A poll was issued by the Pew Research Center in the fall of 2014 that tested American’s general knowledge of science related topics through a series of 12 easy, straightforward questions. One of the questions, interestingly enough, asked the pollees what the name of the study of celestial bodies and their movements and how they affect human’s lives on earth.
To you, the answer may be obvious, but to one fifth of those surveyed, they answered astronomy, instead of the correct answer: astrology.
How can a misunderstanding between these two concepts be so significant in American culture? Especially in the age of daily horoscopes where we have a wealth of knowledge and opportunities for education through the internet? Some may point to the fact that these ideas are very closely tied in definition, and have had a tightly entwined history as one arose as a result of interest in the other.
Astronomy, strictly according to definition, is the study of celestial bodies as they move throughout the skies (beyond the earth’s atmosphere). Astronomers study not only the motion of the bodies individually and in relation to one another, but they also study their rotations and their makeup in order to learn as much as they can about them. Astrology, on the other hand, takes the movements of the celestial bodies and predicts how these movements affect the lives of people on earth.
It’s easy to see, then, how these topics could be so easily confused: they both deal with the motions of the planets, stars, and other heavenly bodies, but one studies them to learn more about their makeup and how they work among themselves and the other tries to see how they work in interaction with us on earth.
How Astrology Comes Into Play
Another important note about the two fields is that astronomy largely improved and came into greater prominence because of astrology. Because astrological readings had been quite popular for an extended segment of human history, naturally people would want to improve the accuracy of their readings.
The way they sought to do this was by improving their observations of the movement of the heavenly bodies, and thus the field of astronomy was vastly benefitted through these constantly improving methods.
Just a Fun Hobby?
While astrology may have once been considered a science in and of itself, in the more modern era it has been relegated into the title of pseudoscience or just a fun hobby, whereas astronomy has taken off as its own field with many detailed areas of focus for those who wish to observe the skies.
Even though astrology has taken a back seat for the scientific and academic communities, many people still rely on the readings of astrologers and daily horoscopes as they are published in magazines and newspapers.
The Decisions that this astrological information impacts ranges anywhere from business and significant life decisions down to personal decisions suggesting what to wear and what attitude to adopt for any particular day.