Astrology vs Astronomy

Rice_MysticRider200x300 Pat here: 

  Humans have been fascinated with the stars since we gathered around the campfire chowing down on mammoth meat. We simply didn’t have the ability to record that fascination before the third millennium BC. At that time, there was no practical difference between astrology and astronomy and the words used to describe this science were the same. Mostly, ancient astronomers correlated the position of the constellations with the seasons and attempted to predict the weather. If one associates a winter constellation with cold and snow, that’s a pretty accurate prediction.

 A scientific study of the heavens in order to measure, record, and predict seasonal changes is essentially the foundation of both astronomy and astrology. But kings will be kings, and I’m sure they went from asking “will we have a fair day for our battle with the barbarians” to eventually asking “what is a good day to kill my enemy” and on to “when is a good day to raise taxes.”  By 7th century BC, Babylonian stargazers File9271237667217were doing just that. By the 4th century, mathematical calculations had become so well developed that astronomers could predict the movement of stars and what few planets were known, and the science of studying the stars and predicting what they meant became increasingly complex.

Early astrologers knew it took twelve lunar cycles for the sun to return to its original position. They identified twelve constellations linked to the seasons and assigned them the names of various animals (Taurus=bull, Capricorn=goat) and/or gods depending Horoscopeon the belief system and the shape of the constellation. Approximately 2000 B.C., Babylonian astrologers believed that the Sun, Moon, and the five planets known at that time (Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, and Venus) possessed distinct powers. Mars appeared to be red and was thus associated with aggression and war—not precisely scientific but a good way to remember it!

The Egyptian mathematician Ptolemy believed in the relation of the stars to human fate. He developed the basics of Western astrological traditions—although the dark ages delayed the spread of his teachings. When his theories were finally translated from Arabic into Latin, they traveled to Spain in the 12th century AD. Soon, all of Europe followed his fascination with the planets. Human nature being what it is, Skullphysicians wanted certainty when they dived into a patient’s innards, so astrology/astronomy became inextricable from medical science during the medieval period. By the end of the 1500s, physicians across Europe were required by law to calculate the position of the Moon before surgery or bleeding. 

During the Renaissance, many scientists like Galileo were astrologists. But the increasingly scientific—defined as depending on empirical evidence— and mathematical study of the heavens showed the universe was in a constant state of flux, which didn’t work with the fixed nature astrologists needed for the zodiac. As astronomers began to realize there were comets and asteroids and self-destructing objects, it became more difficult to support astrology’s fixed maxims as a science.

Eventually, the demand for more accurate predictions undid the scientific foundation of astrology. No longer was a winter constellation sufficient to predict snow. The Bigdipperdevelopment of better timekeeping instruments for navigation made it possible to make more exact astrological predictions—predictions which could be tested, and consistently proved to be false. By the end of the 18th century, the practice of astrology as a science fell apart.

But the zodiac was still used to predict the weather in almanacs and the star charts George-Cruickshankwere included. Astrology in the Regency era belonged to the farmers, although our favorite caricaturist, George Cruikshank, at least knew the meaning of the signs.

By the 1830’s the Industrial Revolution had increased the pace of scientific exploration. Astronomy again became a fascination for anyone who could see the sky with the naked eye or with rapidly developing telescopes. New planets were discovered. And right alongside of these new sciences developed new pseudo-sciences like phrenology and theosophy and spiritualism to explain the universe from a more human viewpoint. If Mesmerism could be scientific, why not the supernatural? Within this expanding frame of thought, astrology slipped back in again. By the Victorian era, astrology wasn’t just about the stars, but how the stars/planets connected to the human spirit.

And then, in the twentieth century, especially since the 1960s, astrology became related to psychology. There are therapists who use it right along with more scientific methods.

And this is what I learn when I start a new book! It will be a year or more before the Leonext Malcolm generation will be ready for publication, so I won’t tease you with it any more than this and reminding you of my earlier diatribe on superstition and Malcolm gifts.

Do you believe in astrology? Or is it just the universe that fascinates you? Does your astrological sign suit you?

