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2021 self-improvement tips by star sign 🥲 (science-free zone)

I came across this sincere astrology advice recently. It made me laugh so I decided to turn it into panels.

It details where we need to holiday post-pandemic and what we should be learning. I’m not sure how the stars know about things like synchronised swimming, kite surfing and the Kama Sutra. Or why 1 in 12 people should travel specifically to Miami … but I’m a scientist not an astrologer so what would I know.

Sometimes astrology makes me disheartened because many people seem more comfortable believing in medieval pseudoscience than trying to understand the amazing-ness of evidence-based science. Sometimes astrology makes me angry because it continues to be legitimised by the media, particularly publications aimed at women, and it financially supports a whole ecosystem of charlatans. But mostly it makes me laugh out loud. 🤣

ps. I costed out the Libra recommendations and following this advice will set me back at least AUD$23,000. We’ll probably improve ourselves by doing things we know we love instead … like reading astronomy sites, and going camping with our telescope and wine.

Source: Yearly horoscopes for 2021. astrology-zodiac-signs.com (Accessed: September 2021).

Airies

Taurus

Gemini

Cancer

Leo

Virgo

Libra

Scorpio

Sagittarius

Capricorn

Aquarius

Pisces

Libra 2021 ⚖️ old 🚀

A stick figure is looking through a telescope at the Libra constellation

I just learned that one of the universe’s oldest stars lies inside the Libra constellation - HD 140283, a.k.a. Methuselah. A recent study suggests it’s about 12 billion years old - that’s not that long after the Big Bang. One of the clues is it’s low metallicity - it was born in a time when metals were rare and everything was made mostly of hydrogen and helium. Methuselah is around 200 light years away and you need binoculars or a telescope to see it. If you do, remember that the photons that land on your retina (splat!) were made inside an extremely experienced photon maker indeed. 👵🏻

#readingaboutastronomymakesyousmarter
#readinghoroscopesdoesnothing

Sources:
1. Hubble finds birth certificate of oldest known star. NASA. Available at: nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/hd140283.html (Last updated: July 2013; Accessed: September 2021).
2. Plait P. Methuselah’s star is not older than the universe after all. But it’s still pretty frakking old. Bad Astronomy. Available at: syfy.com/syfywire/methuselahs-star-is-not-older-than-the-universe-after-all-but-its-still-pretty-frakking-old (Last updated: May 2021; Accessed: September 2021).
3. Tang J and Joyce M. Revised best estimates for the age and mass of the Methuselah star HD 140283 using MESA and interferometry and implications for 1D convection. Res Notes AAS 2021;5:117. Available at: iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2515-5172/ac01ca (Accessed: September 2021).
4. Big Bang. Cosmos, Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing. Available at: astronomy.swin.edu.au/cosmos/B/Big+Bang (Accessed: September 2021).

Virgo 2021 👩 features 🚀

A stick figure girl is lying down looking up at the Virgo constellation and talking to a warty toad wearing a wig. She says: I've been learning about the constellation Virgo - it doesn't look like much, but it has some cool features.  The toad replies: Like what?

The girl continues: My favourite is the 'Virgo Cluster' - a group of about 2,000 galaxies - mostly spirals. It's our closest cluster 'neighbour' - around 50 million light-years away. It's so big they reckon it'll eventually cause our little cluster, the Local Group, to slow down, reverse and join up with it.

There is an asterisk at the bottom of the panel that warns: Actual 'information' from serendipity-astrolovers.com. The toad adds: Well my astrologer told me my features are cool too. Like all Virgos, she said I have a frail chin, fleshy nose, poor skin condition, bent toes and a curious, awkward walk. And when I reach middle age, my dislike of exercise will give me a fat belly.

The girl looks amused and says: She got all that from your star charts huh?

Toad image credit: Reimar Gaertner.

