Musings on Days and Sidereal Time

I like to review periodically some basic concepts of astronomy to get a better perspective on what we do as astrologers. Perhaps the most basic idea of all is the length of a day, which is based on the rotation of the Earth. Usually when we say “day” we are referring to the 24 hours of a mean solar day, which is the average length of time it takes the Sun to appear on the meridian of a location twice in a row. We are accustomed to using the Sun to tell time, and one complete daily cycle of the Sun around the Earth (from our position as observers on this planet) is allotted 24 hours, giving us our 24-hour-clock mean solar day as a unit of measurement.

Just as there is a mean solar day, whose duration is based the appearance of the Sun on the meridian of a location from one day to the next and assigned the value of 24 hours, there is also a mean sidereal day, which is the average length of time it takes a fixed star (hence sidereal) to appear on the meridian of a location twice in a row.

The following image from wikipedia illustrates the difference between a solar day and a sidereal (fixed star based) day:

sidereal day

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.  In the above diagram you can see that the Earth makes a complete rotation in 23h 56m 04s relative to the fixed starts but it needs another 3m 56s of travel on its orbit for the meridian (m) of the observer to align with the Sun.  Covering this additional distance on its orbit adds a little less than one second of “correction” to the sidereal time of the moment when the Sun aligns with the meridian, so that every 24-hour day the ephemeris adds roughly 3m 57s to the previous day’s sidereal time, as you can see in the ephemeris example later in this post.

A sidereal day refers to one complete rotation of the Earth on its axis, as measured against the fixed stars. Each complete rotation of the Earth requires 23 hours 56 minutes 4.0905 seconds (or 23.9344696 hours) of 24-hour-clock time — which is almost 4 minutes shorter than a mean solar day. What happens during those extra 4 minutes? 

Wikipedia gives the following explanation: “Earth makes one rotation around its axis in a sidereal day; during that time it moves a short distance (about 1°) along its orbit around the Sun. So after a sidereal day has passed, Earth still needs to rotate slightly more before the Sun reaches local noon according to solar time. A mean solar day is, therefore, nearly 4 minutes longer than a sidereal day” (

In other words, the Earth keeps moving along its orbit, and after about 4 minutes the MC of the observer finally aligns again with the Sun. The implications and underpinnings of the Earth continuing along its orbit around the Sun after having made a complete rotation on its axis are the following:

  • A sidereal year (the amount of the required for the Earth to complete one orbit around the Sun with respect to the fixed stars) has a duration of 365.256363004 mean solar days.  A mean sidereal year is longer than a mean tropical year by 20 minutes 24.5 seconds.
  • A tropical year (the amount of time needed for the ecliptic longitude of the Sun to increase by 360 degrees, taking into account the precession of the equinoxes) has a duration of 365.242190402 mean solar days.
  • Solar time is measured by the apparent diurnal motion of the Sun.
  • Local Noon in apparent solar time occurs when the Sun crosses the observer’s meridian.
  • A mean solar day is the average length of time between consecutive local solar Noons over the course of a year.
  • A mean sidereal day has a duration of 23 hrs 56 min 4.0905 sec of solar 24-hour-clock time (23.9344696 hours of solar time).  This is the amount of time required for the Earth to make one complete rotation on its axis with respect to the fixed stars.
  • Both solar time and sidereal time are based on the daily rotation of the Earth about its North and South Poles. The difference is that solar time also takes into account the movement of the Earth on its orbit around the Sun to measure one rotation of the Earth, whereas sidereal (star-based) time measures the Earth’s rotation with reference to the fixed stars. These are simply measure of time from different perspectives. An observer on the Sun of our solar system would measure the Earth’s rotation in solar time. An angel looking down on the entire universe from heaven would measure the rotation of the Earth in sidereal time.
  • The Earth makes a complete rotation every 23.9344696 hours of solar time, and the length of the mean tropical year is 365.242190402 solar days. Thus, we can divide the length of the year by the amount of time for each rotation to calculate the number of complete rotations of the Earth per tropical year:  (365.242190402d x 24h) divided by 23.9344696h = 366.2419 complete rotations of the Earth per tropical year.
  • A mean solar day therefore has a duration of 24 hrs 3 min 56.56 sec of sidereal time.  [If you look in the ephemeris, the sidereal time listed for each day is approximately 3 min 57 sec of sidereal time later than that of the previous day.]
  • The Naibod Key for Primary Directions is a based on the mean daily motion of the Sun, which Naibod calculated to be about 59′ 8″ of arc per day is equivalent to one year of life, according to the calculation: 360 degrees in a complete circle divided by 365.242190402 mean solar days in a tropical year.  [More precisely, 360 degrees divided by 365.242190402 = 59′ 8.33″ of arc.]

