Astrology vs Astronomy – A Scientific Challenge to Astrology

Why is astrology not a science?

Does it sound like prejudice?

Well, it might.. But we can easily assure you that, a person relying essentially on scientific facts will be fully convinced when this article is carefully read. However, that is valid only if your approach to things in life and universe is based on common sense or deterministic science.

Otherwise astrology might still remain as a tool for you. At that point, we will not have much to do but to hope this will change in the future.. In any case we will try to inject the scientific point of view for all.

Why Did We Write This Article?

Good question!

Our regular readers might have realized that we have astrology-dedicated sections on our overarching articles about planets and moons. In the end of those articles, we usually mention why a planet or moon in astrology is not relevant with “anything scientific“. At some point we had to provide an explanation for that.

Astrology and energy
Yeah, the energy stuff..

Since this is not a usual Plu-topic for this platform, we will have to start with basic definitions about astrology and briefly comment on astrological phenomenons.

That’s why we plan to submit our basic logics that “could” verify astrology depending on valid science. And finally referring to science, we will ask questions to astrology demanding on proper answers.

So in short words, we’ll assume astrology is a scientific fact (in other words, a real fact for grown up people) and challenge astrology in terms of science. Astrology discipline in details will not be questioned here. Instead, we’ll serve astrology two things: Way points and questions, in order it to justify itself scientifically.

Ready to disprove astrology with science? Let’s go.

What is Astrology?

Astrology basically claims to act as a way of ‘study’ on aligning planets and stars, and to conclude/estimate about present day and future. Somehow, such insubstantial cause-effect relation is legitimized by astrologists and “believers”.

In simple group of words, we can define Astrology as a system created by human which predicts effects of cosmic objects (like planets, moons and stars) on human life and inclusively on our world.

On the other hand, astrology has a huge historical background in last thousands of years with all the respect. And for the sake of that knowledge, it’s worth to say a few words about how astrology evolved to its current form.

First of all, human has all the scientific background and great computerized tools for calculating positions of planets, stars and their orbits. This is the raw data for both astronomy and astrology.

How to Distinguish Astrology and Astronomy

Astronomy, which is also the source of above data via astro mathematics, uses this data to analyze celestial objects. It studies their characteristics and tries to figure out how they were formed via its relative disciplines. It searches for the topography, identifies the compositions and searches for sources of life. The ultimate point science and astronomy seek to reach is, understanding and formulating everything in whole universe via suitable experimental scientific methods using above information.

What astrology does with the same scientific data is, to speculate about Earth and your daily or yearly mood. And the method used for doing this, which originates from ancient times, has nothing to do with the modern science at all. This is where the contradiction begins.

Image source here, Credit: J. van Loon, National Library of Australia

Astrology In History

Despite above, astrology was used to be a strong tool from thousands of years back till the 17th century. Within this period, boundaries and procedures of modern science were not clarified yet. And there were no authorities or rules drawing limits for what science is and what is not.
During those times, astrology was a tool for predicting major events, weather forecast etc. Even the most important figures of historical scene, like rulers of empires or key decision makers were cooperating with astrologists to predict things.

Were they successful? The answer depends on the ability of astrologists to manipulate..

And astrology, driven by the urge of predicting future, also had enormous amount of influence on understanding cosmic objects’ behaviour. Thus it played a crucial role supporting modern science to develop.
We should clearly state that without the impression of astrology, the progress of astronomy, even the progress of birth of modern science might have been significantly delayed.

17th Century

17th century is a milestone. Because scientists like Kepler, Galileo and Newton created a revolutionary point of view. And this led to a dramatical change about the way people understand the universe.
Despite the dominant conservative opinions, they showed the world that the Earth is not the center of everything and the universe does not work in the mysterious way that people think. Even they went one step further and formulized motions of both celestial and terrestrial objects almost perfectly!

Kepler, Newton and Galileo

From that point, world started changing with science being a a trailblazer. From those days till today, the science in the way we know is built up. In this way, human was able to realize that it’s possible to experiment, analyze and understand everything in the universe without needing any dogmas.

After 17th Century

So what happened to astrology after 17th century? Well, the major religions and astrology were already occupying all corners for some centuries. However the consequence of scientific revolution in 17th century was a decrease in religious and astrological authorities’ influence. Thus they had to leave the duty of “explaining things” to modern science in time.

While the religious authorities were becoming less effective, the interest in “modern way of predicting things” started to transfer to astrology instead. But the key incident for modern astrology is for sure the democratic revolution. After people started to feel themselves as individual beings -instead of being lieges-, they became easy baits for astrology. This progress shaped new form of a more flexible astrology, especially in 20th Century. Hence it is still used as a profitable product.

