February’s night skies:

dominated by Jupiter after sunset,

Saturn through the night,

while Venus is still the reigning Morning Star

Mercury and Mars are lost to view

MERCURY became a Morning Star after meeting the Sun on December 20 (Inferior Conjunction). In February our little brother will be mainly lost in the glare of the Sun.

The last chance to spot it could be February 1, when the slither, which is all is left of the Waning Moon, will be close to it in the early hours before sunrise, but only if you have a very uncluttered and level horizon in the East.

On February 25 Mercury will in fact meet the Sun again, at Superior Conjunction, on the other side of the Sun from Earth’s view point.

Mercury will return as Morning Star only in late April.

VENUS‘ beauty and outstanding brightness (4.3 magnitude) will be only for the early risers in February and until June 2011.  Venus is rising and setting about three hours before the Sun this month.

Morning Star in the first six months of 2011 she will turn Evening Star after June.

In February she will navigate between the Constellations of Ophiocus (the Serpent Holder) and Sagittarius, steadily moving away from bright Antares, alpha of Scorpio Constellation, visible above Venus in Southern latitudes.

Here is a snapshot of Venus, taken at around quarter to five in the morning on February 3 2011. Notice Antares on top.

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MARS has disappeared from the sky in December, as it is now immersed in the light of the Sun, reaching its conjunction with our Star at the end of January, early February 2011.

Mars will become visible again as a Morning Star in mid-May 2011. The Red Planet will rise before the Sun then until 2012.

JUPITER is the first planet to become visible in the sunset twilight (magnitude -2.2), not far from setting in the West, having been above the horizon since around 10 am at the stat of February and just before 9 am at the end.  Jupiter is transiting against the backdrop of the Pisces Constellation.

This month Jupiter will disappear from view around 10 pm (one and half hours earlier at the end of February).

February is in fact the last month that we will be viewing Jupiter as an Evening Star, because in March it will become too close to the Sun to be visible. The Sun will reach its conjunction to Jupiter in early April, after which Jupiter will return as a Morning Star in early May.

Jupiter will slowly lose intensity and size as the month progresses, setting with the Sun by the end of March.

Still very close to URANUS at the beginning of January, Jupiter is now steadily separating from it.

The next opportunity to easily spot this remote world (through binoculars)  will come on April 23, when Venus will become very close to Uranus in the pre-dawn sky.

SATURN, at 0.6 magnitude, appears in the night sky as Jupiter disappears (around 11 pm at the beginning of February and 9 pm at the end), and stays up all night.

Much brighter objects will compete with Saturn, like Spica, alpha star of the Virgo Constellation Saturn is transiting. Throughout the month and for a few more months these two will remain close.

And also, to the South, Sirius, alpha of the Great Dog Constellation (Canis Major), brightest of all stars. And, slightly to the North, Arcturus, alpha of the Herdsman Constellation (Bootes).

Saturn will be a night star until late September 2011.



All the Sky Snapshots have been generated using Stellarium, a wonderful Planetarium freeware software.

Information for the Sky Events has been gathered from these web sites:








Chinese New Year of the Metal Rabbit, coolest amongst Bunnies

February 3 2011

Happy Return to all Rabbits, in particular the 60 years old Metal Rabbits

born between February 6 1951 and January 26 1952

The coolest way to have Saturn and Jupiter’s Returns sort of combined

The Chinese New Year is here again. We welcome the steely Metal Rabbit in our midst. This could be a year of great opportunities for all Rabbits.

The Rabbit  (or Cat) is a soft, cuddly and dreamy creature in love with moonlight (its Western counterpart is the Water Sign of Pisces), often too sensitive for its own good and afraid of open confrontations. When its Element is Metal it becomes however a lot tougher, determined and shrewd. Their talent derives from their sensitivity and from being in touch with the feelings of other people. Any career where these qualities can shine will be ideally suited to the reserved but clever Rabbit, who learnt its wisdom from the Age old wisdom of the Moon, the psychic realm where everything is possible if the imagination can conceive it.

The Element Metal is one that confers determination and firmness to all Chinese Creatures. The negative side of Metal is its coldness and tendency to overly control every situation they found themselves in.

The Astrology of Jessica Watson, solo teenager sailor and Young Australian of the year

Jessica Watson has appeared again on prime time news, on Australia day 2011, to accept from the hand of our Prime Minister the Young Australian of the Year award for 2010.

Having written a post on Jessica when she returned from her sailing adventure in May 2010, I was curious to see the Progressions and Transits active at this time, when she has become the recipient of one of the most prestigious awards in Australia. The Chart I am using for Jessica is just a Sunrise Chart because her time of birth is still unavailable. Here it is:

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First of all I calculated a Progressed Chart for the Australia Day Award ceremony. Here:

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Keeping in mind that I am still working with a Sunrise Chart, I was very impressed by the meaningful correlation with the happy event of January 26 2011.

The first thing that jumps out of this Horoscope is the opposition Progressed Moon to Progressed Sun, very close (same degree), meaning that around this time Jessica is living through the first Progressed Full Moon of her young life (a once in thirty years event). Because we started with a Sunrise Chart and not a proper Birth Chart the timing of this important astrological event is uncertain, but we know that it is happening sometime this year.In fact the uncanny symchronicity of the Australia Day event and the Progressed Full Moon may even suggest that Jessica could have been born around sunrise.

The phases of the Progressed Moon are slow forming and long lasting, not ephemeral and brief like the transiting Moon’s phases. They represent personal landmarks in the life of the individual, especially the New and Full Moon. The Full Moon symbolizes a climax of experience, a time for fulfillment, reward or failure according to how the person has lived and thought in the 14 years preceding the phase. In Jessica’s case it seems that her Saturnine ambition and hard work (Saturn conjunct Solar Mid-Heaven at birth), with her Taurean determination (Sun, Moon and Mercury in Taurus) have paid off.

