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Astrology vs. Astronomy: What's the Big Difference?

Learn some common disagreements in the cosmic rift

Admit it: It’s kind of funny to watch two people argue for an hour or two over whether or not Pluto is a planet or a “dwarf” planet. But it’s actually a serious point of debate between astrologers and astronomers, who continue to duke it out even as the world celebrates Astronomy Day on October 20.

We’re celebrating with a series of articles that take a closer look at the ongoing battle between battle between Astrology vs. Astronomy. We already gave you some background on when the cosmic rift began, and now we’d like to talk about some of the key issues up for debate.

Here are some of the most common disagreements as science and spirituality face off:

Is Pluto a planet, or a dwarf planet?

You might remember when scientists downgraded Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet. Well, Astrologers still regard Pluto as having powerful influence over our inner thoughts. In fact, Pluto is retrograde right now and you can probably feel yourself shifting into some deeper thoughts than usual. Read more about the Pluto puzzle here.

Is Ophiuchus the 13th zodiac sign?

Remember when the world was in an uproar recently over whether or not Ophiuchus is "the new 13th zodiac sign?" It's not, by the way. But astrologers and astronomers disagree on that fact. Astrologers remind us that Ophiuchus is a constellation, and Astrology is based on the four seasons, not on constellations. Astronomers argue that due to a change in orbit, everyone's sign is different and there's actually a 13th sign called Ophiuchus. But Astrologers say no way!

The Constellations

Astronomers study the constellations for their findings, but most Western Astrologers use Ptolemy's tropical zodiac system, a season-based zodiac in use for about 2,500 years. The signs of the zodiac, while represented in constellations, are not derived or aligned exclusively with constellations (although they did so coincidentally around 2000 years ago.)

The Sun and the Moon

In Astrology, these are both planets ruling your core self (the Sun) and your emotions (the Moon). However, in Astronomy the Sun is the Star and the Moon is a satellite.


Known as "the wounded healer" in Astrology, this asteroid has associations to traumas and wounds or inadequacies that are incurable, but may be worked with, on their own terms, and transformed into one's greatest strengths. Some astrologers believe it should be recognized as the ruler of the sign Virgo. Astronomers just call it 95P/Chiron, an asteroid that has some of the same behaviors as a comet.

Astronomy is The "Real" Science

Astrology is the very real study of the planets and stars and how their movements affect people here on earth. There's even an Astrology college. Astrologers study for many years and take their careers very seriously. Even though you won't find an astrologer at NASA, it's a very real science, albeit a metaphysical one. Astrologers are too busy writing your daily horoscopes to work at NASA anyway. And most of them know more about Astronomy than NASA knows about Astology.

Astromony and Astrology Are Completely Different

Well, that's true … these days. But they used to be the same. Read more about the history of Astrology vs. Astromy here.

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