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Astrology is the study of the influence of the stars and planets on human lives.

Astrology takes into account the position of the sun, stars, moons, and planets at the time of a person's birth, which is believed (by astrologers) to shape their personality, affect their human relationships, and predict their successes and failures, among other things.

Most people, in the United States, at least, know their astrological sign, which refers to one of twelve constellations of the zodiac. Sometimes known as sun-sign astrology, this is the simple form of astrology that horoscopes are based on. Astrologers will tell you that this form of astrology is too simplistic to produce useful results.

For a more accurate reading, astrologers will determine where each planet was at the time of birth, and these planets and signs will combine with other elements, such as houses and angles, to form a vastly more complex profile.

There is no one theory or practice of astrology that every astrologer will agree upon. Ancient astrologers practiced a variety of forms, and many of these were combined, added to, and modified to form Western forms of astrology, while Eastern cultures practice their own forms of astrology.

For centuries, astrology was regarded as a scholarly tradition, commonly practiced in academic circles, along with alchemy, astronomy, meteorology, and medicine. References to astrology are found in several works of literature, including that of Dante Alighieri, Geoffrey Chaucer, Christopher Marlowe, and William Shakespeare.

Historically, various forms of astrology have been practiced by the Indians as a part of the Hindu religion, as well as by the Chinese, and Mayans. A form of astrology was in use during the Old Babylonian period of Mesopotamia, around 1800 BC.

Famous astrologers have included Aristotle, Nostradamus, Galileo, Claudius Ptolemy, Vettius Valens, Johannes Kepler, William Lily, and Alan Leo.

The practice of astrology began to be challenged during the Enlightenment, an intellectual and philosophical movement, most prominent in Europe, in the 17th and 18th centuries, although it had global effects. Stressing the pursuit of knowledge through reason and the evidence of the senses, the Enlightenment challenged, not only the practice of astrology, but that of religion as well.

However, it was not until the 20th century that astrology been effectively challenged, and relegated to the status of pseudoscience. While largely rejected by the scientific community on theoretical and experimental grounds, there are many people who continue to practice astrology, which is enjoying a resurgence since the 1960s.

Astrology is often confused with astronomy. The chief difference between astronomers and astrologers is in the purpose behind what they do. While both study the movement of the stars, astrologers do so in order to predict the future of people, while astronomers do it to advance science and an understanding of how the universe works. Astronomy is accepted as a science, while astrology is relegated to the status of pseudoscience by the scientific community.

Sites whose topics are focused on horoscopes, of the sort that might be found published in newspaper or magazine columns, should be listed in the Horoscopes category. A link to that category can be found below.

The focus of this portion of our guide is on the practice of astrology, historical or modern. Online resources that focus on criticism of the practice may also be listed here.





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