Within the same period, astrology was always dependent on astronomy and science. New asteroids, planets, stars and other cosmic objects were rapidly discovered and astrology had to follow those advancements to revize its non-scientific calculations and prepare “addendums” based on new discoveries. Or at least just had to add new names to the houses”!

Makemake and its moon
Makemake, one of those “recently discovered” objects. Its moon, nicknamed MK 2 for now, is discovered in 2015; 10 years after its planet. Source here, Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Parker, M. Buie (SWRI)

As of today, we came to a point that a new cosmic object is discovered more frequently than once in a week. And a big handicap for astrology is, most of those discoveries are rocky objects of hundreds of kilometers wide and they are residents of our Solar System. It’s not easy to catch up!

Science Can Reveal Discrepancies of Astrology

Above comments should be enough for any reasonable person to disregard what astrology predicts about your life routines. But let’s go one step further and try to look from astrological perspective. Using our current scientific knowledge and tools which are proven to be working, let’s see if we can justify what astrology predicts based on science.

Now we’ll focus on influence of any star or planet to a human being and how that might happen. From that point, we will have to do what astrology does: “Speculate”, and try to interpret how such influence can occur.

Fundamental Forces In The Nature

With today’s scientific knowledge, we know that following fundamental forces rule our universe:

  • Gravitational force
  • Electromagnetic force
  • Weak nuclear force
  • Strong nuclear force

Scientists are still in search for an explanation to clarify huge amount of mysterious dark matter and dark energy in the universe. Those will not be considered in this article as it is still unkown for science. As this matter is still a mystery for science, it is a mystery for astrology.

Energy Distribution in Universe
That’s true, we don’t know much about the universe.. Image credit: Chandra Observatory web page, link here.

So we will consider above to be the only forces that can possibly effect you in the universe.

The effective range of nuclear forces is seriously limited and has zero effect considering distances between cosmic objects. That’s why we will only focus on gravitational and electromagnetic forces.

Gravitational Force

We know that any moving object in the universe has gravity. And it bends and distorts space-time depending on the amount of its mass.

Recently scientists also proved that gravity too releases radiation and those gravitational particles travel in the speed of light. The influence of gravitational radiation is far too small to handle and will thus be passed. Gravitational radiation might still be relevant for astrology if astrologists were dealing more with pulsars, supernovas and black holes. But let’s not scratch astrology that way now..

Anyhow, we’ll only comment on basic Newtonian gravitational forces of objects that can influence Earth and people. We’ll not go into details of relativity theory in order to keep things simple and straight. Because below will roughly serve proper results.

Newton's Gravity Law
Newton’s Gravity Law. Source here

Gravitational Forces of Planets

Above is the simple equation of gravitational forces. On this equation, F1 and F2 are the equivalent gravitational forces; where m’s are the masses of each object and r is the distance between centers of masses.

We’ll do the basic math for you and tell you about the approximate ratio of forces a 70-kg weight person standing on Earth surface is exposed to.

Let’s assume the amount of force effecting on you by Earth is “X” around sea level. Gravitational force acting on you by Sun and some of the Solar System planets will than be as follows:

  • Sun: Less than X/10³
  • Moon: Less than X/10⁵
  • Venus: Less than X/10⁷
  • Jupiter: Less than X/10⁷
  • Neptune: Less than X/10¹⁰
  • Pluto: Less than X/10¹⁴
  • Eris: Less than X/10¹⁴

Also we should note that any objects outside the Solar System (including stars, supernovas or black holes) will have less gravitational effect considering the proximity. And they can easily be neglected.

Solar System Planets
Image source here, Credit: NASA

Astrology mostly depends on alignations of different Solar System planets in combination with other stars’ positions. Although this does not make much sense, it seems astrology can be considered to have formed based on gravitational forces. Because it looks like the most suitable and powerful extraterrestrial force that could act on us. Let’s assume that’s the case. And keeping above fractions in mind, let’s initiate our questions.

Astrology Challenged By Gravity

How does lets say Venus and Pluto effect a human being in a somewhat emotional way while the ratio between gravitational forces is 10 million times different?

Better directing this question, let’s say when Venus and Pluto are aligned on a specific line (this happens quite often, almost once in 225 days). And let’s say this combination in astrology means: Venus influences your decisions moneywise and Pluto influences your love life.
What is the tangible comparison method of those two estimations when one of the planets’ effect is 10 million times less? How is it decided that effect of Pluto is not negligible comparing to Venus if the source of influence is gravitational effects? Why does even astrology bother about Pluto?

Let’s say Pluto would mean more love (in a way she does!), but a bunch of asteroids aligned in the same position have more gravitational effect to you than Pluto. And let’s hypothesise that those asteroids mean less love. Shouldn’t this conclude to opposite of what astrologists actually say?