This award is launching her on a new league of her career as well as rewarding her for past achievements, the perfect effect of a positive Full Moon experience!  To make this event even more appropriate to Jessica’s circumstances the Moon has been progressing through the adventurous Sign of Sagittarius since early 2010 (according to the Sunrise Chart’s progressions exactly on Australia day 2010!), describing to a T her free spirited voyage and optimism to succeed. This Full Moon was also a Lunar Eclipse making the phase more intense and significant in Jessica’s life, producing greater and longer lasting effects.

In the mean time her Progressed Mercury in Cancer is forming this year a 90 degrees angle with her Progressed Jupiter in Libra and a 45 degrees angle to Progressed Mars, both aspects showing a great expansive energy for her mind, more travel, big ideas and unbound mental enthusiasm, that could even prove a bit too much for her. It is, after all, a lot to cope with for a girl who has not  turned 18 yet!

To understand better the Progressed Horoscope we need also to place it on top of the Birth Chart, in order to see their dynamic interaction. Here is a double wheel chart, with Jessica’s Birth Chart in the middle and her Progressed Chart in the outer wheel.

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Because the Progressed Sun and Moon form an opposition during the Full Moon phase, if one becomes linked by aspect  to a planet the other will also be linked to the same planet by a mirror-aspect. In this instance both Sun and Moon are linked to Jessica’s Birth Venus in Aries, in the sector of aspirations and friendships (XI House), the Moon by harmonious trine (120) and the Sun by harmonious sextile (60). These aspects highlight the positive effect of the Full Moon, bringing Jessica greater popularity and opportunities to reach out to the world and spread her message of hope and confidence to young people worldwide.

Now to the Transits. Here is a Bi-Wheel with Jessica’s Birth Chart in the middle and the Transits Chart in the outer wheel, for the same Australia Day’s event.

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In the short term the most prominent and closest transit to the time of the Award is the Sun, in the Natal IX House, in harmonious trine to Jessica’s Birth Chart Jupiter in Libra on the cusp of the V House, place of honors and enterprise.  Jupiter is the expansive function in our universe and psyche. When in contact with the Sun it enhances the scope of the Ego, sometimes even causing ego-inflation, when the individual begins to  identify too much with the inner myth fostered by Jupiter. Because the contact is an harmonious one the risk of self-inflation is less, but still present. Then again who wouldn’t feel a sense of Ego-pride winning such  a public recognition? The Sun was with Jupiter just for the day and has already moved on. Before Australia Day the transiting Mars was also in trine with Jupiter, fact that would have boosted the Mercury-Mars-Jupiter progressions discussed before. All great incentives to trust life and reach for the stars. On January 23 Jupiter has moved into Aries where he will reside until June 4. We need to remember that Aries is Jessica’ s Moon and Venus Signs, placements that have a lot to do with her adventurous spirit and single-mindedness. And also that her Natal Jupiter is in Libra, meaning that transiting Jupiter will soon form his last opposition to his own place in mid-February 2011, another ‘take off’ type of transit, that will certainly bring opportunities, but also the risk of taking too much on, or of becoming overly optimistic. From June 2011 Jupiter will begin his 12 months transit through Taurus, Jessica’s Sun and Mercury’s Sign, promising more opportunities and achievements in store for her in the second half of this year, spilling into 2012.

A cautionary note is sound by Chiron transiting Jessica’s Natal Saturn, exact on February 7, but already very close on Australia Day. This is a strange combination of energies during a period of apparent triumph for our young heroine. Perhaps there is a thorn in Jessica’s rosy bloom. Perhaps the responsibilities that come with success, financial gains and fame (Saturn cusp Aquarius/Pisces) have been inwardly difficult to face, Chiron always representing the unavoidable blemish to one’s complete happiness (if there is such thing!).

This transit is not new to Jessica, it has been exact before in mid-April and then again in late July 2010. This is in fact its last passage.

A bout of illness cannot be excluded, or just a period of lowered vitality and spirit, while this aspect remains active (until mid-March 2011). This transit may simply show the unavoidable anti-climax after the triumph, because nature always looks to find a balance, to restore equilibrium if things lean too much one way (or the other).  But this is the last pass of Chiron over Saturn, because Chiron will soon move to Pisces, not coming back to her Saturn for another 50 years! Just because it is rare enough transit it seems strangely important and out of place in a reading full of optimistic and buoyant aspects. Here instead is the gift of maturity via difficulties and pains, in order to become a true authority into oneself, a fully fledged adult. Despite her independence and self-determination Jessica is still going through the pangs of being reborn into a new self, and, doing so, she feels like losing some of her childhood’s joys and carefree ways.

Following this transit others are coming for Jessica that could have far reaching consequences for her career and life direction. These are the slow moving transits of Neptune over her Saturn cusp Aquarius-Pisces and her Mercury cusp Taurus-Gemini, beginning at the end of March 2011. Neptune will remain in the vicinity of Saturn and in square to Mercury for a long time, until the end of 2012, forming exact aspects at the end of August 2011 and again  at the end of January 2012.

Neptune has a strange effect on Saturn, the two representing very different energies, in many ways inimical to one another, Saturn always striving to solidify, plan and structure, while Neptune for ever attempts to dissolve, de-materialize and evade. Because of  Mercury involvement her mind and way of thinking will also be affected by Neptune. Jessica may feel like taking perhaps some time off  (Neptune) from her obligations and duties (Saturn), and her studies (Mercury) to go for another solo trip somewhere.

