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Astronomy vs Astrology: What is the difference?
Planetary science that covers comets, planets, asteroids and other bodies that are orbiting the sun. This includes all extra-solar bodies too. Stellar astronomy that covers any planetary nebula and is the basis of the understanding of how the universe functions.
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Physical Cosmology which studies the overall structure of the cosmos that comprises several galaxies. Despite their differences, the two terms have become somewhat synonymous in recent years. Most astronomers receive the same training as astrophysicists, including the completion of a graduate program in physics although there are many very good pure astronomy programs being offered.
Others begin in mathematics and gravitate to astrophysics in graduate school. Much of the work done in the field of astronomy requires the application of astrophysical principles and theories.
So while there are differences in definitions of the two terms, in application it is difficult to distinguish between them. When someone studies astronomy in high school or college, they first learn purely astronomy topics: motions of celestial objects, their distances, and their classifications. A deeper study of how they work requires physics and eventually astrophysics. Astrology literally "star study" in Greek is largely regarded as a pseudoscience. It does not study the physical characteristics of stars, planets, and galaxies.
It is not concerned with applying principles of physics to the objects it uses, and it has no physical laws that help explain its findings. In fact, there's very little "science" in astrology. It's largely akin to fortune-telling, but with a scientific "gloss" to give it some kind of legitimacy. In truth, there's no way to use stars and planets to tell anything about a give person's life or loves. It's all very imaginary and fanciful, but some people do derive a lot of satisfaction from fiddling with it.
While astrology has no scientific basis, it did play a preliminary role in the development of astronomy.
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This is because early astrologers were also systematic stargazers who charted the positions and motions of celestial objects. Those charts and motions are of great interest when it comes to understanding how stars and planets move through space. Astrology diverges from astronomy when astrologers attempt to use their knowledge of the sky to "predict" future happenings in people's lives.
In ancient times, they did this mostly for political and religious reasons. If an astrologer could predict some wonderful thing for his or her patron or king or queen, they might get to eat again. Or get a nice house. Or score some gold. Astrology diverged from astronomy as a scientific practice during the years of the Enlightenment in the Eighteenth Century, when scientific studies became more rigorous.
It became clear to scientists of that time and ever since then that no physical forces could be measured emanating from stars or planets that could account for the claims of astrology. In other words, the position of the Sun, Moon and planets at a person's birth have no effect on that person's future or personality. In fact, the effect of the doctor assisting with the birth is stronger than any distant planet or star.
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