Pluto
This is why Pluto could mean love. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI
Gravitational Effects of Unknown Objects In Astrology

Another question: As explained before; there are hundreds of thousands of new objects being discovered in last 100 years in the Solar System. How can an astrologist properly calculate gravtational effects of planets while thousands of other rocky objects can be aligned in similar positions? And what if those objects are way much closer to Earth and have more gravitational influence?

Does discovery of Eris change everything in astrology since its gravitational effect is quite close to Pluto’s? Or do all planets’ effects are independent from each other? If those are seperate things, than what is the reason for that?

Other than the magnitude of forces, how to decide what kind of properties new planets/asteroids have by means of astrology? Who/what is the authority for this?

Are the small comets passing near Earth calculated by “astrology authorities” as well? Because again, they might have more gravitational influence than Pluto.

If all above is really calculated, what kind of a super computer does the math and gives the results to astrologists?

One with a keyboard like this?

The number of questions can be increased. However the answers to those will most likely lead to absurd ways and above should be sufficient enough. Let gravity leave astrology alone!

Electromagnetic Forces

When it comes to electromagnetic forces of other celestial objects spreading radiation in different wavelengths, things really get more complicated. It’s better to leave this subject without mathematics to keep things simple.

First thing to know is, Earth has such an electromagnetic shield that it filters out most of electromagnetic particles in different wavelengths. It’s so powerful that if it wasn’t that effective, we wouldn’t have the chance to live onboard. And the major electromagnetic source considering its huge output power and closeness to Earth is, by far, The Sun.

Enormous amount of electromagnetic force is hitting to Earth’s magnetosphere and only tiny amount dives into the globe. This even forces scientists to build spacecrafts and mobile observatoires, and send them out of magnetosphere for proper analysis of other electromagnetic sources like black holes and pulsars as well as the Sun.

In terms of magnitude of radiation; considering most kind of different waves, our Sun will be crushing any other object of interest. The reasons are obviously the distance and the produced energy. Even we can directly neglect any planet or satellite in Solar System together with any other nearby star. Because the ratio of acting forces will be more than 10²⁰ times!

Electromagnetic spectrum
Electromagnetic waves; their energy, frequency and wavelength. Source here, Credit: NASA’s Imagine the Universe

Astrology Challenged by Electromagnetism

Still we can ask some questions though:

If the astrological assumptions were based on electromagnetic forces, first thing we’d expect from astrology would be to state which wavelengths effect in which way. In this case the magnitude of radiation would be another parameter to consider together with its source.
Of course astrology does not have anything to say about above, but let’s continue with few more questions.

How does any planet or any rocky object in our solar system effect when their electromagnetic influence on Earth is truely negligible?

How on Earth does Pluto effect us while almost none of the radiative particles it spreads leak to Earth‘s surface?

Does astrology take the more energetic radiation particles from other sources into account? Does it for instance consider black holes and supernova explosions and count their effect on Earth? Questions and questions..

Conclusion

Our Sun, being the source of energy and life on Earth, is by far the most effective object by means of gravity and electromagnetism. If astrology depended only on Sun’s phases and varying distance between Sun and Earth, we could at least have a point to argue about astrological claims. But unfortunately that’s not the case..

Sun and ISS
The Sun and the ISS. Source: NASA APOD, Image Credit: Rainee Colacurcio

In summary, astrology needs to clarify below to be able to prove itself as a scientific fact; or at least to prove that it’s a logical method to rely on:

  • It should clearly state the source of its calculations and the logical source of its characteristic assignments to celestial objects.
  • In addition, it should state which force(s) of nature create such influences to our Earth and people’s mood in which way.
  • It should verify above mathematically.

Obviously that won’t happen.. But despite above, a question from astrology fans will still arise: “Besides above facts, how does astrology still work and predict things properly?”

If Astrology is a Lie, Than How Does It Work?

Well, pal.. No, it doesn’t! Astrology does what a succesful fortune-teller does, as it used to do for chiliads. It takes you from the middle roads and tells you the things you’ll take granted one way or another.

Be sure that astrology will not give specific information like you’ll hit by car tomorrow or you’ll be the employer of the week in last week of June. It’ll specifically choose to tell about the most common things you might face and count.

For daily issues you might consider examples like you might be late for work, fall in love, be contacted by your ex, get money from somewhere or be depressed. And for the groups of horroscopes, you’ll see astrologists assigning basic personalities like angry, emotional, leader etc. Just consider the probability: How often are you and your friends related with above?

For taking astrology granted, it’s enough to just be in full cooperation with it. And if it fails to predict the truth, no problem at all! As simple as that.

Based on above perspective, it’s clear that astrology has no scientific background. Astrology market will be there for us to sell its products: Dreams. And this will continue until humankind keeps up the interest.

Once again,

Astrology means fairy tales.

Astronomy relies on facts; on a thing we named in last few centuries: The Science.

References

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