The Mid Heaven Locates a Point on Revolving Earth 

Understanding the meaning of the MC or midheaven is the key to unlocking the meaning behind the mascots in the zodiac.  Once you can picture what the midheaven refers to, the hidden meaning of the leaping cat, the goat on the mountain, and the crab will all become clear.  

Anyone who has ever calculated charts knows the MC or midheaven is the first point in the chart that is found, from that the ascendant, and then the planets are located around the zodiac.  Do not despair if you have never calculated a chart and have no desire to learn how.  On this page we will use several screen shots from Stellarium (free downloadable planetarium software for personal computers) and a few other visual aids to help you gain an understanding of just what is meant by Capricorn or Aries on the midheaven.

MC stands for Medium Coeli, or middle of heaven, a funny name since the line is rarely in the middle of the chart, but like most terms in astrology, mid heaven helps us remember that things are not as they appear.  What's called midheaven in astrology charts will be referred to as the meridian in the sky shots from Stellarium.  Don't let the different terms confuse you- Meridian, midheaven and MC all refer to the same thing.
Further down  the page we’ll have a bunch of big photos to help illustrate what the midheaven looks like in a virtual sky.  For now let’s get acquainted with the MC in a chart.

The chart above is for 1:44pm with the middle of Pisces on the MC.  This next chart for about an hour later shows the first few minutes of Aries on the midheaven.  All those zeroes in the sidereal time figure for the Aries MC are not a chance coincidence; they reflect the fact that Aries is the first sign in the zodiac.  I didn't retype the top figure in the first chart so you can barely see that sidereal time for the Pisces MC was 23:08.  Don’t freak at all these numbers and dots.  When you see the sky shots it will begin to make sense.

Let's start out with a wide shot of the darkened sky at 1:44pm.  The Sun is up, but most of its light is filtered out of the image.  You can see the complete red arc showing the path of the ecliptic, and the blue arc of the celestial equator.  If you look closely you'll notice that in these screen shots the blue arc for the celestial equator will always be bisected by the meridian, but the red arc for the ecliptic will be skewed to one side.  That's because of the Earth being tilted on its axis.  Sorry 'bout that blog stuff cluttering up the image on the right.  When we get down to the really important examples that will all be gone.

Stellarium screen shot showing full length of ecliptic and celestial equator

OK- Now let’s gradually zoom in and get a better look at the planets around the Sun.  Just look at these sky shots as each one zooms in a bit more and get oriented between the images of the sky and the chart at the top of this page.  The little cluster of planets around the Sun is the same as the cluster in the 9th house of the chart.  You can see the time for the Stellarium images at bottom right.  All of them are for 1:44pm until we get down to the ones with grids.

Zoom in shot of same screen

Ahhh….There they are!  Jupiter, Venus, Moon and Neptune all lined up in the glare of the Sun.

Really, really close up


Wait!  Where’s Neptune?!  

Sometimes finding objects in the sky is like hunting for hiding kittens.  But I’m getting distracted.  We'd better get back to the MC aka meridian.  If you live in the northern hemisphere it is what you see when you face due south.  This time we let the Sun shine.

So that’s the sky looking due south at 1:44pm Feb 14, 2010.  Now we’re gonna see what all those numbers from the beginning of the post look like in the sort of sky.  Let’s block out the Sun again and add a grid.  I've typed the numbers in white so you can see them better.

Up there shows the middle of Pisces on the MC.  Down here is Aries on the MC.  

And we can’t forget the ascendant.  Here is a wider sky view with the labels for the ascendant and midheaven.   The figures are rounded off from the first chart for 1:44pm.  

Examining the Stellarium images with the labeled grids we can see that Aries begins right where the red line for the ecliptic crosses above the blue line for the celestial equator.  Since at this point we see the path of the ecliptic rising, we know our point on Earth is actually descending toward the orbital plane of our solar system. 

That point is 00hours or 0°Aries.  

Now let’s get a look at what Aries on the MC would look like if we could defy gravity and see Earth from somewhere in the solar system.  This UNL Seasons Simulator shows Calcutta, India up through Tibet and Mongolia facing the Sun in Aries. 

Spring Equinox

In this screen shot I set the interactive Seasons Demonstrator for March 21.  On the first day of spring any point in the northern hemisphere descending from the top (Capricorn) will see the Sun reaching the middle of the sky just as they are half way (Aries) down to the bottom (Cancer).

In other words in the above globe, Liberia and Mauritania are at the top, so they have Capricorn on the MC, everything along the same longitude as Calcutta has Aries on the MC, and Agattu Island on the western tip of the Aleutian Islands (not visible because it is on the far side of the globe from west Africa) is at the bottom and has Cancer on the MC.

The thing to remember about the Earth is that as it orbits the Sun it is always tilted in the same direction.  There's a slight wobble which generates a lot of confusion if you try to use constellations as sign posts instead of the relationship between the equator and the ecliptic.  As you meditate on where a point on Earth is in its trip from top to bottom (Capricorn-Cancer) or bottom to top (Cancer to Capricorn) you will see that using the constellations as markers for the signs of the zodiac is kind of like depending on street signs to read a map for treasure buried 3000 years ago.  Signs move.  You need a better understanding of what's actually being referred to in heaven in order to find your way among the gods.

This is one key to understanding the secrets tucked in the zodiac.  It is worth hours and years of meditation.  I guarantee that if you take this seriously your respect for the ancients* will grow more than the heart of the Grinch who almost stole Christmas.

*I am not talking about classical Greece - to my knowledge they did not demonstrate a universal understanding of the relationship between the equator and the ecliptic as the basis for the zodiac.  It is hard to tell where or when the zodiac originated.  For years people thought it was 'perfected' by the Greeks, but that was before we had widespread translations of literature from other ancient cultures. 

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