A horoscope is a forecast or prediction about a person’s future, specifically a prediction based on the time of year the person was born. Years are divided into the twelve “signs” of the zodiac, twelve constellations of stars that appear to move from the point of view of the Earth. “Horoscope” comes from two Greek words that mean “time” and “observer.” Newspapers, magazines, websites and even podcasts carry these twelve short messages, and some people believe reading the horoscope for their star sign will help them predict what’s going to happen that day. Others read their horoscope purely for entertainment.
Astrology and the Zodiac
Horoscopes, according to tradition, are written by astrologers, people who are said to be able to understand messages written in the stars, the sun, the moon and other objects in the sky. Astrology is a form of divination, a term that includes all the different ways a person might try to figure out what’s going to happen in the future. The word “astrology” comes from the Greek words for “star” and “study.”
Astrology has been around for more than 2,000 and exists in many different cultures, but the zodiac familiar to Americans today is the Western zodiac. It originated in ancient Chaldea, a country that existed in what is now Iraq. The twelve signs of the Western zodiac have Greek names including Aries (the Ram), Leo (the lion), Libra (the scales, as in scales used to weigh things) and Aquarius (the water holder).
Each of these signs is assigned a “ruling” planet, said to have an influence over all the people born under that sign. The sun and moon are counted as “planets” for this purpose, and Mercury and Venus are each used twice. Mercury is the ruling planet of both Geminis (born between May 21st and June 20th) and Virgos (born between August 23rd and September 22nd). Venus is the ruling planet of both Tauruses (born between April 20th and May 20th) and Libras (born between September 23rd and October 22nd).
Horoscopes and Science
With all this talk of stars and planets, astrology may sound like science. In reality, scientists have done numerous tests over the years to find out if the information in the twelve horoscope predictions comes true to predict the future for the people born under the zodiac signs. These tests consistently show that horoscopes are no better at predicting the future than just plain guessing.