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The neutrality of this article is disputed.

Astrology (from Greek: αστρολογία = άστρον + λόγος) is any of several traditions or systems that believe knowledge of the apparent positions of celestial bodies is useful in understanding, interpreting and organizing knowledge about reality and human existence on earth. All are based on the relative positions and movement of various real and construed celestial bodies, chiefly the Sun, Moon, planets, and lunar nodes as seen at the time and place of the birth or other event being studied. For many astrologers the relationship need not be causal, nor even scientific. Although there are astrologers who try to put astrology on sound scientific principles, for many more it is a technology and an art that merges rote calculations with intuitive perceptions.

Central to all astrology is the natal chart (also called the horoscope, natus, or birth chart). This is a diagrammatic representation in 2 dimensions of the planetary and stella positions in the heavens as seen by an observer located on the earth at a given time and place. Interpretation of a natal chart is governed by:-

Common traditions of astrology include Western astrology, Chinese astrology, Jyotish (Vedic astrology) and Kabbalistic astrology. All of these can be subdivided by type, such as natal (the study of a person's birth chart), horary (a chart drawn to answer a specific question), and electional astrology (a chart drawn ahead of time to determine the best moment to begin an enterprise or undertaking).

The majority of Western astrologers based their work on the tropical zodiac, but some Western and all Jyotish (Hindu) astrologers use the sidereal zodiac.

Astrology is a controversial subject with many voices speaking both for and against its recognition as a valid field of study. A point by point, item by item debunking and defense of astrology throughout this article will only succeed in boring the reader. No one is attracted by a a tortuous parade of "this one claims but that one believes". That may ultimately achieve neutrality, but at the cost of many lost readers. If the broad intent of this article is to explain astrology, it can be safely assumed that "astrologers claim..." is an implicit part of every statement made. If someone broadly opposes astrology it should be equally implicit that "opponents deny...". Arguing about details is meaningless, if the fundamental principles of the subject are disputed. Thus we have the following two sections.

Table of contents
1 The case for astrology
2 The case against astrology
3 Relationship to astronomy and science
4 Astrology as a descriptive language for the mind
5 List of Notable Astrologers
6 See Also
7 External links

The case for astrology

The case against astrology

Astrology, like other forms of pseudoscience, tries to lay claim to the prestige of science without submitting itself to the discipline of the scientific method. The key is falsifiability. Most believers in astrology consult a horoscope published in a newspaper, which claims to make predictions for the coming day. Newspapers often publish horoscope columns with the title "Astrological Forecast," implying that they should be considered on the same footing with weather forecasts. However, astrology has failed carefully designed empirical tests of its predictive claims,[1] unlike meteorology, which, although not always correct, has been proved to be statistically more accurate than random guessing. As is often the case with pseudoscience, the practitioners of astrology respond to such disproof either by changing their claims, or by refusing to accept the scientific method as a valid test of their claims. As an example of changing their claims, some astrologers may say that astrology is only useful when the astrologer can have personal contact with the client, in which case the newspaper astrology columns should be abolished. If, on the other hand, the scientific method is to be rejected entirely, the problem is that astrologers do not agree on any alternative method of determining whether a particular astrological method is any more or less correct than any other. For example, modern astrologers using the western method typically include Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto in their calculations, but if the scientific method is rejected, then there is no way of knowing whether horoscopes cast hundreds of years ago were inaccurate due to the omission of the undiscovered planets.

Relationship to astronomy and science

Astrology is not the same as astronomy. Astronomers are often dismayed at being confused with their counterparts in astrology. Many astrologers incorporate astronomical concepts into their studies. Scientists dismiss astrology as pseudoscience with the claim that astrology does not follow the scientific method. Astrology was once deeply intertwined with astronomy, and a clear divergence between the two dates back to the time of Galileo. He was one of the first to use the scientific method to test objective statements about the heavens.

Astronomy aims to understand the physical workings of the universe. Astrologers use the astronomers' calculations for the positions of celestial bodies, and attempt to correlate astronomical events with earthly events. From ancient times to the 17th century, astrologers were in constant search of better astronomical tables, and so instigated (and even funded) many important developments in astronomy. The role of astrology as an important motivation for astronomical research diminished as the works of Galileo and others solved the problems in celestial mechanics that were of interest to astrologers. The needs of modern navigation and physics became more important motivators for astronomers.

The most common type of astrology is natal astrology. This form of astrology attempts to combine astronomical data from the time of birth of the subject with astrological techniques to gain an insight into personality traits. Other astrologers believe correlations exist between geological phenomena (such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions) and astronomical phenomena (the movement of celestial bodies in relation to earth).

Many prominent figures in the early history of western astronomy, including Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, and Galileo himself, supported themselves by practising astrology for wealthy noblemen. It is a commonly held belief among astrologers that Isaac Newton had an interest in astrology; however, there is no apparent evidence to back this claim, as none of Newton's writings mention the subject, and the handful of books in his possession that contained references to astrology were primarily concerned with other subjects (and mentioned astrology only in passing).

There are some biological phenomena that co-ordinate with celestial movements (e.g. circadian rhythms, see Chronobiology). Some astrologers may try to draw undue conclusions from this, but it is more likely that these correlations are not fully understood by anyone. Astronomers dispute the existence of some of them, and claim that others are trivial, well-understood relationships even though they have little to do with astronomy. Scientific attempts to establish the existence of astrological influences have yielded mostly inconclusive results. Scientists claim that the effect of tidal forces is far too weak over a small area (such as the human body) to have any influence on a biological organism. Astrologers counter that gravity may not be the mechanism of astrological phenomena, whereupon the opponents dispute the existence of any correlations.

Astrological concepts are pervasive in many societies, and endure despite strong efforts by scientists to discredit them. This is evidenced by the fact that influenza was so named because doctors once believed it to be caused by unfavorable planetary and stellar influences. The word "disaster" comes from the Latin "dis-aster" meaning "bad star".

Astrology as a descriptive language for the mind

The personality descriptions made in astrological charts can be viewed as a method of describing the subjective inner world of mind and personality. This has roots in alchemical and Hermetic tradition which were very influential until the 17th century. Many writers, notably William Shakespeare . , used astrological symbolism to add subtlety to the description of their characters' motivation. An understanding of astrological principles is needed to fully appreciate such literature. Some modern thinkers, notably Carl Jung, have acknowledged its descriptive powers of the mind without necessarily subscribing to its predictive claims.

List of Notable Astrologers

See Also

External links