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What's the Difference Between Astronomy and Astrology?

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The main difference between Astronomy and Astrology is their purpose. The goal of Astronomy is to explain how the physical universe works in order to understand the place of humanity in the cosmos. Astrology, on the other hand, aims to interpret how the placement of heavenly bodies directly affects human affairs and behavior.

What is Astronomy?

The Solar System in Astronomy

The word “Astronomy” is derived from 2 Greek words: “Astron” meaning stars and “Nomos” meaning arrangement or law. Astronomy is a branch of science that deals with or studies the origin and evolution of the universe, physical and chemical properties of heavenly bodies, and calculations of the positioning and behavior of planets, stars, and other celestial bodies or phenomena.

The people who are studying Astronomy are called “Astronomers”. They gather astronomical information through observation and calculations of the nature and behavior of the universe in terms of its physical and chemical aspects.

What is Astrology?

The 12 Signs of the Zodiac in Astrology

The word “Astrology” is derived from 2 Greek words: “Astron” meaning stars and “Logos” meaning logic. Astrology, before Galilean Physics that was introduced and popularized in the late 1500s, was a former branch of science that attempted to inform and predict outcomes, behavior, character, and other relevant aspects of humanity, individually or collectively, based on observation and interpretation of the placing and movements of heavenly bodies.

The people who are practicing Astrology are called “Astrologers”. They interpret or make sense of how the positions, motions, and properties of celestial bodies directly affect people and events on Earth. This is due to the fact that Astrology came from an ancient belief that the universe is Geocentric rather than Heliocentric.

Differences Between Astronomy and Astrology

Astronomy and Astrology both examine heavenly bodies and other outer space phenomena. Astronomers and Astrologers both share a fascination about the universe. Interchanging these two terms is very common in society. However, there are key differences that greatly divide one from the other.


The purpose of Astronomy is to gather data through observation and calculations in order to explain the mechanism of the universe, how it came to be and how it will be. The intention of Astronomy is to let humanity understand the state of the universe.

Astrology, on the other hand, aims to use stellar charts, maps, and other methodologies to explain and interpret happenings that concern the undertakings of humanity collectively or individually. It also offers suggestions as to how to improve one’s life through a “favorable” course of actions depending on a certain “Astrological” condition (star signs, elemental signs, sun, moon, rising signs, and so on.)


Pursuing efforts in Astronomy brought a lot of advancements to humanity in terms of technology. Since Apollo 11, technology has seen exponential growth. Some notable contributions of Astronomy, especially space exploration, are the conception and reliability of GPS, innovations in forming compact, powerful, and efficient devices that lead to smartphone technology, and climate studies.

Astrology also promotes sound character and relationships. Astrology offers different guides and perspectives as to how to obtain a peaceful, satisfying, or orderly way of living. Astrology can incorporate concepts from different schools of thought, religions, or even divinations, but it ultimately helps people find comfort, clarity, and solace in their uncertainties. Astrology also helps people discover or validate their sense of self.

Branches of Study

In the past, Astronomy was divided into 2 categories: Observational Astronomy and Theoretical Astronomy. Observational Astronomy was being practiced by people who use telescopes and cameras to collect and record astronomical data. Theoretical Astronomy is the study and usage of recorded data to analyze and form theories about heavenly bodies, movement, and phenomena. However, nowadays, Astronomy has combined these two along with other relevant fields of study to further understand the universe itself. Some notable examples of branches of Astronomy are Astrophysics and Astrochemistry.

Astrology has 3 main subdivisions: General Astrology, Catarchic Astrology, and Interrogatory Astrology. General Astrology is the study of relationships of significant astronomical events such as equinoxes, eclipses, and planetary conjunctions to all of humanity. Catarchic Astrology determines if a certain action or decision is in favor or against an astrological condition. It also provides insights as to what undertakings should be done in order to be in favor astrologically. Lastly, Interrogatory Astrology provides answers to a client’s inquiry based on the current condition of heavenly bodies. This is considered superstitious, subjective, and a form of divination.


According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Astronomers are required to have a doctoral degree in order to pursue a career in Astronomy. Astronomers are scientists who study heavenly bodies and phenomena. Astrologers, on the other hand, could be enthusiasts that immerse themselves in the methods and guidelines of Astrology to practice making predictions through charts, graphs, and other significant bases of Astrological beliefs.

Comparison Chart: Astronomy Vs Astrology

PurposeTo explain how the universe came to be, how the universe is, and how it will beTo interpret how celestial bodies directly affect human behavior and affairs individually or collectively
BenefitsImprovement of the quality of life in terms of science and technologyImprovement of the quality of life-based on character and personality
Branches of StudiesTheoretical Astronomy, Observational Astronomy, Astrophysics, AstrochemistryGeneral Astrology, Catarchic Astrology, Interrogatory Astrology
CareerDoctorate Degree, ScientistsEnthusiasts, Practitioners
Nature of StudyScientific, Factual, Based on observable data and verifiable calculationsBased on belief systems, divinations, superstitions, pseudoscience

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are People Interested in Astrology?

Astrology provides people with introspection and contextualization of their emotions and hardships. It also promotes a sense of control, certainty in ambiguity, and an image of the concept of “self”. Astrology, in general, supports a sound and purposeful way of living.

What are the Job Responsibilities of an Astronomer?

Astronomers study the physical universe: its nature, evolution, and physical reactions. There are various jobs that an Astronomer should do. But generally speaking, astronomers formulate theories and hypotheses about heavenly bodies and events, analysis of astronomical data, presentation of findings to the scientific community, and calibration and maintenance of equipment.

Which came first, Astronomy or Astrology?

Historically, Astrology was practiced 2,400 years ago. Babylonians had their own version of the horoscope. Early iterations of Astrology could also be traced back to Mediterranean and Egyptian civilizations at around 2,100 years ago. Then, early concepts of Astronomy can be traced back to Assyrian-Babylonians around 1000 BCE and further improved by Galilean physics and Newtonian physics around the 1500s-1600s.


The search for purpose and meaning is inherent in people. The efforts to understand the concept around and within humanity are surely significant for the ever-improving quality of life. In order to achieve a goal, astronomically or astrologically, reach for the stars! 


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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
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