We can all agree that astronomy and astrology are very different: Where the former is the study of celestial bodies using math, chemistry, and physics, the latter is the study and interpretation of those same celestial bodies' effects on human activity. The one thing these two disciplines have in common is the night sky. But, considering the fact that astrology is a millennia-old tradition, how often do modern-day astrologers actually go stargazing?
Astrologer Pierz Newton-John writes that, in the early days of astrology, when very little was known of the solar system, people looked to the heavens with a kind of reverent wonder, seeking answers to their greatest questions from above. Since then, advances in astronomy have helped the stars shed some of their mystery, leaving us with pretty little things that light up the night sky.
Nowadays, we are perfectly aware that the stars don't have all the answers. Beyond that, they aren't necessarily the deciding factor in astrological interpretations. This is particularly true among Western astrologers, who pay more attention to the planets' movements than the constellations themselves. Sidereal astrologers, on the other hand, still base their readings on the constellations and their current positions. But simply staring into space doesn't cut it anymore, regardless of an astrologer's specific discipline.
In order to see the entire celestial picture, astrologers must go beyond what they can see with their eyes. Tali Edut, one half of the Astrotwins, tells us one of the most important tools in an astrologer's arsenal is an ephemeris, or a table of the heavenly bodies' positions in a given year. Although ephemerides have been used since ancient times, the tables generated today rely on computers and mathematical models to determine the planets' placements.
That doesn't mean the night sky isn't worth your time, though. Edut says that she still loves looking up and seeing the stars. She recommends starting your stargazing practice with the moon. Not only is it her favorite celestial body, it's also the easiest to track if you're a total newbie. For one thing, she says, "You can actually see the phase it’s going through at any given time." Its cycle is actually straightforward enough that you can follow along with it using an app or a website.
Calling yourself an astrological enthusiast doesn't mean you have to go out and buy a telescope, but doing something as simple as checking out the moon from time to time can help you keep the practice's roots in mind. In the same way that the earliest astrologers found meaning in the stars, we derive our horoscopes and countless astrology memes from these heavenly bodies. As Edut puts it, having a visible connection to a planet can remind you of your place in the cosmos — and if you ask us, that may just be the easiest way to enhance your horoscope-reading experience.