Astronomy and Astrology are both disciplines that follow similar semantics. However these fields couldn’t be more different from one another in terms of what they actually are and what Astronomers and Astrologists actually do. This will be the subject of this article today.
So, what is the major distinction between Astronomy vs Astrology? Astronomy is considered a science. It is the study of all celestial bodies and everything that is contained in the universe and in space. Astrology on the other hand is considered a pseudoscience and evolved from a belief that everything that happens in space has a direct correlation to human events. In this way everything in space affects human life here on Earth.
Speaking historically, Astronomy and Astrology were archaically studied together and only slowly became distinct phenomena during the 17th century, during ‘The Age of Reason’ (a period of philosophy considered the start of modern philosophy).
The advances in science during this period caused a rejection of Astrology as a scientific discipline.
Since then, Astronomy has formed as the foundation from which Astrology can operate.
Astronomy vs Astrology
Astronomy is a branch of science that specifically covers all objects outside of the Earth’s atmosphere.
This includes the planets, stars, asteroids, galaxies and how they interact and the associations between them. Astronomers use mathematical reasoning, observational and scientific methods to do so.
Astrology, is a unsubstantiated school of thought that the position of the stars and planets have an impact on the events here on Earth.
So if you have an interest in learning about the universe, the solar system and the planets, or observing stars, galaxies and other celestial bodies then Astronomy is the scientific field to pursue.
Astronomy and Astrology have distanced themselves over the last 300 years and have each branched out into their respective disciplines.
Astrologists and Astrology (in general) propose positions that science just cannot prove or agree with.
For example, Astrologers use a combination of methods; mystical, religious reasoning and forms of folklore/superstition combined with mathematics to predict events on Earth and in the wider universe.
Scientific method is not routinely used by astrologers, instead, their methods are largely geocentric.
Astrologers often promote the notion that the universe is static, which directly contradicts the astronomical commitment of using scientific method to understand a dynamic, transitioning, expanding universe.
Astrologers also believe that the relative position of the stars and planets dictate somebodies personality and future – this is essentially what Horoscopes are and what they are based upon.
Trying to provide focus, direction and identify for an individuals life.
Let us now look at some of the ways science conflicts with the notions of Astrology.
The Earth is constantly moving in different planes of motion it orbits the Sun and it also spins on its axis.
It also precesses which means that the North Pole and the South Pole pivot (Precession is caused by the gravitational pull of the Sun and the Moon on the Earth)
So, if you were looking at a star now, in one hundred thousand years it’s not going to appear in the same place from the same point.
This essentially means that all the star maps that were created through Astrology are no longer relevant.
If you were following the logic of Astrology, you could be labelled a Pisces but due to movement caused by Precession, you would no longer technically be a Pisces.
However, due to the outdated mappimg, you’d still fall under that classification.
Misconceptions of the Zodiac
If you are to take the Earth, and imagine a Celestial Sphere around it (that runs parallel the whole way around the Earth).
Now within this Celestial Sphere includes all of the planets, stars, constellations and other celestial bodies in the universe.
The Celestial Equator is the distance between one side of the Celestial Sphere and the other. If you can imagine this as a projection against our own equator.
Now we have something called the Ecliptic which is the term we use to describe the path of the Sun.
The Zodiac is a band that follows the path of the Sun. The Ecliptic (path of the Sun) runs in the middle of the Zodiac.
Now what’s the problem with having the Zodiac?
Astrologists took the 360 degrees and they divided it into twelve – so each month had a sign.
Now you have 30 degree bands and whatever stars fell into the 30 degree bands they assigned an Astrological Sign.
So let’s say the first 30 degree band is Aries, Taurus, Gemini and so forth.
The problem is that Astrologists have missed a thirteenth constellation. Despite it being easy to divide the sky by twelve, because our year is divided up this way, but there is a missing constellation called Ophiucus.
So one of the things that Astronomy does not agree with Astrology on, is that if you’re born on one of the Stars of Ophiucus, you’re being assigned the wrong astrological sign.
As you can see, Astronomy and Astrology are very different in terms of their historical significance, contributions to our understanding of how and why we are on earth, and how they are actually studied and discussed.
To recap; Astronomy is a scientific endeavor focused primarily with the positions, motions, and properties of celestial objects outside the Earths Atmosphere.
Astrology tries to explain the events on earth are due to occurrences in the universe.
But what about Cosmology or Astrophysics? They are topics for these guides:
- Astronomy vs Cosmology [What Is The Difference?]
- Astronomy vs Astrophysics [What Are The Main Differences?]
Hey, my name is Chris. I’m a passionate and seasoned astronomer who loves nothing more than observing the night sky. I also love researching, learning, and writing all things Space and the Universe. I created Astronomy Scope to share my knowledge, experience, suggestions, and recommendations of what I have learned along the way while helping anyone to get into and maximize their enjoyment of the hobby.