Astronomy and astrology almost seem synonymous to the average person. The fact that there are numerous similarities between these two fields of study is indisputable, but there are also many differences that set them very much apart.
Both astronomy and astrology have been studied by ancient cultures, and our night sky is the source material for both of them. However, it’s important to distinguish between the two, especially if you’re interested in studying one or the other somewhere down the line.
Astronomy vs Astrology
In short, Astronomy is a ‘universal’ study of the entire universe, encompassing all realms both known and unknown to man. We’ve only grazed upon its surface in terms of scientific studies, and even the most reputable doctors and scientists claim that they know only a small fraction of what’s outside of the box.
On the flip side, astrology dabbles in the studies of positions, transition, and motions of various celestial objects, but the most important aspect of this branch is how these links affect us, the humans on the Earth. In that respect, Astronomy studies the celestial relationships between celestial bodies while Astrology studies how the same principles affect our lives.
Though realistically, there are some similarities between the two that often lead people to confuse them with one other – this is largely to do with Zodiac signs, and the way that Zodiac signs are used in both (Gemini is both a constellation in astronomy and a Zodiac sign in astrology).
Astronomy in a nutshell
Astronomy is, basically, a field of scientific study that is interested in all celestial objects outside of our planet’s atmosphere. Obviously, this includes all the planets within the solar system, as well as every other planet scattered throughout the universe; stars that are visible or invisible, all galaxies, nebulas, satellites, and such.
Instead of only ‘mapping’ the positions of these objects, Astronomy also aims to establish the exact manner of relationships and correlations that link these objects together, and it is accepted by mainstream science as the reality.
In one sense of the word, Astronomy’s focus is scattered in two ways – astronomers constantly search for ‘individual’ space objects and monitor its movement and physical properties, but they also search for connections that affect stars, asteroids, and satellites.
Astrology in a nutshell
The Horoscope, signs of the Zodiac and Natal Charts are so popular these days that it’s safe to say that most people have at least heard of them. These are, basically, the ‘tools of the trade’ in Astrology, which is based on the 12 signs of the Zodiac. Check this article out if you’re not sure what is meant by a constellation.
As we all know, nothing is really ‘perfectly still’ – the Earth is rotating at a certain speed, the stars in the sky have their own orbit, and most celestial objects have their own field of gravity that pulls other smaller objects towards them. In that regard, we can conclude that the universe is constantly moving.
Just like every ‘action’ has its own corresponding reaction, every movement and every motion of one celestial body affects other celestial bodies. Astrologists have been developing techniques and ways to formulate certain patterns by which celestial objects move and how these motions affect our daily lives.
Astrology is less focused on our physical universe than astronomy, and this is one of the key differences between them. However, there are actually quite a lot of similarities between these widely practiced studies.
Similarities between Astronomy and Astrology
Even though we’ve already established that Astronomy and Astrology are totally different fields, there are several similarities that have lead many people into thinking that they are (almost) the same. Here are some of the most notable similarities between Astronomy and Astrology:
Their lexical ‘root’ is identical
The ‘root’ word of Astronomy and Astrology is ‘Astro’, which is a combining form relating to either the stars of any celestial objects. By adding the suffix ‘nomy’ we get Astronomy or by adding the suffix ‘logy’ we get Astrology. This is obviously the most confusing similarity between the two.
Their object of research is the same
Both astronomers and astrologists ‘look to the stars’ for answers. Even though they look for different things, they are gazing at the same objects.
Essentially, both Astrology and Astronomy were part of the ‘occult’ studies that originated thousands of years ago. It didn’t take long for people to notice that the sky is ‘different’ with passing time hence certain people started to observe the stars, the Moon, and the Sun in a bit different way. This sub-category of the ‘occult’ branched out into countless smaller fractions, two of them being astrology and astronomy.
Differences between Astronomy and Astrology
After establishing that these two fields are much akin to one another, we should proceed to the things that make them different.
They do not belong to the same branch of scientific studies
It’s pretty easy to fall under the notion of believing astrology and astronomy belong to the same branch of scientific studies since they have identical roots; their name is too similar to ignore the semblance, and they basically have the same object of research. However, these two are completely separate, individual ‘methods’ of obtaining and analyzing data on celestial objects.
Different approach and methods
Astronomers are constantly peeking through the lens of a telescope in search for visible changes in the behavior of celestial bodies while astrologists don’t really need to for the most part of their work – they typically have the data they need to make a reading, form a natal chart, or consult a client.
That being said, astrology and astronomy don’t necessarily work ‘hand in hand’ or better said – they don’t need to. It is imaginable in theory for an astronomer to employ the services of an astrologist (for a daily/monthly horoscope, for example), but on another hand, astrologers typically rely on data provided by astrologists.
Different job responsibilities
The daily life of an astrologist is completely different from the working day of an astronomer. Their jobs are different in almost all escapes, so let’s see what their core responsibilities are:
Conclusion – A Summary
So, if we want to sum up the key aspects of each of them, astronomers;
- Build up theories based on collected proofs
- Analyze various data fragments through special ‘astronomical’ software (could be done by hand, but the process would take substantially more time)
- Collaborate with different scientific groups
- Use and maintain their professional astronomical equipment and gear
In comparison to this, astrologers;
- Create natal charts, graphs, horoscope readings, or similar divinations based on different celestial alignments
- Analyze celestial alignments and present the data to their clients individually
So far we’ve come to an understanding that Astronomy is different from Astrology, even though they’re closely linked together. Both of them belong to scientific realms of study that employ accurate mathematical calculations and empirical techniques to collect, refine, and analyze gathered data for different purposes. However, it wouldn’t be fair to put them in a ‘versus match’ as they are both credible and valuable scientific methods.