How Astronomy, Astrology, and Cosmology Settled into Separate Fields over History

Astronomy, Astrology, and Cosmology all have common roots, which can get some people confused about the context they should be used in. Although they have only been defined as separate disciplines quite recently, they are all very different. Astronomy studies the universe, its planets, galaxies, stars, and asteroids, as well as their properties, while astrology focuses on how those celestial bodies might affect the events happening on Earth. Meanwhile, cosmology is a branch of astronomy that examines the origin and evolution of the universe.


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Right up to the 17th century, astrology and astronomy were considered to be the same discipline. It was Sir Isaac Newton who discovered the laws of gravity and motion, and therefore changed how people perceived the universe. That was also the moment that determined the separation between the two fields. Generally, this natural science uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry to study everything that did not originate on Earth. It is also one of the oldest fields of study, with even the earliest recorded civilizations having tried to analyze the night sky. Moreover, in this day and age, it allows even amateurs to contribute to its expansion. Amateur astronomers have monitored many stars and asteroids, which has led to the discovery of important events, including new comets or novas in other galaxies.


For hundreds of years, one of the main purposes of astronomical observations and theories was to find out how the universe interferes with life on Earth. It used to be considered a science and it was of major value for philosophers, because of their belief that stars can offer guidance for people. Astrologers think that there is a spiritual connection between the world, the planets and the stars, so they use a person’s name, date of birth, time of birth and place of birth to determine personality traits and challenges that that person might face later on in life. Perhaps the type of astrology readers will be most familiar with is the Western one, which is based on horoscopes. Other popular ones include the Chinese Astrology, based on the yin and yang philosophy and the Vedic Astrology, derived from an ancient Indian science that looks into planet movements.


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The branch of astronomy that studies the universe, Cosmology focuses on its origin and evolution. It is dominated mainly by the Big Bang theory, which describes how the universe expanded from its initial state to what it is today. Cosmologists debate over concepts such as dark matter and dark energy, the string theory, and what the future will look like from this perspective. While astronomers look at individual celestial objects, cosmologists are more concerned about the universe as a whole. A current example of what cosmology looks into is the European Space Agency’s Euclid mission. This survey mission aims to investigate the geometry of the Universe and better understand the nature of dark energy and dark matter so that it becomes clearer why the expansion of the Universe is accelerating.

The differences between the three fields are pretty clear; however, it is also understandable why people might get confused about their use. Although astronomy and astrology are not related to each other anymore, cosmology is a subcategory of the former. Because there is still much more to find out about the universe, people still rely on it for answers and predictions, which is where astrology comes into play.

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