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An Astronomer Explains Why Your 'Star Sign' Is Probably Wrong
26-01-2020, 04:54 PM
Post: #1
An Astronomer Explains Why Your 'Star Sign' Is Probably Wrong
I was born a Capricorn (please don't judge me), but the Sun was in the middle of Sagittarius when I was born.

As a professor emeritus of astronomy, I am often asked about the difference between astrology and astronomy. The practice of astrology, which predicts one's fate and fortune based on the positions of the Sun, Moon, stars and planets, dates back to ancient times.

It was intermingled with the science of astronomy back then – in fact, many astronomers of old made scientific observations that are valuable even today.

But once Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo realized the planets orbit the Sun, rather than the Earth, and Newton discovered the physical laws behind their behavior, astrology and astronomy split, never to be reunited.

The science of astronomy is now at odds with one of the basic organizing principles in astrology – the dates of the zodiac.

The constellations of the zodiac
Over the course of a year, the Sun appears to pass through a belt of sky containing 12 ancient constellations, or groupings, of stars. They are collectively called the zodiac and consist almost entirely of animal figures, like the ram (Aries), crab (Cancer) and lion (Leo).

It is a disappointment to many that the constellations only rarely look like what they represent. How could they, since they are truly random scatterings of stars? They are meant to represent, not to portray.

Although the constellations of the zodiac, which date back to Mesopotamia or before, may seem definitive, they are only one example of those produced by the various cultures of the world, all of which had their own, frequently very different, notions of how the sky is constructed.
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