Friday, December 26, 2008

Milky Way Astrology Looks at The Year 2009 in Short; Plus a Brief Snapshot of 2009 for the Signs

By Milky Way Maid

Happy New Year, Everyone!
Probably lots of you expect 2009 to be a real bear of a year, judging from the events of the past four months. But 2008 was a whole different set of transits by Pluto and Mars and Saturn et al (everybody's bogey men) ... plus Jupiter, too. For the most part, all of them have completed the heavy work of that cycle.

First, Pluto. He is the main culprit in the Wall Street meltdown last fall. While Pluto dipped a toe into the next sign, Capricorn, the first six months of 2008, he rushed back into Sagittarius to finish up the cleanup job he had begun back in Nov. 1995. Remember back then when Pluto in Scorpio had brought us (among other things) the AIDS scourge, and we all thought that it would spread to everyone, not just gays, and we would all die horrible lingering deaths? Pluto was delivering to all of us the consequences of our actions, on a mass scale. It is too easy to blame gay people, when the cause was really our 1970's promiscuity.

Now Pluto has delivered the coup de grace to those with a Sagittarian Achilles heel: Religious and spiritual leaders, athletes, actors and other performers, lucky gamblers and speculators in the stock market. Recall all those scandals splashed all over the news about wayward priests, athletes on steroids and other drugs, actors winding up dead or in-and-out of rehab, and now those wizards of high finance? The wolves of Wall Street are the last ones in line for their comeuppance. They sucked the money out of banks with fraudulent loans and Ponzi investment schemes. They told us to go ahead and write loans that would never be repaid, and sold the risk to other suckers. Now they are all going down, and we are left hoping to God that they do not take innocent bystanders down with them.

But Pluto is moving into Capricorn for good in 2009 (it actually re-entered Capricorn around Thanksgiving this year). That means the end of all the Sag high-flyer bloodletting and we can try to mop up the mess they left behind. But wait, what is Pluto going to do next? I'm afraid we have not seen the last of the corporate scandals. But instead of the investors/speculators being the source of the scandals, it will be the execs themselves, and especially the top tier of Chief Executives who make the rounds of major corporations, milking them to death and escaping with the proceeds. The dark underbelly of Big Business will become public knowledge. We will also probably see scandals about the other main Capricorn sphere of influence, Big Government. Where is government really getting all the money that is allocated in the annual budgets? Does that money really come from taxes? Does that money really exist?

But on to Mars. Mars enters Capricorn on Dec. 27, keeping company with Pluto like a pair of hit-men on the loose. One holds you while the other beats you up. Mars, according to astrologer Barbara Koval, is the money made from fees and taxes. “Mars rules other people's money or value that is shared or used without having full control. Mars is a loan. Mars is debt...Mars always represents those transactions that are represented as 'cuts'.”

By cuts she means any fee that is charged for doing the transaction, whether it is a sales tax or a service charge or a commission. These cuts really 'cut' into one's profits and can make the difference between making or losing money on a deal. Mars enters the business sign Capricorn just as credit card companies are raising rates and fees and lowering limits for cardholders. Oh, you don't want to accept their ratejacking, you say? Fine, just terminate the card and so long, buddy. BTW Mars enters Aquarius in February, so watch out for raised fees for your telecom and internet carrier or the end of unlimited texting.

Saturn is still in Virgo, so we have not seen the end of lower yield due to drought, etc., or of higher prices in the grocery store. Saturn will not be done with this cycle till November 2009. While there is light at the end of the tunnel, millions around the world could starve before we get out of the tunnel. The positive spin: Meantime, we may have to eat meat the way that the Orientals do, as a condiment to a dish rather than a separate course. This may be a healthier way of eating, in the end. Virgo is the most health-conscious sign, and Saturn gives us the discipline to both manage our food budget and eat less.

Jupiter moves into Aquarius in January, too. It resides there until January 2010. Jupiter often creates a glut of something so that prices fall. This is good news for consumers who are getting shell-shocked by rocketing prices in other goods and service. However, a great deal on a giant screen TV or new computer is fine, but you cannot put that on the dinner table and it does not help pay the mortgage or rent. All those shiny TVs that went unsold at Christmas are just sitting there, and vendors will be desperate to sell. I suppose if the price gets low enough, you might be able to build a little hut out of a truckload of them.
Readers can follow not only their Sun sign horoscope but also the sign of their Ascendant for further clues to how your week will develop.

ARIES - March 20-April 19 > Whatever sphere of work you are in, I cannot imagine you sitting on the sidelines. Aries will see a problem that needs to be solved, and by golly will get up and do something about it. You're the leader, and people will follow you if you add a smidgen of charm and common sense.
Jupiter moving into your solar eleventh house of friends suggests that your network of social contacts and clubs will be a source of assistance if you should need help. Neighbors and relatives can also be a source of valuable professional insights, due to the influence of asteroid Pallas Athena in your solar third house. Pluto and Mars in your solar tenth house of career could mean layoffs and cutbacks at work. Pluto there can also mean that you move forward on plans for your own business. The South Node in Leo in your solar fifth house can mean you fall back on experience in child care, entertainment or the arts for extra money.
The only worrisome note is Saturn in your solar sixth house of health (and also work). Saturn can weaken one's health, altho Arians are some of the hardiest people around. But Saturn also gives you the discipline to stick to your regimen of exercise and healthy food (asteroid Ceres is in Virgo, too). Avoid all the junk food and read labels!