Those astrologers who calculate (or have calculated) natal charts by hand know that we must use the sidereal time of birth to identify the MC of the chart.  Astronomers use sidereal time to indicate when (at what time) a celestial object will appear in the sky and celestial latitude above or below the Celestial Equator to indicate where that object will be located. Knowing the sidereal time and latitude of a star, astronomers are able to properly point their telescopes to view it.

Sidereal time is a measure along the Celestial Equator of the arc between the March Equinox (where the path of the Sun crosses the Celestial Equator in March) and the meridian of the observer. Because sidereal time is a measure both of time and of angular distance (an arc), it can be expressed either in hours, minutes and seconds, as on a clock, or in degrees of Right Ascension along the Celestial Equator. By convention 0 Aries is assigned to the March Equinox in the tropical zodiac, and thus 0h 0m 0s of sidereal time corresponds to 0 Aries on the ecliptic.

The reason that astronomers use sidereal time is that at a given location on Earth a celestial object will appear at a particular position in the sky with reference to the Celestial Equator at the same sidereal time every night. Sidereal time differs from our usual 24-hour-clock time, so it is necessary to convert between them, kind of like Americans converting from Dollars to Euros when they travel to Europe. To see how this conversion works, let’s take a look at an ephemeris.  Below is a section of the Astrodienst ephemeris from September of 1945.

ephem sep 45

We see that on 1 Sep 1945, the sidereal time (ST) at 0 hours in Greenwich, UK, is 22h 39m 10s.  Twenty-four hours or one solar day later (2 Sep 1945) the sidereal time (ST) is 22h 43m 7s.  The difference between these two values of ST is 3m 57s.  (During this 24-hour period the Sun has advanced along the ecliptic by 58′ 6″.)

As can be seen in the second column of this ephemeris, every solar day of 24 hours, the sidereal time increases by 3m 57s from the previous day. This difference between solar and sidereal times is sometimes called the “acceleration interval” or the “solar-sidereal correction.” To be more precise, for every hour of solar time that passes on the conventional clock, the sidereal time increases by that solar hour plus an additional 9.8333 seconds (hence the idea of an “acceleration interval”).  This rate is often rounded to 10 seconds of additional sidereal time for every one hour of solar time, which is equivalent to roughly 1 second of additional sidereal time for every 6 minutes of solar time.

For example, we saw previously that each complete rotation of the Earth (one sidereal day) requires 23 hours 56 minutes 4.0905 seconds of 24-hour-clock time. The solar day does not commence until about 4 minutes (or more precisely, 3m 56s) later than the sidereal day.  During the roughly 4 minutes between the sidereal day and the solar day, the acceleration rate indicates that we must add about 0.65 seconds of solar-sidereal correction to the 3m 56s to get the sidereal time at the start of the solar day. Performing the addition, we get the 3m 57s that appears in the ephemeris as the difference in sidereal time between one solar day and the next.


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Quadrant Houses at High Latitudes

One of the vexing problems of astrology is that at high latitudes the quadrant house systems are of little use.  Horoscopic astrology is founded on the importance of the ascendant and at high latitudes the ascendant can simply disappear or not exist because the horizon does not intersect with the ecliptic plane.

By definition the ascendant is the point where the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun) crosses the horizon of the observer.  At high latitudes there are long periods when the Sun (the ecliptic) never rises or never sets, that is, when the sun’s path along the ecliptic does not cross the horizon.  At latitudes of about 66.5 degrees there are times of day when the circle of the ecliptic corresponds to the circle of the horizon, so that every point on the ecliptic becomes an ascendant.  How can one do horoscopic astrology when there is no horoskopos (ascendant) or when every point is an ascendant?

