Noel Tyl, Geocentric Latitude and the Celestial Sphere


On March 19th, I watched a discussion of the Vedic birth chart of Noel Tyl, presented by Kepler College in honor of Astrology Day. The sidereal Ascendant given was 07 Gemini 04′ (Lahiri ayanamsa), which at quick glance would mean that Tyl was born with his Ascendant degree at the very end of Gemini or the very beginning in the tropical zodiac. Looking up his birth data on astro.com, I found the following:

Noel Tyl’s birth data from astro.com

Sure enough, Tyl’s natal Ascendant for the birth time, which he recalled from memory, fell at 00 Cancer 04′, so that if he were born roughly 15 seconds earlier (around 3:56:45 pm), he would have had a Gemini Ascendant. Having chatted with Noel at several conferences and attended his lectures and workshops, I could see how a Gemini Ascendant could easily fit his personality and behavior style. In the Vedic chart, there is no question that Tyl’s Ascendant lies in Gemini. However, I believe that Noel used Cancer as his Ascendant in his own work with his chart.

There is yet another twist to the story. Noel, like many astrologers, calculated his Ascendant on the basis of the geodetic or geographical latitude of his birthplace. My own preference is to use the geocentric (planetocentric) latitude, because it is measured in the same coordinate system which we use to locate the stars and planets in the heavens in the geocentric model of astrology. My math teachers always taught that we should not mix coordinate systems, often admonishing “don’t mix apples with oranges.”

A notable example of the problems caused by mixing measurement systems is the loss of NASA’s Mars orbiter, as reported by CNN in September of 1999: “NASA lost a $125 million Mars orbiter because a Lockheed Martin engineering team used English units of measurement while the agency’s team used the more conventional metric system for a key spacecraft operation, according to a review finding released Thursday.”

What, you may ask, is the difference between geodetic and geocentric latitude, and why does it matter? The Earth is not a perfect sphere. Instead, our planet is spheroidal and bulges a bit around its middle as it spins on its axis. On the other hand, astrological measurements are based on a model of the Celestial Sphere, which is a perfect sphere whose center is the center of the Earth. The following diagram from https://proj.org/operations/conversions/geoc.html should make this clear:

Geocentric (planetocentric) versus geodetic (geographical) latitude

You can see in the above diagram that geocentric (planetocentric) latitude projects the place of birth onto the Celestial Sphere from its center at the center of the Earth. The geodetic (geographical) latitude, in contrast, ignores the center of the Earth and instead projects the birthplace onto the Celestial Sphere on the basis of a perpendicular to the tangent to the birthplace on the Earth’s spheroidal surface. Thus, the use of the geodetic latitude in chart calculations mixes two distinct coordinate systems — tantamount to confusing apples with oranges and expecting to get a valid result. We measure the positions of the stars, planets, asteroids and the zodiac itself on the idealized Celestial Sphere with reference to the center of the Earth, but we abandon the Earth’s center when we calculate our personal Ascendants. Does this make sense, or does it introduce errors into our astrological reasoning?

For example, if we calculate Noel Tyl’s Ascendant using the geocentric latitude of his birthplace (the same system by which we measure the planets, stars and zodiac signs), we find that his Ascendant at 3:57 pm falls at 29 Gemini 54′ rather than 00 Cancer 04′. In other words, in the geocentric model of the universe, which is fundamental to Western astrology, Noel Tyl has a Gemini Ascendant for the birth time of 3:57 PM, and his chart with Placidus houses looks like this:

Noel Tyl’s birth chart calculated with geocentric latitude

We can test the Gemini Ascendant with a well-timed event from Tyl’s life. For example, he died on 31 December 2019 at 11:11 AM in Arizona, as a result of Lewy Body Dementia.” He had turned 82 years old the previous December (2018) and was about to complete his solar return at age 83 several hours after the moment of his demise. Thus, we must consider his annual profections at age 82, as they were still active at the time of his death.

At age 82 his profected Ascendant in the Gemini-rising chart was Aries on the 11th Placidus house cusp, making Mars the Lord of the Year. Mars is the out-of-sect malefic, and thus likely to be of harm to the native. Natally Mars in Libra squares Asc-ruler Mercury in the Placidus (and Whole Sign) 8th house of death. Natal Mars is also part of a T-square in which Pluto opposes Asc-ruler Mercury. Mars also rules the Placidus and Whole Sign 6th of illness. In the Vedic system he was in the Saturn/Saturn Vimshottari dasa when he passed. The symbolism certainly fits with the risk of death at age 82 when Mars is activated by profection as Lord of the Year.

