Every few years you hear the same old news about "new" horoscope dates from critics of astrology. They report astrologers' signs of the zodiac don't correspond with actual constellations, and your Sun sign has changed. They also say astrologers ignore the 13th Sign, Ophiuchus, despite the fact the Sun passes through it each year. Though some of these statements are true, lack of knowledge about the mechanics of astrology has led to incorrect assumptions. Spoiler: There are lots of "old" dates, but no "new" Zodiac dates, and neither your Sun sign nor your horoscope has changed!
Dates, Dates, and More Dates
The dates listed below are when the Sun is located within the boundaries of each sign related to the constellations, as well as the Tropical and Sidereal Zodiacs. However, all the dates will change slightly from year to year.
The Constellation Zodiac - The "New" Dates of 1930
There are 88 constellations, whose boundaries were defined by The International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 1930. These boundaries vary, sometimes considerably, in size. As an example, the Sun spends 46 days in Virgo and only 7 in Scorpius. Below are the approximate dates the Sun enters and leaves the 13 constellations that touch the ecliptic.
- Aries: April 18 - May 13
- Taurus: May 13 - June 21
- Gemini: June 21 - July 20
- Cancer: July 20 - August 10
- Leo: August 10 - September 16
- Virgo: September 16 - October 30
- Libra: October 30 - November 23
- Scorpius: November 23 - November 29
- Ophiuchus: November 29 - December 17
- Sagittarius: December 17 - January 20
- Capricornus: January 20 - February 16
- Aquarius: February 16 - March 11
- Pisces: March 11 - April 18
The Tropical Zodiac Dates
The signs of the Tropical Zodiac, each 30 degrees of arc along the ecliptic, were named after 12 of the constellations and are defined by the changing of Earth's seasons. The tropical sun is used in almost all popular astrological columns. Below are the approximate dates the Sun moves through each sign of the Tropical Zodiac.
- Aries: March 21 - April 19
- Taurus: April 20 - May 20
- Gemini: May 21 - June 20
- Cancer June 21 - July 22
- Leo: July 23 - August 22
- Virgo: August 23 - September 22
- Libra: September 23 -October 22
- Scorpio: October 23 - November 21
- Ophiuchus: N/A
- Sagittarius: November 22 - December 21
- Capricorn: December 22 - January 19
- Aquarius: January 20 - February 18
- Pisces: February 19 - March 20
The Sidereal Zodiac Dates
The sidereal (star) zodiac begins its yearly cycle when the sun aligns with the constellation of Aries. Then, like the tropical zodiac, divides the ecliptic into 12 equal sections of 30 degrees each. Below are the approximate dates the Sun moves through each sign of the sidereal zodiac.
- Aries: April 14 - May 14
- Taurus: May 15 - June 14
- Gemini: June 15 - July 15
- Cancer: July 16 - August 16
- Leo: August 17 - September 16
- Virgo: September 17 - October 16
- Libra: October 16 - November 15
- Scorpio: November 16 - December 15
- Ophiuchus: N/A
- Sagittarius: December 16 - January 13
- Capricorn: January 14 - February 12
- Aquarius: February 13 - March 12
- Pisces: March 13 - April 13
The Importance of Ophiuchus
Ophiuchus, the serpent Bearer, is a large group of bright stars that can be seen in the dark sky of the northern hemisphere from June through October.
Astrologers who use the Tropical Zodiac believe the mythology of the surrounding constellations are an important part of the nature of the sign. So, Ophiuchus is certainly not irrelevant. It's just not an astrological sign.
In Greek myth, Ophiuchus was placed in the sky by Zeus to honor Aesculapius. Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine, had been taught the healing arts by Chiron. His rod, entwined by a snake, is today the official insignia of the American Medical Association. (For the astrological meaning of Ophiuchus and its stars, read Star Lore of the Constellations - Ophiuchus: The Serpent Bearer.)
The Tropical and Sidereal Zodiacs
The difference between the tropical zodiac and the sidereal zodiac changes slightly each year due to the precession of the equinoxes. Currently, the difference is about 24 degrees. In the tropical zodiac, the sun enters Aries on March 21; in the sidereal zodiac, the Sun enters Aries on April 15. This difference means some individuals may very well have a different sun sign in the sidereal zodiac. However, the slow backward drift of the constellations will not ever change the sun sign you were born under in either astrological system, nor will a constellation ever be an astrological sun sign.
Same Names in Different Contexts
A foot can be a unit of measure, something you put in a shoe, or the base or bottom. It's all about context. Just because things have the same names doesn't mean one is wrong. Every time these stories about "new" dates break, astrologers all over the world are flooded with inquiries and have to explain and reassure clients, family, and even strangers that there are no "new" dates and that neither their sun sign nor their horoscope has changed. The good news for astrology is that astrologers get a chance to educate the public as to the mechanics of astrology and the different ways of slicing and dicing the sky.