When I tell people I'm into astrology, I typically get one of two responses — either silence or awe.
People either don't know what to say about astrology, don't particularly like astrology, or don't really know enough about it to have a substantive conversation.
That's a huge shame, from my point of view — because I really, really love to talk about astrology, and the how and why of it. And because I believe that the more people know about astrology, the less of a fear or discomfort they have about the art and science of it.
As a result, I've compiled some of my favorite questions about the practice and how it works. Many of them, although not all, are scientific in nature. That's because a huge part of astrology, believe it or not, is actually based on astronomy and the scientific method. The rest further explain the philosophical and historical underpinnings of astrology, and the practical application of it in real life.
Browse the questions for the ones that interest you the most, or bookmark this page as a reference for future inquiry and research.
1. Why isn't my sun sign horoscope I read online accurate?
Surprisingly enough, it's not supposed to be accurate. Sun sign horoscopes take everything unique about you and standardize it, or reduce it to one aspect of yourself.
Each person's astrological profile is made up of eight planets, two luminaries (the sun and the moon) and a variety of other asteroids and angles. Your sun sign horoscope only looks at one of those things — the sun — and ignores everything else. They do that because an astrologer can not possibly know all the specifics of your individual chart unless they have your exact time of birth. And writing specific horoscopes for each individual or generation would be very time consuming.
Sun sign horoscopes are also best for people born in the middle of a sign, and can skew wrong for people born too far at the beginning or end. Some people also find their rising or moon sign to be more accurate or predictive because it aligns more closely with the events going on in their life.
2. Why is astrology based on the idea that the earth is at the center of the universe, with the sun, moon and other planets revolving around it?
Astrologers do not believe that the sun and other planets revolve around the earth. However, they do look at the stars and planets from the earth's perspective, placing the earth in the center of an astrological chart, with the planets continuing their normal movement around the sun and through each of the constellations of the zodiac.
Astrologers put the earth in the center of an astrological chart because we believe that is what is the most important thing for life on earth, or the most relevant to our experience as inhabitants of earth. Because we live on earth, we experience life through that perspective.
Putting the sun at the center of a chart is like explaining to someone what capitalism is like in America by only talking about communism in China. Learning about communism in China is important for understanding more about how governments and economies work, but it is not ultimately the most useful or descriptive for learning about American capitalism.
3. Why do astrologers tell us the the sun and other planets are in Aries when they have in fact left that constellation and are in another?
This is correct. Many times when an astrologer says a planet is in Aries, it is actually not in Aries. It is in the constellation before Aries, or Pisces. This is because the earth not only revolves around the sun and spins on it axis — it also wobbles like a top (called the "precession of the equinoxes.") This wobbling has caused the earth's axis to shift over time, albeit very slowly.
The earth has shifted about 23 degrees off its axis since ancient times, meaning most astrological calculations in Western astrology are off by 23 degrees from its original position in the constellations. (As a result of this movement, the north star will also change in about 3200 years from the star we call Polaris, to another star in our solar system called Gamma Cephei.)
This means that when a planet is in the literal constellation of Aries, it is actually at a different spot on the earth's axis than it was during ancient times.
Here is an illustration of what this looks like in the sky. Notice that the astrological signs are named after the constellations, but are not specifically correlated with them.
This has caused other systems or philosophies of astrology to emerge, such as Western or Tropical astrology (which I practice), to account for this change. Western astrology uses the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn (or the solstices and equinoxes) as the basis for the signs of the zodiac. That is because even though the earth wobbles back and forth, changing our perspective of the stars, the earth's relationships with the sun is always the same.
Capricorn and Cancer always mark the solstices, and Aries and Libra always mark the equinoxes, regardless of where the constellations actually are in space at that time.
But some systems of astrology, such as Sidereal astrology and Vedic astrology (mostly practiced in the East), do not take this wobbling of the earth into account and use the exact placements of the planets in the constellations they are actually located in. However, I have not found those systems to yield accurate results for me personally, or to relate most closely to how I process the world.
The image below gives you an idea of what the actual constellations of the zodiac look like, and where they are located.
4. Why do astrologers cite only 12 of the millions of constellations that are in our solar system as having an effect on human life, some of which have much brighter stars and are much more prominent?
An easy answer to this questions is that the ecliptic, or the path the sun takes around the solar system, is 360 degrees — and 360 degrees is easily divisible by 12, hence 12 signs. However, not all systems of astrology follow this method. Vedic, or Hindu, astrology takes into account a total of 27 constellations, also called nakshatras.
