If this system were a sham, certainly we wouldn’t still be using it over 2,000 years later, right? As it turns out, our capacity to believe the unreal is age-old. And according to a University of Illinois Professor of Astronomy, your Zodiac sign isn’t just wrong. It’s also meaningless.
The Split Between The Sciences
Astronomy and astrology both study the solar system. Until around the 14th century, the science and pseudo-science were practically identical.
However, they differ in interpretation. Astrology predicts one’s fate based on the position of celestial bodies. Astronomy is the testable science of the stars.
Different Views, Different Data
The first argument Kaler made is how different civilizations organized the sky. Constellations form the basis of our Zodiac. But these formations aren’t universal.
“The Incas, for example, made constellations not from stars, but from the dark patches in the Milky Way,” Kaler said. Another hole in western astrology’s bucket is the division of the signs.
“Astrology suggests that each sign of the Zodiac fits neatly into a 30º slice of sky,” Kaler continued. “Multiplied by 12, it adds up to 360 degrees. This is not the case.”
Kaler says that due to their varying sizes, the Sun cannot pass through each sign equally as the Zodiac chart would suggest. The Sun passes through Scorpio in five days, while it takes 38 days to pass through Taurus.
Kaler’s main argument, though, is precession.
The Sky Has Changed
Precession refers to the wobble in Earth’s axis. As it spins, the Earth bulges around the equator. The Moon and Sun’s gravity pulls on this bulge, causing the Earth to wobble like a spinning top.
This wobble causes the Earth’s axis to swing in a slow, wide circle. The process takes around 25,800 years. Every year, in small, imperceptible increments, our sky changes.
Thus, the sky that astrologers in Babylon used to read the Zodiac is not the same one we have now. The differences are minor. Still, they add up quickly.
Astrology Distracts Us From What’s Real
Kaler argued that astrology’s unreliable data makes “it to science what the game Monopoly is to the real estate market.”
Moreover, Kaler claimed, “astrology diverts attention away from the very real influences of the planets, primarily their gravitational effects on one another.”
“Astronomical studies will eventually allow the prediction of such events, while astrological predictions will get you absolutely nowhere,” Kaler concluded.
So, Should You Ditch Your Horoscope?
It’s unsurprising that Kaler feels this way about his field’s pseudo-scientific cousin. While astrology can’t use the scientific method, stranger things have happened.
Our human understanding of the world is minimal. We only process what our brain can comprehend. And we’re still not even sure what that entails.
Our understanding of what’s real and what isn’t has been in flux since the dawn of time. Further, we’ve put blind faith in a lot more, with less evidence.
Religion and astrology utilize a similar faith. Sure, you can’t replicate the results of these fields in the lab. But you can feel them in your gut, heart, and mind.
Astrology might not predict the future, but it still offers plenty of benefits. It promotes internal reflection and growth. It also gives a greater purpose by deepening our relationship with the greatest mystery of all: the heavens.
We all cope in different ways. If astrology helps you, then, by all means, lean into it. After all, keeping your eyes on the stars isn’t too shabby of a view.