New (Astro) Year, New App…

Happy International Astrology Day  (AKA Spring Equinox), Everyone!

Here on the East Coast of the United States, March 20th marks the meteorological start to Spring. (And in the Southern Hemisphere, of course, March 20th signals the beginning of Fall). If the imminent arrival of warmer days and shorter nights were not reason enough to rejoice, March 20th  also marks for astrologers this year * the beginning of a new, annual cycle – zero degrees of Aries, the very first degree of the Zodiac. It’s our own version of the New Year, and accordingly we mark it by celebrating International Astrology Day.

In this spirit of renewal and “New Year’s Resolutions”, I’ve committed to writing more frequently about various astrological musings, tools and related events. Wish me luck! (and interesting articles 😉

One thing that can be easy to forget when studying Astrology in our modern, technologically -savvy cultures  is that this art started out as a very empirical, hands on activity – literally, going outside and staring up at the starlit sky…for nights on end, year after year, generation after generation. The  astrological natal or event charts we study today are actually two-dimensional representations of a three-dimensional reality – or even a four-dimensional reality, if you incorporate how time makes charts evolve through transits or progressions.  Between the advances of computerized star & planetary placement calculations and the sad fact that many of us now live in urban environments that can obscure starlight, it’s become very easy to divorce the symbolic meanings of the planets we study in astrology and their actual physical existence.

Enter the following software : Solar System Scope (also available as a smartphone app). I’m not getting a commission for promoting this program, but I have to say that for $10 I find it FASCINATING and a really good investment, both for astrologer and non-astrologer who would want to learn more about our neighboring planets.  It is a 3D, interactive depiction of our Solar System that lets you  see how the planets orbit around each other over time. You can travel forwards or backwards in time, or change perspective ie. see the orbits from the Earth’s point of View, Mercury’s, etc. I’ve found this program very useful to visualize somewhat counter-intuitive phenomena such as retrograding planets, solar & lunar eclipses, etc.

Another cool app that I use when outside on a starry night to identify constellations and planets is : Stellarium (available for free on the iPhone via iTunes). It’s essentially a Planetarium in your pocket, adaptable to your location . In fact if there’s a drawback is that there’s almost TOO many features to choose from – not being an astronomer I’m still wading through much of the information on hand.

 

Have fun planet-hopping!

 

 *  Note: Whilst it will be celebrated this year on Sunday March 20th, International Astrology Day is actually observed  on the exact day that the Northward equinox actually occurs. This varies year to year between March 19–22, though it usually falls on March 20 or March 21. (Source: Wikipedia)

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