Predicting The Future - Science and Mysteries (Part 1)
Astrology, the celestial movements of the Sun, Moon, and planets among the stars, governing our personality and destiny. - Astrology is not just based out of something in the thin air. It's a celestial fingerprint for somebody.
For centuries, millions of people, from paupers to powerful world leaders, have relied on the ancient system for answers. - Mrs. Reagan had actually hired an astrologer to guide the schedule of the President. But is there any proof astrology actually works? - Astrological predictions are just guesswork. - Astrology has been fighting a cosmic battle for centuries. Is it a science or merely a superstition?
Ancient mysteries shrouded in the shadows of time. Now can they finally be solved by looking to the heavens? The truth is up there, hidden among the stars, in a place we call... Astrology, an ancient system based on the idea that celestial phenomena in the universe have a direct effect on human lives on Earth.
Yet for centuries, the public has been mixing up astrology with astronomy. I am an Aquarius, so why should I care? I'm a scientist, right? However, I do realize, watching my students, that astrology is a great way to break the ice at a party. The first thing you ask a date is, "What's your sign?"
The scientific community has questioned the legitimacy of astrology for centuries. Yet astrology is now big business, with thousands of internet sites, telephone lines, and newspaper columns. Nearly a billion people from all walks of life depend on the ancient system for advice. Wall Street executives now even support the booming business of financial astrology. There's a saying that millionaires don't use astrology, billionaires do. Anybody is gonna want to use a tool that's gonna help give them an edge and astrology absolutely does that.
But is there any scientific basis behind astrology? And how is it different from astronomy? Astronomy has its real origins in astrology because the first astronomers were actually the astrologers. To understand this, we have to travel back to the Babylonians, who lived in what is now Iraq, during the second millennium B.C. There, a select class of sky-watchers viewed the mysterious end as a gigantic projection screen. They formed stories surrounding ominous celestial objects that they believed were mighty gods controlling life on earth.
In ancient times, when we didn't understand what those objects were up in the sky, there were some people who began to keep track of them and try and relate those, perhaps, godlike beings to everyday lives here on earth. People observing the heavens immediately noticed that there was a daily rhythm to the sky. That rhythm was that everything rose in the east and set in the west, on a daily cycle. But over the years, ancient people noticed that there were seven objects in the sky that had a motion separate from that daily rising and setting.
The seven objects were the Sun, Moon, and the five planets visible to the human eye. Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, and Mercury. The early astrologers created the seven days of the week based on these celestial bodies. And this began the Babylonian Era, when they were tracking and charting cycles of time. So with this first form of astrology, it was more about fate and destiny, and looking at the gods in the sky to see how they could best survive the cycles of time that they were in.
Astrology quickly spread throughout Asia and Europe. By the 4th century B.C., Greek astrologers made a big discovery. The Sun moved across a pattern of stars in a restricted narrow path, which is now known to scientists as the ecliptic. Now you can imagine the Sun projected against the stars over the course of the year, and you can't see those stars because it's daytime, but they're there. And the path that the Sun makes over the course of the year, among the stars, that is the path of the ecliptic.
The ancient astrologers divided the ecliptic band into 12 equal parts based on 12 collections, or patterns of stars, known as constellations. They noticed that some of these constellations vaguely resembled animals and named them accordingly.
There was a pattern of stars that we call Leo today, that looked like a lion. There was one, which looked like a bull, which we, today, call Taurus. Now today we call a place that has a number of animals in it a zoo. And from that same root word, they got the word "zoodaic" or zodiac. We call them constellations, they call them signs, through which the seven gods travel.
If you look at the constellations, they don't really look like a bull or a ram, necessarily. But they were really projecting their interior psychic perspective out onto these stars through their myths and stories, and then trying to make sense of their lives and how they lived.
For thousands of years, people used astrology to make decisions about when to hunt, harvest, or wage war. Many kings, queens, and emperors relied on astrologers for virtually every move they made. And of course, the kings and queens of old, they were very superstitious. They realized that if they make the wrong turn, I mean, someone's gonna take over the throne. And they tried to use the Sun and the stars as a way to predict the future.
But in the 17th Century, astrology came under scrutiny. Based on observations made by others, Astrologer and physicist, Johannes Kepler, proposed the three laws of planetary motion to describe how the planets orbit the Sun. Kepler's laws helped to usher in a new science called astronomy. However, he, and many other scientists, continued to practice astrology.