All the degrees of each of the signs also have subtle differences in meaning too, so any information that was lost by dividing 360 by 12 has been retained in that way. A person born at the early degrees of Sagittarius will have different characteristics from a person born at the late degrees of Sagittarius, etc.
I also find it interesting that Jesus had 12 apostles, and that there are 12 tribes of Israel. The number 12 has ancient and biblical significance.
5. What's the deal with the 13th constellation Ophiuchus. Why don't astrologers use that one when it is, in fact, a part of the zodiac and located on the ecliptic?
The signs in astrology get their names from the constellations of the zodiac, but are not exactly correlated with them (as a result of the precession of the equinoxes), so the awareness of another constellation near the ones we currently reference are nothing new. Astrologers know there are many more constellations out there than the ones we use, but do not believe that they add significant meaning that is not already contained within our current systems (that we know of).
Ophiuchus in particular is located in between the signs of Sagittarius and Capricorn. Therefore, it has characteristics of both signs.
Also, the word "zodiac" means "animal across from" or "circle of little animals." If there is a 13th sign, there would be no animal directly across from it. A 14th sign would also be needed. Astrology works off of the fundamental principle that there is opposition in all things. Every sign must have an opposite. Adding a 13th sign to the zodiac would not work within that model or principle. We would also have to add a 14th.
6. Where do the constellations get their names and characteristics from? It seems so arbitrary.
In ancient times, the astrologers observed where planets were at what times and how people reacted or responded on earth when that was the case. The names and characteristics of the signs are a result of those observations. The ancients named the constellations to make it easier to remember what the characteristics of each sign were and how they manifested on earth.
7. Astrologers claim that the sign rising on the horizon at a person's time of birth has an unusual amount of influence at a person's time of birth. Why that one? What about the other signs, like the one directly above or the one setting?
Astrologers look at all the signs when analyzing a person's chart. While the rising sign, or the sign on the horizon at a person's birth, is more openly talked about, all other signs also hold importance. The two signs on the horizon at opposing sides and the signs directly above and directly below the earth also hold major significance in astrology.
8. The sun and the moon act drastically different at the earth's poles, with there being extended periods of day and night. Why aren't those people much different from the people born everywhere else?
Their birth charts actually are much different from those born closer to the equator. The signs themselves don't change (because every sign always has 30 degrees of 360 degrees around the sun), but the houses contained in the chart change drastically.
Houses are a way of dividing up the sky into 12 different pieces (in addition to the 12 different signs), and are based on the rotation of the earth on its axis (and not the rotation of the earth around the sun). Each house represents an area of a person's life that will be affected, such as home and family, career, dating and partnerships, etc.
The houses are determined either by time or space. If the houses are determined by space, each house will be an equal 30 degrees, much like the signs. If the houses are determined by time, they are then divided either into equal 2 hour parts (with each house representing 2 hours of the day) or they are divided into unequal parts based on how much daylight and night time there is on a given day. There is much debate among astrologers on which house system to use, or on what is the best way to divide the sky up into 12 different houses.
As a result, in some house systems, people born near the equator have either very small houses or very big ones (indicating either a lot or a little daylight.) Oftentimes, multiple signs are contained within one house, or one house covers only a very small portion of a sign. This can lead to parts of an individual's life being over-emphasized or under-emphasized, and provide different challenges or struggles.
As an example, here is my birth chart in both Georgia — where I was actually born — and Alaska, which is further from the equator.
However, one of the most popular house systems in Western (or Tropical) astrology (and the one I prefer), also known as Placidus, faces criticism for having questionable or untested results for those born near the poles of the earth. It is meant to work better for those born in less extreme locations, or those closer to the equator.
A good astrologer knows this, and will adjust the house system as necessary for each of their clients, especially those born in distant locations near the earth's poles. This, however, may require the astrologer to ask you some questions about your life experiences to best determine which house system is the one that will resonate the most with you and provide the most accurate results.
9. The ancients didn't use the distant planets like Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto — and were supposedly accurate. Why do we care about them now?
The discovery of new planets doesn't discount the work and research that has already been done — it just adds more nuance to it. Astrology is constantly evolving and incorporating new planets and systems of operation. For example, Chiron is an asteroid that has only recently begun being used regularly by astrologers in their interpretation.
For this to happen, astrologers many times conduct research projects about certain planets, aspects or angles and then present their research to conventions for critique. Their research consists of looking at hundreds of birth charts and comparing the charts to the personal experiences and testimonies of the individual they belong to.
