But who first looked up at the sky to make sense of what was happening down on the ground and why their fellow humans were behaving in certain ways? In Ancient China, noblemen looked at eclipses or sunspots as portents of good or bad times for their emperor, though it’s thought that those signs had less application to the lives of other individuals.
The ancient Egyptians contributed the idea that patterns of stars made up constellations, through which the sun appears to “move” at a specific times during the year. Imagine a straight line drawn from Earth through the Sun and out into space way beyond our solar system where the stars are.
Even the word zodiac comes from the Greek, from a term for “sculpted animal figure,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary, and the order in which the signs are usually listed comes from that period too. For centuries, astrology (looking for signs based on the movement of the celestial bodies) was considered basically the same thing as astronomy (the scientific study of those objects).
Astronomy can explain the position of the stars in the sky, but it's up to you to determine what, if anything, their alignment signifies. The ecliptic, or the path of the sun as it's perceived from the revolving Earth, passes through the constellations that formed the Zodiac : Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.
Babylonian astrologers, and later the Greeks, originally determined Zodiac signs by which constellation the sun was “in” on the day you were born. Early astronomers observed the sun traveling through the signs of the Zodiac in the course of one year, spending about a month in each.
Astronomers call this the vernal equinox, and it occurs as the ecliptic and celestial equator intersect on approximately March 21. Unbeknownst to the ancient astrologers, Earth continually wobbles around its axis in a 25,800-year cycle.
Check out your real zodiac sign, based on the sun's current path, and compare it to the date still used by astrologers (in parentheses): The practice of astrology, which predicts one’s fate and fortune based on the positions of the Sun, Moon, stars and planets, dates back to ancient times.
Over the course of a year, the Sun appears to pass through a belt of sky containing 12 ancient constellations, or groupings, of stars. They are collectively called the zodiac and consist almost entirely of animal figures, like the ram (Aries), crab (Cancer) and lion (Leo).
Martial/Shutterstock.com Although the constellations of the zodiac, which date back to Mesopotamia or before, may seem definitive, they are only one example of those produced by the various cultures of the world, all of which had their own, frequently very different, notions of how the sky is constructed. The number of constellations in the Western zodiac comes from the cycles of the Moon, which orbits the Earth 12.4 times a year.
As a result of its rotation, the Earth bulges slightly at the equator, not unlike how a skater’s skirt fans out as she spins. The gravity of the Moon and Sun pull on the bulge, which causes the Earth to wobble like a top.
The wobble causes the Earth’s axis, which is the center line around which it rotates, to swing in a slow circle over the course of 25,800 years. A wobbling Earth causes the dates of the zodiac to shift from those established in ancient times. This movement alters the view of the zodiac from Earth, making the constellations appear to slide to the east, roughly a degree per human lifetime.
Direct collisions between Earth and celestial bodies can cause very rapid changes, such as the impact of an asteroid off the Yucatán Peninsula 66 million years ago that had global effects including the disappearance of dinosaurs and the rise of mammals. This is old news, but Capricorns, Sagittarius, and everyone in between flipped out last week and incorrectly blamed NASA.
Some 3,000 years ago, the ancient Babylonians divided the Zodiac into an even 12 pieces. The sun didn’t actually pass through each constellation for a consistent, month-long time span.
On top of that, the Babylonians knew there was a thirteenth constellation, Ophiuchus, but that wouldn’t have lined up with their calendar, so they just didn’t include it. Also, the sky has shifted because Earth’s axis has changed a bit over the course of 3,000 years.
It didn’t change Zodiac signs because, honestly, NASA doesn’t give a shit about whether you’re a Leo or a Virgo since astrology isn’t real. But … you know if it were real, here’s what sign you’d be under with the current 13-sign Zodiac chart.
NASA added the thirteenth sign, Ophiuchus, and actually noted the dates when the sun actually passes through each sign, rather than dividing them up evenly and arbitrarily. On its website, NASA explains how, since the axis of the Earth has tilted over the course of 3,000 years, the dates are slightly different from they were back then, since the path of the sun through the constellations has changed.
It’s unlikely that there will be another axis tilt large enough to change the dates in our lifetimes, so the chart below is what you’re stuck with. While I don’t think that being 100 percent fake or phony is a good thing, no matter what your horoscope might say, there are times when I prefer that someone suck up their negativity and at least be pleasant.
It’s more than okay to treat people kindly and respectfully, and sometimes that means that you don’t get to tell it as it is and that you hold back on what you really feel. I wouldn't want someone to be under the mistaken impression that I liked them when I didn't as if that would reflect badly on me.
In the theater department when I went to college, there was a woman that I truly despised. I thought that Emily was fake and was always being rewarded for being pretty, not for having any talent.
To get a credit that I needed to graduate, I had to run lights for a show in which Emily was the star. It was during that production that I realized that it didn't matter how rude or real I was to Emily, it just didn't sink in.
It was a far better use of my energy to be polite and fake to her because, in Emily’s world, my feelings didn't register in any way. There are times when you’re at work or out in society when it’s just better to be fake and to cover up your real feelings.
If you weren’t planning on quitting, you wouldn't tell your boss how much you disliked them. Some might say too much so because when you get blunt, you don't hold back, and you say whatever's on your mind, no matter how painful or brutal it may be.
Geminis are famous for being two-faced, so it stands to reason that you're considered the fakest of the zodiac signs. One moment you're holding on tightly to a secret, but the next it's your juiciest piece of gossip.
Part of the reason that you're so great at parties and entertaining is that you can be gracious to someone you don't like. If there's something about you that a fake person would hide, you tend to reveal it more.
If someone doesn't have a tough skin, they need to avoid asking you what you honestly think. Maybe it comes from your inability to make decisions, or perhaps it's because you desperately want to be liked by everyone.
If you're real and no one likes you, that would practically kill you, which makes you one of the fakest zodiac signs. You're very real and honest; in fact, you can't stand liars of any kind, even if there was a good reason backing up that lie.
In turn, you prefer real people to fakes and would rather know someone's bad points upfront rather than discovering them at an inopportune time. If you're traveling, and you might be fake if you thought being too honest would get you in trouble with the locals.
You tend to be blunt, so if you're agitated or intoxicated, you're not going to hold your tongue to shelter someone from the truth. You're also one of the least empathetic signs, so it's extremely difficult for you to put yourself in someone else's shoes and understand why they're feeling the way that they do.
If you want to let them know how pissed off you are, and they're going through a terrible time, you don't care; expressing your emotions is the most important thing for you. You're fairly real ; unless it helps you with your work, then you can be fake.
The good thing is that you're very accepting of other people and that when you say you like someone or are complimentary, you mean it. You don't want to be involved in an argument or any kind of unpleasantness if you can help it.