Thousands of years ago, we didn't have NASA. We didn't have the National Science Foundation. Kepler, Johannes Kepler, one of the greatest early astronomers, made his living by being an astrologer. And so all the great astronomers of old, let's face it, they made pocket money by being on the payroll of a superstitious king or queen who wanted to know, what is your sign?
But the invention of the telescope, in the early 1600s, overturned the ancient view of the universe, and challenged the very basis of astrology. Astronomers began to realize that stars that made up the 12 constellations are not twinkling dots imbedded in a flat background, but are actually distant suns at very different distances from Earth, and from each other. Like the the real Big Dipper, this appears to be a two-dimensional, or flat, pattern of lights against the sky.
However, these stars are actually not close to each other in space. But are, in fact, different distances, both from our earth and from one another. If we could see our Big Dipper from any other point in the universe, what we would see is that the familiar pattern of stars that we know so well disappears. And instead, the stars become randomly oriented next to one another in the sky.
The Big Dipper isn't even a constellation. It's an asterism. A smaller pattern of stars within a much bigger constellation named Ursa Major. And Ursa Major isn't even included in the constellations that make up the astrological zodiac. Astronomers soon realized there could be endless numbers of constellations depending on your point of reference in the universe. Constellations are completely made up. There's no reality to them. Different civilizations assigned different star patterns different names.
By the 18th Century, astrology and astronomy became completely separate disciplines. And scientists stripped all forms of spiritualism from the scientific study of the stars. - Astrology and astronomy seemed to part ways during the Enlightenment period. And it was the same period that the movement of the planets was simply just the movement of the planets, and not the movement of, also, psychological influences. But many remain convinced that astrology determines people's personalities.
So what happens when we challenge two astrologers to do an astrological reading on one of the 20th Century's most famous people without revealing his name. Just when and where he was born.
Astrology, an ancient tradition that proclaims the stars, Sun, Moon, and planets are guardians of our strengths, ambitions, and destiny. But after thousands of years of existence, astrology suffered a decline, as the Western world turned to astronomy for a scientific study of the universe. The two disciplines diverged, with astronomy becoming strictly about the observations of the heavens and their predictions made through physical laws whereas astrology continued to be the predictions of the lives of individuals based on the apparent positions of astronomical objects in.
In the 1930s, astrology experienced a sudden resurgence with the introduction of daily horoscope columns in newspapers. They provided brief forecasts of a person's day based on their Sun sign, or the position of the Sun at the moment of their birth as it passed through the 12 constellations of the zodiac.
The daily horoscopes quickly gained popularity and helped to sell newspapers. But were they peddling a false bill of goods? If you think about it, what that implies is that 1/12 of the world will be having the same kind of day. If you divide the entire world into 12 groups by the date that they happen to be born, then 1/12 of the world would be having the same kind of day. Now what are the odds that 1/12 of the world's population, about 500 million people, are having nearly the same type of day? Moreover, all of the predictions are pretty vague and general. You can find aspects that seem to pertain to the day that you're having.
Even astrologers admit that daily newspaper horoscopes are far too simplistic. When astronomers reduce astrology just to a Sun sign understanding to debunk it, they're really missing the complexity of the actual birth chart that every individual has. Astrologers say a true horoscope is a personal birth, or natal chart. A cosmic map that considers the influence of, not only the Sun, but also the Moon, and the planets at the exact date, time, and place of birth of a specific person. It's something that charts exactly where everything was in the sky at that exact moment for that particular person when they were born. And what that sets off is this clock of destiny that the horoscope speaks to. So it's a dynamic, empirical tool to see when are you scheduled, in your life, to have certain shifts and transformations.
To test the accuracy of the horoscope, two well-respected astrologers are provided the date, time, and location of birth, of an anonymous person from history, in order to create a birth chart. So as astrologers, we used to have to use lots of calculations and table to create birth charts. Now we're able to generate charts with computers and programs. What we need are three primary things to create any birth chart. We need somebody's birthdate, and this person's birthdate is May 29, 1917. And then, we also need exact birth time. So 3:00 P.M. And then this person was born in Brookline, Massachusetts.
