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Astrology versus Astronomy

Similar origin stories don’t change the fact that one tends to be taken more seriously

Astrology is the study of how the planet’s movements affect our human sphere. Astronomy is the study of celestial objects and these objects are said to surround earth. Both of these fields originated from our ancestors’ observations of the skies.

Astrology was first recorded in about 3000 B.C., by the Mesopotamian Babylonian people. They believed the stars and planets represented the heavens and used their observations of the sky to create the Zodiac. The Greeks continued these advancements by linking constellations to the planets. The ancient civilizations would use their observations to make decisions about their lives. The Indian civilization created what we use today for astrology predictions in about 1000 B.C.

Sabrina Ourania is an astrologer at the Arcata Healing Center and has been studying astrology for 10 years. Ourania described how people could have perceived the stars. She said that some people felt that astrology is the divine celestial realm where different gods live.

“It’s predictable, the sun always rises, the moon is always up,” Ourania said. “It was such a contrast to what the experience was on earth, it brought a lot of awe and admiration and devotion.”

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Sabrina Ouriana, owner and astrologer at Godless Alchemist. | Photo by Maia Wood

People are still just as interested in how our sky affects us on the inside. According to a Gallup Poll, 25 percent of Americans believe in astrology. The field is more popular now than ever. Though, science has debunked most of the predictions in astrology, people are more connected to these ideas.

Humboldt State’s astronomy professor, Ryan Campbell said that people want to believe in astrology because it’s fun.

“People want to believe in astrology because it’s comforting, we engage in motivated reasoning to reach conclusions that we want to reach,” Campbell said.

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Ryan Campell, Humboldt State University physics and astronomy professor. | Photo by Maia Wood

With astrology being used as a way to experience the world around them, it makes sense that some of these traditions would still be used today. This said, the Greeks and Mesopotamians had very little understanding of modern day science. Why are these traditions still being used in our modern societies?

For Ourania, astrology is more than science can explain.

“I see it as a deeper lay of reality and has a lot do with our own psyche,” Ourania said. “We’ve taken the experiences of our psyche and have projected them onto these planetary bodies.”

Humboldt State students Norma Warren and Trena Neel agree with professor Campbell. Astrology is not something to believe in but is just something fun.

“I believe that astrology is something that people believe in, but I don’t treat it as good model about making predictions about the universe,” Campbell said.

Astronomy and astrology were very closely related throughout history. According to Ourania, many of the great astronomers such as Kepler and Galileo were also astrologists. To fund their discoveries, they would make predictions for wealthy individuals.

“Back then there were not universities offering grants for new discoveries. But was happening wealthy patrons or leaders were coming to know, should they go to war etc. Astronomers day jobs were astrologers, because that is what they were getting paid to do,” Ourinia said.

This close tie to astronomy is what keeps astrology alive today. As we try to move forward in advancements in how we perceive the world, it makes it hard to let go of some traditions. As a science-based society, we can appreciate the past while still having a health perception of reality.

“The history of astrology and astronomy are really tied and I appreciate the historical background that came out of astrology, but I think we have better models now,” Campbell said.

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