Charles Carter attempted to solve this problem by proposing a system of “poli-equatorial” houses in which “the houses are demarcated by circles passing through the celestial poles and dividing the equator into twelve equal arcs, the cusp of the 1st house passing through the ascendant. This system, therefore, agrees with the natural rotation of the heavens and also produces, as the Ptolemaic (equal) does not, distinctive cusps for each house….” (Ch. 8, Essays on the Foundations of Astrology, 1947).”  The problem with Carter’s approach is that the ascendant determines the starting point on the equator to be used for dividing it into 12 equal segments.  If there is no ascendant, it is impossible to calculate the “poli-equatorial” houses.

David Cochrane has proposed another creative solution. In his YouTube video The Ascendant disappearing at the Arctic Circle: Problem Solved! Cochrane suggests that at high latitudes we use the prime vertical with its Vertex as the cusp of the 7th house and the Anti-Vertex as the substitute Ascendant degree.  Here is a screenshot from his video in which David Cochrane explains that, in his view, the Anti-vertex becomes increasingly strong at higher latitudes as the Ascendant becomes increasingly weak in a kind of reciprocal relationship (at latitude 45 degrees, the Ascendant and the Anti-vertex are of equal strength).


Many years ago I did a careful study of house systems and tried on my own to come up with a solution to the problem of the disappearing ascendant at high latitudes.  What I came up with turned out to be identical to the Morinus house system in which neither the Asc nor the MC form cusps of the houses but which hardly anyone uses.

Another solution is to use what are called “whole sign houses,” which are really not “houses” in the sense of a quadrant system based on the rotation of the Earth, but rather places (topoi) based on the ordinal numbering of the signs and the importance of numerical order in early Hellenistic thought.  The Whole Sign system, however, has the same problem of the disappearing ascendant because the first sign is determined by the horoskopos, which may not exist at high latitudes.

Having thought about the issue of house division for many years, I had the following idea which is partly based on my study of antiscions, which are reflected degrees across the solticial axis.  I agree with David Cochrane that the ascendant functions well up to mid-latitudes but not at high latitudes.  My idea is to cast charts above 45 degrees latitude with a “reflected” latitude below 45 degrees (but still using one’s preferred house system, such as Placidus).

For someone born, for instance, at latitude 60 (which is 15 degrees above 45), one would cast a “reflected” chart for latitude 30 (15 degrees below 45), and someone born at the North Pole would have a “reflected” chart cast for the Equator.  This method would always produce a chart with an ascendant (or at least a “reflected” ascendant), thus avoiding the problem of the disappearing ascendant at high latitudes.  This method would obviously have to be tested with real people and known biographies to determine whether standard astrological techniques and interpretations would still be valid.

To illustrate, at the suggestion of a colleague I cast the chart of the deceased Finnish champion ski jumper Matti Nykanen for his birthplace and also for the latitude reflected across the parallel of 45 degrees of latitude.  Here are the two charts:

45 lat

In the natal chart for the birthplace Cancer rises, but in the “reflected” chart Taurus rises, which could possibly reflect his hedonistic lifestyle and the fact that he became a pop singer after he ended his skiing career.

He died at the age of 55 shortly after midnight on 4 February 2019, probably of complications of diabetes:

  • in the birth chart the profected ascendant came to Aquarius (the 10th Placidus house) at age 55, making Saturn his lord of the year.
  • in the “reflected” chart the profected ascendant came to Sagittarius (the 8th Placidus house) at age 55, making Jupiter his lord of the year.
  • at the time of his death transiting Jupiter at 18 Sagittarius was almost exactly trine natal Jupiter at 18 Aries 34, which lies in the 12th natal house in either version of the chart.  In the birthplace chart transiting Jupiter occupies the 6th house of illness whereas in the “reflected” chart transiting Jupiter occupies the 8th house of death and conjoins its cusp.

In this case, at least, the “reflected” chart appears to have some valid astrological symbolism, but a single case example does not prove a hypothesis and much more testing is needed to determine whether this is a valuable technique for studying charts of people born near the Arctic Circle..