The data was entered all the information and it created this chart, which is blown up and represented here. A birth chart positions the signs in the 12 houses, or constellations, and the Sun, Moon, and planets, at their rightful celestial longitudes. The astrologer then analyzes the aspects, or angles, the planets make to each other, in order to get a reading of the person. So for this particular person, we have a rising sign of Libra. The Sun sign, over here, is in Gemini. And the Moon, over here, in the 11th house, is in Virgo. I see that the Sun in Gemini is in the 8th house here. Gemini is the sign of being a teacher, a communicator, orator. This person comes in with a real strong desire to serve. Whoever this person was probably had an incredible ability to orate and speak about whatever he or she was passionate about. There is another indicator here. In a relationship that we call The Grand Trine which exists between the Moon, Mars, and what we call the North Node. This suggests that it would be his or her destiny to be in the public eye. This is a person with potentially very great vision and lots of dreams.
The astrologers seem to provide similar readings of the mystery person... We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things. Who happens to be the late president John F. Kennedy. But were these readings based on science or sheer luck? Would most presidents who were strong orators have similar charts? Different astrologers make different predictions, and as far as anyone can see, from a serious study of the predictions, they are really not matched by the observable facts. There's no statistically significant study that shows that astrological predictions are any better than just guesswork.
Despite skepticism amongst scientists, many people have relied on astrology to make crucial decisions that affected millions if lives. During World War II, Adolf Hitler secretly employed an astrologer, who was later imprisoned when predicting Germany would lose the North African campaign. British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, also sought advice from an astrologer. As did former Russian president, Boris Yelstin.
During the 1980s, the Reagan Administration allowed the daily affairs of the White House to be strictly managed by an astrologer. Mrs. Reagan thought that election years ending with a zero were bad luck. President Kennedy had been elected in 1960. He had died in Office. President Roosevelt, who was elected in 1940, died in Office. So she was very concerned that President Reagan had been elected in 1980. And in his first term, there was a very serious assassination attempt. And what happened is that the Chief of Staff of the White House then had a color code on each day of the calendar. And the color code told them what was okay to do that day, what was not okay. And they postponed meeting so the President wouldn't fly on the astrologically unapproved days.
The Reagans were hardly alone. By the 1980s, an estimated 50 million Americans claimed to know their astrological signs, and followed their daily horoscope. But then, the scientific community responded with a bombshell that questioned astrology very foundation. Was everyone's zodiac sign completely wrong?
Astrology seems like a science with math, complicated diagrams, and a specialized vocabulary. But can it actually unlock the secrets of your destiny? Scientists claim there's a celestial phenomenon that throws the entire astrological zodiac into question. The early astrologers had observed the Sun spending about a month in each of the 12 signs of the zodiac over the course of one year. But there's one crucial thing that the ancient sky-watchers did not know. Due to gravitational tugs by the Moon and the Sun, the Earth's axis of rotation slowly wobbles. This wobble is called precession.
To illustrate precession, here, I've got spinning gyroscope, which represents the spinning Earth. And you can see that its axis is tilted a little bit, and gravity is trying to topple it over. But instead of falling over, the gyroscope processes. It rotates around an axis that goes through the pivot point. In the same way, Earth's axis of rotation is describing a conical path, which leads to precession of the equinoxes. It takes 26,000 years for the precession of the Earth's axis to complete one cycle. As a result, in the more than 2,000 years since the Western horoscope was created, Earth's slow wobble has caused the Sun's position to lag behind by about a month. This has surprising implications for astrology. Because that precession of the Earth's axis is roughly every 26,000 years, that translates into, every 2,000 years, those 12 constellations have lagged by a whole constellation. So that means that every 2,000 years, if your astrology doesn't take that into account, you'll be a whole star sign out in your astrological predictions.
This would mean everyone has been reading the wrong horoscope. Your astrological sign would actually be the one that precedes your birth month. So for example, most people born in late March and early April, who think they're Pisces, are actually Aquarius. At least as far as the Sun's position is concerned.
How do Western astrologers get around the dilemma caused by precession? The answer is they ignore the actual position of the stars. Instead, they divide the year into four seasons, and say that the period they call Aries starts at the moment of the spring, or vernal equinox. The Cancer begins at the moment of the summer solstice. Libra start at the autumnal equinox. And Capricorn, at the winter solstice. - In Western astrology, we're not looking at it in terms of the background stars in the constellations. As far as the signs in the horoscope goes, it is based on the movement of our own planet and the equinoxes.
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