Sources:
1. Virgo cluster. Cosmos, The SAO Encyclopaedia of Astronomy. Swinburne University of Technology. Available at: astronomy.swin.edu.au/cosmos/V/Virgo+Cluster (Accessed: August 2021).
2. Shu FH. Virgo cluster. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Available at: britannica.com/place/Virgo-cluster (Last updated: May 2013; Accessed: August 2021).
3. Virgo astrological signs, looks, physical features, style and other idiosyncrasies. Serendipity Astrolovers. Available at: serendipity-astrolovers.com/astrological-signs-2.html (Last updated: August 2021; Accessed: August 2021).

🔭 ps. We now have some very stylish stickers and badges available (including a glitter telescope 😬), plus some free cartoon wallpapers. All purchases go towards our science grant. 🔭

Leo 2021 🦁 lavish 🚀

This panel has an asterisk that says: Warning: based on real information from WiseHoroscope and Marie Claire. A cartoon lion wearing a crown with a Gucci logo is talking to a stick figure scientist who is standing at a telescope. The lion says: Did you know that the universe makes Leos live fast, vigorously and lavishly?

The lion continues: We must dress in Gucci, which we finance via creative visualisations of piles of cash. The scientist has raised eyebrows and has turned away from his telescope.

The lion continues: ... and to maintain our robust circulation we must eat fried or boiled beef, chicken, liver, and light non-fat sauces. The scientist looks amused.

The scientist says: Did you know that physicists can make the universe reveal its secrets? The lion looks a bit confused and awkward.

The scientist continues enthusiastically: In 1989, the COBE satellite began measuring cosmic microwave background radiation - the oldest light there is. Its data confirmed the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe. It also showed that Earth moves at 390 km/s - so we're all living pretty fast. The lion looks a bit sad.

The scientist adds: By the way, the universe is making you eat dog food. The lion now looks very dejected.

Sources:
1. Leo 2021 Horoscope. WiseHoroscope. Available at: wisehoroscope.org/astrology/yearly-overview/leo (Accessed: July 2021).
2. Stars Special: Your 2021 Horoscopes Are Here! Marie Claire. Available at: marieclaire.com.au/2021-horoscope (Accessed: July 2021).
3. COBE. NASA Science. Available at: science.nasa.gov/missions/cobe (Last updated: July 2015; accessed: July 2021).
4. Herman R. How fast is the earth moving? Scientific American. Available at: scientificamerican.com/article/how-fast-is-the-earth-mov/ (Last updated: October 1998; accessed: July 2021).
5. Pedigree Chopped Ground Dinner. Adult canned wet dog food combo with chicken, liver & beef flavor. Pedigree. Available at: pedigree.com/dog-foods/details/pedigree-chopped-ground-dinner-combo-with-chicken-beef-liver (Accessed: July 2021).

Mercury retrograde ↔️ 🔥 🚀

There is a warning in the bottom right corner that reads: *Warning: based on real 'information' from horoscope.com*. A stick figure astrologer, dressed like a wizard, is flailing his arms at a stick figure scientist. He says: Are you prepared for the frustration and terror of the next Mercury retrograde - the most nerve-wracking event in astrology!? She replies: Uh ... no ... it's an optical illusion caused by Mercury having a smaller orbit around the Sun than Earth.

The astrologer looks impatient and confused. The scientist continues: Think of it like this. As you approach a slow car on the highway, you can tell it's moving in the same direction as you. When you reach it and overtake, it appears to go backwards. Once you're past, it looks like it's moving in your direction again.

The astrologer starts shaking the now cross-looking scientist by the shoulders, yelling: But it's real! I'll wake up late, my laptop will be wiped and my car will run out of petrol! I can't sign contracts, make financial decisions, start a new job or use fancy kitchen gadgets to cook elaborate meals!

The scientist has calmly pushed the astrologer to the ground, he looks bemused and his legs are kicking in the air. She says: Dude, breathe ... the gravity of such distant bodies will not affect random objects or food preparation - this would go against everything we know about physics. The only thing 'real' about Mercury retrograde is that it's not important, unusual or interesting.