TAURUS - April 20-May 20 > The asteroid Pallas Athena has moved into your solar second house of money; maybe you have already gotten a new financial advisor (possibly a Gemini), and just maybe that new advisor is yourself! New Year's eve will probably not find you partying the night away. You are in the mood for some classics, maybe the symphony or ballet, maybe some classic movies on the Turner network. The other possibility is baking up a storm with the kids so that you have plenty of bread and sweets into the new year.
Legal or contract issues could come to a head in 2009, due to the influence of Pluto in your solar ninth house. Taureans with planets in latter degrees of the sign could see a positive outcome due to the presence of Mercury and Jupiter at the end of Capricorn as we usher in 2009. (No guarantees, of course. Seek some experienced legal advice for best results.)
Jupiter will enter Aquarius, your solar tenth house of career in January, and I bet you will breathe a sigh of relief when its effects take hold. Taureans can have a lazy streak, true, but they really appreciate doing a hard job and getting the satisfaction of seeing results from their efforts. Jupiter may indicate that the job pays well, or it may mean that you are involved in a counseling, political or performing role. Jupiter rules law and lawyers and judges, but also performers of every kind like actors of stage or screen. Jove also rules kings, government and politics, publishing and counselors (lawyers, social workers, consultants, professional advisors of all kinds). Your career will be more fulfilling even if the paycheck is not as large as your old one.
The asteroid Vesta has moved into your sign, and will visit you till April. It will be interesting to see how this affects you. Will you get involved in a home security business? Will you renounce the world and become a monk? Vesta in Taurus is conflicted between desire and duty; you may also seek your own Holy Grail to answer the question of what is the meaning of your life.

GEMINI - May 21-June 20 > Many Geminis have become the go-to person in their department or in their field. Possibly this is due to the effects of the asteroid Pallas Athena moving into their sign. Geminis absorb lots of data quickly and easily and are quite happy to inform others about all the little angles and shortcuts. One caution: you may try to start too many projects at once, so focus a bit.
Your house is solid, possibly old-fashioned, and may be furnished either with antiques or lots of shiny metal thingies. You're a bit of a neat freak when it comes to your home. You might have started a vegetable garden to grow some of your food. Geminis love miniatures, by the way, so I bet you have cherry tomatoes and baby eggplant, etc in your plans for the next garden. You have become much more health conscious about your diet, and have dropped your favorite junk foods one by one.
You may be in the process of winding up some family estate matters or working out a new tax strategy. Jupiter will be leaving your solar eighth house of estates and moving into Aquarius shortly, which is your solar ninth house. The ninth house rules publishing, religion, higher education, and law. Any one or all of these fields may be activated in 2009 by the the presence of Jupiter. If you have any plans to publish (or self-publish), now is the time to get that draft finished and polished it. If you have some ambitions to run for office or teach at a local college, rev up your network of contacts.

CANCER - June 21-July 22> Cancer is one of the cardinal signs, so it is just as much an executive or go-getter as Capricorn or Aries. So often Cancer is stereotyped as a home-and-family sign, and of course those things are important to us all. But you are also concerned with your career and community. Saturn in your solar third house of neighborhood may mean that you have taken a position of responsibility in local government or with a community organization.
At the same time, you might find that you want some time to yourself. Perhaps a friend has a little getaway in the woods where you like to go to restore your soul. Perhaps you go on an organized retreat (or are the one who organizes it), or join a club that delves into spiritual matters. You could find any or all of those activities inviting and fulfilling this year.
January may be especially difficult for you because both Mars and Pluto occupy your solar seventh house of partners and the public. If you work in a position where you are in contact with the general public, do not be shocked if you are the target of verbal abuse or worse. Mars, fortunately, will move on. These planets will also affect your marital relationship; you may have to get family counseling to deal with the economic and other pressures affecting your marriage.

LEO - July 23-Aug. 22> Jupiter will move into your solar seventh house of partners, Aquarius, in January to visit for the year. Your spouse may be more helpful and generous than usual. Unmarried Leos may get married to a very attractive person with a good career and connections.
The asteroid Vesta is moving into Taurus, your solar tenth house of career, till April. Vesta in Taurus is in conflict between desire and duty. You may have to make some sacrifice of personal time in order to meet public or career commitments. This will be a difficult winter and spring for you, but at least it is not a long-term situation.
Ceres, the asteroid of nurturing and agriculture, is in your solar second house of money and resources. It is possible that you earn some money by nursing or child care or truck gardening. Ceres helps you find places to park your money where it will earn some steady growth. You are becoming more efficient with your resources, and are learning to curb that Leo habit of excessive spending.
The problematic area is your solar sixth house of health and work (the job that you do because it is just a job). Pluto and Mars are there this January. Mars will move on but Pluto is there for the long-term. These suggest layoffs and cutbacks at work, or serious, chronic health issues. Don't let the stress of the current economy make you eat too much or drink too much. Remember, we love ya, Leo.

VIRGO - Aug. 23-Sept. 22> The asteroid Ceres and Saturn in your sign emphasizes your urge to nurture and nurse others. Some Virgoes focus instead on home cleaning or sales prep.
Jupiter moves into Aquarius in your solar sixth house of health and mundane work. Perhaps you can snag a job in the healthcare field. Your own health and energies should be excellent this year, altho Jupiter tempts everyone to overdo when it comes to food and drink.
The asteroid Pallas Athena is in your solar tenth house of career. Pallas here lightens the load of responsibility; you feel more comfortable with exercising authority and with yourself. BTW, Vesta in your solar ninth house may give you an opportunity to travel with a purpose. This is not just a pleasure jaunt, it is something related to work or career, or possibly self-enrichment. (Examples: a professional seminar, an Elder Hostel tour, a health spa)
Uranus in the solar seventh house of partners can be problematic. Uranus has been there for four years already, so you must be familiar with the situation. Maybe your spouse is not there for you, or travels for his job. You either have a close rapport, to the point of being psychic, or you feel like strangers with nothing in common. Your spouse may express Uranus with a career as a computer geek, electrician, psychologist, chemist, or even astrologer.