Neptune has a lot to do with her love of the ocean and of solitude (conjunct Uranus in her Natal VIII House, square the Moon and Venus, and trine the Sun in Taurus). Every Neptune’s transit will bring those characteristics to the fore.

Neptune-Saturn is never an easy and too amicable encounter. There will be some dissolving, ending and transforming  to go through, difficult adjustments that could for a time make Jessica less effective, realistic or practical, and also more vulnerable, flexible, sensitive and compassionate. Neptune-Mercury may not be as difficult, rather helping her to get more readily in touch with her intuitive feelings, her creativity and also her desire to help others. Taking up an ecological cause could be a great way to put together the high idealism and compassion of Neptune, the practical genius of Saturn and the broadcasting abilities of Mercury on the cusp of clever Gemini.

For many teens of Jessica age the Neptune-Saturn conjunction is now or will soon be a reality they will all have to go through. For some of them will be an awakening to new spiritual perceptions and a greater sense of personal responsibility (Saturn) toward the greater good of humanity and Nature (Neptune), sometimes through experiences of loss and ego-undoing.

Mars’ fiery energy flowing in the Aquarian Urn

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Mars, transiting the Air Sign of Aquarius from January 16 to February 23, will energize the lives of all Aquarius individuals, and also Gemini, Libra, Leo, Taurus and Scorpio.

The entire cycle of Mars (one orbit around the Sun) lasts just about two years, so this is a two-yearly opportunity for the above Signs to be more assertive and decisive, to get into things without waiting for circumstances to be perfect.

Aquarius is a Sign of mental stamina and concentration and these qualities will be strengthened by this transit. The Air Signs may lose some of their cool for a time, but gain humph and directness. The energy is very much available for all sorts of debates and speculations, but could be somewhat erratic and difficult to direct, especially for Leo, Taurus and Scorpio.

Mars is not known to be particularly aggressive in Aquarius, but could cause the mind to become stubborn and unyielding. The energy could be better used for study or any kind of mental pursuits, including computer work, learning, teaching, researching etc.

The usually mild, rational and civilized Aquarians amongst us (including people with the Moon or Ascendant in this Sign) may feel particularly combative and contrary during this transit. On the positive side the physical timidity often apparent in this Sign could be overcome for a time by Mars’ bold energy and pluck.

In these hard times, in Australia and many other places in the world, we could all use the courage inspired by Mars. Aquarius being the Sign of community, friendship and collective concern, we could all become more pro-active in matters of social justice. Community spirit will be stronger under this influence. People with humanitarian views could become more militant in upholding their ideals, more actively involved in community projects and volunteer work. Just what we need badly at the moment with so much clean up to do in the many areas ravaged by these unprecedented floods, and the need of moral support for the thousands of people affected.

The influence of Mars over this period is highlighted by the fact that the Sun was approaching the conjunction to the Red Planet on the day of the Full Moon (January 20) while the Moon was opposing it, bringing this planet to the front stage, in particular for the next waning fortnight.

Full Moon on the cusp Cancer-Leo, place where intuition meets creativity

Full Moon, cusp Cancer-Leo, on January 20, 8.21 am, Australian Eastern Summer Time.

More rain, dripping and dropping on the large waxy bells of the Datura tree, growing wild at the edge of the garden. Heavily scented flowers that like to bloom on the Full Moon. The incessant rain has made them only more luscious.

The forecast is for storms and possible flash flooding in our region.

No power in my laptop, no much power in our solar batteries.

For now I can only post the chart for this very special Full Moon, calculated for Wollumbin, in North-East New South Wales.

Students of Astrology would find of interest the Neptune-Chiron conjunction rising in Aquarius and at 90 degrees angle from the local MidHeaven, in view of all the major flooding.

Note also the conjunction of the Sun to Mars and the opposition to the same from the Moon. Mars is actually mid-point between the Sun and Ceres, the Earth Mother, Goddess of the Harvest and also of Mourning.

Significant the Water Grand Trine between the cusp Moon, cusp Jupiter (ready to enter Aries on January 23) and the local MidHeaven. As well as the coming square of Jupiter to the Lunar North Node and Pluto in Capricorn.

This, like many other Full Moon recently, happens on the cusp between two Signs, for the Moon Cancer-Leo, for the Sun Capricorn-Aquarius.

I have more about this Full Moon and also a post on Mars’ transit through Aquarius, plus a longer post on the historical significance of the passage of Uranus in Aries, on March 12.

Soon, weather and power permitting.


The Sun Ingress into Aquarius

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Venus in the Sign of the Archer, January 7 to February 4 2011

Venus has entered the Fire Sign of Sagittarius on January 7, an important shift considering the long time Venus spent in Watery Scorpio because of retrogradation (from September 9 to November 8 2010 and again from November 30  ’til now). Venus will transit Sagittarius until February 4.

Having ended her period of retrogradation also means that Venus is now a Morning Star (Lucifer or Light Bringer), a more outgoing and social phase for Venus, when our sister planet waxes toward her Full Venus climax. The combination of the Fire Element and the Waxing Phase makes for a complete new look for the Love Goddess.

Sagittarius is in fact the most forward looking, optimistic and visionary of all Signs. Under this influence Venus will seek relationships (her function in the psyche) with renewed optimism and passion, unfettered by the emotional trappings that are so characteristic of the Water Signs, and of Scorpio in particular. A call to adventure in the area of relating, creativity and finance will sound for all the Fire Signs, Sagittarius, Leo and Aries, and also for Gemini (by opposition aspect), and Virgo-Pisces (by square aspect).

Sagittarius is about living in the moment, without too many plans or obligations. If we respond to this energy, we may also become attracted (Venus) by the fleeting moment, the ideal, the vision, the potential in every situation, perhaps also becoming disenchanted by the factual, what or who is really there. We may seek partners in adventure now rather than emotional security. This placement will encourage instant attractions, toward new people or activities, while it may not be the best suited for long term commitments.

