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We would like to show you a description here but the site won’t allow us. Jun 28, 2015 What is the difference between a 'star' and a 'sun'? (Beginner) How do you measure the distance between Earth and the Sun? (Intermediate) What is the significance of the Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Arctic Circle and Antarctic Circle? (Beginner) How are light and heavy elements formed? (Advanced) Which planet is most similar to Earth?

  • Nature and significance
  • Historical development
    • Astrology after the Hellenistic period


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What Is The Difference Between Astronomy And Astrology Libra

Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students.
Robert Andrew GilbertSee All Contributors
Antiquarian bookseller. Author of The Golden Dawn: Twilight of the Magicians and others.

Astrology, type of divination that involves the forecasting of earthly and human events through the observation and interpretation of the fixed stars, the Sun, the Moon, and the planets. Devotees believe that an understanding of the influence of the planets and stars on earthly affairs allows them to both predict and affect the destinies of individuals, groups, and nations. Though often regarded as a science throughout its history, astrology is widely considered today to be diametrically opposed to the findings and theories of modern Western science.

Nature and significance

Astrology is a method of predicting mundane events based upon the assumption that the celestial bodies—particularly the planets and the stars considered in their arbitrary combinations or configurations (called constellations)—in some way either determine or indicate changes in the sublunar world. The theoretical basis for this assumption lies historically in Hellenistic philosophy and radically distinguishes astrology from the celestial omina (“omens”) that were first categorized and cataloged in ancient Mesopotamia. Originally, astrologers presupposed a geocentric universe in which the “planets” (including the Sun and Moon) revolve in orbits whose centres are at or near the centre of the Earth and in which the stars are fixed upon a sphere with a finite radius whose centre is also the centre of the Earth. Later the principles of Aristotelianphysics were adopted, according to which there is an absolute division between the eternal, circular motions of the heavenly element and the limited, linear motions of the four sublunar elements: fire, air, water, earth.

Special relations were believed to exist between particular celestial bodies and their varied motions, configurations with each other, and the processes of generation and decay apparent in the world of fire, air, water, and earth. These relations were sometimes regarded as so complex that no human mind could completely grasp them; thus, the astrologer might be readily excused for any errors. A similar set of special relations was also assumed by those whose physics was more akin to that of the Greek philosopher Plato. For the Platonic astrologers, the element of fire was believed to extend throughout the celestial spheres, and they were more likely than the Aristotelians to believe in the possibility of divine intervention in the natural processes through celestial influences upon the Earth, since they believed in the deity’s creation of the celestial bodies themselves.

The role of the divine in astrological theory varies considerably. In its most rigorous aspect, astrology postulates a totally mechanistic universe, denying to the deity the possibility of intervention and to man that of free will; as such, it was vigorously attacked by orthodox Christianity and Islam. For some, however, astrology is not an exact science like astronomy but merely indicates trends and directions that can be altered either by divine or by human will. In the interpretation of Bardesanes, a Syrian Christian scholar (154–c. 222)—who has often been identified as a Gnostic (a believer in esoteric salvatory knowledge and the view that matter is evil and spirit good)—the motions of the stars govern only the elemental world, leaving the soul free to choose between the good and the evil. Man’s ultimate goal is to attain emancipation from an astrologically dominated material world. Some astrologers, such as the Harranians (from the ancient Mesopotamian city of Harran) and the Hindus, regard the planets themselves as potent deities whose decrees can be changed through supplication and liturgy or through theurgy, the science of persuading the gods or other supernatural powers. In still other interpretations—e.g., that of the Christian Priscillianists (followers of Priscillian, a Spanish ascetic of the 4th century who apparently held dualistic views)—the stars merely make manifest the will of God to those trained in astrological symbolism.

