A misunderstanding of basic science led to the internet rumor that NASA wreaked havoc on horoscopes by rewriting the zodiac chart.
It all started last week, when The Space Place, an education blog hosted on the agency’s website, explained how the ancient Babylonians left out a constellation when they drew up the 12-month zodiac chart.
Astronomers have also noted that a tiny wobble in the Earth’s axis has thrown the constellations slightly out of alignment with how the Babylonians viewed them 3,000 years ago.
That explanation, which was aimed at curious schoolchildren, was apparently misunderstood by a writer for Cosmopolitan‘s UK edition, who warned: “Don’t freak out, but your star sign has probably changed.”
The story spread to other websites, who repeated the error to report that NASA was issuing a new 13th zodiac sign and moving the dates for the other 12 signs.
A spokesman for NASA dismissed the rumors as completely false.
“NASA studies astronomy not astrology,” NASA spokesperson Dwayne Brown told Gizmodo.
“We didn’t change any Zodiac signs, we just did the math,” Brown added. “The Space Place article was about how astrology is not astronomy, how it was a relic of ancient history, and pointed out the science and math that did come from observations of the night sky.”