Astronomy and Astrology
Astronomy for the Astrologer
Are the zodiacal signs real heavenly bodies? Are there other bodies in our solar system that we should know about?
One of the most common and constant complains from the astrological fraternity is that astronomers simply will not even try to understand them. The astrologers assert that the astronomers refuse to examine their evidence. For the most part, astronomers refuse to reply, though in the past some of them have shucked their cloak of dignified silence and made boobs of themselves by trying to disprove statistically “astrological tenets” that no reasonable astrologer ever held in the first place. Thus Dr. J. Allen Hynek, associated with UFO research in the press, upon hearing that astrologers linked Mercury with intellectual activity, set to work with scientific thoroughness and showed there was no significant correlation between a high I.Q. and a strong Mercury position in the horoscope. But then, on the other hand, what astrological theorist ever claimed that there was?
The contention by astrologers that astronomers refuse to review their claims is, to a great extent, true. But there is something to be said for the astronomers, too. To them, the universe contemplated by the astrologer is as much out of date as the physiology known to Hippocrates and Galen. There can be no real objection to looking at the Earth as the center of the solar system, considering the fact that Albert Einstein postulated that what is seen by an observer is, in a relative sense, true for him. But astrologers must ever remember that their view-point is no more than relative and that astronomers are quite justified in asserting that practically no astrologer knows even the rudiments of astronomy.
In these times, advanced astrologers and cosmobiologists are accumulating more and more evidence to support most of the claims made for their ancient science. One particularly important discovery is the one suggesting that forces originating outside of the solar system can have an effect upon chemical substances found in human cellular issue. Evidence such as this is lost upon the astrologer who has no understanding of the cosmos as viewed by an astronomer. This article intended for the astrologer who wants to get up-to-date of what science knows about the physical universe he uses as the basis for his interpretations.
Although the Earth creates an elliptical path around the Sun as far as our solar system is concerned, in relation to the galaxy its actual path is something like that of a corkscrew. This means that at certain seasons of the year, the Sun tends to be between the Earth and the sources of Energy which arise in the galaxy. Since the blocking effect of the Sun is constant from one year to another, it means that the rate of chemical reactions of the type referred to will vary according to different seasons of the year. It is thought that this may be the fundamental basis for astrology.
If the Sun has such an effect, it is quite likely that the planets do also, perhaps by creating a turbulence in whatever field of energy is being emitted in the Milky Way. That such turbulence exists is evidenced by the fact that RCA Communications has for years been using planetary positions to compute the effect upon their international network.
Most serious astrologers long ago gave up the idea that the planets exert any direct influence on mundane events, but the exact rationale of astrology has remained somewhat of a mystery. For some time, consideration was given to Jung’s theory of synchronism, that is that two events may be related by time instead of causality. With the discoveries now being made, however, it seems that the nature of astrological forces resembles a field effect. By this is meant a situation where two bodies have an effect upon one another, not by virtue of their inherent qualities, but because of the nature of the field in which they exist. In the gravitational theory proposed by Einstein, for instance, two bodies are attracted to one another, not because of their own natures, but because their time-space field makes attraction the path of least resistance for them.
To see how this works, take a sheet of cloth and suspend it by its four corners so it is approximately flat. Now put two steel marbles on it. No matter where you place them they will be attracted towards one another. This attraction is due to the depression which they make in the sheet, not because of any direct effect of the marbles upon one another.
Field effect astrology – if we may coin a term – would depend upon an analogous phenomenon. Assume a field of energy originating in our galaxy that has a profound effect upon certain chemicals in the human system. From time to time during the year, the Earth is exposed to varying strengths of that energy due to the shielding effect of the Sun. At the same time, the field is further modified by the presence of planetary bodies orbiting the Sun. In total, the astrological effect is caused not by the action of the planets upon the Earth but by field turbulences of which they serve as signals.
Aside from the astrological effect, there are also astronomical effects, and these can be attributed to the influence of other bodies in the solar system. A well-known instance of this is the sunspot cycle with its period of eleven years. Sunspots are fields of turbulence on the surface of the Sun. Their appearance is accompanied by the emission of large quantities of radiation. It has been shown time and time again the as the level of that energy increases, the Earth’s population as a whole begins to get more and more anxious.
During periods of radiation increase, there is a correlative increase in the number of riots, homicides, and wars. Communications are disturbed. The rate of plant and animal growth is altered. The sunspots increase to their maximum in 11 years. At the end of that time they suddenly subside and begin once more to increase again. There is some evidence that the sunspot cycle may be associated with Jupiter’s period of revolution around the Sun. If this is true, there is another direct effect to be considered.