 

 

65 thoughts on “Astrology vs Astronomy”

  1. I used to follow the astrological predictions for stock markets in the Financial Times, until it was discontinued due to complaints from some readers that it was all nonsense. In my opinion the astrology was more accurate than predictions from pundits using economic theories!
    There is still an awful lot of mystery in cosmology. The universe is full of ‘Dark Matter’ and no-one has any idea what it is. The credibility of the ‘Big Bang’ origin of the universe depends on the concept of inflation, where space-time is supposed to expand from a point at speeds far exceeding the speed of light.
    People are quick to dismiss the steady-state theory of Fred Hoyle, but given the weirdness of the Big Bang theory, and the limited understanding (the amount of mysterious dark matter exceeds the estimates for normal matter), I reckon Fred, if still around, would have a lot of fun taunting his peers! LOL
    It wouldn’t surprise me if some credible scientific basis eventually emerged to support aspects of astrology …. after all the emergence of life is intimately tied up with the stars

    Reply
  2. I used to follow the astrological predictions for stock markets in the Financial Times, until it was discontinued due to complaints from some readers that it was all nonsense. In my opinion the astrology was more accurate than predictions from pundits using economic theories!
    There is still an awful lot of mystery in cosmology. The universe is full of ‘Dark Matter’ and no-one has any idea what it is. The credibility of the ‘Big Bang’ origin of the universe depends on the concept of inflation, where space-time is supposed to expand from a point at speeds far exceeding the speed of light.
    People are quick to dismiss the steady-state theory of Fred Hoyle, but given the weirdness of the Big Bang theory, and the limited understanding (the amount of mysterious dark matter exceeds the estimates for normal matter), I reckon Fred, if still around, would have a lot of fun taunting his peers! LOL
    It wouldn’t surprise me if some credible scientific basis eventually emerged to support aspects of astrology …. after all the emergence of life is intimately tied up with the stars

    Reply
  3. I used to follow the astrological predictions for stock markets in the Financial Times, until it was discontinued due to complaints from some readers that it was all nonsense. In my opinion the astrology was more accurate than predictions from pundits using economic theories!
    There is still an awful lot of mystery in cosmology. The universe is full of ‘Dark Matter’ and no-one has any idea what it is. The credibility of the ‘Big Bang’ origin of the universe depends on the concept of inflation, where space-time is supposed to expand from a point at speeds far exceeding the speed of light.
    People are quick to dismiss the steady-state theory of Fred Hoyle, but given the weirdness of the Big Bang theory, and the limited understanding (the amount of mysterious dark matter exceeds the estimates for normal matter), I reckon Fred, if still around, would have a lot of fun taunting his peers! LOL
    It wouldn’t surprise me if some credible scientific basis eventually emerged to support aspects of astrology …. after all the emergence of life is intimately tied up with the stars

    Reply
  4. I used to follow the astrological predictions for stock markets in the Financial Times, until it was discontinued due to complaints from some readers that it was all nonsense. In my opinion the astrology was more accurate than predictions from pundits using economic theories!
    There is still an awful lot of mystery in cosmology. The universe is full of ‘Dark Matter’ and no-one has any idea what it is. The credibility of the ‘Big Bang’ origin of the universe depends on the concept of inflation, where space-time is supposed to expand from a point at speeds far exceeding the speed of light.
    People are quick to dismiss the steady-state theory of Fred Hoyle, but given the weirdness of the Big Bang theory, and the limited understanding (the amount of mysterious dark matter exceeds the estimates for normal matter), I reckon Fred, if still around, would have a lot of fun taunting his peers! LOL
    It wouldn’t surprise me if some credible scientific basis eventually emerged to support aspects of astrology …. after all the emergence of life is intimately tied up with the stars

    Reply
  5. I used to follow the astrological predictions for stock markets in the Financial Times, until it was discontinued due to complaints from some readers that it was all nonsense. In my opinion the astrology was more accurate than predictions from pundits using economic theories!
    There is still an awful lot of mystery in cosmology. The universe is full of ‘Dark Matter’ and no-one has any idea what it is. The credibility of the ‘Big Bang’ origin of the universe depends on the concept of inflation, where space-time is supposed to expand from a point at speeds far exceeding the speed of light.
    People are quick to dismiss the steady-state theory of Fred Hoyle, but given the weirdness of the Big Bang theory, and the limited understanding (the amount of mysterious dark matter exceeds the estimates for normal matter), I reckon Fred, if still around, would have a lot of fun taunting his peers! LOL
    It wouldn’t surprise me if some credible scientific basis eventually emerged to support aspects of astrology …. after all the emergence of life is intimately tied up with the stars

    Reply
  6. Fascinating post, Pat. I follow several astrological sites and read my forecast every day — and every month. If it suits me I believe it, and just as easily dismiss it if it doesn’t. It’s really just a bit of fun for me, and sometimes a reminder to do something I know I ought to be doing anyway.
    So I guess you could say I’m interested, but not committed.

    Reply
  7. Fascinating post, Pat. I follow several astrological sites and read my forecast every day — and every month. If it suits me I believe it, and just as easily dismiss it if it doesn’t. It’s really just a bit of fun for me, and sometimes a reminder to do something I know I ought to be doing anyway.
    So I guess you could say I’m interested, but not committed.

