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ASTR 203 - Stars

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Jim Martin
Main Library A403

Astronomy or astrology?

Astronomy: the scientific study of objects and matter outside the earth's atmosphere and of their physical and chemical properties.

Astrology: the divination of the supposed influences of the stars and planets on human affairs and terrestrial events by their positions and aspects. 
- definitions from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary


  • You need scientific, factual sources of information for your star report.

  • Astrology is not science and will not be accepted in your star report.

  • Information about mythology and history is acceptable (and encouraged) in your star report.

For more descriptions of the differences between astrology and astronomy, read the following brief articles:

Is it science?

This video (14 min, 40 sec) was inspired by Carl Sagan's "Baloney Detection Kit" idea. It is hosted by Michael Shermer (Skeptic Magazine).

The video outlines 10 points to think about when evaluating "scientific" claims:

1. How reliable is the source of the claim?
2. Does the source make similar claims?
3. Have the claims been verified by somebody else?
4. Does this fit with the way the world works?
5. Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
6. Where does the preponderance of evidence point?
7. Is the claimant playing by the rules of science?
8. Is the claimant providing positive evidence?
9. Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?
10. Are personal beliefs driving the claim?