There is a direct influence of the Moon upon the Earth. It is common knowledge that it causes tides in the oceans. What is not so well known is that it also causes tides on land surfaces as well. The point on Earth directly under the Moon is pulled upwards to a distance of two feet.
Though research at Northwestern University has shown that there is a correlation between the Moon’s phases and certain events in the life cycles of lower animals, there is still considerable debate about its direct effect upon humans. There is a body of empiric knowledge based upon reports of police and fire departments as well as mental hospitals and saloon managers that the Full Moon coincides with a period of aberrant sociological phenomena. So far there is disagreement among researchers who have conducted scientific inquiries into this. There has been at least one report that female admissions to mental hospitals reach their peak on the Full Moon; male admissions peak on the New Moon.
It would appear that phenomena correlating with human behaviour fall into two distinct groups. In the one, there is a direct astronomical influence as in the case of the Sun and Moon. In the other, there is the field effect in an energy stream which is occasioned by planetary positions and the position of the Earth with reference to the source of that energy in the galaxy.
The vernal equinox point, that is where the Sun crosses the equator on its way north is the point at which the zodiac begins. For this reason it is known as the first point of Aries. From this point the zodiac is divided into 12 signs of 30 degrees each.
As you probably know, the constellation that identified the original signs of the zodiac have shifted out of the positions that the held back during the days when astrology was becoming formalized, a period around the second century B.C. This is sometimes advanced as an argument against traditional astrology. Actually it is not. It is quite apparent that it is the division of the ecliptic into 12 equal signs that is important. The fact that certain constellations served to identify those signs a couple of thousand years ago was merely a matter of labelling. As a matter of fact, , we are not even certain at what time the constellation of Aries actually coincided with the segment of ecliptic now known by that name. Estimates of the exact time made by both astronomers and astrologers range from 317 B.C to 321 A.D. Probably the figure determined by Cyril Fagan – 220 A.D. – is most nearly correct for the time at which the first point of the constellation coincided with the first point of Aries on the fixed or ecliptic zodiac. Since the first point moves backwards, this would mark the time that it was on the verge of moving into Pisces. It will, according to this calculation, move into Aquarius in about 300 years.
Measuring Positions in the Sky
The Earth turns on its axis at a regular rate, on revolution per day. For convenience geographers divided the Earth into 360 divisions along the equator. Those are called degrees of longitude pass by given point in 24 hours. This is at the rate of 15 degrees per hour or one degree every four minutes.
The particular degree on which you are situated is called your meridian. It is also the highest point that the Sun will reach any day. This is the location of the medium coeli (M.C) or Midheaven. The meridian passes through the zenith or the point in the sky directly over your head. The zenith is always the same number of degrees above the equator which gives them their ship’s latitude.
Sometimes astrologers become confused over the difference between celestial latitude – the distance the body is above or below the ecliptic – and declination. Declination is the number of degrees a body is above or below the celestial equator. The celestial equator is an imaginary line that runs across the heavens directly above the Earth’s equator. If you stand on the Earth’s equator, your zenith is located on the celestial equator.
Another method of measuring positions in the sky is by their hour angle. We saw that the Earth moved at the rate of one degree every four minutes. For us, that means that the heavenly bodies seem to move over our heads at the same rate. We can locate a body by saying how long it will take to reach our meridian or by how long it has been since it passed our meridian.
For instance, let us say that a body is located 15 degrees to the east of our meridian. We know that at the rate of four minutes for each degree, it will take 4 times 15 minutes or one hour to come to our meridian. Thus we say that the body has an hour angle of one hour east. If it had passed the meridian and was 15 degrees away, we would say it was one hour west.
Still one more way of locating celestial bodies is by their right ascension. This term, obscure to most astrologers, means no more than the number of degrees measured east from the first point of Aries to the meridian on which a body lies. This measurement is taken along the celestial equator, however, and not the zodiac or ecliptic. Thus is does not always agree with zodiacal measurement. For instance, a body at 15 degrees of Taurus would be 45 degrees away from the first point of Aries if measured on the ecliptic, but its right ascension, along the celestial equator, would vary with the time of year. Some astrologers use tables of the Sun’s apparent right ascension in progressing horoscopes; they feel that the Sun’s movement in right ascension for one day gives a better correlation with a year of life than does the standard “one-degree” method.
Has astology anything to do with the real world? Illustration: Megan Jorgensen