Travel may be in the cards for many or thought of travel, because to Sagittarius the grass seems always a little bit greener on the other side of the fence, especially in the open fields!

This could be a rewarding time to take up a fitness program, to enjoy sports and games, the outdoor life, camping, campfires and visiting wild and unexplored places, physically and with our mind, through reading, speculations, philosophical discussions; the sort of activities that foster a sense of individual freedom and enthusiasm.

During these very arrowing times for Australia this super bright Venus in Sagittarius, announcing the coming of the Sun every morning, is helping to boost our confidence and to keep faith in better things to come.

Here are some famous people born with Venus in Sagittarius:

Politicians like British Margaret Tatcher and Winston Churchill; Australian ex Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.

Male actors like Cary Grant, Billy Connolly, Kevin Costner,Gerard Depardieu, Alan Alda.

Actresses like Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Farrah Fawcett, Whoopy Goldberg.

Musicians like David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Tina Turner, Donna Summer, Delta Goodrem, Michael Hutchence, Christina Auguilera.

Poets like Emily Dickson, Dylan Thomas.

Writer like Robert Louis Stevenson, Lewis Carroll,Mark Twain.

Activists like Germaine Greer, Joan Baez.

More about the effect of Neptune in Pisces

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In my last post on Neptune entering Pisces I didn’t mention who would be the people more likely to feel the Neptune’s effect between early April and early August 2011. These will be principally the early Water Signs, Pisces, born 18 to 20 of February; Cancer, born 21 to 23 of June, and Scorpio, born 23 to 25 of October. And also (via opposition and square aspects) the Mutable Signs: Virgo individuals, born 23 to 25 of August; Gemini, born 21 to 23 of May, and Sagittarius, born 22 to 24 of November.This transit will not stop there either, because it will return and be around for the whole of 2012, after a few months of Neptune’s withdrawal into Aquarius (from August 2011 to February 2012).

Neptune will enter in direct contact with these individuals’ identity and sense of self, represented by their Sun in the Horoscope.

Of course also people who happen to have the Moon, the Ascendant or a planet around the naught and  first degree of the Water and/or the Mutable Signs will live the power of Neptune, the nature of their experiences depending on the planet involved in the transit.

Neptune’s Sign, embodying the mythic image of each of his 14 years generations, will bring experiences of love, enchantment, mystery, compassion, art, aesthetic pleasures, unbound creativity, with everything poetical, transcendent, spiritual. A way of seeing that will make our whole world partake of this mystical image.

Experiences of loss are also possible, somewhat forcing us to go with the flow of things rather than resist our fate. We may not be able to trust the situations we find ourselves in anymore or even the people we thought we could relay on. Not the best influence for reliability and substance, because we may tend to believe what we wish to believe rather than see what is really there. Beware of dodgy deals or any situations that seem a bit ambiguous or murky. The narrow and straight path may be boring and prosaic, but it may be the only safe one in these circumstances. In general terms, for good or ill, a Neptune’s transit may induce us to lose the sense of control over our lives that we take for granted, realizing that it is actually an illusion.

It will be a soul enhancing experiences for many, but also a bewildering one for some, because through Neptune we always risk to lose our sense of reality and become disengaged from our every day duties and responsibilities. Some will need to take time off from everything and just be. If this is impossible then try to make time for contemplative and relaxing activities, in particular for expressing your creativity and get in touch with your inner silence or music.

Born with the Sun at 0° 03′ of Cancer I am in for some Neptunian uplifting or dissolving too.

Transits March to June 2011

FROM THE ARIES EQUINOX TO THE CANCER SOLSTICEMosaic in the so called House of Neptune at Herculaneum, destroyed with Pompeii by Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 BC.

It depicts the God Neptune and the Goddess Amphitrite, his spouse.

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Between April 5 and August 5 2011 Neptune will make its first tentative ingress into Pisces, entering this Sign for good only in February 2012. It has been 164 years since Neptune was last in Pisces. The mystical planet will be in its own Sign for the next 14 years, leaving only in 2025.

The last historical passage of Neptune through Pisces happened between 1848 (soon after its discovery in 1846) and 1862. This is often referred to as  the Romantic period in the arts and literature, and ideologically one that saw the rise of  socialistic ideals, with the writing of Marx and Frederick Engels (the Communist Manifesto was published in 1848). A very significant Occult Revival occurred then also, in response to the rationalistic and materialistic ideologies that flourished during the so called age of Reason brought about by modern industrialization.

During the last fourteen years humanitarian and egalitarian trends have gained momentum with Neptune in the socially conscious Sign of Aquarius. We have witnessed the uncanny development of social networking, through which many people who could not possibly interact with each other before have found a novel way to share their experiences via the world-wide-web, a definite Aquarian experience. In the last seven year a special relationship between Uranus and Neptune was also active, what astrologer call a Mutual Reception. This happens when a planet is transiting the Sign traditionally ruled by another planet and this second planet transits the Sign ruled by the first. In this case it was Uranus in Pisces, Sign ruled by Neptune, in Mutual Reception to Neptune in Aquarius, Sign ruled by Uranus. This has also contributed to the amazing spread of the internet because Uranus, like Aquarius, has a lot to do with new technologies and also with group activities, while Neptune, like the Water he presides over, always helps to broadcast things far and wide, like the oceans connecting different shores.

Neptune’s passage through a new Sign will be reflected in a shift in the spiritual aspirations of the world. The generation of people born with Neptune in Pisces, between 2011 and 2025, will produce some charismatic visionaries and artists of a higher order, contributing to a spiritual and artistic renaissance, as people born with the same Neptune’s placement have done in the past, like Rudolph Steiner, Emmanuel Swedenborg, Gustav Mahler, to name just three.

