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Astronomy and astrology were often indistinguishable prior to the modern era. Both began with the desire for divinatory knowledge, as well as to be able to predict future events. Beginning around the time of the Renaissance and up to the 18th century, astronomy slowly began to diverge from astrology. Eventually, astronomers distinguished themselves as scholars of the scientific field of astronomical objects, without regard to the astrological speculation of the heavenly bodies. However, both astronomy and astrology played a role in the shaping of modern culture.

Astronomy, from the Greek words “star” and “law,” is officially the study of celestial objects, including stars, planets, and galaxies, and phenomena that originate outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Astronomy is concerned with the physics and chemistry of these celestial objects as well as the formation and development of the Universe. Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences, with astronomical artifacts found that date to very early civilizations. However, it was after the invention of binoculars and the telescope that astronomy advanced into a modern science. Today, professional astronomy is considered synonymous with astrophysics. In the 20th century, the field of professional astronomy was divided into the two branches of “observational” and “theoretical.” Observational astronomy focuses on acquiring and analyzing data, using mainly the principles of physics. Theoretical astronomy uses computer or analytical models to describe astronomical objects and phenomena. The two fields complement each other in this way: theoretical astronomy seeks to explain the observational results, and observations are used to confirm theoretical results. Not just for professionals, many amateur astronomers have contributed to important discoveries over the years. In fact, astronomy is one of the few sciences where amateurs can still play an active role. With the aid of a telescope, anyone can study the night skies, searching for constellations and taking a closer look at the moon, stars and planets.

Astrology has a common origin with astronomy, but the two are very distinct. Astrology, which is from Greek meaning “star” and “theory,” is an ancient belief system that claims that human affairs are correlated with the positions of celestial objects. Or, another way of describing it is the study of how the cosmos influences life on Earth. A practitioner of astrology, called an astrologer, uses various different traditions and applications to employ ages-old astrological concepts. The earliest recorded beginnings of astrology date to the 3rd millennium B.C. Although the scientific community considers astrology to be a superstition, belief it in remains widespread ,with 31 percent of Americans saying they believe in it. A common application of astrology is the psychic reading. There are many different types of psychic readings that may involve Tarot cards, a horoscope reading or chart, numerology, palm reading, past-life readings or aura readings. Psychic readings usually involve face-to-face contact with the astrologer, although in recent years distant readings have become more popular, involving the internet and phone.


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