LIBRA - Sept. 23-Oct. 22> First off, I have to raise a warning about the entrance of Pluto (accompanied by his little troublemaker pal Mars) into Capricorn, your solar fourth house. This is sure a sign of impending trouble for a home, so it might be prudent to have regular safety inspections and also have a bug man check for termites and other pests. While it is theoretically possible that you might marry into the ranks of the uber-rich (which is another manifestation of Pluto in the fourth), it is more likely that your home is vulnerable to the passage of time.
Jupiter enters your solar fifth house of love affairs and entertainment and children. You could have a fabulous streak of luck at the casino, but it is more likely that you will have more beaux than you can accommodate, or that you will find fulfillment in creative expression. If you can play an instrument, see if you can offer your skills in a weekly visit to a nursing home or in teaching youngsters. Venus and Neptune are already there, and they both also enjoy music and the arts.
Uranus is in your solar sixth house, and has been there for the past four years. It might be good to have your primary physician review all your medications to see if some are duplicating or negating the effect of another. Try to make a point of setting regular hours so you get adequate sleep, too.
The asteroid Pallas Athena is in your solar ninth house of higher education (among other things) is a great placement if you are interested in teaching or lecturing. Perhaps you only make up the visuals for others' lectures (think Power Point), or organize day-long seminars on a topic of interest. Sounds like fun.

SCORPIO - Oct. 23-Nov. 21> Rah for you, Scorpio, you may one of the lucky ones who gains a new home this year. I say that because Jupiter enters your solar fourth house, Aquarius. If you already have your family home, then it may signify an addition to the family or a guest. You might host a student visitor from abroad, and that might provide an interesting source of information about how people live in other lands. Jupiter will join Venus, Neptune and the North Node, as well as Chiron.
Uranus in the solar fifth house, Pisces, has been giving you a quirky sense of humor for four years already. You may also have learned to enjoy using the computer more, and it really has opened another world to you. It is possible that the transiting sextile between Uranus and Pluto (entering Capricorn in the third house of communications) signifies that you are finally able to grasp how to use computers to communicate with masses of people, instead of just emailing your friends individually. No, I do not mean for you to start spamming. But I think that you will find some online platform for your writings so that you begin to reach many more people than before.
The asteroid Vesta moves into Taurus and your solar seventh house. This is such a self-sacrificing sign for Vesta to be, and I am not sure that it is too healthy for you. Vesta makes you live thru others and deny your own needs for others, and we all know how frustrating that can be over the long term. Fortunately Vesta will only be here till April.

SAGITTARIUS - Nov. 22-Dec. 21> I am sure you will be quite glad to see Pluto leave your Sun Sign for good! But now it enters your solar second house of money and finances, and that could be a whole new jar of pickles. Of course it is remotely possible that you strike oil, or inherit billions from a long-lost Rockefeller. But it is more likely that you invest your funds with a large firm, in bonds, or in your own business. Pluto joins Mars, the Sun, Juno, Mercury and Jupiter already visiting Capricorn.
Jupiter moves into Aquarius, your solar third house, January 5. It will stay there for the full year. Jupiter here could prompt a local publishing venture, maybe a fundraiser cookbook for a school. If you are in the field of education, you could get a promotion to an administrative post, or even run for a school board position. Jupiter rules politics, higher education, publishing and printing, religion, and law.
Uranus has been in Pisces, your solar fourth house of home and family, for four years already. Your home might be unusual, either very old or very newfangled with all kinds of electronic gadgets. You may even live in a houseboat, so you can take off when you need a change of scene. Uranus can denote an estrangement from family, which is unfortunate, but some families just do not respect each other as individuals.
Vesta in the solar sixth house may bring a job that has intrinsic rewards but little in the way of material rewards. You may even do a job for free just because you feel it needs to be done. You might be paid, but have to buy supplies out of your own pocket. Better save your change in a jar to cover those expenses.

CAPRICORN - Dec. 22-Jan. 19> Pluto enters your Sun sign and you could refresh your dress and hairstyle, even revamp your image and career. Of course it is remotely possible that you suddenly enter a high-ranking job that comes with lots of power and perks, a kingship for example, or at least a baronetcy. But is more likely that you purge everything that no longer has meaning for you. In fact, “purge” may be the right word for what is going on inside. Everything that is out of sync with your true values is going to go out the window, so get ready.
Jupiter enters your solar second house of money; how nice for you. It may not mean that you suddenly make a lot more money; it can mean that you are spending more than your income. It can also mean that your source of money, your job, is protected for now, at least.
Uranus has been in Aquarius in your solar third house of communications for four years already. Besides denoting electronic gadgets and computers and wireless, it also rules foreign languages. (Uranus is foreign, and the third house is language.) You may benefit from studying a second or third language in order to gain or keep employment.
The asteroid Vesta moving into your solar fifth house of children and enjoyments can inhibit having or enjoying your own children. Maybe you pursue a high-powered career in order to provide for them, but suppressing your own creative urges can lead to illness. BTW, you may also like to camp or hike, and these might be ideal occasions to take the family with you.
Ceres and Saturn in your solar ninth house of higher education denotes that you go back to school to get promotions or other advancements in your career. Try taking a literature or philosophy class for personal enrichment.

AQUARIUS - Jan. 20-Feb. 17> Jupiter enters your Sun sign this January and while that can give a real boost to your mood and personality, it can also add to your waistline. Use restraint and stay away from buffet restaurants. Venus and Neptune are also in your sign and can increase your attraction to sweets and alcohol, so be on the mettle when it comes to controlling your appetites.
Uranus in your solar second house of money can be very frustrating because often it means that your income is not in a steady, predictable stream. You may be a temp worker, live on commissions or royalties, or are prone to seasonal layoffs. Uranus is also foreign sources of money, so perhaps you have gotten a stipend to go study in a foreign country.
You are very attached to your home this winter and spring, or you might take in relatives or other guests just so you can spend more time at home.
Pallas Athena will be in your solar fifth house of amusements for awhile, so your taste for fun may turn to mental games like chess, bridge or Sudoku rather than tennis. Joining a club can help you gain mastery over any of these games quicker.
An interest in natural foods and in reincarnation are both possible results of Ceres and Saturn in your solar eighth house.

