No New Zodiac Sign, NASA Clarifies

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. purported / pərˈpɔr tɪd / (adj) – believed to be true or real but not definitely so

    There’s no evidence that the purported crime really even happened.

  2. cause a stir / kɑz ə stɜr / (idiom) – to cause surprise, trouble, or excitement

    The blogger’s latest post caused a stir online.

  3. set the record straight / sɛt ðə ˈrɛkərd streɪt / (idiom) – to make something clear or to provide the truth or facts about something

    The actor posted a statement about the rumor to set the record straight.

  4. constellation / ˌkɒn stəˈleɪ ʃən / (n) – several stars that form a certain shape and have a given name

    More than 10 stars form the constellation Pisces.

  5. pseudoscience / ˌsu doʊˈsaɪ əns / (n) – beliefs or practices mistakenly thought to have a scientific basis

    A lot of people believe in pseudoscience.


Read the text below.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) clarified claims that it added a new zodiac sign called Ophiuchus.

Rumors about the new zodiac circulated years ago, but they resurfaced when a story about NASA’s purported discovery of Ophiuchus reappeared on the internet. The article caused a stir online because many people became worried that their sign might change with the addition of a new zodiac.

Ophiuchus’s supposed addition to the zodiac signs would mean that people born from November 29 to December 17 would fall under the new sign. Previously, people born on these dates fell under the signs Scorpio or Sagittarius. Adding Ophiuchus to the list of zodiac signs would also shrink the number of days under Scorpio to only seven.

To set the record straight, NASA clarified that the article was not about the addition of a new zodiac sign. Instead, the article explained how zodiac signs are based on the constellations that align with the Earth and the Sun as the planet travels through its orbit. While there are actually 13 constellations, the Babylonians, inventors of the zodiac signs, decided to exclude the constellation Ophiuchus from the zodiac signs to better fit their 12-month calendar.

NASA also re-published a 2016 blog post discussing the difference between astronomy and astrology. The agency explained that astronomy is the scientific study of outer space, while astrology is pseudoscience. Zodiac signs fall under astrology, and NASA said that it does not have the authority to change the star signs even if it wanted to.

Aside from explaining the difference between astronomy and astrology, NASA also emphasized that there is no scientific proof that astrology can be a guide in predicting future events or understanding people’s personalities.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think it was reasonable for people to panic about the news of a new zodiac sign? Why or why not?
• Do you think NASA responded well to the rumors about a new zodiac? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Why do you think some people believe in astrology? Discuss.
• Do you think scientists should try to convince people not to believe in astrology? Why or why not?