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Fast and Easy Primary Directions

Primary directions are one of the oldest predictive techniques in Western astrology.  Although they were widely used in classical and traditional astrology, they fell out of popularity in modern times because they were considered rather difficult to calculate in comparison with the more recent secondary progressions (introduced in the 17th century).  Modern software programs have now made primaries more accessible and they are regaining popularity.

The fact that modern computer programs often have a “chart animate” feature allows the user a quick and easy way to visualize how the directed chart will appear as the client ages.  The rule of thumb in primary directions is that each degree on the Equator (measured in Right Ascension) that crosses the MC equals one year of life.  Because it takes almost 4 minutes for one equatorial degree to pass over the MC, each 4 minutes added to the birth time advances the chart by about one year of life in the system of primary directions.

Using the “chart animate” feature, you can advance your birth chart by 4 minutes for every year of life to get a sense of how the primary directed chart will look on each subsequent birthday.  Most important are conjunctions of planets to the horizon or meridian.  Also important are years when there is a change of sign on the Ascendant or MC, or for that matter on any of the house cusps.  Finally, if you set up the chart to shown the bounds, you can see how the system of “distributions” unfolds over time as the bounds of the natal signs below the ascendant rise to the horizon during your lifetime.  Planets that closely aspect the directed ascendant in a given year are also significant.

[A technical note: more precisely, one degree of Right Ascension equals 3 minutes and 59.34 seconds.  This figure is arrived at by dividing the length of the sidereal day (23.934444 hours) by the number of degrees in a circle (360 degrees).  If you want to use the more precise figure, you multiply your current age by 3 min 59.34 secs [3.989074 minutes] and add that result to the birth time to calculate the primary directed chart for your current age.  Here the idea is that one rotation of the earth is equivalent to one year of life.  A sidereal day is used because it measures the time the Earth takes to rotate exactly once on its axis relative to the stars.  The sidereal day is almost four minutes shorter than the solar day because of the Earth’s orbital motion around the Sun.]

An example will make this procedure clear.  Let’s consider the chart of actress Shirley Temple.  Her birth data, rated AA, from is

23 April 1928 at 21:00 (= 9:00 PM )
Place Santa Monica, California, 34n01, 118w29
Timezone PST h8w (is standard time)

Here is her natal chart:


Now let’s consider a major health crisis.  In November of 1972 at the age of 44.53 years (3 Nov 1972) she was treated for breast cancer with a radical mastectomy.  The possibility of surgery for breast cancer is indicated in the “natal promise” of her chart in that she has Pluto in Cancer (breasts) in the 8th (life-threatening experiences) in close square to 6th house ruler Venus in her fall in Aries.   One might expect that when Pluto is activated by primary direction, that is, when Pluto arrives at the western horizon by primary motion, this natal promise might manifest.

To direct her chart at a rate of one degree of R.A. over the MC equals one year of life, we can multiply 4 minutes for year year of life by 44.53 years, which give the result 178.12 minutes.  If we use the more precise figure, we multiply 3.98907 minutes times 44.54 years, which gives a result of 177.633 minutes to be added to the birth time.

Her birth certificate says she was born at 9:00 PM.  To this time we add 177.633 minutes (which is 2 hours and 57 minutes and 38 seconds, so the the “primary directed birth time” for age 44.54 years becomes 11:57:38 PM.  Here is the chart set for this adjusted birth time:

shirley dirThe above chart is basically the natal chart advanced by primary direction (at a rate of 3.989074 minutes crossing the MC equals one year of life) to age 44.53 when she had her breast surgery.  Pluto, which occupies the Cancer 8th house (Pluto-Cancer-8th suggests radical breast surgery), is now on the Descendant and has just recently opposed the directed Ascendant, which lies in the Venus bound of Capricorn at 15 Cap 26.  Hence, by the method of distributions, the divisor for this period of her life is a fallen Venus in Aries, and its participating planet is Pluto which lies in opposition.  The symbolism fits perfectly with the natal promise of surgery for breast cancer, and the timing by primary direction is extremely close to the date of the surgery.