PISCES - Feb. 18-March 19>Uranus has been in your first house of self for four years. You are funny, witty, multi-talented, but also some people see you as unusual, maybe even unreliable. Vesta in your solar third house may mean you are a good student, but do not enjoy teaching. Yet teaching may be the only job that opens up for you, so learn to make the best of it and enjoy your students.
The asteroid Pallas Athena has moved into your solar fourth house, and may have prompted you to start a home business. Yet you are quite restless, and may change your own home several times during this transit.
I see Saturn in your solar seventh as a needed source of stability in your life. Learn to appreciate the steadiness of your partner's presence, even if he/she is not the most demonstrative of persons. Also try to avoid arguments with friends early in the year (transiting Mars in your solar eleventh house). You really do not want to alienate friends who have already helped you a great deal.

So that is it, folks. That was my mini reading on the year 2009 for all the signs. In many cases, it just covers the influences at the beginning of the year or the first half. So do not despair if you did not like the thumbnail sketch of 2009 for your sign. Happy 2009 to all.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Economic Forecast for the Christmas Shopping Season

Having spent several years tracking the behavior of Christmas shoppers by the timing of Mercury stations, retrogrades and direct motion, I find that all that history is not applicable to the upcoming Christmas shopping season. Mercury is not retrograde any part of the holiday season proper; in fact, the last retrograde was Sept. 25 thru Oct. 15, ending right about the time all heck broke loose in the stock market.

Nevertheless, I will plunge onward with a stab at the behavior of shoppers this holiday season by looking at the flavors, so to speak, of the personal planets during these last few weeks of the year.

Let’s start with Mercury. Mercury is not getting any boost from a direct station during this time frame, as I mentioned above. It entered serious and spiritual Scorpio on Nov. 5, and then quickly enters happy-go-lucky Sagittarius on Nov. 24. This puts shoppers in a more optimistic mood in time for the kickoff of the official holiday shopping season. Sag is a free spender, but is also notorious for buying multiples of something, so stores that offer two for one or buy X number and get one free should do well with that.

Sag rules publishing -- so books sales should do reasonably well -- and law, religion and higher education. Perhaps grandparents will chip in something to their grandchildrens’ college funds rather than spend it on something that is disposable.

Venus and Jupiter, the two benefics, will be in serious-minded Capricorn (Venus from Nov. 13 till Dec. 8 when it slips into Aquarius). These two planets also be accompanied by the asteroid Juno, the wife or she-who-must-be-obeyed. Jupiter trines Saturn (plus asteroid Ceres) in earth sign Virgo and Vesta in the other earth sign Taurus (at least till Dec. 6). This earth trinity focuses on the practical, the durable, and on what you can produce yourself. Some may choose to exchange home-made gifts (Cappy and Taurus) or services/lessons (Virgo)with each other. Others may keep an eye to hard goods and supplies for making one’s own whatever, or things needed to start a sideline that brings in a second income stream.

An example: a plow attachment for one’s pickup truck so one can solicit local contracts to clear parking lots. Another example: spouting one’s own herbs in containers on the windowsill, to save on expensive store-bought seasoning. One might also turn a hand to making at least some of one’s own clothing or doing your own repairs, so that could mean buying your first sewing machine and lessons. More men may elect to change their own car’s oil and other basic maintenance rather than go in to the shop for everything.

Another note to keep in mind as you read the reports on how merchants are doing -- my thoughts are that shoppers will tend to cling to old reliable merchants that have been around awhile because of this heavy Capricorn and earth-sign influence. So stores like JC Penney, or even Sears and Abercrombie & Fitch, could see more shoppers who want to know that the store will still be there after Dec. 26 to accept exchanges. (I mention Penney’s because Bill Meridian mentioned that chain as due for an upswing over the next six months in a recent column.)

Vesta in Taurus trine Ceres in Virgo also will keep the accent on putting out a bountiful spread for holiday dinners. Taurus always likes to feed people anyway, and Virgo will bring healthful versions of old favorites, with less fat, omitting the GMO ingredients, and substituting organic as much as possible.

When Venus enters altruistic Aquarius on Dec. 6, the public may turn more to charitable giving than to spending still more on “stuff”. And families may schedule more group activities like attending city tree-lighting ceremonies or helping out with food banks. Aquarius may also give a late kick on sales of electronic items such as computers, printers, phones and software.

Mars enters the season in Scorpio. Mars in this position is quite the vulture shopper, as I call them. They shop where there are distressed sellers, and so those stores such as Mervyns that are liquidating their inventory in holiday sales before closing will be quite popular. Mars will enter Sagittarius on Nov. 17, where it will later be joined by Mercury. These two planets in the stock-up sign Sag will have a ball clearing out the shelves of vendors who offer deals on multiples -- the aforementioned “buy two, get one free” kind of thing.

Again, I do not see any burst of pent-up shopping desire, or any even necessarily any insistence on mark-downs. But the emphasis is on getting value for one’s dollar and buying items that will be used for a while. I see less buying of electronics gadgets and silly stuff, except for that rather late spike when Venus enters Aquarius. Vendors like Best Buy and Radio Shack will not be too pleased with that, and will have to work very hard to get shoppers attention in the immediate post-Thanksgiving week.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season, and I hope that your dreams have not all been shelved for another year.