This generation will be extra sensitive to our spiritual connection to the Earth as the all giving Mother. Neptune in fact, traditionally depicted as a powerful male god, rising from the ocean’s waves with his  mighty trident, is actually very much a feminine energy, passive and inclusive, fluid and changeable, a shape shifter helping us to glimpse the subtle aspects of all situations and relationships.

A new Romantic era is opening, that will witness the resurgence of interest in the mantic arts, like alternative healing methods, astrology, palmistry, tarot, occultism, etc. There will be a renaissance of the feminine spirit in art, religion, philosophy and in the heart of men and women. We may more consciously seek experiences of transcendence, via transpersonal psychology, channelling, active dreaming, out of the body experiences, meditation etc. These and similar activities will become more widely accepted and sought after by an increasing number of people. The visual arts, the media, music will all be influenced by this new mystical trend.

This generation will hopefully be also more sensitive to our collective suffering, including that endured by the Earth itself, and be ready to work selflessly toward global solutions, including everyone in this world’s multicultural melting pot, from which the flower of a new humanity may be able to emerge.

Neptune symbolizes the ever present longing for a lost state of bliss and unity, the lost individual paradise of the womb and the collective paradise of humanity’s Golden Age. With Neptune in Pisces this longing will permeate the lives of more and more people, perhaps stirred by the ecological catastrophes threatening our world.

Chiron, in Pisces since February 9, will remain in this Sign until 2018/19, accompanying Neptune in his journey. They will be conjunct, on and off, until the end of 2014, showing the potential for healing our collective ills by embracing wiser and more compassionate ways.

Focus’ shift for future eclipses

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On February 14, 2011, the North and South Nodes of the Moon are leaving the Cardinal axis of Capricorn and Cancer and enter the Mutable axis of Sagittarius and Gemini. Traveling in reverse motion, as it is their custom, they begin their transit through these Signs from the rear, beginning with the end and ending with the beginning. The Nodes will transit these Signs until early September 2012.

This change of focus means that most Solar and Lunar Eclipses between February 2011 and mid-September 2012 (the time the Nodes will spend in the new Signs) will be either in Sagittarius or Gemini. Eclipses are often life changing events when they fall close to our Birth Sun, Moon, Ascendant or Planets.

A recent example of this shift has been the Total Lunar Eclipse of December 21, that happened on the very last degree of the Sign Sagittarius, a magic moment in the yearly solar cycle when a season ends and a new season begins, on the Capricorn Solstice.

The Mutable Signs, Gemini, Sagittarius, Virgo and Pisces, will encounter destiny changing situations in the next couple of years and will need to re-orient their lives accordingly.

The Lunar Nodes’ transits always bring us in touch with the sorts of experiences that decide our future, encouraging at the same time the resurgence of unresolved issues that need to be integrated in the present life. Or we may risk living in the past, carrying the same emotional baggage over and over in recurrent patterns.

The birthdays directly touched by the transits of the Nodes, between February and June 2011, will be Sagittarius born December 14 to 23, Gemini, 12 to 21 June, Virgo, 14 to 23 September, and Pisces, 12 to 21 March.



Flood in our beautiful valley, fortunately not as bad as elsewhere.

Unable to post due to very limited solar power supply.We haven’t been able to go out for three days now. Time to read, write (with a pen!), relax and take a vacation from the bookshop.

I’m handwriting something about Venus in Sagittarius (entered on January 7). Nearly ready are also posts on the Lunar Nodes’ shift into Sagittarius/Gemini, Uranus and Neptune’s  passage into Aries and Pisces in March and April.

Hope to be able to return soon to my beloved site.

The Mistery of Retrogradation

Lately I have reflected upon and researched a lot the phenomenon of retrogradation, this optical illusion that, at regular interval, makes the planets appear to stop in their tracks, and then move for a while in the opposite direction of the one they normally travel on.

In real terms the planets of course never moves backward. From a sun centered (heliocentric) viewpoint they all travel at their appointed speed, always in the same direction, identical to planet Earth’s.

The phenomenon appears instead very ‘real’ from our Earth’s plane. With long exposure photography we are now able to actually see the shiny loop the planet’s course makes when retrograde.

Too often Retrogradation is accepted as part of the astrological tradition, and not given much thought or meaning.

This cyclical phenomenon appeared instead positively magical to the ancient sky-watchers, who eagerly awaited it, calculated its timing and duration and attributed to it great significance, in forecasting future events, in accordance with the nature of the planet involved.

We, modern people don’t need any more to search the sky for signs, to wait to see a star or planet rising before the Sun. Cyber-planetariums and astrological software are all we need to practice our Art. Thanks to technology we have the tools now to cast many horoscopes in record time, using the most sophisticated techniques ever, but we have also lost the ‘real’ magic of the night sky and twilight hours, the eternally returning cycles of the wandering planets, a vital dimension of the ancient wisdom tradition.

Understanding better what happens during a planet’s retrograde period and putting that particular period within the context of the planet’s whole cycle can help us to recapture some of its true meaning.

Every cycle in nature and therefore in the psyche of man can be conceived as having two halves or hemicycles, one of involution and one of evolution, a Yin and a Yang phase. The place where Yin and Yang meet is the matrix of each cycle, while the place of their maximum separation is the climax of each cycle. So we have a Waxing Phase, from matrix to climax, and a Waning Phase, from climax to matrix, in an eternal round. This specific rhythm permeates everything, all living beings, all experiences. The planets are no different. They too obey the inner order of things, and therefore follow a clear path of Ascent and Descent when viewed from the Earth’s plane.