Finally, here is a list of her Placidean zodiacal primary directions calculated in Solar Fire for the year 1971:


There is a strong emphasis on Pluto in Cancer in the 8th house this year, which begins with the Sun by primary direction forming a trine to natal Pluto.  As you can also see in this list, Pluto came to the horizon in July of 1972, about four and a half months before the radical mastectomy.  This corresponds to the period of detection of the breast cancer, the initial surgical removal of the lump which she discovered in May of 1972, and further consultations with her doctor to decide on the best final treatment.

She discovered a lump in her breast six months before the surgery when Jupiter by primary direction was square in Moon’s Nodes, and at that time she underwent a simple mastectomy.  The radical mastectomy surgery occurred on Friday 3 Nov 1972 when the direction of Venus (ruler of the natal 6th of health issues) trine the Moon (ruler of the 8th of life-threatening conditions and surgery) came to its perfection.


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August 10, 2019: Antiscia in Western Astrology Webinar

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Primary directions as a time-lord system

In his book on Primary Directions Morinus makes clear that an event predicted by a primary direction rarely takes place on the date that the direction becomes exact.  Instead it may well occur within the several months before or after date of perfection of the direction.  This makes sense because primary directions are based on primary motion which has a symbolic rate of one degree crossing the MC per year.  Thus, just the body of the Sun (which measures about half a degree of arc in the sky) would take about 6 months to pass over the MC by primary direction.  If we allow the Sun an “orb of influence” of half a degree either side of its body, then the influence of a primary direction of the Sun would span a period of 18 months.  The following image from wikipedia shows the apparent sizes of the planets as viewed from Earth:

wiki arc size

Morinus viewed primary directions as indicators of the promise of the birth chart that  might manifest during a given time period, such as the solar return year, but he also felt that the direction would not manifest unless it repeated themes from the natal chart or other astrological configurations triggered the events symbolized by the primary directions.  In fact, after primary directions, the annual solar return was the most important predictive tool in Morin’s system.  In my own experience, solar returns have proved to be an effective and reliable predictive technique.  To illustrate, I would like to discuss an example from Martin Gansten’s excellent book on primary directions.

On pages 112-113 of his book Gansten discusses the chart of a man who “was killed in a vehicle accident” at the age of 33 years and 9 months.  The Sun in the natal chart lies at 26 Leo (sidereal zodiac), which corresponds to a birth date of September 12th.  Nine months after September 12 corresponds to the period from about June 12th to July 12th.  Judging from the planetary positions in the birth chart, the year of birth must have been 1966, so that the death must have occurred between mid-June and mid-July of 2000.

Because I use the tropical rather than the sidereal zodiac, I recast the chart in the tropical zodiac with Placidus houses (my preferred system for natal astrology).  The birth data has been withheld as it was in the original text.

dies in accident


In the tropical zodiac, Capricorn rises, and Saturn rules the Ascendant (the native, his health and vitality).  Saturn in Pisces in the 2nd Placidus but 3rd (local travel) whole sign house is without essential dignity in this chart and is also involved in a close sesquicuadrate with a peregrine Mars in Leo in the 7th Placidus but the 8th (death) whole sign house, so that there is a “natal promise” of a potential violent death while traveling.

Since we are studying this man’s death, we need to look at the 8th house.  Leo rules the Placidus 8th and Virgo in contained therein, making the Sun and Mercury signfiers of his death.  Leo is also the 8th sign from the ascendant, again emphasizing the peregrine Sun in Virgo as a signifier of death.  Furthermore, the Sun is part of a tight stellium involving Mercury-Uranus-Sun-Pluto all in the 8th house of death.  Mercury is a general symbol of travel.  Uranus suggests sudden unexpected disruptions and breaks in routine.  Pluto is associated with intense and powerful forces.  This stellium is another indicator of a “natal promise” of a potential serious accident while traveling.

The planet Mars is often involved in accidents.  In this chart Mars rules the 3rd house (travel), and its contra-antiscion conjoins the South Lunar Node — a stressful combination, which Lilly regarded as similar in effect to a square or opposition.