    Reply
  8. Fascinating post, Pat. I follow several astrological sites and read my forecast every day — and every month. If it suits me I believe it, and just as easily dismiss it if it doesn’t. It’s really just a bit of fun for me, and sometimes a reminder to do something I know I ought to be doing anyway.
    So I guess you could say I’m interested, but not committed.

    Reply
  9. Fascinating post, Pat. I follow several astrological sites and read my forecast every day — and every month. If it suits me I believe it, and just as easily dismiss it if it doesn’t. It’s really just a bit of fun for me, and sometimes a reminder to do something I know I ought to be doing anyway.
    So I guess you could say I’m interested, but not committed.

    Reply
  10. Fascinating post, Pat. I follow several astrological sites and read my forecast every day — and every month. If it suits me I believe it, and just as easily dismiss it if it doesn’t. It’s really just a bit of fun for me, and sometimes a reminder to do something I know I ought to be doing anyway.
    So I guess you could say I’m interested, but not committed.

    Reply
  11. I never discount or completely believe any theory until we have evidence. Open minds can more quickly grasp bits of knowledge and string them together than someone who refuses to believe because a book says so. And I laugh over the stock market theories as often as the newspaper’s astrology predictions. Yeah, the market fell because a groundhog stuck its head in a hole…uh huh, totally buying that. 😉

    Reply
  12. I never discount or completely believe any theory until we have evidence. Open minds can more quickly grasp bits of knowledge and string them together than someone who refuses to believe because a book says so. And I laugh over the stock market theories as often as the newspaper’s astrology predictions. Yeah, the market fell because a groundhog stuck its head in a hole…uh huh, totally buying that. 😉

    Reply
  13. I never discount or completely believe any theory until we have evidence. Open minds can more quickly grasp bits of knowledge and string them together than someone who refuses to believe because a book says so. And I laugh over the stock market theories as often as the newspaper’s astrology predictions. Yeah, the market fell because a groundhog stuck its head in a hole…uh huh, totally buying that. 😉

    Reply
  14. I never discount or completely believe any theory until we have evidence. Open minds can more quickly grasp bits of knowledge and string them together than someone who refuses to believe because a book says so. And I laugh over the stock market theories as often as the newspaper’s astrology predictions. Yeah, the market fell because a groundhog stuck its head in a hole…uh huh, totally buying that. 😉

    Reply
  15. I never discount or completely believe any theory until we have evidence. Open minds can more quickly grasp bits of knowledge and string them together than someone who refuses to believe because a book says so. And I laugh over the stock market theories as often as the newspaper’s astrology predictions. Yeah, the market fell because a groundhog stuck its head in a hole…uh huh, totally buying that. 😉

    Reply
  16. I think I’d believe in astrology more if any of the so-called Aquarian traits actually matched my personality!
    But then I’ve lived in some cultures wildly different to my own and everyone has their own theories and practices. Maybe I need to start paying more attention to these things!

    Reply
  17. I think I’d believe in astrology more if any of the so-called Aquarian traits actually matched my personality!
    But then I’ve lived in some cultures wildly different to my own and everyone has their own theories and practices. Maybe I need to start paying more attention to these things!

    Reply
  18. I think I’d believe in astrology more if any of the so-called Aquarian traits actually matched my personality!
    But then I’ve lived in some cultures wildly different to my own and everyone has their own theories and practices. Maybe I need to start paying more attention to these things!

    Reply
  19. I think I’d believe in astrology more if any of the so-called Aquarian traits actually matched my personality!
    But then I’ve lived in some cultures wildly different to my own and everyone has their own theories and practices. Maybe I need to start paying more attention to these things!

    Reply
  20. I think I’d believe in astrology more if any of the so-called Aquarian traits actually matched my personality!
    But then I’ve lived in some cultures wildly different to my own and everyone has their own theories and practices. Maybe I need to start paying more attention to these things!

    Reply
  21. “If it suits me I believe it, and just as easily dismiss it if it doesn’t.”
    That’s me. However, I was really annoyed a few years ago when I was supposed to have the best year of my life and nothing particularly great happened! I thought: that’s it??

    Reply
  22. “If it suits me I believe it, and just as easily dismiss it if it doesn’t.”
    That’s me. However, I was really annoyed a few years ago when I was supposed to have the best year of my life and nothing particularly great happened! I thought: that’s it??

    Reply
  23. “If it suits me I believe it, and just as easily dismiss it if it doesn’t.”
    That’s me. However, I was really annoyed a few years ago when I was supposed to have the best year of my life and nothing particularly great happened! I thought: that’s it??

    Reply
  24. “If it suits me I believe it, and just as easily dismiss it if it doesn’t.”
    That’s me. However, I was really annoyed a few years ago when I was supposed to have the best year of my life and nothing particularly great happened! I thought: that’s it??

