Thursday, November 9, 2017

Pied Pipers

Today's chart refers to my Nov 2 post.  I put a blue smudge over Venus and Mars in the 5th House and a green one over the Moon in the 11th house.

5th House - children, creative self expression, falling in love

11th House - peers, reputation, community respect

Aries - first sign in zodiac, first step in unit cycle of becoming.  Coming into being.  Birth.  Explosion of seed.  This first step in the unit life cycle is ruled by the planet Mars.  Mars spends a smaller portion of its cycle in a balanced position with the Sun than any other planet.  

Libra - seventh sign of zodiac, seventh step in unit cycle of becoming.  Cusp of maturity.  Reaching balance between individuality and universality. Bearing ripe fruit.  This seventh step in the unit life cycle is ruled by Venus.  The cycle of Venus is associated with the period of human gestation (conception to birth).

The clumsy red arrow shows the direction we see the planets take as earth revolves on its axis.  At 7pm as I entered the camp of the enemy (Roman Catholic turned atheist astrologer) the nearly full Moon was rising in the eastern sky.  If you have good eyes you can see a little 11 in the house occupied by the Moon at 7pm.  That 11 simply means the Moon rose recently and was near the end of the lineup to rise again.

The Moon was in the sign ruled by Mars, but Mars, right across from it was in the sign ruled by Venus.  And Venus was home.  The planet of kindness was in the step of the unit cycle associated with generosity.  Venus was in Libra. 

Generosity.  Generate.  Genesis. 

I was shocked when I found the entry for gamma eta nu.  I was surfing  a few Greek sentences in a side by side translation of Plato's Republic <--ugh!  But discovering the connection between the Gaia we so often read about in encyclopedic listings of classical myths and the actual Greek word for Earth was worth all the time I spent lost, wandering through the old dialogue.

Gaia: gamma eta, Earth

Gen: gamma eta nu, of the Earth (eta is pronounced like an English long a)

As in - kata gen kai thalassos,  'by land and sea.'

Genesis is what springs from the Earth by virtue of the Sun's 'arrows.'


Thursday, November 2, 2017

We Need More Drama

Theatrical Drama First

Last night I gave my neighbors a ride to church for the Wed night religious instruction leading up to First Communion.  Last 2 years they went every Wed night to prepare for the boys' baptism, and now they have another year or two for Holy Communion and then Confirmation.

They normally meet for lessons in the cathedral downtown, but last night, they were obligated to go to the evening mass celebrating All Souls Day.  It was held at the beautiful new building on Centennial Drive.  The boys urged me to get out of my car to have a quick look inside the church. 

I could hear music and singing and the inside was just magnificent with artfully lit arches, statues lining the walls, a palatial alter area and just so many breathtaking architectural flourishes.  If you have ever been to the casinos in Atlantic City NJ you'll know what I mean when I say it reminded me of those buildings. They replicate grand architectural styles using less expensive materials.

But this building replicates grand cathedrals instead of palaces.  There is a whole nuther mood to the opulence, or at least there was for me.  I ran back out to the parking circle and moved my car to a space in the parking lot.  I was drawn to the beautiful building and wanted to experience the mass there with my friends.  The chorus had a lot to do with it.  I was looking up front in the left nave for someone with a guitar or violin, but could see noone standing to sing or play instruments.  I wondered if the music was a recording being played over the sound system.  During communion, when people were leaving the pews to receive the consecrated bread and wine, I asked Nati where the music was coming from, was it recorded music?  She pointed to the back and I could see The chorus and musicians in the large balcony at the rear of the church.

I had asked Nati, when the assitants were filing down from the raised alter area to help distribute to the Host to the congregants, if she needed to get past me to go receive communion.  No, she is not allowed because she is not married.  Ahh yes!  I had forgotten about all those rules!

All through the service, especially the sermon, I thought about how we got from Zeus and Saturn in the sky to the Son of God walking around on earth.  Several years ago when I volunteered to take a customer's mom to mass I had struggled with anger and jealousy toward the power of the Christian establishment.  Last night I watched the children playing in the pews, the priest reading the gospel and wondered what they were thinking, if this communal spectacle satisfied them. 