We next want to know whether in the months before or after June of 2000 (the demise of the native) there were any primary directions that activated these natal promises.  Using Janus software I calculated the Placidus semi-arc primary directions for 2000 with and without latitude, using the Morin’s preferred key of Naibod  (the key of Ptolemy would give dates several months earlier).


The year 2000 looks fairly stressful from the point of view of primary directions.  Factors that stand out to me are the following:

  • In March the directed MC comes to Uranus (a symbol of accidents) in the 9th house (long-distance travel), activating the natal accident-prone stellium in the 9th.
  • In May (a month before the native’s demise) the square of Mars comes to natal Saturn in the whole-sign 3rd house (travel), activating the natal Mars sesquiquadrate aspect, which indicated the potential for a serious accident.  This primary direction is highly significant because Saturn rules the Ascendant, which symbolizes the body and life force of the native.
  • In early July (right around the time of the native’s death) the directed MC conjoins the 9th house Sun, activating the natal accident-prone stellium and the 8th house which the Sun rules.
  • Between March 4 of 2000 and January 27 of 2001 the primary directed MC will be activating the tight conjunction of Uranus-Sun-Pluto in the 8th house of death.  This combination of planets is often associated with accidents, sudden events, danger to life, and physical violence (See Ebertin, The Combination of Stellar Influences).


Related to primary directions is the classic method of distributions in which the part of the sign (bound or term) that has risen to the ascendant plays an important role in the events of a period.  Here is a list of distributions for this natal chart around the year 2000:


As you can see, in May of 2000 the Jupiter term of Aquarius has risen by primary motion to occupy the ascendant (horizon).  At the same time the opposition of Mars from Leo was also active, so that Jupiter (bound ruler) and Mars (participating ruler) was highly influential during the year 2000.  As we shall see (belos), Jupiter ruled the ascendant of the solar return for this period, and Mars was opposing solar return Uranus in the term of Jupiter in Aquarius at the time of the native’s death.  The Egyptian bound of Jupiter extends from 13 to 19 degrees of Aquarius.


A classic method is to consider the annually profected ascending sign and its ruler, advancing the ascendant by one sign for each year of life.  In the tropical zodiac the native has Capricorn rising, so that at age 33 he will have Libra as his profected ascendant  (33 = two cycles of 12 signs + 9, so counting 9 signs after Capricorn we arrive at Libra).  Thus, Venus (ruler of the natal Placidus 9th of travel and occupant of the Placidus 8th of death and whole-sign 9th of travel) become the Lady of the Year, making travel and death major themes to consider when interpreting the Solar Return.  Morinus discounted profections as an unscientific superstition, but in practice they are very useful as a predictive technique when used in conjunction with solar returns.


Now lets look at the solar return for this period.  Here is the Solar Return for 1999-2000 with the natal chart outside the wheel.

SR inside

The solar return is the base chart.  In the Solar Return the natal 12th house sign Sagittarius is now on the ascendant.  Solar Return Jupiter, which is highly angular in the return chart where it conjoins both the natal and return IC, rules the Placidus 12th house cusp (misfortune, hardships, undoing) in both charts.  Thus, 12th house issues will loom large during the 1999-2000 solar return year.  In the return chart Jupiter also rules the 3rd house of local travel.  In addition, natal Saturn conjoins the SR 3rd house cusp and opposes the stellium of planets in the 8th house.

As you can see, there is a huge emphasis on the 8th house, with seven of the ten natal planets (seven visible plus three “modern” planets) all in the solar return 8th.  Natal Mars closely conjoins the cusp of the 8th and opposes solar return Uranus across the wheel where Uranus at 13 Aquarius 30 lies at the beginning of the bound of Jupiter on the horizon of the primary directed chart.   Transiting Uranus crossing the primary directed ascendant, and Mars opposing Uranus are classic indicators of accidents.








