Passion of the People – 1.3.3

Astronomy and Astrology – Science and Pseudoscience

Astronomy is a science that studies everything outside of the earth’s atmosphere, such as planets, stars, asteroids, galaxies; and the properties and relationships of those celestial bodies. Astronomers base their studies on research and observation. If someone is interested in the solar system and the planets, other celestial objects like asteroids and comets, other galaxies and the rest of the universe, what makes up space, and the possibility of alien life or space travel, astronomy is the field s/he should be considering. Astronomy is the scientific study of celestial objects and phenomena, it belongs to the natural sciences.

Astrology is a set of belief systems that hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world. Common elements of astrology include the 12 zodiac signs, each of which is associated with a specific set of personality traits and is based on the position of the sun at the time of a person’s birth. Astrology also includes the study of the relative positions and movements of celestial bodies, such as the sun, moon, and planets, and their supposed effects on human affairs. Astrologers use horoscopes, which are based on the positions of the celestial bodies at a specific time and place, to predict future events and to provide advice on various aspects of life, such as love, career, and health. Astrology has not demonstrated its effectiveness in controlled studies and has no scientific validity, and is thus regarded as pseudoscience.

Astronomy is based on observation and evidence, while astrology is based on belief and interpretation of symbols. Astronomers use telescopes and other instruments to study the universe, while astrologers use horoscopes and other methods e.g. to predict future events.

The separation between astronomy and astrology as distinct disciplines is thought to have occurred during the late ancient period, around the time of the Hellenistic era (323 BCE – 30 BCE). The Hellenistic era saw the rise of scientific thinking and experimentation, as well as the development of new mathematical and astronomical techniques. This led to a growing awareness among scholars of the difference between the empirical, evidence-based study of the natural world, which we now call science, and the more speculative, symbolic interpretations of the same phenomena.

During the Renaissance, the scientific revolution and the age of enlightenment, the separation between astronomy and astrology became more pronounced as the scientific method and critical thinking became more widespread. Astronomy became an accepted branch of science, while astrology was increasingly seen as a superstition.

Today, the majority of scientists consider astrology as a pseudoscience and do not accept it as a valid field of study.

Stars – Image by Gerd AltmannPixabay
Star map – Image by DorothePixabay
Zodiacal signs – Image by 👀Mabel AmberPixabay

Further Resources

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The Difference Between Astrology & Astronomy: Space & Astronomy

 Astrophysicist Debunks Horoscopes with Basic Astronomy

 Astrology: Fact or Fiction?

ASTRONOMIA Le grandi scoperte della scienza Documentario completo – Valerica Ivan

Online Resources

Why Astrology is a Pseudoscience

What is the relationship between astrology and astronomy and what similarity and difference is there between? (space blog by Enrique)

Astrology and science (Wikipedia)

Astrology vs astronomy – what is the difference (Maria Temming)

Astronomy and astrology (Philippe Zarka – IAU)

Cos’è l’astronomia? – Passione Astronomia

Perché l’Astronomia È Una Scienza E l’Astrologia No – Astrologia per tutti

Media INAF

Further Readings

 Astrology and Astronomy: A Pictorial Archive of Signs and Symbols (E. Lehner, J. Lehner)

Teaching Material

Learning content on astronomy and astrology for secondary school level

Cultural Astronomy and Astrology – a Master course of the University of Wales

Astronomy vs. Astrology: What’s the Difference, Really? – Space Telescope Science Institute Baltimore / Maryland – USA

For Kids

Teaching / learning material for the 8th grade

How To Teach Your Children About Astronomy And Astrology

Astronomia Base per bambini e ragazzi (Età 8-11)

Big Bang! In Viaggio nello Spazio con Margherita Hack – La Teoria del Big Bang – Big Bang!

Paxi – Il Sistema Solare – European Space Agency, ESA

Il Sistema Solare in 3D per bambini – Video educativi – Smile and Learn – Italiano