Astronomy and astrology were often practiced together
Most natural philosophers thought that there. However, judicial astrology was considered fraudulent. In particular, telescopic discoveries in by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei — revealed unseen celestial bodies, such as Jupiter's moons, that had not previously figured into astrological predictions, which led to questions about judicial astrology's validity.
Astrology, particularly natural astrology, was subjected to scientific testing in the seventeenth century, a process made easier by the formation of the first scientific societies, such as the Royal Society in London. Francis Bacon — , the English politician and philosophical founder of the Royal Society , was interested in testing the effects of solar and lunar planetary emanations because of their influence on Earth's seasons and tides.
Most of Bacon's assumptions about solar and lunar effects were similar to the principles outlined by Ptolemy in the Tetrabiblos. Robert Boyle — , the discoverer of Boyle's law, which related air volume and pressure, was also keenly interested in atmospheric composition. In his treatises, Boyle posited that the atmosphere was full of planetary emanations that may have had effects on chemical reactions, plant growth, or weather.
Systematic empirical investigation of natural astrology, however, failed to reveal any lasting results. Judicial astrology was also more politicized and popularized in the seventeenth century, a process which led to its downfall. In England, astrological almanacs predicting weather, health, and political events increased in popularity due to cheaper printing costs and increasing literacy. By London astrologer William Lilly's — political almanacs alone were selling nearly 30, a year.
The readers of these almanacs could also cast their own charts by using the astrological tables they provided. The seventeenth century, sometimes known as the Age of Iron, was a time of often brutal warfare in which post-Reformation religious and political motivations were intertwined. Almanacs thus became a means of understanding or accepting these calamitous events for the general public. With the increasing popularity of almanacs, astrologers' erroneous predictions also became more public. If an astrologer gave a false horoscope to anticipate what his readers wanted and his prediction was wrong, the entire profession was affected.
The use of the self-fulfilling prophecy was also exposed in popular publications.
If an astrologer predicted a famine in the almanacs, farmers would hoard crops that led to the scarcity predicted, exposing the astrologers to more public criticism. Censorship of the press in England may also have played a role in astrology's decline, allowing astrologers to take credit for unpublished predictions prior to the end of government censorship in Astrologers would often assert that they had predicted events such as the Great Fire of London but were censored.
Without this excuse, their inability to predict future events was revealed. By the end of the seventeenth century, astrology had largely ceased to be reputable among the educated, though almanacs still survived. Some of the decline of astrology had to do with the sheer power of discoveries in astronomy and physics.
After the publication of English physicist Sir Isaac Newton 's — Principia in , it was clear that the planets acted in accordance with the same physical laws as Earth and their emanations were gravitational, not astrological. The demonstration by English astronomer Edmund Halley — that comets were higher than the moon and could return in a predictable cycle undermined comets' roles as astrological harbingers of doom.
For a variety of scientific and socio-cultural factors, astrology became a pseudoscience. The planets were now studied by astronomers and astronomy emerged as a mature scientific discipline. Astrology today is predominantly a socio-cultural phenomenon that scantly resembles the astronomy-astrology of the past. Some critics claim that astrology is merely for entertainment, and the vague—and often universally applicable—messages in a horoscope are harmless.
Others, such as British evolutionary biologist and science writer Richard Dawkins — , assert that modern astrological pseudoscience is an enemy of science because popular astrology preys upon and promotes ignorance of scientific principles. In the ancient world, while the emphasis on the supernatural qualities of astrology continued to develop and influence the affairs of society on the lowest and highest strata, there evolved a fusion with astronomical precision that resulted in a scientific astrology wherein the accurate measurement of celestial spheres was seen as a requisite of accurate prediction.
Following the death of Alexander the Great — BC , who spread the Greek philosophical tradition and intellectual culture across much of the known world, astrology began to take on an emphasis in Greek society that soon overshadowed pure astronomical observation. Influenced by Eastern traditions, a more mundane form of everyday astrology became commonplace in Greek society, and later in Roman civilization. No longer regulated to the prediction of grand affairs of state or religion, astrology became used by Stoics as a practical medicinal art. Good evidence of this everyday application of astrology is found in surviving Greek poems and plays that provide evidence that the positions of the planets was used as a guide to ordinary affairs.