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Morinus falls ill, and the Ptolemy-Naibod midpoint in primary directions

In his book on primary directions (Book 22 of Astrologia Gallica, pp.56-59 of the Holden translation), Morinus describes a serious illness which he contracted in 1652 while observing a solar eclipse.  He fell ill with a fever and catarrh on April 8, 1652 and “was sick for almost a month with such a loss of strength and with an attack of deafness, that until now at the end of May (1652) neither the recovery of strength nor the lessening of the deafness is noticeably apparent to me after the 15th day [from the onset] …”

In his public writings dating back to 1649 Morinus had predicted that 1652 would be “a very unfortunate year, full of sickness and danger,” apparently on the basis of his upcoming solar returns, primary directions, and the transits and eclipses of 1652.  Let’s begin by looking at Morin’s natal chart which he calculated using Regiomontanus houses at his birthplace, a location slightly to the south of Villefranche, France.  This is the chart which Morin used for himself  (he used only the visible planets, but I have included the outer planets for completeness):


Morin attributed sicknesses to the 12th house and considered that any planet in the 12th could signify his falling ill, as could Mercury which rules the opposite 6th house.  Because the Sun and the Moon both occupy the 12th, he viewed solar and lunar eclipses as potential harbingers of illness, especially if they occurred near sensitive points in his natal chart.

Looking ahead to 1652, he noticed that a total solar eclipse would occur in Aries near his Ascendant and in the unfortunate 12th house of his natal chart — presaging a “year full of sickness and danger.”  In addition, a total solar eclipse of  April 1652 coincided roughly with the primary direction of the sinister square of Morin’s Moon to his natal Sun in the 12th house.

To make matters worse, his solar return for 1652 (cast for Paris where he was residing) had 12 Sagittarius on the Ascendant, exactly square his 12th house natal Saturn.  In addition, both the Moon and Saturn occupied the 8th house of death in the solar return chart:

SR morin

Since Morin used the quincunx, he would have also noticed that SR Saturn in Cancer in the 8th of the solar return (SR) lies in partile quincunx with SR Mercury in Aquarius in the 2nd.  Mercury rules his natal 6th house of bodily ailments.

Troubling Primary Directions:

Morin also studied his primary directions for this period of his life.  His practice was to use Regiomontanus primary directions because he believed incorrectly that Regiomontanus understood what Ptolemy meant.  Morin also regarded primary directions to be more accurate if they took into account the latitude of the planets and not just their zodiacal longitude.  Morin used the Naibod measure of time rather than Ptolemy’s measure that one degree of right ascension equals one year of life.

Using the Regiomontanus method with latitude, Morin concluded that in 1652 “at the time of the sickness, the direction of the radical Sun to the Moon’s sinister square with latitude was completed.”  He also noted that the primary direction of the opposition of Saturn to Ascendant-ruler Mars from the 6th house would perfect in the coming year.  Here is a list of Morin’s Regiomontaus primaries for 1652 with the Naibod measure of time:


As you can see, the square of the Moon comes to the Sun, according to Naibod’s measure, in November of 1652, a full seven months AFTER Morinus fell ill.  The opposition of Saturn to natal Mars would occur in May of 1653, a full year after his illness.

If we use the measure of Ptolemy (one degree of RA = one year), we get the following sequence:


According to Ptolemy’s measure, the square of the Moon to the Sun perfects in November of 1651, about 5 months before the illness; and the opposition of Saturn to Mars occurs in May of 1652, while Morinus is still recovering from his bout of illness.  If we accept the key of Ptolemy, one could argue that the square of the Moon coming to the Sun did not have the import which Morin gave it, but rather the opposition of Saturn coming to natal Mars was the primary signifier of his severe illness in April and May of 1652.

Having found this kind of discrepancy repeatedly between the measures of Naibod and Ptolemy, my practice has become to use the midpoint of the two “keys” to judge timing in primary directions.  Here is a list calculated for the midpoint between Ptolemy and Naibod:


Basing timing on the midpoint between the keys of Ptolemy and Naibod, we get the square of the Moon to the Sun occurring at the end of May of 1652, as Morin is finally recovering from his illness and about 6 or 7 weeks after the onset of the illness; and the opposition of Saturn to natal Mars occurring toward the end of 1652.