The Moon is not the only celestial body to show phases, all planets do, each in its own peculiar way. Retrogradation has a lot to do with those phases.

I’m using Mercury here as an example of what retrogradation entails. Mercury is the planet that goes retrograded more often than any other, three or four times a year. At the time of writing it has just finished one of its retro periods on December 30 2010.

Each Planet is different in fundamental ways from all others, even with regard to their retro periods, but the underlying Waxing/Waning tempo is basically the same for all.

Mercury, from Evening to Morning Star

In 2011Mercury will be Retrograde three times, between March 30 and April 23, August 3 and 26, November 24 and December 14.

Often the period of Mercury’s retrogradation is simply interpreted as a time full of misunderstandings, technical glitches, disruption in communication, odd accidents, etc. These effects are often obvious indeed, especially for people who happen to have the Sun, Moon, Planets or their Birth Chart’s Angles (Ascendant, etc.) within the span of the zodiac covered by Mercury.

The Phases of Mercury however are as fundamental to this all important planetary energy as its zodiacal or hemispherical position, representing respectively the quality of its energy (Sign) and the areas of experience where this energy will more likely find expression (House).

When we attempt to interpret Mercury in a Birth Chart we tend to take its position (and that of all other celestial bodies) as fixed, a point in a linear, perhaps circular universe, in which Sun, Moon and Planets interact by angular relationship with each other, as in a neat example of cosmic geometry. We tend however to exclude from our interpretation the actual experience of Mercury as it manifests on our Earth plane.

We may learn from text books that Mercury’s orbit around the Sun in just less than three months (88 days), but the experience we have of the twinkling star that is Mercury to our unaided eyes is indeed very different. The visual cycle of Mercury lasts in fact 116 days (a bit less than four months), during which time this Planet, from our view point, appears to wax and wane.

In the light of the entire cycle the Retrogradation of Mercury is a most significant moment. During this special time the planet passes from waning to waxing, from Evening to Morning Star. This is not only a miracle to the beholder, seeing Mercury disappearing behind the Sun and then re-appearing on the other side, but a real shift of our awareness of the planet’s energy.

The retro period of any planet, like the dark three days of the New Moon, is a twilight status, like the one in between sleeping and wakening. We take usually a little while to wake up completely after a deep sleep. In real life as well as symbolically the in-between waking and sleep phase is all important because it is then that our creative imagination provides the most fertile ground for new insights.

Ten to fifteen days after the beginning of its retro motion Mercury becomes completely immersed in the light of the Sun, which has, in the mean time, caught up with it, due to its slowness. It is of course the Earth that is actually accelerating on Mercury, amounting to the same visual effect. The date of this all important conjunction for the upcoming cycle is April 10, 2011. At first will be a tentative beginning, when the new impulse is guided by yet unclear urges, stemming from the past while longing for the future.

Mid-way through its retro period, Mercury is as close to planet Earth than it will ever be, orbiting directly between us and the Sun disk. This conjunction of Mercury to the Sun is known as the Inferior Conjunction, to distinguish it from the Superior conjunction when Mercury is as far from Earth as it can possibly be and also disappear in the glare of the Sun, being visually just behind the Sun from our observation point on Earth. The Superior conjunction is really an opposition Mercury-Earth in a heliocentric view. The next Superior Conjunction will occur on June 13, and will represent the culmination of the cycle that starts in April.

Mercury turns Direct an average of 9 to 15 days after the Inferior Conjunction.

The phases bring to the ‘reading’ of Mercury an extra dimension, showing it as an ongoing process, rather than a fixed placement to be interpreted in a rigid way.

In this new light the Retrogradation of Mercury stands for a sort of preparatory period during which the lesson of the last mercurial cycle is appreciated and we look back in order to understand and re-value, before a new cycle can begin in a conscious way, when Mercury turns direct on April 24.

I hope that, if you didn’t know these facts already, you may feel better equipped now to answer your skeptic friends when they tell you that retrogradation is just an optical illusion and non existent. Something really happens to the relationship between the Earth and the planet when this appears to move in a backward fashion.

The astrological meaning of the Retrogradation of  Mercury

All planets’ retro periods represent a revaluation of sort, but what we need to reflect upon differs in accordance with the nature of the planet. So, for instance, during the retrogradation of Mars we need to re-value and re-consider the way we assert ourselves and go out to get what we want from life. This need of self-reflection could make this an ineffectual and tentative period, when for a time we may lose confidence, becoming less able to interact constructively with our environment. At the end we will have gained however a deeper understanding of what need changing in our attitude in order to achieve a less confrontational and more effective method of proceeding.

During the retrogradation of Venus the same thing happens to our feelings. We are inclined to reflect on the way we usually relate to others, especially in a one to one situation. For a time this could mean that we become more tentative when we relate to others, less outgoing, more introspective, not the best social time. But at the end of this tunnel too we may have discovered things about ourselves and our loved ones that can help immensely in healing rifts or deciding the fate of shaky or unsatisfactory relationships.

It is the same with Mercury. Its Evening Star incarnation (spanning in early 2011 from February 25 = Superior Conjunction to the Sun, to April 10 = Inferior Conjunction to the Sun), will be a time for giving due consideration to the way we communicate our thoughts and ideas to others, the way we tackle intellectual challenges, like writing, reading, studying, teaching. The retro motion of Mercury corresponds to a period of mental introspection, at the end of which we can start again to project our minds onto the world, with renewed inventiveness and adaptability to different circumstances and people. Mercury’s direct energy does in fact facilitate everything mercurial, such as change, communication, expression of idea in speech or writing, travel, brain-storming, moving etc. This is a forward looking mental impulse, bringing us out of ourselves and onto active participation with the world. This period will end with the Superior Conjunction on June 12, when our mental tendencies will have reached their more concrete and objective state. From then Mercury will begin to wane again, arriving at its next retro Station on August 3.