Although there was often an emphasis on the influence of the supernatural upon ancient societies, this masks real achievements that resulted from an increased emphasis upon astronomical observations. Notable among such observations and calculations are Aristotle's observations of eclipses that argued for a spherical Earth; Aristarchus of Samos ' heliocentric model, which proposed that the Earth rotated around the sun; and Eratosthenes of Cyrene 's — BC accurate measure of the circumference of Earth.
Stimulated by astrological mythology, in BC, Euxodus of Cnidus c. Moreover, these advances in astronomy laid a foundational base for the scientific development of astronomy. Hipparchus's classifications of magnitude of brightness, for example, are still a part of the modern astronomical lexicon. The Algamest, written in the second century AD by Ptolemy, was the most long-lasting and influential work of the scientific astrology produced in the ancient classical world. Ptolemy's errant models of an Earth-centered universe composed of concentric crystalline spheres were destined to dominate the Western intellectual tradition for more than a millennium.
Yet astrology continues to thrive. Many of the world's religions and cultures continue to incorporate aspects of astrology. Horoscopes appear in newspapers and popular publications worldwide. Far removed from astrology, astronomy has flourished as a scientific discipline. Modern astronomers continue to study the planets and stars, but as researchers seeking to understand the structures and mechanisms of the universe. Although astrology is clearly a pseudoscience, it still exerts influence—and has followers—in the modern world.
In , a book penned by a former staff member claimed that U. President Ronald Reagan —; U. President, — and his wife, Nancy, consulted the advice of astrologers when planning various White House events. The White House press office later confirmed that the Reagans casually followed astrology. The following New York Times article covers the reaction to those revelations, but also provides a look at some media and popular attitudes towards astrology.
President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, are both deeply interested in astrology, the White House spokesman, Marlin Fitzwater, said today, and two former White House officials said Mrs. Reagan's concerns had influenced the scheduling of important events.
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A California astrologer said she had been consulted by the Reagans regarding key White House decisions, but Mr. Reagan said astrology had not influenced policy. Followers of astrology believe the alignment of stars and planets influences human affairs. Such people consult charts, based on their birth dates, for clues concerning many decisions.
Fitzwater said Mrs. Reagan is particularly worried about the impact astrological portents can have on her husband's safety. But he declined to say exactly how Mrs. Reagan had used astrological information. The issue was stirred up by reports, first published in Newsweek, that Donald T. Regan, the former White House chief of staff, discusses the role of astrology in his memoirs. The memoirs are being published later this month by Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, and excerpts are scheduled to appear in the May 16 issue of Time Magazine.
Another former official said the President timed his announcement that he would run for re-election after he and his wife consulted astrological signs. Early in his political career, Mr. Reagan scheduled his inauguration as Governor of California in January to take place at an odd time, A. News reports at the time said the decision was made to take advantage of favorable astrological portents. In answer to a barrage of questions today, Mr. Reagan has an interest in astrology. She has for some time, particularly following the assassination attempt in March of She was very concerned for her husband's welfare, and astrology has been part of her concern in terms of his activities.
The spokesman said the Reagans were distressed at the disclosures concerning their interest in astrology. Reagan's influence on the President's schedule is well known, but generally she has argued that Mr. Friends of Mrs.
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Reagan say she has long had an interest in astrology, but only a few of her aides apparently knew that she had an emotional concern. Reagan that something bad would happen that day. In an interview after the show, Mr. Koppel said a woman astrologer had told Mrs. Koppel would not identify the source of his information. A leading Republican strategist, with close ties to the White House, said the reports would not be damaging to the President. But others said the disclosures revealed a character trait in the President and his wife that had remained largely hidden to the public.
Marcello Truzzi, a professor of sociology at Eastern Michigan University, said he has collected evidence over many years documenting the Reagans' interest in astrology.
Astrology and Astronomy
Truzzi, who also heads an independent institute, the Center for Scientific Anomalies Research. The disclosures were fodder for humor in Washington today. I'm glad he consults somebody. At his briefing, Mr. Fitzwater acknowledged that the President has a superstitious streak.
Righter, who died last week, decorated his office with many pictures of the Reagans, according to Professor Truzzi. Roosevelt quoted horoscopes. Many other world leaders were known for their interest in astrology. Fitzwater said the Reagans did not know Ms. Jillson, according to The Washington Post. Bacon, Francis.
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Edited by J. Spedding, R. Ellis, and D. Boston: Brown and Taggart, — Bacon, Roger.