The Scribe

How Do Horoscopes Work?

Dana Lee, Social Media Editor

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    They can be found anywhere from Snapchat Discover stories to local newspapers, and they are often questioned about their accuracy. But is there actually a science behind those random zodiac posts on Instagram, or are they just completely made up?

    Horoscopes are short predictions or forecasts of a person’s future based on the specific astrological positions of the Sun, moon, stars, and planets. Predictions are usually made using the time of the person’s birth, or the person’s zodiac sign. There are twelve zodiac signs that correspond with different time periods of the year, including Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. Each sign is known to have distinct personalities, characteristics, preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. Astrology claims to give a glimpse of a person’s true self, and can help people gain a better understanding of others based on their particular zodiac sign.

    The twelve zodiac signs can be further categorized into four separate groups — fire, water, air, and earth — which are the four elements of nature. Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are the fire signs, who tend to be passionate and adventurous. The water signs, Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces, can be very sensitive and emotional. Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, the air signs, are often social and intellectual people. Last but not least, the earth signs, which consist of Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn, are very down to earth (no pun intended), loyal, and practical.

    The practice of astrology was first created in ancient times as a way to justify natural events, such as floods, famines, or other disasters. Before scientific advancements, people blamed everything on the movement of celestial bodies. The Chinese, as well as the Aztec, Incan, and Mayan cultures of South America, all had their own variations of the zodiac with slight variations, although modern astrology is mostly based on the western zodiac. The Babylonians are most often credited with creating the basic system of the zodiac, much of which we still use today.

    So, is there any actual scientific basis behind horoscopes? To clarify, there is a difference between astronomy and astrology. According to the dictionary, astronomy is “the study of the universe and its contents outside of Earth’s atmosphere,” while astrology “attempts to study how those positions, motions, and properties affect people and events on Earth.” Many astronomers do, in fact, openly condemn the study of astrology and refuse to recognize it as an official science. Astrology has such a terrible reputation because, the truth is, literally anyone can create a horoscope, as long as they know how the basic traits of how each sign works. Often times, the horoscopes in magazines and newspapers are just hastily written by reporters that are unexperienced in astrology, and are not as reliable or accurate as those written by certified astrology experts. Newspapers and magazines are also notorious for discreetly reusing the same horoscopes over and over throughout the years. However, the science of astrology, as well as the practice of horoscopes, has not yet been dismissed because countless people have claimed that what they read in their horoscope actually came true. Of course, no one can tell if the people who genuinely believe in horoscopes are actually telling the truth, but those anecdotes come up too often to ignore them completely.

    So, should people read their horoscopes? If they want to, they definitely will not be alone. According to Huffington Post, nearly thirty-three percent of Americans believe in astrology. And horoscopes do have some scientific basis to them, although their predictions do not always turn out to be true. Additionally, the traits for each zodiac sign do not apply to everyone; Cancers are not always crybabies, Geminis are not always two-faced, Scorpios are not always prickly and mean.  So in conclusion, reading horoscopes can be a fun way to kill time, but definitely make sure to not rely on them too much.

Courtesy of Maros Mraz. The medieval astronomical clock located in the town square of Prague, Czech Republic.

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How Do Horoscopes Work?