Astrologers have long argued that a person's essential nature is written in the stars.

Now research by an English academic has shown that there is indeed a correlation between when a person is born and their personality.

Astrologers say other forces are at work in determining a person's nature.

But while scientists say the relationship can be explained rationally, astrologers say other forces are at work.

Richard Wiseman is a former magician who has become a professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in England.

He has spent much of his career investigating and debunking unusual phenomena.

Now he has told an English paper that there is a relationship between when someone is born and what they are like.

For example, in the northern hemisphere women born in May tend to be more impulsive, while those born in November tend to be more reflective.

Men born in spring tend to be more persistent than those born in winter.

The trends are reversed in the southern hemisphere.

Kenneth Kirkby, a Professor of Psychiatry from the University of Tasmania, agrees that there is some evidence that seasons can affect mental health.

"Season has a lot of effects on physiology," he says.

"For example, the mother, for example, would be less active during the winter months than in the summer months. There are a lot more influenza-type infections in the winter months than there are in the summer months.

"There are effects of light on the brain and on hormonal levels in the body and so forth. There are also old mechanisms in the body in relation to metabolism, for example hibernation-type mechanisms in the body which operate, to some extent, in the winter months, even though people aren't asleep like a bear would be.

"So there's a lot of interest in how that physiology might play out in relation to the development of the brain in utero.

Professor Kirkby says people born at the wrong time of year are up to 8 per cent more likely to develop schizophrenia.

At least, that is what the studies find in northern latitudes which have four very distinct seasons.

Because the seasons are less pronounced in Australia, the effect is greatly diminished.

Professor Kirkby says even in Tasmania, there appears to be very little effect.

"In Tasmania, even in winter, it's rather sunny and there's plenty of light in the sky and so forth," he said.

"You go to work and come home generally in the light rather than in the dark, whereas in the northern hemisphere, in northern Scotland or Canada or northern America, you may only have three or four hours of light in the middle of winter."

All of this talk about the seasons and personalities and mental illness may suggest to some people that there are more mundane explanations to astrological signs.

But Karen Darby from the Tasmania Astrology Association has a different take. She insists science has not debunked astrology in this case.

"Scientific discoveries don't necessarily refute astrology, they're just the flip side of the coin," she said.

"I'm not into arguing with scientists, but ... by charting the heavens, the ancients understood the correlation between what's above and what's below, and similarly, the personal horoscope reflects the positions of the planets at the moment of a person's birth, so it's like a map really."

Either way, it appears the latest discoveries about seasons will do little to resolve the age-old debate between science and spirituality.