The astrological sky does not correspond to the astronomical sky.

The astronomical sky and the astrological sky are not the same. Although astrology borrows astronomical notions, this set of beliefs should not be confused with astronomy, which is a science.

One can doubt its interpretations, but there is one thing that is hard to deny about astrology: its popularity. Astrology, a body of beliefs and practices, is about seeing the connections between the layout of the sky (stars, planets, Moon and others) and the course of our lives. It is therefore not a science, unlike astronomy, which is dedicated to the study of the stars, their position, their movement or their structure.

« Astrology uses an objective basis (positioning of the stars in the sky) with archaic vocabulary and presentation. This scientific roots is perhaps one of the causes of the durability of astrology. », resume thus the Paris Observatory. This is what is interesting to understand, even if one completely doubts the analyzes of astrologers: astrology is not scientific, but borrows astronomical notions.

New Moon in Aries on April 1, 2022? Namely ?

This can be confusing when you sincerely try to understand the logic of astrology, without necessarily believing in it: for example, on April 1, 2022 it turns out that for astrologers the Moon would be in the sign of Aries. Or, if in consulting an astronomical mapfor example the Heavens-Above site (recommended by scientists), the Moon is in another constellation : the Whale (a constellation located in the vicinity of Aries, by the way). in fact there is a gap between the astronomical sky and the astrological sky.

L’ecliptic is the name given to the path of the Sun in the sky during the year, from our point of view.

the zodiac It is a zone of the celestial sphere that extends to both sides of the ecliptic, in which we can follow the movement of the Sun, the Moon and the planets.

It should be remembered that the constellations were named a long time ago, 2-3 centuries before our era (before the birth of J.-C.). Logically, the signs of the zodiac received the name of the corresponding constellation at that time. Saying that “the Moon is in Aries” in astrology used to correspond to seeing the Moon in the constellation of Aries.

But a phenomenon has complicated the situation: the precession of the equinoxes. This explains the discrepancy between the constellations of the zodiac and the corresponding signs in astrology. The precession of the equinoxes is a very slow movement linked to the rotation axis of the Earth. The axis of the Earth is not perpendicular to the ecliptic, it is inclined approximately 23° (this is also the origin of the seasons). But furthermore, it is not fixed in space: it describes a circle around the pole of the ecliptic, for a long period of time (25,800 years). Consequence: the stars move in relation to the signs of the zodiac.

ecliptic and zodiac. // Source: Nino Barbey for Numerama

An example illustrates it well: during Antiquity, when the vernal equinox, the Sun entered the constellation of Aries, and the sign of Aries. Today, it’s still in the sign of Aries at this time of year… but it falls into the constellation of Pisces.

While the sky of astrologers is in two dimensions, that of astronomers is in three dimensions: it takes into account that certain phenomena that we observe are only an effect of perspective, with no impact on what happens on Earth.

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Mercury.  // Source: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington (photo cropped and modified)

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