Reporter: Sophie Hull

People have always been fascinated with the idea that we can predict the future. The most time tested and popular method of fortune telling is found in almost every newspaper and magazine.

The Horoscope column is referred to daily by people hoping to find out what's in store. But just how reliable is it? And why are they all so different?

Whether you're a ram, a crab, a scorpion or a fish - chances are you have at some stage taken a quick peek at what your destiny is according to the stars. The ancient Samarians invented the wheel and the study of astrology thousands of years ago.

Lesley Pagett has been checking in with the cosmos daily since she was a teenager. She's been to three separate astrologers to have her chart read, impressed with the accuracy of their predictions.

"Maybe 20 years ago I had my chart read and it was very accurate it was actually telling me that I was going to separate from my husband and meet another man which actually did happen so that was quite spooky" says Lesley.

But for every accuracy - there's an equally irrelevant prediction. Is it really possible that your day, week or month will pan out in much the same way as the one twelfth of the population who share your sign?

"When anyone has done any statistical analysis of birthdates and careers or birthdates and personality or birthdates and political views they're found to be no correspondence or no correlation" says Peter Bowditch.

Peter Bowditch is from the Australian Skeptics Association. He points to a distinct lack of scientific proof to back up astrology in terms of its ability to predict the future or to determine individual personality traits.

He adds "There doesn't seem to be any star sign connection to any body's wealth and how they've managed the financial crisis over the last year. Everybody from every star sign has had their superannuation funds drop in value."

Skeptics disagree with the basic thesis of astrology - that the position of the planets and the sun at the moment we were born will affect the outcome of our lives. Just as the planets move in a predictable pattern; as part of the same universe - so, too will we as individuals.

So, if the planets are moving in precise patterns for time immemorial - why do astrologers have such varying interpretations about what those planetary movements actually mean?

"Astrologers do differ in their interpretations of signals, although the planets themselves have a similar meaning so you should find that there is a general theme that runs through a good astrologers sun sign columns. When we say there is no proof of astrology and we only have to look at the effect that the moon has for instance on the tides and each other on our own life and our own planet then there has to be some proof that the cosmos has an effect on biological life" says Ed Tamplin.

Astrologer Ed Tamplin says the weekly or monthly predictions for your sign by a favourite astrologer should have some relevant insights but it will be deliberately vague to apply to a whole month of birthdays, a far more accurate prediction - he says - will come from an individual chart based on your time and place of birth. Apparently, there's a wealth of information in the skies if you know where to look.

"Last year I gave a lecture on financial astrology and during that I looked at patterns and was able to predict the global down turn for September 2008. Things are getting better at the moment they're temporarily getting better but there is another slide on the way at the end of the year. 2010 is actually the bottom out year at the moment we're taking aspros but we're yet to go in for the full operation" says Ed.

So, take from the stars what you will. Even the skeptics say it's harmless, especially when it's free.

More information...

Ed Tamplin - Astrologer


Australian Skeptics