It never satisfied me.  I loved it and still do.  I remember kneeling next to my father one Sunday and asking my father if the man up on the alter was god.  I was talking about Fr. Ernst the priest with a German accent.  I used to count how many seconds it took him to finish a sentence.  He projected his strong voice slowly, with great theatricality, almost as though he were chanting measured verse.

My father was irritated with the question.  Years later when my older brother protested the priest's request for a fee to baptize his daughter, my father said matter of factly, "it's a club and to be a member you have to pay dues."  He studied geological engineering in college.  I think he assumed we understood the god stuff was to be taken with a grain of salt and felt disappointed that we needed that laid out.  Maybe if I had asked the question after mass when we were in the booth at People's Drugs having scrambled eggs on toast with cokes, or in his case a glass of beer with foam at the top.

Last week Miguel asked who came first the cave men, god or the dinosaurs.  We were only a block from home after picking them up from their lessons.  Oh what a wonderful question!  He and Alfredo were having a jolly time.  It began with Jesus.  Alfredo had been to Williamsburg for a class field trip and wondered if that was the time of Jesus.  I said Jesus was long after the dinosaurs but before the American Colonists.  They were very enthusiastic about collating historic events.  But that god question right at the end was a doozy.

I told Miguel he should ask his teacher.  I'm not sure if she will be much help.  One of their religious education teachers showed them a video of the Host bleeding when someone dropped it on the floor.  "It was REAL!!  The blood of Jesus."

"Do you believe that?" I asked.  One brother did, the other piped up with examples of fake videos.  But the teacher said it was real. 

Numeric Drama

Tuesday night I started thinking I should have taken a longer section of Libra and Aries to demostrate their different rising times.  (Previous post)  I figured Mars was above the average tree line by 5:30am and Venus by 6:50am.  That's a time difference of 1hr 20m.

The AC (ascendent) for those times in Raleigh was:
12Libra13 for the 5:30 Mars rise
  28Libra45 for the 6:50 Venus rise

Again, that's 1hr 20mins for 16degrees32mins of Libra to rise

Now the same section of Aries crossing above the AC later that same day and location:
  12Aries09 rose at 5:00pm
  28Aries52 rose at 5:44pm

So the equivalent section of Aries takes only 44mins to come up over the eastern horizon. 

The 16degree spread in Libra takes 36 more  minutes to rise than the same spread in Aries.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Libra Rising

Now is a good time to get a feel for the difference in the sky between Libra and Aries - or at least take a first step toward understanding. 

I was out this morn at 5:40 looking for Mars rising in Libra.  I thought I saw it but was never completely sure the whole time I hung out studying the constellations. I was waiting for Venus to come up.  When it did, it was of course bright and unmistakable.  But the distance in the sky between the faint light of Mars and brilliant Venus was farther than I thought it should be.  From the chart I knew they were only 16 degrees apart.  That 16 degrees in the sky looked more like 25 to me.

It took a while for me to become certain I was 'seeing' the longer rising time of the sign Libra.  I hope I can get another chance to observe in the next couple of mornings, while Venus is not much more than 15 degrees ahead of Mars in the zodiac.  15 degrees is 1/2 a sign. 

I made charts to show the difference in time between Libra and Aries rising.  We can't directly observe Aries rising right now, but Stellarium gives a good visual approximation.  Here is a link to a quick video showing the way the ecliptic changes through the hours.  Planetarium software helps find your way around the starry bowl, but it is no substitute for the real deal.  You have to go outside and see in the big expanse just how dramatic the difference actually is.  Once you see the variation from one sign to the next you will know the zodiac signs are not about the constellations, but about the changing distance between the ecliptic and the celestial equator.

And then there's the math.  19 mins for a small Libra section to rise vs 11 mins for the same section of Aries to rise.  I put colored smudges over the local times at the top of each chart.