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Significance of astral omens

The view that the stars make manifest the divine will is closest to the concept that lies behind the ancient Mesopotamian collections of celestial omens. Their primary purpose was to inform the royal court of impending disaster or success. These might take the forms of meteorological or epidemic phenomena affecting entire human, animal, or plant populations. Frequently, however, they involved the military affairs of the state or the personal lives of the ruler and his family. Since the celestial omina were regarded not as deterministic but rather as indicative—as a kind of symbolic language in which the gods communicated with men about the future and as only a part of a vast array of ominous events—it was believed that their unpleasant forebodings might be mitigated or nullified by ritual means or by contrary omens. The bāru (the official prognosticator), who observed and interpreted the celestial omina, was thus in a position to advise his royal employer on the means of avoiding misfortunes; the omens provided a basis for intelligent action rather than an indication of an inexorable fate.

key people
related topics
Zodiac symbolSea goat
Duration (tropical, western)December 21 – January 20 (2021, UT1)[1]
Zodiac elementEarth
Zodiac qualityCardinal
Sign rulerSaturn

Capricorn(♑︎) is the tenth astrological sign in the zodiac out of twelve total zodiac signs, originating from the constellation of Capricornus, the horned goat.[2] It spans the 270–300th degree of the zodiac, corresponding to celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this area from about December 21 to January 21 the following year,[3] and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits the constellation of Capricorn from approximately January 16 to February 16. In astrology, Capricorn is considered an earth sign, negative sign,[4][5] and one of the four cardinal signs. Capricorn is said to be ruled by the planet Saturn.

There appears to be a connection between traditional characterisations of Capricorn as a sea goat and the Sumerian god of wisdom and waters, Enki,[6] who also had the head and upper body of a goat and the lower body and tail of a fish.[7] Later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology, Enki was the god of intelligence (gestú, literally 'ear'), creation, crafts; magic; water, seawater and lakewater (a, aba, ab).[8]

In Hindu astrology, the equivalent of Capricorn is Makara, the Crocodile.

Cultural significance

What Is The Difference Between Astronomy And Astrology Taurus

In India, the zodiac sign of Capricorn is celebrated as the Makara Sankranti festival,[9] also known in Nepal as Maghe Sankranti.[10] The Indian astronomical calendar is not based on the western Gregorian or Julian date keeping system. The Gregorian calendar has fixed days in a year and does not accommodate difference in the actual solar year. Therefore, the festival is celebrated on either of 14 or 15 January every year, when, as per the Indian astronomical calendar, the Sun actually enters the Capricorn sign.



  1. ^Astronomical Applications Department 2011.
  2. ^Oxford n.d., s.v. zodiac.
  3. ^Oxford n.d., sv. Capricorn and Aquarius.
  4. ^Mayo 1979, pp. 38–41.
  5. ^Ciubotaru 2008.
  6. ^Enki n.d.
  7. ^Adams 2014
  8. ^Augustin n.d.
  9. ^'Happy Makar Sankranti 2020: Makar Sankranti significance, history and why it's celebrated'. Hindustan Times. January 15, 2020. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
  10. ^'Celebrating the fervour of Maghe Sankranti'. The Kathmandu Post. January 10, 2020. Retrieved August 4, 2020.


What Is The Difference Between Astronomy And Astrology Relationship

  • Astronomical Applications Department (2011). Multiyear Computer Interactive Almanac. 2.2.2. Washington DC: US Naval Observatory. Longitude of Sun, apparent geocentric ecliptic of date, interpolated to find time of crossing 0°, 30°.. The year stated applies to the December date; the year for the January date is one year greater.
  • Adams, Leeuba Leshia (2014). 'Astrology Vocation'.
  • Augustin, M. (n.d.). 'Capricorn Mythology, what is it about?'.
  • Ciubotaru, Dan (February 1, 2008). 'Capricorn, Scorpio, Leo: In search of power'. Archived from the original on March 11, 2008.
  • 'English Dictionary, Thesaurus'. Oxford Dictionaries. n.d. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  • 'Enki'. n.d. Archived from the original on 2015-05-28. Retrieved 2015-05-28.
  • 'Makar sankranti festival'.
  • Mayo, Jeff (1979). Teach Yourself Astrology. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

External links

  • The dictionary definition of Capricorn at Wiktionary
  • Media related to Capricorn at Wikimedia Commons

What Is The Difference Between Astronomy And Astrology Ephemeris

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