Saturn's Aurora and Moon Enceladus in the News

Saturn’s Moon did Cosmic Flop
Saturn's moon Enceladus might have rolled over on its side sometime in the past, a suggestion that would account for a strange finding made by the Cassini spacecraft.
Why is there a hot spot only at the south pole?
There is a way to possibly confirm that the moon flipped. Its former leading hemisphere should have had more impact craters than the trailing hemisphere. If it flipped 90 degrees, the pattern of craters now present would reveal as much. Read the whole story at:

Saturn’s Aurora Dazzles with Mysterious Light
"We've never seen an aurora like this elsewhere," said Tom Stallard, an RCUK Academic Fellow working with Cassini data at the University of Leicester. "It's not just a ring of aurorae like those we've seen at Jupiter or Earth. This one covers an enormous area across the pole. Our current ideas on what forms Saturn's aurorae predict that this region should be empty, so finding such a bright one here is a fantastic surprise."
Saturn's main aurora, which is caused by the solar wind, changes size dramatically as the wind varies.
The newly observed aurora at Saturn, however, doesn't fit into previously identified categories…Read the whole story at:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Congrats to Obama the Princeling on his Election Victory.

My heartiest congratulations to the new president-elect, Barack Obama, and best wishes for the new administration. Maybe you read my article about the princely and royal points activated in his birth chart. You can read that article here --

Also I wanted to note that there was a Neptune station the Sunday before the election. At first I thought that I was not too keen about this station. But then it was further activated by a sextile to Venus, exact on the Wednesday after the election (7:56 am eastern time).

I interpret a Venus sextile to Neptune as very idealistic and hopeful. So which campaign offered themes more aligned with hope and ideals? Um, would you say that the Obama campaign iterated strong vibrations of hope and idealism? I would say so too.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What’s Happening With The Stock Market????

Amazing downturn these last few weeks on Wall Street. It goes down when the bailout bill does not pass. Then it goes down when the amended bailout does pass. Then it goes down some more for who knows what reason. From a high in the 14,000 range, it has fallen to below 9,000. What is going on astrologically?
For one thing, the period of Mercury retrograde has not helped us to deal with the mortgage crisis, the foreclosure crisis, the credit crunch, or any of the other negative news. Mercury is finally going direct this Wednesday, Oct. 15. It will be none too soon. But of course Mercury goes retrograde three times a year, so we cannot lay everything at his dainty winged feet. He’s only the messenger, after all.
I like to go back to fundamentals as laid out by Barbara Koval, especially in her book, Time & Money: The Astrology of Wealth. Let’s look first at her chart for the birth of the New York Stock Exchange: founding on May 17, 1792, New York, NY, about 10 am Eastern. Ten degrees Leo rising, with Uranus at 15 degrees Leo, and 29 degrees Aries at the Midheaven. Mars at 18 Virgo and the North Node at zero degrees Libra in the second house; Jupiter and Neptune at 22 and 27 degrees Libra in the third; Pluto at 23 degrees Aquarius in the seventh; Moon and Saturn at 19 and 26 degrees Aries in the ninth house; Venus at 5 degrees Mercury retrograde at 23 degrees and the Sun at 27 degrees Taurus in the tenth.
Drat! Wouldn’t you know that Mercury would be retrograde in the birth chart of the major stock exchange of this country? Would that account for the continual cycles of boom and bust that this country has suffered?
Koval says that transiting Pluto was square the stock market ascendant when the market dropped 500 points in 1987. Currently, Pluto is trining the stock market Midheaven -- clearly, trines are not always nicey-nicey. But look at planets and points at late degrees in the stock market chart -- the MC at 29 Aries, Saturn at 26 Aries, Sun at 27 Taurus,
Neptune at 27 Libra.
What did I say in my article about planets in late degrees about these signs?? Late Taurus points promise financial ups and downs. Uff da. Late Aries points are signs of those who gain fame and fortune by being pioneers -- and certainly, it is very possible even now to get to the top with a lot of hard work if you have a new, innovative product. Libra, what the heck is Libra doing here? Well, let’s see, Neptune here rules the eighth house of pooled resources, which describes the pooling of funds in the market thru buying stocks. It also presaged the enormous growth in the stock market when pooled mutual funds and pension money became popular vehicles for investment.
Sun, Mercury and Venus in Taurus have given it lasting influence in growing wealth and assets, and denote its connection to banking. But Mars in the second house, Moon in Aries, and an angular Pluto put an accent on debt and also on speculation rather than investment. What is disturbing with this chart is that the ruler of the tenth house is in the second -- which Koval takes to mean that the banks are in control of wealth here. Then she says: “If the banks fail, so does the system.” Uh oh.
Koval also frequently defines Uranus not as shocks to the system or upsets and so forth; she defines it as foreign funds. And Uranus moving through Pisces in this chart’s eighth house of pooled resources is pretty accurate in describing the ocean of foreign investment in our markets; it’s the major reason Wall Street has kept afloat these past several years. It does not seem like the Chinese or Europeans will pull out immediately.
Uranus will not exit the eighth house till it reaches 2 degrees 53 minutes of Aries.
Transiting Saturn is also closing in on the chart’s natal Mars at 18 Virgo in the second house. Not a good sign. Transiting Neptune is approaching natal Pluto, the wipeout planet, at 23 Aquarius. This is not a good sign either. Possibly one of the reasons that drops in the market often occur in the fall, is that the transiting Sun passes over the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction. Jupiter magnifies everything it touches, and here it magnifies the evaporation (Neptune) of money.
Contacts of transiting Sun to other transiting planets tends to bring a bit of a high to the market. Right now, the transiting planets feature Saturn in Virgo, the retrograde Mercury in Libra, Ceres also in Libra, then Mars (debt) and Venus (cash) in Scorpio (which should bring a mild uptick), and Pluto in Sag. The Sun does not contact a strong upward force till it meets up with Jupiter in Capricorn in January.
It may shock you to know that the Dow had not broken the 3,000 mark by 1990. Is a Dow at five times that level -- flirting with the 15,000 range -- even supportable? Was it ever supportable? Or was it just a Neptune dream, the Neptune that drives the market upward based on nothing but hope and faith in tomorrow?
It would be crushing if all the market growth fueled by the technological advances of the 1990s, the invention of mutual funds and index funds, the advent of cheap do-it-yourself trading services, and access to international investment markets were wiped away in one fell swoop by the presto-chango, now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t transit of Pluto -- the wipeout planet, the one who makes you a millionaire and then a pauper just so you don’t get a big head. Pluto is like the gold in the film “Treasure of Sierra Madre”. Humphrey Bogart and Walter Huston and Tim Holt work like dogs to dig out the ore from the high sierras, and in the end the wind blows it all back to the mountains from which it came.
Cie la vie. Ciao, Fortune. Hello, bankruptcy.
[I really should not end on such a low note. Markets go up, markets go down, they go up again. That's how it is. Unfortunately, markets are getting more volatile due to computer programmed trades and instant transmission of trading information. But stop a minute and recall how the 500-point drop of 1987 was soon erased and the market sought new highs. Things will turn around again. But we all need to be vigilant that we buy well-run companies with no accounting funny-stuff.]