The 4 charts:
5:40am (green)   13d Libra 29m rising

5:59am (blue)   17d Libra 25m rising

5:07pm (red)   13d Aries 21m rising

5:18pm (redder)  17d Aries 36m rising

AC is an abbreviation for ascendent.  It tells which degree of the zodiac was coming up at the the given time and location.  It took 19 mins for 4 degrees of Libra to rise and tonight, even though we can't see for that daggone Sun, it will take 11mins for 4 degrees of Aries to rise.

So if you get a good look at Venus and Mars while they are rising in Libra, there are a good two weeks left, you can compare that to a planet or two rising in Aries when the next opportunity comes along.  Starting at about 5:40 or 6:00am look east, where you see the Sun come up in the mornings, for the faint red light. Then pay attention to how far it rises until bright Venus comes up around 6:20 am.  The distance between them is what 16 or 17 degrees looks like in the sign Libra.

Happy sky watching!


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Jupiter and Sun

Sun is lined up with Jupiter today.  This is a chart for this morning in Raleigh. 

I put a green smudge on Jupiter and Sun, and a blue smudge on Saturn.  Saturn was coming up on Raleigh's eastern horizon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Zodiac and Galactic Plane

A (not so) quick clarification

It has been over a year since I first started talking in posts about the angle of inclination between the ecliptic and the galactic plane.   It was a major revelation for me.  While searching  - how is the solar system situated within the Milky Way? - I did notice lots of people asking the same question on forums. There's lots of info about where  (Orion arm), but our orientation is rarely addressed.

I've gotten really slack about just weaving the concept into posts as though people have some familiarity with it.  For those  who don't, here is a link to the post where I first introduced the concept.  Between the Sun and Galactic Plane

I will include an image at the bottom from Brian Fenerty, which was the first graphic representation I found on the internet.  It came from a really cool astronomy page about how fast earth is traveling.

Not too long after finding some good graphics and learning how to set the view from the perspective of the Galactic Plane on Stellarium (free downloadable planetarium sodtware for your computer) ,  I rigged up a 12in earth globe at an angle to a table surface similar to our angle with the Galactic Plane.

So all this talk about Cetus the whale being on the midheaven when we face down into the bottom of the Milky Way, or Cygnus the swan being on the midheaven when we are turning down ... is related to our angle to the plane of the Milky Way.

To make sense of the constellation myths takes some focused meditation on actual heaven, as opposed to the heaven we grew up hearing about,  but like Plato I think the angle of the spheres that the stories refer to are a lot more fascinating than the surface entertainment value.  I know Socrates showed respect for the morally edifying qualities of the myths, but was inclined to censor the ones about gods behaving badly.

Timeaus, where I got the clue that the constellation stories were more than novel entertainment or edifying tales, is one of the few dialogues written by Plato that is not in the voice of Socrates.  Socrates was more occupied with catching intellectuals sleeping at the wheel than actually teaching trigonometry or celestial mechanics.  Plato used the voice of a younger man named Timeaus to outline some of the basic concepts of astronomy.  I was lucky to find a well annotated side by side translation by Benjamin Jowett.  I get a thrill out of unravelling the riddles of what appears to me to be a memory system infused with a timeless sense of humor. 

I say 'appears to me' because I have yet to see any similar  approach to the constellation stories outside Plato's Timeaus.  I do not yet have a page dedicated to an explanation of the constellation stories that refer to the galactic plane, but I do have a page about the mechanics behind the mascots of the zodiac.  I invite you to check it out and see if it makes sense to you. 

So, to paraphrase Plato; there are two circles and they make a cross like the letter X. 

If you're like me you'll think he's referring to the ecliptic and the celestial equator.  I assumed Benjamin Jowett did not know what he was talking about when he said Plato meant one circle is the ecliptic and one is the galactic plane.  Later, when studying the Fenerty image you see below, I saw the light.  Ha ha.

There are 2 systems being poetically described in the stories of the old constellations.  (This does not include constellations named after the time of Plato.)  One system is the zodiac which explains the relationship of our tilted earth to the ecliptic.  The rest of the old constellations like Pegasus, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Cetus and Orion (under world characters), Auriga, Canis Major, Argo Navis. Cygnus, Aquila (Milky Way coming up or Milky Way going down), then a couple from the upper dome of the galaxy - Ursa Major and my favorite, contained in the 26,000 year circle of the moving north pole, Draconis.