Sources:
1. What is Mercury retrograde? Horoscope.com. Available at: horoscope.com/mercury-retrograde (Accessed: July 2021).
2. Crockett C. What is retrograde motion? EarthSky. Available at: earthsky.org/space/what-is-retrograde-motion (Last updated: February 2017; accessed July 2021).
3. What does it mean for Mercury to be in retrograde? NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Starchild. Available at: starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/questions/question46.html (Last updated: June 2002; accessed: July 2021).
4. Kubota T. No, Mercury retrograde will not mess up your life. LiveScience. Available at: livescience.com/54675-mercury-retrograde-will-not-mess-up-your-life.html (Last updated: May 2016; accessed July 2021).
5. Mercury retrograde, explained WITHOUT astrology. Vox. Available at: youtube.com/watch?v=FtV0PV9MF88 (Last updated: September 2016; accessed: July 2021.)

Cancer 2021 🦀 learning 🚀

A stick figure guy and a crab are sitting looking at the stars. The guy says: I wish I knew the constellations, so this year I’m learning all about them.

The guy adds: Did you know that Cancer has a beautiful cluster of 1,000 gravitationally-bound stars known as the Beehive? It was one of the first things that Galileo studied with his telescope, around 1610.

The crab replies: I wish I was less susceptible to charlatans, so this year I’m following my astrologer’s advice to “learn to distinguish the genuine from the fake”.

The guy has raised his eyebrows and asks: What have you learned so far? The crab replies enthusiastically: I should drink more water, change my contraception and invest in space travel.

The crab adds: I’ve also learned I’ll be getting “big money”, including passive income from digital downloads of music, e-books and online courses. So I quit my job.

The guy asks: Are you rich yet? The crab despondently replies: No.

We now see a close up of the crab holding a bottle of serum and talking like a salesman: which is why this month’s comic is brought to you by Allies of Skin 35% Vitamin C+ Perfecting Serum, $118. Because Cancerians should ensure their skin looks its best with a healthy summer dose of Vitamin C!

Sources:
1. McClure B and Byrd D. The Beehive: 1,000 Stars In Cancer. EarthSky. Available at: earthsky.org/clusters-nebulae-galaxies/praesepe-beehive-cluster (Last updated: March 2020; accessed: June 2021).
2. Cancer 2021 Yearly Horoscope. Astrology.com.au. Available at: astrology.com.au/horoscopes/yearly-horoscopes/cancer-yearly-horoscope (Accessed: June 2021).
3. The AstroTwins: 2021 Cancer Astrology Overview. Astrostyle. Available at: astrostyle.com/cancer-2021-horoscope (Accessed: June 2021).
4. What June’s Cancer Horoscope Predictions Mean for You. Allure. Available at: allure.com/story/cancer-horoscope-june-2021 (Last updated: May 2021; accessed June 2021).
5. The AstroTwins: Our Story. Astrostyle. Available at: astrostyle.com/astrotwins-our-story (Accessed: June 2021).
6. AstroTwins x You: Brand Partnerships. Astrostyle. Available at: astrostyle.com/brand-partnerships (Accessed: June 2021).
7. The Astro Twins: Fire, Earth, Air & Water: What type of sign are you? Origin Energy. Available at: originenergy.com.au/blog/the-astro-twins (Last updated: November 2018; accessed June 2021).

Gemini 2021 👯‍♂️ success 🚀

A cartoon robot with one body and two heads is talking to a stick figure girl. The robot represents the Gemini twins. They look a bit goofy. The twins say to the girl: To be successful Geminis in 2021, we’re following a highly technical program. The girl raises her eyebrows and replies: Do tell.

One twin says: We need to put green chilies on our food and wear high-quality emeralds on our ring finger. The girl still has her eyebrows raised.

The other twin adds: And on Wednesdays, we need to set a pair of caged birds free, and also offer green clothes or bangles to any elderly women in our house. The girl still has her eyebrows raised.

The girl looks unimpressed and replies: Wow … that’s almost as technical as NASA’s successful Gemini program that ran from 1965 to 1966.

The girl enthusiastically explains to the twins that: Gemini included the first US spacewalk. The first time a NASA spacecraft changed orbit. The first time two NASA spacecraft docked. And it proved that astronauts could spend many days in space. The program’s lessons helped humans land successfully on the moon less than 3 years after it ended. The twins’ faces are looking increasingly cross-eyed, goofy and confused.