Friday, October 3, 2008

More Astronomy News about Saturn, Mars, and Solar Winds

Saturn magnetizes its moon Titan (from New Scientist)
After 31 close fly-bys of the moon, the Cassini spacecraft finally flew through Titan's upper atmosphere at a time when the moon had edged out of the influence of Saturn's magnetic field.
The encounter, which took place on 13 June 2007, showed that Titan's atmosphere actually retains a memory of the magnetic field of the plasma that surrounds Saturn. This memory might last for as long as 3 hours.
"It's surprising that it stays there that long," says team member Andrew Coates of University College London. "Over long time scales, this could really help us understand how planetary atmospheres evolve."
Titan's temporary emergence fully exposes the moon to the solar wind. But the temporary magnetization of the moon's atmosphere, which produces a draped sheath of magnetic field lines, might protect it from substantial losses.

NASA Phoenix Lander Sees Falling Snow on Mars
NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander has detected snow falling from Martian clouds. A laser instrument to gather data on how the surface and atmosphere interact, detected snow from clouds about 2.5 miles above the site where the Lander came to rest. The snow vaporized before reaching the ground, blasting hopes that we might get video of little Martian children making snowmen.

No ‘Solar Hurricanes’ Lately - Could Lack of Solar Winds Affect Us on Earth?
The Ulysses mission has discovered that the Sun has reduced its output of solar winds, bringing their level to the lowest ever since recording began. "The Sun’s 1.5 million km-per-hour solar wind inflates a protective bubble around the Solar System and can influence how things work here on Earth and even out at the boundary of our Solar System, where it meets the galaxy," said Dave McComas, Principal Investigator for the Ulysses solar wind instrument and senior Executive Director at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. "Ulysses data indicate the solar wind’s global pressure is the lowest we have seen since the beginning of the space age."

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Pet Issue -- What Kinds of Pets Do Different Signs Like?

