Astrology is the art and practice of studying heavenly bodies and its effect on human and earth. The sun, moon, planets, different celestial points and zodiac signs are fundamental elements of astrology, but they do not direct or influence human affairs. Instead they are indicators, just like traffic signals, direction billboards, or legends of map. An astrologer interprets and translates the symbolic meaning of planetary influence into understandable human language and real life situation (according to native’s age, country and culture).
A horoscope is a map representing the sky with respect to a place at given time. Horoscope may be drawn in square or circular diagram with twelve segments. It contains symbols or abbreviations of sun, moon, planets and points in 12 zodiacal signs and 12 houses. In astrological literature, horoscope is also called chart, wheel, zaicha or kundali. There are many types of horoscope or chart, for instance, natal or birth chart, annual chart, monthly chart, country’s national chart, swearing-in chart, pet chart, wedding chart, question or horary chart.
You must have heard Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc. These are name of zodiacal signs, not stars. In the context of popular culture, they just represent tropical sun signs. Although, one sign does not mean horoscope, but this is a common misnomer. The sun stays in a tropical sign for a month. It’s a small part of modern western astrology. The sun sign is a generalized and handy mean for pinpoint personality traits, but it cannot be relied upon for delineations and predictions. In a horoscope (whether it is western or Indian), the degree of rising sign i.e. ascendant is the most important determinant that fixes the house placement of all planets.
It is very easy. You can do it yourself. For calculating horoscope you must have your complete and accurate birth date, time and place. You can manually calculate your birth horoscope with the help of ephemeris, table of houses and astrological tables. But it is a tedious job for most of the people because they are not accustomed to mathematical formulas and tables. Astrological software and applications are good short-cut. There are numerous software and online apps that compute horoscope (for free or against nominal charges). However, mere figure of horoscope does not include delineations and predictions.
A good astrologer can accurately predict up to 70 to 80 percent, especially when time of birth is accurate. This is just my observations over the years. Sometime success rate touches to 90 percent. However, many astrologers (no matters how experienced and intuitive they are) do fail miserably. Astrological predictions fail mainly because of misinformation or disinformation about date and time of birth. The second reason is the human error (i.e. astrologer’s fault) that could arise due to incomplete knowledge of astrology, limited practice, fallacious analysis, poor judgment and/or personal biases.
This is a common curiosity with no plain answer. Rationally speaking, you can only “believe” anything “perfect”. But the perfection does not exist in this world. Hence no worldly science or art is believable. No machine is perfect. No technology is error-free. No consultant is flawless. No expert is perfect. However, their imperfections and limitations are not generally questioned. On the other hand, we erroneously expect perfection from an astrologer. Like other professional arts and practices, astrological outcome is also subject to conditions and limitations. But they are not commonly accepted, because of astrologers’ tall claims, quackery in the name of astrology and people’s ignorance and superstition.
The simple answer is no. Barring the computational and astronomical part, astrological delineations and forecast cannot be termed science. Although many astrologers label astrology as a branch of science, but scientists consider astrology a pseudoscience. Science holds that the ‘planetary influence according to astrology’ is not scientifically testable. Modern science has defined its own material and measurable parameters that cannot be applied on psychological tendencies and events of human life. There are so many things in our life that is not science, but they do exist and exert their influence. I think, astrology can be classified as classical concept of “scientia” that is equivalent of Indian idea of “vidya” and oriental notion of “ilm”.
Various kinds of divination exist with different scope and for different purpose. Take an analogy. Suppose x is the name of a predictable event, affair, person or place. Astrology is similar to a film (motion picture) of x, palmistry is image of x, tarot is like sketch of x. So what is more understandable and helpful to you: a film, image or sketch? Obviously astrology can qualitatively and quantitatively address humans’ affairs far better than other divinational arts.
Between two schools of astrology, none is superior or inferior to another one. It’s up to astrologer who practices it. However, available tools and techniques of Indian astrology (aka Jyotish, vedic, stellar or sidereal astrology) mainly focus practical and predictive aspects, whereas modern western astrology follows humanistic approach with emphasize on character delineations and psychological potential. I appreciate and practice both systems, but do not mix them at computational and analytical stage.
Astrology can help you anywhere and anytime. A good astrological report or session delineates your real path of life, your core potential, and positive and negative personality traits. This information is very helpful for you in choosing education and career, taking risk, investing assets, deciding partner, planning relocation and concerning health. In addition, astrological report provides you a glimpse of past and future events that are part of your life cycle. They are great aid for future planning. Finally, an astrologer also helps you out to solve the problems you are going through, and expected to come.