Also, some systems of astrology, such as Vedic astrology or horary astrology, still do not use the outer planets in their interpretations and are able to yield accurate results that actually complement Western astrology very well. Again, it is not necessarily that one system is better or more accurate than the other, it is just that they both describe different areas or aspects of life.
It is said that Vedic astrology, which mostly follows the movements of the moon, is better at describing our internal, emotional and spiritual states of being, while Western astrology, which mostly follows the movement of the sun, is better at describing our external and practical realities.
Also, the signs that Uranus (Aquarius), Pluto (Scorpio) and Neptune (Pisces) now rule also have other planets as co-rulers that share similar traits, but are not entirely the same. For example, ancient astrologers considered Saturn to rule Aquarius, Mars to rule Scorpio, and Jupiter to rule Pisces (until the other planets were found). This allowed ancient astrologers to still capture the zeitgeist of the sign and experience even though they did not have the complete knowledge or understanding of the other planets yet. Advanced Western astrologers understand this correlation and do use this information sometimes to add color or depth to their interpretations.
10. A lot of asteroids exert much more gravitational influence on earth than many stars and planets. Why aren't those taken into consideration by astrologers?
Asteroids are taken into account by astrologers. There are hundreds and hundreds of asteroids, all with different meanings that have been catalogued. However, it gets very confusing to chart every asteroid all at once. They are used by astrologers when more information or some deep knowledge on a specific topic or aspect of a person's life is requested, but are not considered standard in the interpretation of many astrologers. Some astrologers do, however, place more importance on asteroids than others.
11. Why does Pluto matter in a person's horoscope which is super small and so far away, and not the moons of other planets like Mars, Jupiter and Uranus that are much larger and closer to the earth?
I'm not entirely sure. However, one theory could be that Pluto orbits the Sun, while the moons of other planets orbit the planets they are moons of. It could also just be a result of the fact that astrologers have not yet studied the moons of other planets to determine their effects, or that they were once studied, but the knowledge has been lost.
12. Stars on the horizon are weaker than the ones overhead. Why are they given more importance than the other ones?
Astrologers believe that the sign that is on the horizon at the time of one's birth represents the image they project to the world, or how other people perceive them to be. It is not the strength or the weakness of the stars then that determine this perception, but the fact that a new day is dawning, or that a part of our personality that was once hidden is now struggling to assert itself above the horizon and come into view. The ascendant is, in a way, a resemblance of this struggle — of the human struggle for understanding, awareness and consciousness.
Planets on the midheaven, which are directly above earth in the middle of the sky, are also given much significance in an astrological chart, and are believed to give clues to the direction of a person's life, their career, and their social standing in the world. The midheaven is also considered one of the major, or most important angles, of an astrological chart.
13. What about light curved by earth's atmosphere and gravity? Sometimes planets look as though they are above the horizon when they are actually below it. Couldn't that lead an astrologer to chart a planet in the wrong house?
Nowadays, most astrological charts are calculated by a computer or program that knows the precise locations of planets in the sky and the horizon, minimizing any errors. Some house systems also do differentiate between the ascendant and the first house in a birth chart, helping to clear up any confusion.
However, mistakes still do happen. If you receive an inaccurate astrological reading, or if an astrologer begins to tell you things that do not resonate with your life or personality, tell them. That will then prompt the astrologer to double check their raw data or adjust the systems and methods they are using to something else that works better for you.
14. We know that the sun and moon have an unusual influence on the earth, giving us day and night and controlling the tides. Why then are they not given more importance in a person's astrological chart over the other planets?
The sun and moon are given more importance in a person's astrological chart over the other planets. The sun represents a person's identity and interests at their core. The moon represents a person's feelings and emotional state. They are the most intimate and personal planets a person can have in their chart.
15. The Milky Way galaxy runs through Gemini and Sagittarius, giving those constellations significantly more stars than many of the other signs. Why do those two signs not matter more than the others, or have more significance?
Why should we give the signs more importance when we can just look at each of the individual fixed stars in each of the constellations to gain insight? For example, there are two major fixed stars (Aldebaran and Antares) that run through Gemini and Sagittarius right now, even though they are actually located in the constellation of Taurus, that astrologers do pay attention to, among many others.
Aldebaran is known to bring eloquence, intelligence and courage, although short-lived, perhaps as a result of sickness or violence. (I have it conjunct my moon. JFK also had this conjunct his sun.) Antares denotes someone who is tough, strategic, mentally alert, and sometimes rash or headstrong.
