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The Astronomy of Astrology

By Diotima

We need not feel ashamed of flirting with the zodiac. The zodiac is well worth flirting with. ~D.H. Lawrence

I find that a lot of people shy away from astrology because they believe it is based on incorrect astronomy, and so cannot possibly give accurate information. Perhaps they’ve seen a video by Bill Nye or Neil deGrasse Tyson taking about how the constellations don’t line up with the signs anymore, and that pesky “extra” constellation (or two). Unfortunately, both Nye and Tyson are clearly ignorant about astrology — a great deal more ignorant than most astrologers are about astronomy. We are not only fully aware of the positions of the constellations, the precession of the equinoxes and the fact that the Earth revolves around the Sun (OK, I’ll try to tone back the sarcasm) but astrology is divided into two major branches based on how we deal with the constellations (groupings of stars) and the precession of the equinoxes.

I’m not going to address the different types of sidereal astrology, of which Vedic astrology is one. Sidereal astrology carefully makes allowances for the precession of the equinoxes, because it works with the positions of the signs relative to the constellations. I’m going to explain the basis of Western astrology, a tropical astrology, which determines the position of the signs relative to the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun around the Earth. I find that a number of astrology students worry about learning the “technical” side, but while the math of astrology can get complex, the basic astronomy really isn’t very difficult to understand, and understanding it will give you considerably more insight into the craft than you could possibly have without it. So I encourage you to take a deep breath and jump into the learning — I’ll make this as easy as possible. Ready? OK, let’s start.

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