The girl adds: If you want to be successful this year, stop reading weird horoscope sites and think of some practical ways to achieve your goals. The twins look at each other, still confused.

The girl grabs one surprised twin by the neck threateningly and says: And stay away from my pigeons.

Sources:
1. Gemini Horoscope 2021. AstroSage. Available at: astrosage.com/2021/gemini-horoscope-2021.asp (Last updated: August 2020; accessed: May 2021).
2. Hitt D. What Was the Gemini Program? NASA. Available at: nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/5-8/features/nasa-knows/what-was-gemini-program-58.html (Last updated: August 2017; accessed: May 2021).
3. Granath B. Gemini Pioneered the Technology Driving Today’s Exploration. NASA. Available at: nasa.gov/content/gemini-pioneered-the-technology-driving-todays-exploration (Last updated: August 2017; accessed: May 2021).
4. The Gemini Program (1962 - 1966). NASA. Available at: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/gemini.html (Last updated: December 2004; accessed: May 2021).
5. The Apollo Program (1963 - 1972). NASA. Available at: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/apollo.html (Last updated: September 2013; accessed: May 2021).

Taurus 2021 🐂 health risks 🚀

A cartoon bull is talking to a stick figure guy with a telescope. The bull says: As a Taurean, this year I’m at risk of goitre, abscesses and diseases of the genitals.

They swap positions and now the bull is looking through the telescope. The guy says enthusiastically: Check out this orangey star called Aldebaran - the eye of the Taurus constellation. In 1972, we launched a probe called Pioneer 10 that survived the asteroid belt and made it to Jupiter. We lost contact with it in 2003. It was heading towards Aldebaran and will arrive in about 2 million years.

The guy adds: By the way, you’re also at risk of me punching you in the snout if you keep subscribing to that star sign app. The bull has turned its face around to look at the guy, surprised.

Sources:
1. Astrology Online. Taurus. Available at: astrology-online.com/taurus.htm (Accessed: Apr 2021).
2. Collins Petersen C. How to Find the Taurus Constellation. ThoughtCo. Available at: thoughtco.com/taurus-constellation-4177764 (Last updated: Nov 2019, accessed: Apr 2021).
3. Zimmerman KA. Taurus Constellation: Facts About the Bull. Space.com. Available at: space.com/17101-taurus-constellation.html (Last updated: Nov 2018, accessed: Apr 2021).
4. Mewhinney M. Pioneer 10 spacecraft sends last signal. NASA. Available at: nasa.gov/centers/ames/news/releases/2003/03_25HQ.html (Last updated: Feb 2003, accessed: Apr 2021).

Aries 2021 🐏 love and fashion 🚀

A cartoon ram says to a stick figure girl: Did you know that people born under Aries are going to be easier to love this year and should take their fashion inspo from Stella McCartney?

The girl replies to the ram enthusiastically: Did you know that researchers at the Palomar Observatory discovered a planet in the Aries constellation that has four suns orbiting it? It’s really big - about 10 times the mass of Jupiter. This four-star system is called ‘30 ARI’ and it’s 136 light-years away. If you could look up at the daytime sky from this planet, you’d see a sun as well as two bright stars.

The girl adds with a smile: fyi, telling me stuff about your horoscope doesn’t make you easier to love. The ram hangs its head and looks a bit ashamed.

Sources:
1. Boland Y. Stars Special: Your 2021 Horoscopes Are Here! Marie Claire. Available at: marieclaire.com.au/2021-horoscope (Accessed: Apr 2021).
2. Roberts LC et al. Know the Star, Know the Planet. III. Discovery of Late-Type Companions to Two Exoplanet Host Stars. AJ 2015;149(4):118.
3. Clavin W. Astronomers Identify a Quadruple Star System, 30 Ari. SciTechDaily. Available at: scitechdaily.com/astronomers-identify-quadruple-star-system-30-ari (Last updated: Mar 2015, accessed: Apr 2021).
4. Zimmerman KA. Aries Constellation: Facts About the Ram. Space.com. Available at: space.com/17052-aries-constellation.html (Last updated: Mar 2019, accessed: Apr 2021).