Astronomy Faculty Member Parke Kunkle Caught in a Whirlwind of Media Attention

It is impossible to miss all of the headlines about the shifting zodiac—a story that rapidly began circling the globe last week. Parke Kunkle, an astronomy faculty member at MCTC and board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, has received more than a hundred media requests since the story hit last Monday.

In an interview with the Star Tribune, Kunkle explained that the moon’s gravitational pull has made the Earth “wobble” around its axis in a process called precession. This means the Earth is no longer aligned to the stars in the same way as when the signs of the zodiac were originally conceived.

Star signs, created about 2,000 years ago, were created by tracking where the sun was in the sky each month. However, the wobble has created about a one-month bump in the stars’ alignment, according to the article.

According to Kunkle, when astrologers say the sun is in Pisces, it’s really in Aquarius, and so on. The new dates:

Capricorn: Jan. 20 – Feb. 16
Aquarius: Feb. 16 – March 11
Pisces: March 11 – April 18
Aries: April 18 – May 13
Taurus: May 13 – June 21
Gemini: June 21 – July 20
Cancer: July 20 – Aug. 10
Leo: Aug. 10 – Sept. 16
Virgo: Sept. 16 – Oct. 30
Libra: Oct. 30 – Nov. 23
Scorpio: Nov. 23 – Nov. 29
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29 – Dec. 17
Sagittarius: Dec. 17 – Jan. 20

In addition, Kunkle says astrologers have neglected a 13th constellation, Ophiuchus (Ooh-FEE-yew-kus). “The sun has been going through Ophiuchus for thousands of years,” said Kunkle, who says that his sign is “vegetarian.”

Astonished by all of the attention, Kunkle said, “Astronomers have been teaching this for 2000 years and yet it suddenly went viral!”

More coverage of this story:

Associated Press: Give me back my sign! Horoscope readers atwitter
Washington Post: Shifting signs: An astrological shakeup?
NPR: What’s Your Sign? Turns Out, Maybe It’s Not
Fox 9 News: Zodiac Sign Changes and New Sign Ophiuchus
New York Times: Did Your Horoscope Predict This?
ABC News: New Zodiac Signs 2011: Debunking a Zodiac Controversy
BBC News: Have people’s star signs changed?



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2 Responses to Astronomy Faculty Member Parke Kunkle Caught in a Whirlwind of Media Attention

  1. Patrick Skildum says:

    Parke Kunkle, by far the best, most interesting and interactive instructor on the MCTC campus. It is a terrible shame that he doesn’t offer more in-depth courses at the college. If you haven’t taken his class, register for next semester immediately, you won’t be disappointed.

    • Shaun Hunt says:

      Parke Kunkle is a great man. He is a rare case, I think, of someone doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing in life. It is in the fabric of his flesh, his marrow, and his soul to ponder the heavens and speak of what he discovers. He will draw you in with truth and enthusiasm and help you to see for yourself. He is a truely devoted student of the sky. And he is a first rate teacher and instructer. He is trustworthy. He will tell you what he knows and what he is certain of. And he will tell you what is a possibility yet remains unproven. And he does it all with such a fun, intelligent sense of humor. Take his class. It will enhance your life.

      PS. I think Parke Kunkle is star quality. He needs a bigger stage. He is too good; too smart; too funny; and too tough.

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