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An interesting out-of-bounds Mars

On Tuesday morning news sources announced the death at age 81 of former Argentine president Fernando de la Rua, who served a very brief term of office during the severe financial crisis in Argentina.  The earliest report I could find was from ABC News at 8:02 AM ET, so I assume that his death (from cardiac problems and kidney disease) occurred not long before 8 AM ET, which would have been 9 AM in Argentina.

According to ABC News: “De la Rúa served from 1999 to December 2001 when he infamously escaped by helicopter from the rooftop of the pink presidential palace. It came after days of violent protests against his handling of the crisis amid rioting that caused dozens of deaths across Argentina.”

Other reports paint an interesting picture of the former president.  In 1999 the New York Times wrote (bold print mine):

They call me boring,” says the Mayor of Buenos Aires, Fernando de la Rua, in the opening of his presidential campaign’s signature television commercial. The spot then cuts to some more exciting personalities: first, President Carlos Saul Menem posing in a flashy Ferrari and then an actor who it implies is a political ally of Mr. Menem pocketing a bribe.   …   Mr. de la Rua takes every opportunity to contrast himself with Mr. Menem and to tie his principal opponent, the Buenos Aires Governor, Eduardo Duhalde, to the departing President and his glitzy style of politics. Mr. de la Rua’s campaign offers few detailed proposals beyond the promise of a more sober future, but the blandness appears to be a winning message at a time of mounting Government scandals, street crime and unemployment.    …     

We need to project austerity,” Mr. de la Rua concluded. ‘     …

Austerity seems to come naturally to Mr. de la Rua, a dour man of few words who appears uneasy kissing strangers or even exchanging small talk on the campaign trail. His nickname, ”chupete,” or pacifier, originated from the teasing he got as a child for his bulbous nose, but now it has come to be the proud moniker for his bland personality. His campaign van, known as the chupete-mobile, is undecorated save for a single photograph of a statue of the Virgin Mary.

I’m really a university professor more than a politician,” said Mr. de la Rua during an interview in the chupete-mobile driving across sprawling cattle ranches in central Cordoba Province. ”I do serious things and I do them seriously.”


Most astrologers would hardly regard as characteristic of the planet Mars the projection of oneself as bland, boring, serious, remote, austere and having the public image of a baby’s pacifier and a devotee of the Virgin Mary.  Let’s look at the birth chart to see what role Mars plays there.

Mars in this chart lies in the 5th house, a fortunate house, but Mars lacks essential dignity and is therefore peregrine.  In addition, Mars lies in square aspect to his stellium of Neptune-Mercury-Sun in Virgo and is also in quincunx to the Ascendant degree, suggesting difficulties integrating the qualities of Mars into his personality.  There is a quite favorable trine from Venus in Leo to Mars in Sagittarius.  Mars rules his 9th house of higher education, and he views himself as a university professor.

At first glance, it’s puzzling why Mars in fiery Sagittarius should come across as boring, austere, serious and bland.  Looking further into the chart, we find that Mars is “out of bounds,” meaning that its declination lies outside the maximum declination (distance from the Equator) of the Sun.  The declination of Mars in this chart is 25S36, well beyond the 23S27 maximum of the Sun.

Much has been written about out of bounds planets.  An excellent overview can be found in a video by David Cochrane who explains that people with out of bounds planets often appear detached from the usual routine: “they see the normal lives of people very well but prefer not to be in the normal life.”   It’s as if the out of bounds planet dwells, or expresses itself, in a different reality.

In the case of Fernando de la Rua, his method of asserting himself (a Mars quality) was to project himself as a baby sucking on a pacifier and worshiping the Virgin Mary — as bland, boring, severe and austere — quite “out of bounds” for a typical politician.

To conclude, let me present his solar return for the current year superimposed around his natal chart.

A couple of things stand out in this figure.  Transiting Pluto (lord of the underworld and a symbol of death) in the solar return almost exactly opposes his natal ascendant.  The Ascendant of the solar return conjoins transiting Neptune in the return and both occupy the 8th house of death.  Solar return Saturn, which rules the natal 8th of death, closely squares natal Saturn in the natal 8th house from the natal 6th house of illness.  It appears that the solar return for the 2018-2019 period indicates chronic illness (return Saturn in the natal 6th) terminating his his demise (natal Saturn in the 8th).




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