I know this is a lot of information to take in at one go.  Please do not give up on making sense of heaven.  It is worth your time to focus on these riddles when you are in a seriously meditative mood.  Once you 'get' the stories the gods will be your good buddies for like for ever.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Planatery Ephemerides

Sometimes you look at a chart and see that a planet is retrograde and wonder when it started its backward motion.  Or you may see a planet at the beginning or end of a sign and wonder about the exact moment of crossing.  The Planetary Cycles and Sign Ingresses files at are an excellent source for gaining quick, precise answers to these questions.  All it takes is a few clicks and in less than 30 seconds you can download the file you need to see how time was flowing before and after the moment you are studying in a chart.

Planetary ephemeris files are a bit different from basic yearly ephemerides.  Nowadays there are many basic yearly ephemerides available for free on the internet.  Some sites even have the files as web pages that do not require downloading.  While the yearly ephemeride files at include the midnight Universal Time (aka GMT) positions of all planets and the north node for every day of the year, the planetary files focus on the exact Universal Times for points of interest in the cycles of individual bodies.  So instead of just knowing Jupiter entered Scorpio sometime after midnight UT on Oct 10, 2017 you can see the exact moment of ingress.

A few posts back, in Microscope to River, I included screenshots from the 2017 ephemeris.  Today I present a series of highlighted screenshots showing how to navigate to the ephemeris and download a file for Jupiter.  You need the Adobe pdf app to open and read the downloaded files, or another app to read pdf files may work. 

The first image shows where to click on the home page.  After selecting the Astrology drop down menu scroll down and click on 9000 Years Ephemeris.  Yes, 9000 years.  Amazing the wealth of perfectly good data people give away for absolutely nothing.  This form of generosity is a constant source of inspiration for me..

Scroll down past the few explanatory paragraphs and the list of centuries and select Planetary Cycles and Ingresses.  From there you can pick your planet and the time period you are interested in. 

For current Jupiter info you want the 1600 - 2100 file under the heading  Jupiter cycle data The 4th image shows where to click.  Unless your device is slow it should not take more than a fraction of a minute to download.  Since the file begins at 1600 you have to scroll way down to get to 2017.

The last ephemeris image shows Evening set highlighted on Oct 13 in green and Morning rise on Nov 8 in yellow.  Just above the green line you can see that Jupiter entered Scorpio  Oct 10 at 13:20 UT.  Raleigh converts UT to eastern time by subtracting 5 hours (8:20am) and then adding an hour for daylight savings, giving 9:20 am.  We check our balance of time by requestiing a chart for Oct 10, 9:21am Raleigh to see if it shows Jupiter at 00Scorpio.

You can see Jupiter at 00Scorpio in the chart that wraps up this post.  It was a bit above the eastern horizon in Raleigh, but of course invisible because of Apollo's many arrows.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Another Busy Mercury Transit

Can you spot Mercury and Sun above the eastern horizon in the chart for 8:33 this morn in Raleigh?  And Jupiter right on the line?  Sun is only 15 degrees behind Jupiter in the Zodiac.  It will catch up to Jupiter in about 15 days.  Up until a few weeks ago we could see Jupiter for a few minutes in the west at sunset.  Now the Sun is so close that the bright shining planet is invisible.

Soon Venus will also disappear.  It is coming closer to Sun every day.  But the Sun, with Venus in tow, is moving further from Mars.  So while Jupiter is gone for a few months, Mars is just beginning its long journey through the night sky.

Sometimes it is wise to just focus on the movements in the charts and not try to figure out what is really happening in the sky.  Like taking a few bites from a sandwich and saving the rest in a plastic bag in the fridge.  If you keep looking at the Sun and Moon and other planets like you're opening the fridge to check out what's available, you'll remember the rest of the sandwich is there when you're hungry for it.