People who argue against astrology insist that its pseudoscientific nature is clearly evident by the fact that the ancient art of astrology is based on the geocentric model of the universe. The argument is very convincing, especially in the light of the epic enlightenment fight against the medieval dogmas.
The story of the battle between the geocentric and heliocentric models of the solar system involves three erudite men, the Catholic Church, its Inquisition, and a humiliating apology.
In the beginning was a man called Claudius Ptolemy (85-165BC). He lived in Alexandria, Egypt, wrote in Greek and was a citizen of the Roman Empire. He was an exceptional mathematician, geographer and astronomer. He proposed a geocentric model of the universe. In it the Earth was the still centre of the solar system. The Moon, Mercury, Venus and Sun were revolving around it and Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were orbiting the Earth beyond the Sun.
Ptolemy was not the first astronomer to present a model of the universe. Three and a half centuries before him Aristarchus of Samos suggested a model where Earth was revolving around the Sun. Unfortunately, he was not able to prove his theory in strong contrast with Ptolemy whose model allowed accurate predictions of the planetary positions and solar and lunar eclipses.
Therefore for the next 14 centuries the geocentrism was the dominant view of the universe. The Catholic Church had endorsed it as it aligned with the Holy Scriptures.
Until a man dared to questioned it. His name was Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543). He was a real Renaissance man – mathematician, astronomer, physician and diplomat. He spoke his native Polish and German, wrote in Latin, understood Greek and Italian. He studied at the University of Krakow, the University of Bologna and the University of Padua.
In 1514 he presented his heliocentric idea that the Earth revolves around its axis and at the same time orbits the Sun. Afraid of the reaction of the extremely powerful Catholic Church he agreed to publish his book “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres” at the end of his life and the legend goes that he woke up from his coma on his death bed just to see the book.
It took 70 years for the Catholic Church to react to the book. In 1616 the Church issued a decree condemning the book and suspending it until it was corrected.
17 years later another independent thinker called Galileo Galilei found new evidence for the heliocentric theory. Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa (1564-1642) and became interested in astronomy when he was 31 years old. He used a self-made telescope to observe the sky and planets. He published his book “Dialogue Concerning the two Chief World Systems” in 1632 in which he indirectly supported the Copernicus theory.
The book angered the Church and Galilei withstood a trial in front of the Inquisition. He was threaten by torture and sentenced to life imprisonment. Another legendary story says that even though he agreed to conform, leaving the trial he said “ Still it (Earth) moves”. It became an iconic phrase which we say when we stand up for our truth in the face of dark forces.
Scholars did not accept heliocentrism until 1687 when the remarkable scientist Isaac Newton formulated the law of universal gravitation. The law explained how gravity could cause the planets to orbit the massive Sun and why the small moons around Jupiter and Earth orbit their home planets.
It took two century for the Catholic Church to remove the Copernicus book from the Index of Prohibited Books. In 1992 Pope John Paul II expressed regret at the way the Church handled the matter and acknowledged the error.
So, where is the place of astrology in this story? The answer to this question is easy and simple. Astrology does not endorse the geocentric model as it seems to at first glance. Astrology is interested in how the planets and stars affect the life of people on planet Earth. The point of astrological observation is focused on the Earth and therefore the Earth is in the centre of the zodiac. Still it moves, doesn’t it!