To discover which phase Mercury was going through at the time of your birth all you need to do is look for its position relative to the Sun. When Mercury is behind the Sun in longitude it appears as the Morning Star, displaying an outgoing type of energy, eager for self expression. When Mercury instead is found to be ahead of the Sun in longitude it appears as the Evening Star, directing its mental energy inward, aiding insight and introspection.


January’s visible (and some invisible) Planets


MERCURY became a Morning Star after meeting the Sun on December 20 (Inferior Conjunction).

Our little brother will rise before the Sun in the morning until early March 2011, returning as Morning Star only in late April.

On January 9 Mercury will reach maximum visual distance from the Sun, shining at – o.3 magnitude and could be spotted, low in the South-East, until the Sun comes up.

From November 2010 to June 2011 VENUS is donning her Morning Star’s bright mantle. During the month of January our sister planet will rise three hours before the Sun (around 3 am, Australia Eastern Summer Time), giving early risers plenty of time for observation.

On January 8 Venus will reach maximum visual distance from the Sun (47 degrees), just one day before Mercury does the same.

Venus will be the brightest object in the morning sky this month, reaching a magnitude of -4.6, ten times brighter than Jupiter!

MARS has disappeared from the sky in December, as it is now immersed in the light of the Sun, reaching its conjunction with our Star in early February.

Mars will become visible again as a Morning Star in mid-May 2011. The Red Planet will rise before the Sun then until 2012.

JUPITER has a magnitude of -2.3 at the start of the month and dominates the sky after sunset. By month’s end Jupiter will set about 2 and half hours after the Sun.

Jupiter will slowly lose intensity and size as the month progresses, down to a -2.2 magnitude by the end of January.

The giant planet will be very very close to Uranus at the beginning of January, becoming conjunct with this remote world, for the third and last time, on the 4th, the day of the Partial Solar Eclipse in Capricorn. They will be less than a visual degree apart. The giant planet reaches a magnitude of -2.4, while Uranus is a much dimmer 6 magnitude, visible only with a good pairs of binoculars or through a telescope.

The first few days of January are better suited to spot Uranus because the eccentric planet will be only half a degree away from Jupiter. They will remain close for the rest of the month, visually one degree apart from each other. To spot them look for the bright one (Jupiter) just above the square of Pegasus, the Winged Horse Constellation.

Here is a Stellarium’s snapshot of the Jupiter-Uranus’ conjunction, taken on January 5, around 9 pm, looking West.

Jupiter and Uranus became conjunct for the first time in nearly 14 years on June 9. Jupiter and Uranus meet cyclically (synodical cycle) every 13.7 years. This time they are playing a prolonged duet, though, having  met twice in 2010 (June 9 and September 22) and a third time on January 2, 2011. This is a rarer opportunity for the energies of these planets to blend for a sustained period, so exerting a greater overall influence over the affairs of the whole year. The last time Jupiter and Uranus met three times was in 1983, 27 years ago.

Animation of the triple conjunction of Jupiter-Uranus in 2010/11, from Martin J.Powell astronomical site, can be found HERE.

SATURN is a Morning Star now, rising about one am at the beginning of January and around 11 pm at the end of the month (Australian Eastern Summer Time).

The ringed planet’s brightness will increase slightly during the month. Viewed through a telescope the rings are opening up again now and the so called Cassini’s division (dark band between the two major rings’ groups) can be observed again.



All the Sky Snapshots have been generated using Stellarium, a wonderful Planetarium freeware software.

Information for the Sky Events has been gathered from these web sites:








A Solar Eclipse at the final Jupiter-Uranus’ encounter: bring it on

New Moon in Capricorn and Partial Solar Eclipse

January 4 2011

At 8.02 pm (Eastern Australia Summer Time) the New Moon in Capricorn will be also a Partial Solar Eclipse.

This partial eclipse will be visible from most of Europe, where the event will happen just on sunrise, and also North Africa, the Middle East and central Asia. Cities like Cairo, Jerusalem, Istanbul and Tehran will see a large magnitude Eclipse, while the greatest phase will occur in northern Scandinavia. Central Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Northern China will witness a sunset Eclipse.

Unfortunately this Eclipse will not be visible at all from Australia and New Zealand due to the fact that  it will occur after sunset for us.

More detailed information on the Eclipse’s visibility from all parts of the globe can be found on this Nasa page.

The more obvious features of this cosmic event are:

The synchronicity of the final conjunction Jupiter-Uranus, happening on the same day, will tend to magnify the effects of both.  If the conjunction’s effect could linger at the most until the end of  January (Jupiter leaving the Sign of Pisces on the 23rd of this month), the Eclipse’s effect, extending further into the future, will cause the effect of the conjunction to last longer and also to become more compelling.

Thus the urge for radical changes written all over the Jupiter-Uranus’ conjunction will be still immensely powerful at least for the first few months of 2011. Individually and collectively it is prompting us to take more risks, to assert our individual rights to be ourselves, seeking greater freedom and self-actualization in relationships, at work and in our home environment. Particularly affected by this transit will be individuals with Sun in Pisces born 17, 18, 19 of March; Sun in Virgo born 19, 20, 21 of September; Sun in Gemini born17, 18, 19 of June;  and Sun in Sagittarius born 18, 19, 20 of December. Also anyone with Birth Planets or points (Lunar Nodes, Horoscope’s Angles, etc.) on the 13th or 14th degree of the same Mutable Signs.

90 degrees angle (square) between the Sun-Moon in Capricorn and Saturn in Libra.

