Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the Transit of Venus.

Via on Jun 5, 2012

Until recently, I had never heard of the Venus Transit.

I’m not a huge astrology buff, although I love staring at the stars. Most of us have heard of Mercury Retrograde and have a vague idea of how that works (or how we like to blame our troubles on it like some kind of cosmic Murphy’s law).

But the more I read about the Venus Transit, the more fascinated I am.

Neil Degrasse explains:

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4 Responses to “Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the Transit of Venus.”

  1. Carolyn says:

    Interesting video – Dr. deGrasse Tyson knows how to explain ASTRONOMY so that it relates to the viewer/reader. (ASTRONOMY is in capital letters because Dr. deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist which incorporates the SCIENCE of astronomy. Astrology is, at best, a pseudo-science and rooted in belief systems.)

  2. Dr. Katy Poole Katy Poole says:

    Actually astronomy and astrology were at one time in history sister "sciences." The astrology the west has inherited is not the astrology of the ancient Babylonians, the Mayans, the Egyptians and the Vedic Indians. If you read the Surya Siddhanta (especially in Sanskrit, but there are editions in English that are helpful if you understand calculus), you'll discover the astronomy that's behind the astrology in the Vedic system of Jyotisha to be remarkably parallel to our modern astro-physics.

    But I agree with you, Carolyn, that astrology could be considered "pseudo-science" in that it's the "interpretive" wing of the two sides: astronomy and astrology. But the interpretive side also has a "science" to it in that it requires an intensive study of history and the recurring patterns of planetary arrangements that consistently repeat in historically similar events. A real astrologer knows both, therefore: the science of astronomy and the art of historical interpretation. (In order to fully appreciate the implications of this current Venus transit, for example, as an astrologer (and hack astronomer) as well as Sanskrit scholar and historian of religions in India, I have to go back through the Puranic literature in Sanskrit, which has recorded every time this same transit has occurred for thousands of years, to understand what it MIGHT mean today—by seeing what kinds of trends have repeated the same way over and over again. It's utterly fascinating. In this way, myths are not just weird stories that make no sense, but astronomical and astrological recordings from antiquity that help us to interpret the sky—and perhaps to conclude if there's an observable pattern in the events on earth that consistently recur.)

    I'm not trying to start an argument—the kind we love to hate on elephant (and one that I'll never win, not that I want to)—but simply to point out that real astrology is actually based on something remarkable and quite unknown in the western context. I'll take a lot of sh*t from my western astrologer friends for my next comment, but I'll say it anyway. They're not playing with the right deck. The reason the system of western astrology is considered pseudo-science is because it doesn't account for the precession of the equinox and the sidereal calculation of the zodiac, which all the ancient civilizations I mention did. The Greeks messed it up when they inherited the more accurate knowledge from the Babylonians. And then after Galileo (who was an astrologer and earned his living as such) and Copernicus ushered in the Scientific Revolution, astronomy and astrology split. So Western astrologers are relying on a science that was current in the 16th century and not modern astro-physics (which as I mention the Vedic system matches quite amazingly well and predates the current western system by at least 5,000 years). So for example, the Moon today is actually transiting Sagittarius in the sky. You can observe it and see. You can also see that its transit aligns with the stars that are found in the position where the heart of the archer would lie. This is science. But western astrologers will say that the Moon today is in Capricorn, which it is not. And that the Sun is in Gemini, which it is not.

    So unfortunately, the interpretations that come out of inaccurate astronomy are not "scientific." And they give astrology a really bad name. (Now before my western astrologer friends start freaking out and sending me hate mail, I have to say in their defense that I've seen remarkable interpretations from western astrology and since I'm not an expert in that system, I'm truly offering my comments as an opinion. A scholarly opinion, but an opinion nevertheless.) What I mean by the "bad name" is that they don't have the science of astronomy behind their interpretations that can be accurately measured. But Jyotisha (Vedic Astrology) does.

    I don't expect to change your mind, Carolyn, or any other pragmatists' view on astronomy. But to point out that it's more complicated and there are other systems that don't align with what most people rely on as astrological "proof."

    Meanwhile, I love Dr. deGrasse Tyson. He's a huge hero of mine and really good looking! :-)

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