Portal:Astrology

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Introduction

Detail from the astronomical clock of the Piazza San Marco, Venice.

Astrology is the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial objects as a means for divining information about human affairs and terrestrial events. Astrology has been dated to at least the 2nd millennium BCE, and has its roots in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. Many cultures have attached importance to astronomical events, and some – such as the Indians, Chinese, and Maya – developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. Western astrology, one of the oldest astrological systems still in use, can trace its roots to 19th-17th century BCE Mesopotamia, from which it spread to Ancient Greece, Rome, the Arab world and eventually Central and Western Europe. Contemporary Western astrology is often associated with systems of horoscopes that purport to explain aspects of a person's personality and predict significant events in their lives based on the positions of celestial objects; the majority of professional astrologers rely on such systems.

Throughout most of its history astrology was considered a scholarly tradition and was common in academic circles, often in close relation with astronomy, alchemy, meteorology, and medicine. It was present in political circles, and is mentioned in various works of literature, from Dante Alighieri and Geoffrey Chaucer to William Shakespeare, Lope de Vega and Calderón de la Barca.

With the onset of the scientific revolution astrology was called into question; it has been challenged successfully both on theoretical and experimental grounds, and has been shown to have no scientific validity or explanatory power. Astrology thus lost its academic and theoretical standing, and common belief in it has largely declined. Astrology is now recognized to be pseudoscience.

Selected article

Astronomy is the oldest of the natural sciences, dating back to antiquity, with its origins in the religious, mythological, and astrological practices of pre-history: vestiges of these are still found in astrology, a discipline long interwoven with public and governmental astronomy, and not completely disentangled from it until a few centuries ago in the Western World (see astrology and astronomy). Early astronomy involved observing the regular patterns of the motions of visible celestial objects, especially the Sun, Moon, stars and naked eye planets. An example of this early astronomy might involve a study of the changing position of the Sun along the horizon or the changing appearances of stars in the course of the year, which could be used to establish an agricultural or ritual calendar. In some cultures astronomical data was used for astrological prognostication.

Selected picture

Flammarion engraving
Credit: Camille Flammarion
Original print of the Flammarion engraving, depicting the concept of an earth bounded by a solid sky.

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