Oh boy. How many times have you heard someone say “astrology” instead of astronomy and wanted to strangle them? The two words are easy enough to muddle up, but the concepts behind them are and should be kept far away from one another. So, to settle things once and for all, here are the differences between astronomy and astrology, and why we so often mix up the two in our minds and in the media.
1. Astrology was the early form of astronomy.
Part of the confusion probably comes from the fact that astrology was mankind’s first stepping stone on the way to the science of astronomy. It involved identifying and recording the positions and movements of stars and planets, as well as dividing the sky up into sections that became the zodiac.
2. Astrology is more media-friendly than astronomy.
Some of us are undoubtedly fascinated when we hear about the latest discoveries and advancements in astronomy, but the general public isn’t always as receptive. Astrology, on the other hand, is far more accessible. Humans like entertainment, and one of the main reasons why astrology is embedded in our culture while astronomy is on the outskirts is because it’s fun. It also caters to the human ego. Who cares if astronomers discovered a new binary system when your horoscope shows good things on the horizon?
3. Astronomy is science; astrology is not.
Everything else aside, astronomy is a science. It looks for the truth and is subject to rigorous testing and ongoing debate. Astrology is a pseudoscience. It gives explanation without evidence, which is something no discipline in science does. No matter what you believe, or how accurate your zodiac sign is, at the end of the day we can’t prove any of the claims purported by astrology.
4. Astrology is focused on people, while astronomy is focused on the universe.
Astrology might seem like a “unique” way to study celestial bodies, but at its core it’s really a way for humans to explain themselves and their interactions with the world. It’s an earth-centered practice that uses what’s out there to explain what goes on down here. Astronomy, on the other hand, focuses on celestial bodies without trying to tie them to human existence in any way. Science may tell us that we’re all made of star stuff, but it also tells us that there’s more to the story. In the end, people turn to astrology for comfort more than anything. Astronomy might not tell you that Mars’ position indicates your relationship is going to end, but it does tell you that the universe is so much bigger than you are. It’s not comforting, but it is amazing.