An astrologer practices one or more forms of astrology. Typically an astrologer draws a horoscope for the time of an event, such as a person's birth, and interprets celestial points and their placements at the time of the event to better understand someone, determine the auspiciousness of an undertaking's beginning, etc. However, the methods employed by astrologers are variable and depend on the particular astrological tradition they employ and the information desired.
In the far past, the role often entailed astronomical observation or manual calculation of celestial phenomena. In more modern times, however, these methods have largely been replaced by pre-calculated ephemerides and astrological software.
No accredited universities in the United States or the United Kingdom offer degrees in astrology though a number of Indian schools do. While there are a number of astrological associations throughout the world, there is no central governing body that has special license to certify astrologers.
In the United States, the practice of astrology is largely unregulated. Certification is not required by legislation for an astrologer to offer his or her services. However, there are various examinations offered by private organizations such as the American Federation of Astrologers and the National Council for Geocosmic Research that allow those wishing to become professional astrologers to demonstrate their proficiency.
The first organized system of astrology was developed in Mesopotamia in the second millennium BCE. The Babylonians' system of omen astrology was relatively simple and direct compared to later developments, foretelling mundane occurrences such as famine, war, peace, and so on based on predefined celestial indicators. Babylonian astrologers provided a service for those in power, advising them in their decision-making.
At this time astrology and astronomy were not distinguished as separate disciplines; the act of astronomical observation was often done by someone who had astrological motives for doing so. Indeed, astrologers' professional responsibility and desire for predictive knowledge for a large part spurred the advancement of astronomy, and the Babylonians developed a very precise ability to mathematically predict the location of celestial points and phenomena based upon their observable cycles.
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