Sagittarius is also where the "galactic center point" is currently located (and where transit Saturn is right now), indicating great power in the area of a person's chart where that point is located.
The nodes of the moon are also exalted (or exhibit great strength) in Gemini and Sagittarius, which is interesting considering that the nodes of the moon are of paramount importance in a person's chart... and are not an actual planet.
Jupiter also rules the sign of Sagittarius. Jupiter is the planet of expansion, wisdom and blessings. As a result, Sagittarius naturally has many of those qualities and expands anything it touches. Mercury also rules the sign of Gemini. Mercury is known not only for communication, but also for collecting and processing many details. It's an interesting thought to consider how many stars run through Gemini that one might then have to collect and process.
Speaking of constellations with many stars, the ancients noticed a particularly difficult cluster of stars in the Via Combusta located in Scorpio. The ancients considered many planets, especially the moon, in detriment when they were located in that area — though that interpretation now varies by astrologer.
16. If the gravitational pull of the planets have an effect on our life on earth, why don't the gravitational variations of earth also effect one's horoscope?
I do not know. However, just because I do not know something or the exact way it works, it does not mean that the method is not true.
For example, Ignaz Semmelweis discovered hand-washing with anti-bacterial chemicals reduced the mortality rate in midwives' wards in the mid-1800s. However, it went against the mainstream scientific thought of the day and he could not figure out exactly how this worked. As a result, his findings were discounted until after his death years later when Louis Pasteur discovered more information about germs. Turns out, he was right all along.
There is also evidence that Bayer created Aspirin in 1899, but it wasn't until 1971 that British pharmacologist, John Robert Vane, actually figured out how it worked. Should we not have used Aspirin until 72 years later just because it was confusing to us?
Compasses were also used successfully for years, despite the fact that no one understood the earth's magnetic field until centuries later.
Imagine what great innovation we would have lost simply by dismissing something because we didn't understand exactly how it worked.
17. What about radiation from atomic test sites? Why doesn't that affect a person's horoscope too?
If an atomic bomb or some life-changing event were to occur in a person's life, that would most likely be reflected in their astrological chart, with an emphasis on certain houses, planets or aspects by transit. The effects of living next to an atomic test site, especially if it affected the person's health, well-being, daily experience or direction in life, would also be reflected. How that would work scientifically, though, I do not know.
18. Why are some twins born at the exact same moment, or so close to it, vastly different from each other?
The answer — mostly because we have free will. Two people given the same exact resources, advantages, or disadvantages can choose to do a variety of very different things with them, yielding very different outcomes.
On top of that, the aspects and planets in astrology can be interpreted in many different ways and take on many different forms. For example, a planet in the 9th house can indicate an interest in higher education, traveling the world, or religion. It is then up to each individual on how they would like that energy to play out.
Also, the moon does move very quickly (or at least, more quickly than many other planets in an astrological chart), which can cause big changes in a person's emotional or internal states in just a few minutes time.
Location also matters. Two people born at the same time in different locations can also have very different charts and life experiences because house positions can vary drastically by city and state.
And, of course, the family you are born into and the people that surround you throughout your life are also different, and have their free will to make their own decisions that may affect your life in different ways from others.
The reputation of astrology as going against free will most likely started in ancient times, when many things were outside of an individual's personal control. At the beginning of time, when people did not have houses or electricity or the internet, etc. everything seemed to happen "to" them. It rains, and a person has no choice but to get soaking wet because they don't have a home. Of course, they could build something, but that could take months. They could also find a friend that has a home, but that could be miles away, etc.
As humans began to have more control over their surroundings, they realized then that they actually had more free will than they thought to manipulate circumstances to their best or highest interest — and astrology began to change.
In the beginning, what the planets were doing in the sky at any given time was most important (reflecting a belief that life happens to us from things outside of our control). Then, the birth charts of people or events became important (reflecting a belief that who we are as individuals matters), and finally today — a combination of both is looked at to get an accurate interpretation of someone's life.
19. Why don't people also exert a gravitational influence on newborn babies or the people and things present at a person's birth?
Good question. I am not entirely sure. I do know, however, that many astrological alignments do tend to run in the family and are passed down from the parents to their children. However, I am not sure if the same can be said of the people and things present at a person's birth. That is an interesting topic someone should research.
20. Why is the moment of birth the most important for a person, and not the moment of conception or other moments in the child's creation before birth?
