More often than not, people tend to butt heads over how astrology and astronomy are different. Some people believe that astronomy succeeds astrology and invalidates it. Others feel that while both forms of study are valid, they are incompatible and should remain separated. There are even people who genuinely have no idea what’s the difference between astronomy and astrology.
So how does astrology differ from astronomy? Are they really as closely connected as some people insist, or are they separate entities for a good reason?
These are all timeless questions that people have asked time and time again. The only difference is that our knowledge and technology advances ever onwards. And so, these questions change to reflect the evolving nature of our fascination with the stars.
Are Astrology and Astronomy Interconnected?
In a nutshell, astrology and astronomy are deeply intertwined studies that both contemplate the heavenly bodies. In fact, astrology completely encompassed astronomy in the olden times. That is until they gradually separated into their unique terms by the 17th century. So what then is the difference between astronomy and astrology?
Several ancient civilizations took note of the stars and the planets that seemed to wander the horizon. They also examined the planets, which in ancient times included stars and heavenly bodies, that seemed fixed to the horizon.
Ancient Greece, in particular, took care to name the planets after the gods. They also considered them to hold the same power as their divine namesakes. They also closely charted the movements of these bodies through the domains.
This is the framework that eventually evolved into what we call astrology.
In astrology, we can understand and anticipate life and all it entails. We do so by examining the position of these bodies relative to the stars in the zodiac.
However, in astronomy, we look at the heavenly bodies and scientifically study them. Specifically, we look at their origins, properties, interactions with other bodies, and future movements.
In a way, you can say that astronomy is primarily interested in learning about how the universe works. In comparison, astrology seeks to find out how the universe ties into our lives as a whole.
Despite the difference between astronomy and astrology, both studies have a lot of overlap. To further the point, we look to their commonalities in the modern-day applications of both fields of study.
Astrology vs. Astronomy
Both astronomy and astrology rely heavily on technology these days. Astronomers use various tools to perceive and discern the movements of heavenly bodies. But notice that astrologers use the same tools to calculate what is essentially the same thing. It then begs the question of what is the difference between astronomy and astrology?
On the one hand, Astrologers do this to provide an accurate picture of the cosmos, which they then use to define daily horoscopes. In turn, their believers use these horoscopes to guide their decisions in the different aspects of their day-to-day life.
Astrology, despite some popular opinions, makes great use of scientific processes and concepts. After all, this field of study needs accuracy and precision. Achieving such results requires complex equations and judicious use of the proper terminology.
Where it differs is that astrology does not use the logical strategy that astronomers use. Astrologers do not need to do trials and demonstrations to make a point about their ideas. Instead, they use more intuitive and narrative proof: They rely on anecdotal and episodic evidence to support their claims. Scientists would consider such proofs to be weak and borderline useless to the astronomer. Conversely, astrologers would consider it simplistic and reductive to leave such important information out.
On the other hand, astronomy is a more analytical report that lives and dies by the scientific method. It aims to accurately discover and represent hypotheses and theories that deal with the universe at large.
This field of study advances as new technology emerges. With this progress, astronomers can examine the heavenly bodies and their properties in greater detail. All this facilitates an ever-growing and ever-changing corpus of knowledge. In fact, we are nearing the point where interdisciplinary studies are mandatory to further investigate the cosmos.
How Scientific is Astrology Exactly?
Needless to say that there is a lot of debate around whether or not astrology is a real science. Its detractors would posit that astrology is pseudoscientific at best and mystical mumbo jumbo at worst. Its proponents, however, point to its origin as the “mother of all sciences.” The rationale behind this title is that astrology deals with concepts that go beyond mere logic.
Upon examination, one can see that astrology already uses a lot of the methods that astronomers use. They also both try to detect and determine the movements of key heavenly bodies. It makes sense that they have similar methods in this regard. After all, both fields of studies were once one and the same. That is until astronomy split away from its more mystical and non-logical predecessor.
However, despite the heavy use of scientific elements, astrological speculations seem to have little in the way of legitimacy. To start with, astrologers often do not use logic to differentiate between cases. Furthermore, their contentions and axioms often rely on spiritual concepts like energies, similarly to feng shui and yoga.
All in all, the core ideas behind astrology have little to no logical proof. As such, they have a similarly low value in the scientific process. Through this, we can conclude that astrology is a pseudoscience at best. Note that this is not an invalidation of astrology. Rather, it is a reminder that astrology requires a different mindset from the scientific method.
Star Maps And Their Uses in Astronomy and Astrology
A star map is essentially a map that charts out the position of stars across the sky. Both astronomers and astrologers use complex algorithms to discern the positions of stars at any given time. But is there a difference between astronomy and astrology when it comes to using star maps?
Astronomers divide the night sky into grids to frame their findings and data. They do this to make their observations more concise and efficient. Then, they use these maps to locate and distinguish many different kinds of celestial objects: stars, galaxies, or even nebulas.
It is worth noting that star maps base their information on a galactic index. This index is a curated and organized list of celestial bodies that astronomers create for specific purposes.
But even before modern technology, ancient civilizations have already been looking to the stars using complex formulas. They have already applied star maps and astrology in their daily lives.
Of particular note are several Native American clans. The Wichita, Arikara, Pawnee, and Shoshone clans are noteworthy in their complex convictions based on star maps. For instance, the Cherokee believed that everything on earth is but an impression cast by the cosmos.
Furthermore, the Pawnee believed that the stars used to be gods that lived on earth once upon a time. They say that gods take their rightful place in the cosmos once their time on earth is up. With that said, Pawnee star charts exist and exhibit conspicuous illustrations of heavenly bodies.
However, unlike the modern-day interpretations, these clans mapped out the stars and their positions for a different reason. They use them as signposts to determine the turn of seasons and time in general.
Astrology, despite its lack of scientific merit, has been seeing a massive resurgence as of late. In keeping with our collective fascination with the cosmos, we have refined our methods. And so, a more scientific offshoot of astrology took its place in the mainstream. You may recognize this field of study as astronomy: the scientific method of examining the stars.
Owing to their common origin and the vast overlap, it is unavoidable that astronomy and astrology intertwine deeply. It is foolish, then, to ignore the difference between astronomy and astrology. Instead, you should always be mindful of how astronomy and astrology play off of each other. That way, you get a holistic view of the way of the world.