Each of the Sun Signs has definite preferences for different kinds of pets. Of course, we realize that dogs and cats are enormously popular and appeal to many signs. But the different signs tend to choose different breeds of dog or cat -- or something much more exotic like reptiles or ocelots or ferrets.
In general, we must admit that men tend to pick larger dogs than women. Women like small pets that they can easily lift and snuggle with on their laps. The fire signs like active pets, the air signs are more likely to own birds, earth signs prefer sedate pets, and water signs -- all the water signs seem different, so I will speak of them separately.
The earth signs (Virgo, Taurus and Capricorn) are more likely to be in the dog training business. They may even be in the breeding business. The fire signs are more likely to be involved in the sporting breeds, either in training, breeding or judging.
Aries and Capricorn like pets who will run with them on their daily jogs. Anything in the hunting and sporting breeds, or a Doberman, will do. This includes the retrievers, setters, the vizla and weimaraner, or elkhound/wolfhound. And if the human is a marathoner, get the vizla or weimaraner; those breeds are tireless. Happy-looking animals are more important than looks to an Aries, so pick the beagle or smiling golden. One Aries man owned a nice Staffordshire terrier who accompanied him on his evening walks. An Aries woman was nuts about cats, but I think they were her substitute children.
Taurus like pets that like to be petted and snuggled with. Rabbits and cats are good. Dogs with luxuriant coats that take lots of loving brushing will sometimes suit them too -- like collies or Golden Retrievers. They also appreciate the working breeds. One Taurus woman bought a rabbit just because they have soft coats and are generally easy to care for. She said she would never get a pug, not with those rough coats they have. One major benefit of owning a dog is that it forces sedentary Taurus to get out and walk them.
Gemini like small things in general, and they are delighted with miniatures of anything. The toy breeds suit them, like Chihuahuas, Maltese, Min-Pin, and miniature daschund. Other types of pets popular with Gemini are turtles, ferrets, and birds like parakeets. A Gemini friend had a small menagerie of ferret, lizard, and fish.
Cancer likes substitute babies after their own have grown up and left the nest. These pets have big eyes and rounded, babyish faces and heads, like many breeds of cats (especially Persians), pugs, Boston terriers, bulldogs, griffons, and Pomeranians. Toy breeds suit them, as they are easy to pick up and hold in one’s arm. Poodles and bichon frise are also popular with them, as their coats have to be fussed with and this helps build the owner-pet bond.
Leo would like anything that looks royal. Even an ordinary tabby is fine if it has a sovereign air about it. Sometimes I think they enjoy being snubbed by a princess-y cat. But generally animals in a fiery shade of red are more likely to be chosen by Leo than an animal in any other color. Irish setters are ideal. The exotic chow also qualifies. And if they could figure out how to get hold of some peacocks to strut around their home, they would do it.
Virgo likes pets that clean themselves, like rabbits and cats, or that tolerate a lot of handling during washing and drying -- like poodles, chows, or other heavy-coated breeds. Or that are fun to wash like ferrets. They appreciate smart pets and enjoy training them to do tricks. A Jack Russell terrier or parrot would be a good project for them. Sometimes allergies are a problem so they need to choose a pet that produces little dander. In that case, retired greyhounds and Basenjis may be ideal.
Libra pets must be perfect physically. No torn ears or scarred skin, and nothing that would bar the animal from competing in a show. Libra has a problem with imperfections in general, altho in some cases having an imperfect pet helps them learn to accept defects in other people. So this means in general that a dog must have pedigree papers. It should have a pleasing, happy appearance and a docile, obedient personality. Spaniels suit them.
Scorpio is the most likely to have an exotic pet, especially reptiles. Lizards and snakes fascinate them when they shed old skins. The like animals that have exotic stripes or spots, or come from foreign countries. And they are drawn to breeds that are unique in some way, like the tailless Manx cat or the non-barking Basenji. They too, take in others’ pets when their owner has to move or cannot afford to feed it anymore. They also tend to like protective breeds for defense of home and person: pit bulls, Dobermans, and rottweilers.
Sagittarius is also likely to have an exotic pet -- these are people who buy big cats, ocelots, wolf-dog hybrids, or even domestic cats with spotted coats. Often Sags are very interested in American Indian culture and so they have mustang or Appaloosa horses. Dogs are active breeds who can run along as their owners ride, or accompany them on full days of hunting. (Variation: the dog that likes to tag along on car rides, as a passenger. Like the plumber who took his springer spaniel along on jobs.) One Sag boy had a pet raccoon; they like adopting wild animals altho that practice is frowned upon now.
Capricorn -- I dealt with Capricorn at the same time as Aries. However, Cappys also appreciate the working breeds. They may be involved in training them for careers in anything from the military to service for a disabled person. They like to give their own dog a job of some kind, too, even if it is only to carry some water while on a hike.
Aquarius admires many breeds of dogs and many pets. However, they often choose based on how much care they need. They will return a pet that turns out to have chronic health problems. They like self-cleaning pets, and that means rabbits, cats and gerbils. They are biased toward other humans, and so they will willingly offer a spare room to a friend but less likely to take in a stray animal. (Those get taken to the pound.) The exception is the more humanoid pets like monkeys.
Pisces is known for taking in strays, so anything that shows up at their door or is given them by friends who have to give up their pet, winds up with them. They are very forgiving of physical defects like ragged ears or missing toes. They figure it all adds to their raffish charm. They like to feed wild animals and birds, putting out bread and leftovers. They may be involved in animal breeding; one Pisces co-worker used to breed daschunds.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Saturn magnetizes its moon Titan

After 31 close fly-bys of the moon, the Cassini spacecraft finally flew through Titan's upper atmosphere at a time when the moon had edged out of the influence of Saturn's magnetic field.
The encounter, which took place on 13 June 2007, showed that Titan's atmosphere actually retains a memory of the magnetic field of the plasma that surrounds Saturn. This memory might last for as long as 3 hours.
"It's surprising that it stays there that long," says team member Andrew Coates of University College London. "Over long time scales, this could really help us understand how planetary atmospheres evolve."
Titan's temporary emergence fully exposes the moon to the solar wind. But the temporary magnetization of the moon's atmosphere, which produces a draped sheath of magnetic field lines, might protect it from substantial losses.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Milky Way's Core Black Hole Sent Out Massive Flares 300 years ago

Our galaxy’s central black hole let loose a powerful flare three centuries ago.
The finding helped resolve a long-standing mystery: why is the Milky Way’s black hole so quiescent? The black hole, known as Sagittarius A-star (A*), is a certified monster, containing about 4 million times the mass of our Sun. Yet the energy radiated from its surroundings is thousands of millions of times weaker than the radiation emitted from central black holes in other galaxies.
"We have wondered why the Milky Way’s black hole appears to be a slumbering giant," says team leader Tatsuya Inui of Kyoto University in Japan. "But now we realize that the black hole was far more active in the past. Perhaps it’s just resting after a major outburst."

How to Calculate the Part of Fortune

Let me assume that you do not have Solar Fire or any of the pricey astrology software. Because in that case you will have to do your own calculation of fun stuff like the Part of Fortune, the most common of the Arabian Parts brought into Western astrology in the middle ages.
Here is the bare-bones, stripped-down formula:
Moon plus Ascendant, minus Sun, Equals the Part of Fortune.
Not sure if this blogger will accept math symbols but let me try it out:
(Moon + Ascendant) - Sun = Part of Fortune.
How do we do that?

You will have three columns of numbers for each of those factors in the equation. Say you have a Moon in Gemini -- Gemini will equal three because it is the third sign. Follow along with that system for any of the signs; in other words, the number assigned to a sign is the same as its place in the order of signs in the standard list, which is also the same as the House it normally rules. Here goes:
Aries = 1; Taurus = 2; Gemini = 3; Cancer = 4; Leo = 5; Virgo = 6; Libra = 7; Scorpio = 8; Sagittarius = 9; Capricorn = 10; Aquarius = 11; Pisces = 12.
Then the second column will be the degree that the Moon, Ascendant and Sun occupy, and the third column is the number of minutes.
Adding and subtracting can be tricky -- remember that there are 30 degrees in a sign and 60 minutes in a degree. In other words, no number in the first column will be higher than 12, no number in the second column will be higher than 29, and no number in the third column will be higher than 59. Once you have that squared away in your brain, it is a piece of cake to calculate your Part of Fortune.
The Part of Fortune often points out what you really enjoy, what gives you pleasure; this is not necessarily the point that is “lucky”. It can also be useful in helping to find a lost item; see the excellent book by Marion March and Joan McEvers, “The Only Way to Learn About Horary and Electional Astrology.” Good luck and have fun with that!