If the consider the birthplace solar return which was active at the time of his demise, we see the following:

Noel Tyl’s Solar Return at age 82, active during the year of his demise

In the solar return at his birth place, his natal Asc-ruler Mercury occupies the 8th house of death and conjoins its cusp. The Sun in this return also occupies the 8th house and closely conjoins Saturn, which rules the natal 8th of death. Again, the symbolism generated by the Gemini-rising chart is quite apt for a year in which the native might pass on to the afterlife.

I would argue that Tyl’s Gemini Ascendant produces symbolism far more descriptive of the year of his demise than does the symbolism generated by the Cancer Ascendant. In this case, at least, the geocentric latitude of the birthplace generates a more reliable chart from the point of view of astrological prediction.

About Anthony Louis

Author of books about astrology and tarot, including TAROT PLAIN AND SIMPLE, HORARY ASTROLOGY, and THE ART OF FORECASTING WITH SOLAR RETURNS.
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4 Responses to Noel Tyl, Geocentric Latitude and the Celestial Sphere

  1. Kathleen Larson says:

    Thank you for this post. It is very interesting about the geodedic vs geocentric latitude, something I have never heard of before in any astrology classes. I am going to look into that in my charts so thank you.
    I studied under Noel for several years and experienced first hand his personality and presence. I agree Gemini rising could describe his persona. However his great intuitive powers, his empathy and his genuine caring for his students and his clients and people in general seemed to fit the Cancer ascendant much better. He never once seemed duplicious, capricious or chatty just for the sake of chattiness. He was dead serious about his astrology. And moreover, the fact he himself felt he was Cancer rising seems to be how we best serve each other and clients, not imposing our beliefs on who the client is, because of our machinations, moreso than the clients. The person is much greater than the symbols in other words.
    I realize you did not write this thinking of a counseling situation so I understand the reason for your conclusions. It is striking and thought provoking that if he had died later in the day, after 3:57 pm he would be in his 83rd profection year which would change everything. It just seems to fit perfectly with this story. His birth time is from memory and if he had been born 15 seconds earlier he would be 29 Gemini rising. I think it would be garnd to do a thorough rectification of his horoscope, which I am certain he did.
    I appreciate you said that in this one instance Gemini rising seemed to fit the horosocpe for rectification purposes as we all know one instance is statistically insignificant but begins the discussion.
    Thank you for your post once again.

  2. Kathleen,
    Thanks for your comments. I only knew Noel from conferences and workshops, so your sense of him carries a lot of weight. I did not attempt a rectification of his chart and assumed that the 3:57 pm time was what he had settled upon as an accurate birth time.
    If we use Placidus houses and assume that the last minutes of Gemini are on the Ascendant, he still would have the entire sign of Cancer in the 1st house, and we might expect that he would display a combination of Gemini and Cancer in the delineation of his 1st house.
    I was looking more at predictive techniques like annual profections and solar returns to judge which Ascendant (Gemini or Cancer) seemed more reliable from a predictive perspective.
    There is not much discussion of geodetic versus geocentric latitude in the teaching of astrology. Noel’s chart caught my eye because the slight difference between the use of the two latitudes changes the sign on the Ascendant. Western astrology was founded on the geocentric model of the universe in which the center of the Celestial Sphere is the center of the Earth. The use of geodetic latitude (measured on the spheroid shape of the Earth rather than the ideal earth-sphere which is projected out as the Celestial sphere) generally changes the values by just a few minutes of arc. In Noel’s chase, it was enough to move the Asc from 00 Cancer 04′ to 29 Gemini 54′, which has consequences for predictive work.
    Thanks again for your valuable insights.

  3. Lalia Wilson says:

    I only knew him from conferences as well. When I think of the Rising sign, for anyone, I think of a physical description. Tyl had the height and slim physique, of Gemini. Cancer rising is softer, and of middle height. Tyl also had other Gemini traits, such as his versatility, different careers, and he was the author of many books. I heard that he was an opera singer in his “youth.”

  4. Gary C Calderone says:

    It seems more likely to me that Tyl’s birth time was slightly off (they usually are) and he had 29 Gemini rising in the traditional way that we calculate them, but this alternative way of looking at a chart that you present is also interesting

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