I am not entirely sure, but I would say that the moment of birth indicates the moment that a child becomes an individual, independent from the mother's body. Before birth, the child is under the influence of the mother's chart, and also the father's.
Some astrologers also argue that the moment a child is born and takes their first breath is the moment that their soul officially enters their body. Some, however, disagree, believing that a baby has a soul even in the womb, or that the soul enters and leaves the body multiple times throughout a pregnancy.
Determining an exact time, place and day for conception is also difficult in many instances.
21. A lot less babies die today in childbirth than in the past. Is that because of the planets or because of hard work by scientists and doctors?
That raises the question: Which came first — the chicken or the egg? I don't believe that this is a question for an astrologer to answer, but for the philosophers and the clergymen. In my opinion, neither came first. God created them both.
22. Why don't a lot of scientists, doctors and other academics believe in astrology?
A lot of them actually did (and still do), especially during the Renaissance, with many astrologers serving as consults to monarchs, and thinking up new social theories and philosophies. Among the most famous from that time period are Nostradamus (who was known to have publicly predicted the death of King Henry II of France) and Galileo Galilei.
Dante also used astrological symbolism in his book, "Inferno." Going even further back, so did the astronomer Ptolemy, who plays a big part in shaping modern astrology.
But during the Enlightenment, when intellectual and scientific reason was placed on a pedestal, interest fell away and disdain for the craft began to take root. It's only recently that astrology has begun to make a comeback. However, it still faces difficulty.
For centuries astrology has been disregarded as a pseudo-science that tramples on religion, going as far back as Christian theologian St. Augustine in early 400 AD, when he declared that astrology conflicted with the Christian doctrine of free will and attributed life's hardships to the influence of a loving God. Roman emperor (and the first Christian emperor, too) Constantine the Great also condemned the practice and threatened astrologers with death in 300 AD, even though he was known to use the practice from time to time for direction. A lot of this sentiment still exists today.
But while the practice struggled in the beginnings of many Western cultures, it did continue to thrive in many Eastern communities, where their religious traditions were much more favorable to the practice (though they do use a different system of astrology compared to their Western counterparts).
23. Why is it so hard to find reliable evidence that astrology works? Why don't psychologists, politicians, and social scientists also use astrology if it works so well?
It is not hard to find reliable evidence. I find reliable evidence every day as I live my life. And some modern psychologists, politicians and social scientists do believe in and use astrology in their practice. Famed psychologist Carl Jung, for example, is known for his interest in and exploration of astrology in his scientific work. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan was also known to consult White House astrologer Joan Quigley in secret until the family's interest was exposed in 1988. Even American financier J.P. Morgan has been reported to consult one, although how deep his interest in astrology was is unknown.
Because the practice is not highly accepted in society, many people do not often mention their work with an astrologer. As a matter of fact, many people I meet in Facebook groups online specifically devoted to astrology confess that they practice it in private and do not confide in their friends and loved ones about their interest.
Correlations between booms and busts in the stock market have also been found. I find it interesting that a positive economy on the upswing is considered a bull market and that a negative one heading downwards is called a bear market. The bull is oftentimes correlated with the sign of Taurus, which rules money and possessions. The bear is oftentimes correlated with the sign of Scorpio, which rules birth, death and regeneration. It has also been noted that major downswings in the economy happen when many planets are in Scorpio in October (like the Great Depression), while upswings occur in Taurus season at the end of April and into May.
24. How can a person believe in astrology and also believe in God or religion?
Astrology is not a belief. It is something that can be tested and proven. Therefore, I have no need to "believe" in it or exercise faith that it is true. It's effects can be seen and analyzed.
There is also speculation that the three wise men in the Bible were astrologers, and that it was their knowledge of the stars that ultimately led them to seek out and find a Messiah we now know as Jesus. If astrology is so bad, how could it have lead to such a beautiful and divine discovery that supports the main foundation, or cornerstone, of many Christian traditions?
Also, astrologers no more predict the future than a weather man, economist, or sports analyst predicts the future, giving specific outcomes for specific athletes, age groups, genders or income groups. Why are their jobs not also under scrutiny for conflicting with religious doctrine? Why is it okay for them to offer probabilities and evaluations of strengths and weaknesses, but not okay for an astrologer to do the same?
The same could be said of Facebook's algorithm for its news feed. Facebook gives me exact predictions for my personal life of people I might be friends with, events I might want to go to, or things that I might be interested in. It does this by collecting data on our lives, analyzing our past behaviors, and identifying the trends in the information. Astrology is no different.