligned with Earth's North Pole.

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But back when the pyramids were constructed, the star that aligned with the North Pole wasn't Polaris at all: It was a star in the constellation Draco called Thuban. Before we get to the simple answer of why the Internet freaked out, exactly what the Internet freaked out about should be explained, which also happens to be quite simple.

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The Zodiac signs are supposed to be the twelve constellations that happen to cross the line that is the ecliptic. Thing is, there are more than twelve constellations that cross the ecliptic. Say hi to Ophiuchus , the serpent bearer, the thirteenth constellation that crosses the ecliptic. Because the Earth wobbles on its axis over time, changing its position, thus changing where the stars appear to be in our sky.

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Six-pack used to mean a pack of six, now it also refers to sexy abs. That simple part about why everyone freaked out and news of changing Zodiac signs swept across the Internet? An article was posted on the Minneapolis Star Tribune , which featured an astronomer with one of the most fun names ever, Parke Kunkle , basically badmouthing astrology, and also using Ophiuchus as proof.

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