Interview with an Astronomer

Photo provided by Dr Steven Simmerman

Photo provided by Dr Steven Simmerman

Dr. Steven J Simmerman is a Astronomy professor at Rowan University and has been for 25 years. He recently retired from being an Optometrist, but continues his teaching in Astronomy because of his strong interest with it.

Q: What is your career background in Astronomy?

A: In middle school I was always fascinated by the stars. After a while, I bought my first telescope and took classes in astronomy. I ended up going to college to be an optometrist following the footsteps of my father and got my doctorate degree. Astrophotography was a strong hobby of mine, I taught classes at a county college on Astronomy then finally at Rowan where I’ve been for 25 years.

Q: What are your views on astrology?

A: I personally don’t believe in it. A few students in my classes usually ask about astrology too. Astrology and Astronomy are two different things. They both formed 5,000 years ago, but there aren’t much studies to prove astrology. It’s more of a pseudoscience.


Q: Why do you think astrology was created? How was it able to sustain its popularity?

A: Way back when it began, Astrology was based off of superstitions. Since it was during the Renaissance period, there wasn’t much known about it. Astrologers based everything off of predictions through the stars, where Astronomy is studying the positions of them. Astrology has been in publications like newspapers for awhile.

Q: Are there any other ways through history have people used the planets or the stars for predictive purposes?

A: Yes, there is the Christmas Star, that could have been worked over by astrologers. It was more based on what people would be interested in seeing like comets, anything occurring that was bright and optic. Like seeing Venus and Jupiter it was interpreted as a sign. There aren’t many occurrences dealing with celestial objects other than in the Bible.

Q: What do you wish that the average person knew more in terms of Astronomy?

A: How amazing the findings are, and that once there is one thing figured out, there’s more questions about it. There is so much to discover with the planets and stars. Astrology is heavily influenced by the findings in Astronomy. Everyday something new is going on in the sky.

Other points mentioned:

Astrology is part over past, there is no plausible reason for it in the future other than its historical value. It is a pseudoscience and its accuracy is about 17% correct. Astrology tries to predict off beat things, like celestial occurrences. Believing that different civilizations put different markings in the stars. Astrology has many different ideas and is constantly changing where astronomy is factual with discoveries going on to this day, but the findings from the past are still relevant to today.




Siblings of the Same Signs

After glancing over how the personalities of men and women were through the signs, I decided to kick it up a notch, and look into siblings of the same signs. Just because they share the same genes, does it mean they have to have the same personality? Or what about identical twins with the identical genes, would they have the same personality? After close examination, with the signs and each of the siblings it was easy to say that they have similarities and differences between each other.

After interviewing two sisters, Sara DeRose and Mary DeRose of Hammonton NJ, they showed similar and different traits throughout. Both sisters are Virgos and have a six year age difference.


(Left to Right) Sara DeRose and Mary DeRose. Personal Photograph by Stacey DeRose. 2015.

“I would say that I’m more of an introvert, determined, a good sense of humor, nice, loyal, creative, smart, conformist, and extremely organized,” Sara says. Her birthday is September 21st and she is a senior at Hammonton High School. Sara shows the full definition of being a Virgo by being kind, hard-working, and shy.

“I think I’m more shy, hardworking, athletic, loyal, nice, a good sense of humor, and I love to be around people,” Mary says. Her birthday is September 20th and she is a student at Hammonton Middle School.

Both sisters have their birthdays towards the end of the cycle of being a Virgo. and although they are 6 years apart, their personalities are almost identical. This could be because they’re always around each other and pick up the habits of one another. Although their personalities are mainly the same, they share different interests. Where Sara prefers to dance, Mary plays softball.

Another set of siblings, twins were interviewed as well. The twins John and Tyler are identical twins. Whom are both born on July 24th, making them Leos


(Far Left) John Simmons (Far Right)  Tyler Simmons. Personal Photograph by Brian Brown. 2016.

“I’m more of a leader, creative, stubborn, and logical,” Tyler states. He is a sophomore Marine Biology major at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. He is older by 4 minutes, and the birthday July 24th is in the beginning of the cycle of a Leo.

“I’m athletic, stubborn, a leader, and creative. But we both have different friend groups,” John says. He is a sophomore Civil Engineer major at Rowan University. The brothers both show some qualities of being a Leo. But overall they were also similar in their personalities.

Both sets of siblings defied the idea of siblings being very different. They shared more traits than I do with my own siblings. Either way, in the beginning or the ends of their cycles in the signs, both of them had traits of their zodiac sign.

Libra Personality Traits for Men and Women

Libra, an Air sign, can be described as being of balance and symmetry. Is the description of the traits both for men and women? Interviews with junior Biology major Justin Natiello, and sophomore Psychology major Haley Mohrman, whom are Libras, can shed some light on the situation. To be able to decide whether they fit the personality of a Libra, I asked each of them to describe their personalities with a series of questions relating to the traits that are on the linked website

“I am more of an introvert, prefer to work individually but like to be surrounded by people. I prefer to keep peace in situations, and like conformity. I am stubborn, and I put others before myself” Natiello states. Natiello only portrayed a very few amount of the traits that were listed for a Libra. I also had the idea that maybe his birthday was at the end or beginning of the cycle (since that can affect if he is more of a Libra or a Scorpio), but it was directly in the middle. September 27th to be exact.

“I am an extrovert, and very cooperative. I am adventurous, stubborn, and love to surround myself with art and music. I try to keep peace and avoid conflict as much as I can, and I do not like conformity” Mohrman says. Mohrman portrayed more of the traits listed for a Libra. Her birthday is also towards the middle of the cycle, September 23rd.

Natiello and Mohrman only had the concept of peace in common, which is big for Libras. Although their personalities weren’t exactly the same, the main trait of balance was easily seen throughout the interviews. It is possible for men and women to share traits, and sharing the most important trait to a Libra can demonstrate they share the same zodiac sign.  The interview demonstrates that as long as the main trait of their sign is their’s as well, then it will easily pick out what zodiac sign they are.

Personality traits can easily vary, especially between genders. The Libras still believe in a balance of peace and avoid conflict, which is what the Libras are known to believe in. Although very different, both Natiello and Mohrman have that belief, confirming that both of them are in fact, Libras.

Featured Image: Interviews with Libras. Personal Photograph by Danielle LaSassa. 2017

Read Through the Stars

Astrology has a tendency to be stereotyped as weekly horoscopes and the phases of the moon. It’s actually a broad term, which can be divided into branches of different cultures, and to stereotype it with such a precise aspect of it isn’t really true to what it should be considered as. Although this blog will be focusing on post-modern Western astrology, providing what astrology truly is, should be recognized before diving into blogs on the topic.

Post-modern astrology can vary from tarot cards, palm readings, and of course zodiac signs. Zodiac signs are assigned by birth dates, and each sign has various types of personalities, compatibles, and descriptions. Each of the signs are broken up into groups of elements. For example, the three water signs are supposed to have similar traits making them compatible. It is important for readers to be familiar with the signs while reading to be able to grasp posts in the future examining the ideas of sign personalities being true to each individual and when comparing those of the same sign.

Although astrology is more of a belief than anything, the idea of this blog is to grab other perspectives of astrology and exploring zodiac signs in a way that is very different than other astrology blogs. This blog is to break the stereotypes of weekly horoscopes and deciphering when the next moon phase will be. Instead it is to understand it in a new way and bring diversity to other blogs.

Try this quiz, and continue through the journey of where Are Your Astro will take you. Discover your zodiac sign and explore all there is to know about it, the stars are the limit.

Feature Image: Horoscope Chart. Personal Photograph by Trevis22. 2014.