    Reply
  25. “If it suits me I believe it, and just as easily dismiss it if it doesn’t.”
    That’s me. However, I was really annoyed a few years ago when I was supposed to have the best year of my life and nothing particularly great happened! I thought: that’s it??

    Reply
  26. Why would some fiery balls of gas have any affect on the future? Besides, those constellations are not exactly in the same positions any longer as they were when astrology was first invented. And yet, the astrologers seem to be behind the times. I’m supposedly a cancer, even though according to positions of the constellations in the sky nowadays I’m actually a Gemini.

    Reply
  27. Why would some fiery balls of gas have any affect on the future? Besides, those constellations are not exactly in the same positions any longer as they were when astrology was first invented. And yet, the astrologers seem to be behind the times. I’m supposedly a cancer, even though according to positions of the constellations in the sky nowadays I’m actually a Gemini.

    Reply
  28. Why would some fiery balls of gas have any affect on the future? Besides, those constellations are not exactly in the same positions any longer as they were when astrology was first invented. And yet, the astrologers seem to be behind the times. I’m supposedly a cancer, even though according to positions of the constellations in the sky nowadays I’m actually a Gemini.

    Reply
  29. Why would some fiery balls of gas have any affect on the future? Besides, those constellations are not exactly in the same positions any longer as they were when astrology was first invented. And yet, the astrologers seem to be behind the times. I’m supposedly a cancer, even though according to positions of the constellations in the sky nowadays I’m actually a Gemini.

    Reply
  30. Why would some fiery balls of gas have any affect on the future? Besides, those constellations are not exactly in the same positions any longer as they were when astrology was first invented. And yet, the astrologers seem to be behind the times. I’m supposedly a cancer, even though according to positions of the constellations in the sky nowadays I’m actually a Gemini.

    Reply
  31. cynic that I am, I can see traits that fit almost anyone under each sign. And then we throw in “You’re different than your sun sign because you have this other planet rising” to cover all our bases. 😉 But I still keep my mind open, just in case something falls into it!

    Reply
  32. cynic that I am, I can see traits that fit almost anyone under each sign. And then we throw in “You’re different than your sun sign because you have this other planet rising” to cover all our bases. 😉 But I still keep my mind open, just in case something falls into it!

    Reply
  33. cynic that I am, I can see traits that fit almost anyone under each sign. And then we throw in “You’re different than your sun sign because you have this other planet rising” to cover all our bases. 😉 But I still keep my mind open, just in case something falls into it!

    Reply
  34. cynic that I am, I can see traits that fit almost anyone under each sign. And then we throw in “You’re different than your sun sign because you have this other planet rising” to cover all our bases. 😉 But I still keep my mind open, just in case something falls into it!

    Reply
  35. cynic that I am, I can see traits that fit almost anyone under each sign. And then we throw in “You’re different than your sun sign because you have this other planet rising” to cover all our bases. 😉 But I still keep my mind open, just in case something falls into it!

    Reply
  36. Precisely the arguments my scientific hero makes! And the reason astrology fell out of favor. But just because Cancer is now Gemini, does a change in name matter? What if it’s the earth’s position to the sun that matters most? And thorough astrologists take into account longitude and latitude at time of birth…there are dozens of reasons that might make a difference to personality. I don’t know enough to argue.

    Reply
  37. Precisely the arguments my scientific hero makes! And the reason astrology fell out of favor. But just because Cancer is now Gemini, does a change in name matter? What if it’s the earth’s position to the sun that matters most? And thorough astrologists take into account longitude and latitude at time of birth…there are dozens of reasons that might make a difference to personality. I don’t know enough to argue.

    Reply
  38. Precisely the arguments my scientific hero makes! And the reason astrology fell out of favor. But just because Cancer is now Gemini, does a change in name matter? What if it’s the earth’s position to the sun that matters most? And thorough astrologists take into account longitude and latitude at time of birth…there are dozens of reasons that might make a difference to personality. I don’t know enough to argue.

    Reply
  39. Precisely the arguments my scientific hero makes! And the reason astrology fell out of favor. But just because Cancer is now Gemini, does a change in name matter? What if it’s the earth’s position to the sun that matters most? And thorough astrologists take into account longitude and latitude at time of birth…there are dozens of reasons that might make a difference to personality. I don’t know enough to argue.

    Reply
  40. Precisely the arguments my scientific hero makes! And the reason astrology fell out of favor. But just because Cancer is now Gemini, does a change in name matter? What if it’s the earth’s position to the sun that matters most? And thorough astrologists take into account longitude and latitude at time of birth…there are dozens of reasons that might make a difference to personality. I don’t know enough to argue.

    Reply

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