This is a sobering transit, and somewhat of a kill joy for some. While Jupiter and Uranus push us toward ever more exciting and widening horizons, Saturn reminds us of our duties and responsibilities, of the promises we made in the past, of the limitations of our situations and all the good reason why we should use caution when embracing changes and hankering after freedom. During the first three months of 2011 Saturn will transit over the Birth Sun of those Libra born between October 8 and 12. The ringed planet will also challenge Sun in Aries individuals born between April 5 and 9; Sun in Cancer born between July 7 and 11; and Sun in Capricorn born between January 5 to 9. All of us (due to the Eclipse effect), but those Sun Signs in particular are the ones who will need to become more grounded, paying greater attention to practical concerns, money, job, family, and all long term plans.

Sun and Moon in Capricorn separating from a conjunction to heliacal Pluto (rising before the Sun) and moving toward a conjunction to Mars in Capricorn. These transits link together again Mars and Pluto that have had their conjunction already in mid-December 2010. These are intense transits, promising more general upheavals, discord and wars in the world, because of a strong need for control and power (Pluto) coupled with an equally strong desire to antagonize those we perceive as our enemies (Mars). These aspects can also indicate destructive events over which we have little or no control.  Positively, ‘read’ together with the Jupiter-Uranus’ urge to innovate and change things around, these transits could help us to be more ruthless and assertive in getting rid of what is not anymore useful to our life journey, and could in fact help many to become free of unhealthy entanglements and conditioning.

The general alignment of many celestial bodies in Capricorn during this special New Moon (the Sun, the Moon, the Lunar Nodes, Mars, the Asteroid Pallas (Athena) and Pluto) seems to indicate the ongoing need to remain grounded (despite the lofty tendencies of Jupiter-Uranus), to reduce our spending, and remain cautious even when the general financial situation may seem to improve. The Jupiter-Saturn’s opposition is still unfolding, with the last exact transit in the cards for the end of March 2011.

For curiosity sake (running out of time to post this article before the actual Eclipse strikes) I have also observed the opposition of Sun and Moon to some remarkable Fixed Stars: Sirius of Constellation Canis Major (the Great Dog at the heels of Orion), Capella, alpha star of Constellation Auriga (the Charioteer), Phact, alpha star of Constellation Columba (the Dove), and Bellatrix, gamma star of Constellation Orion.

At the same time Mars is opposing Castor, alpha star of Constellation Gemini (the Twins) and Venus is opposing powerful Algol (Head of Medusa), alpha star of Constellation Perseus.

Click to enlarge

This Solar Eclipse’s cycle Saros number 151

The cosmic link to 1776 and the American Declaration of Independence

Every Eclipse belongs to a certain group. Eclipses pertaining to the same group are identified with a number, called the Saros number. Astrologically the very first Eclipse in each group sets the tempo and significance of all the Eclipses following.

This particular event belongs to the Saros group n°151, series that began with a Partial Solar Eclipse in 1776, in the Northern Hemisphere, and will end with another Partial Solar Eclipse in 3.056, in the Southern Hemisphere, covering a span of 1280 years.

1776 was the year America’s United Colonies (not yet United States of America, a term sanctioned only in September of the same year) declared their independence from Great Britain, on July 4. Both these dates are indeed very close to August 14, when our first 151 Saros Eclipse took place. We can safely say that this Eclipse in particular and others that occurred in the same year had some bearing on these events, changing dramatically the course of history, not just for America but the whole world.

Below is the Astrological Chart for the 1776 event, calculated for the coordinates of Washington DC.

Click to enlarge

Looking at this Horoscope I see straight away the close conjunction of Sun and Moon to Venus, a positive aspect, promising cooperation and fairness in the new cycle heralded by the New Moon. To make this transit more significant the Sun and Moon were also in Parallel of Declination with Venus, fact that helped to strengthen the power of the conjunction. Also prominent was a T Cross (configuration made up of an opposition and two squares or right angles) linking the conjunction Mars-Jupiter to the opposition Saturn-Chiron, a difficult combination, setting the exuberant Mars-Jupiter’s conjunction  against the limiting and painful effect of the Saturn-Chiron’s opposition. As far as America was concerned this showed the intense struggle between the drive for independence and freedom in action (Jupiter-Mars in Cancer) pitted against the conservative rule of the British Empire (Saturn in Libra), a thorn in the side of the fledgling nation (Chiron in Aries).

Due to the Saros number connection these old times transits are also significant in the light of the present day Eclipse, showing the struggle between expansion and restriction, reforms and fear of reforms that characterize our time, in the States and most countries in the world.

To make the connection between these distant Eclipses events more meaningful the present Eclipse of January 4 2011 corresponds also to the 8th Saturn Return for the United States. This is a Saturn Return on a grand scale, a 30 years cyclic reality check for this powerful nation, evident in the grave financial crisis America is experiencing at the present time.

Here is  a two-wheel horoscope, with the 1776 Chart of the USA Declaration of Independence in the inner wheel and the present Eclipse in the outer wheel.

Below is instead the Cartography Map for the 2011 Eclipse, calculated using the coordinates of Washington. This Map shows, amongst other things, the Eclipse placed directly on the Mid-Heaven of Baghdad, Iraq, a problematic world region for America. This placement doesn’t promise much good for Iraq and near by Afghanistan where America has invested so many of its military and financial resources.

In the same Map Mars can also be seen on the Mid-Heaven of Iran and on the Descendant (House of open enemies) in Korea, increasing tension in those already troubled regions.

The Eclipse itself will be visible in the whole of the Middle east, fact traditionally considered to make the effect of an Eclipse stronger.

Click to enlarge

Please Click here to view a whole article, covering the major transits active between December 2010 and March 2011. In this article I have also discussed the January 4 Solar Eclipse as well as the previous Lunar Eclipse of December 21, whose effect is still unfolding.