How To Figure Out Progressions

Astrologers use progressed charts to help predict what will happen to someone or some thing (like the New York Stock Exchange or a company or a political party) in the coming year or even to understand what happened in a past year.
The usual rules are that a day equals a year. What does that mean? It means that if you compare the placement of the planets on a birth date with their placement ten DAYS later, that you can make some determination about what life was like for that person when he or she was ten YEARS old.
Similarly, 20 hours will equal a month. Thirty minutes will equal a week later. Four minutes will equal a day. So you could say after looking at a birth chart and noticing that an applying aspect will be exact 18 days later, that an influence will come to a head at age eighteen. Depending on which planets are involved, that aspect may be a boon or a bane.
Or maybe you are looking at a horary chart where someone has asked where is my lost cat? And you notice that two planets are a degree and a half from being exact -- you can tell her that the cat will show up about three weeks later. (Thirty minutes = a week, so a degree and a half (90 minutes in other words) will equal three weeks.)
Good luck with your progressions and horary charts and have fun out there!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Solar Flares Could be Caused by Dark Energy
A new study led by Konstantin Zioutas of the University of Patras in Greece points to the possibility that solar flares are caused by dark matter particles (if they exist).
Axions were first postulated in 1977 by the Peccei-Quinn theory in an attempt to resolve the strong-CP problem, ie, why matter is dominant over antimatter. The theory puts forth that axions be produced deep within a star, and interact with magnetic fields as they move outwards. These interactions should, theoretically, produce some of the solar flares that we witness.

NASA Predicts Future Behavior of the Sun, Solar Flares
Auroras are dancing along the horizon. Dark sunspots crackle overhead—each little 'pop' more powerful than a nuclear bomb. On TV, a weather forecaster warns astronauts, "a solar flare is sure to erupt," although he can't say exactly when. Moments later, the satellite signal begins to flicker.Where is this place? -- Welcome to planet Earth.Lika Guhathakurta, program manager of NASA's Living with a Star program.
"It's true. We live inside the atmosphere of the sun," says Lika Guhathakurta, program manager of NASA's Living with a Star (LWS) program.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Record of Sunspot Activity -- Daily, from 1849-2002

The full record of Sunspot activity from 1849-2002 is online at
It's a useful resource for all astrologers who chart the relationship between sunspots and drought or mass movements here on Earth. Enjoy!

New Object Discovered at Edge of the Solar System

A "minor planet" with the awesomely poetic name 2006 SQ372 is just over two billion miles from Earth, a bit closer than the planet Neptune has been discovered in the inner Oort Cloud. This lump of ice and rock is beginning the return leg of a 22,500-year journey that will take it to a distance of 150 billion miles, nearly 1,600 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun, according to a team of researchers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-II).

The orbital paths of the major planets are nearly circular, but the orbit of 2006 SQ372 is an ellipse that is four times longer than it is wide, said University of Washington astronomer Andrew Becker, who led the discovery team.’

Cher -- Horoscope “Snapshot”

Cher -- born May 20, 1946 at 7:25 am Pacific Std. Time in El Centro, California
Source: Quinn quotes mother

Ascendant is 8 degrees 36 minutes of Cancer, Sun at 29 degrees Taurus, the MC is at 22 degrees 46 minutes of Pisces. The rest of the planets are as follows: Saturn at 21 degrees Cancer, Pluto at 9 degrees Leo, Mars at 13 degrees Leo, Neptune at 6 degrees Libra, Jupiter at 18 degrees Libra, Moon at 18 degrees Capricorn, Mercury at 16 degrees Taurus, Uranus at 16 degrees Gemini, North Node at 22 degrees Gemini, and Venus at 25 degrees Gemini.

A Taurus Sun with Moon in Capricorn and Cancer rising would produce someone who really wants to achieve a level of material success. There was the story of when she and Sonny Bono drove past a large mansion when they were still struggling; she remarked how she loved that house and wanted to live there one day. Wonder of wonders, but eventually she and Sonny did buy and love into that same house.
Her chart is interesting because it lets us follow lunations as they contact house cusps. In 1962, for example, the June lunation contacted her 12th house cusp, and in July it contacted her ascendant in Cancer. The July 31 an eclipse at 7 degrees Leo was close to her second house cusp with Pluto; and two weeks earlier the lunar eclipse at 24 degrees Capricorn was in her seventh house.

We could interpret the twelfth house as subconscious needs -- so the lunation there would activate them and bring them closer to the surface. She took action when the lunation occurred on her ascendant. This was the time period when she moved out of her mother’s house and in with some friends. In August of that year, a New Moon at 6 degrees Virgo was in her third house -- bringing a possible change in environment. A lunation in September at almost 6 degrees Libra conjuncted Neptune in her fourth house. Finally the October New Moon at 4 degrees Scorpio conjuncted her fifth house cusp -- and according to her biographer, that is the month that she met Sonny Bono. The rest is history, as they say. Her marriage to Sonny could well have been fated; the Moon in the seventh is part of a yod. The Moon is inconjunct both Uranus and Mars.

Also you can see how lopsided her chart is -- seven planets on the eastern side would scream her need to be noticed. Funny how the only aspect the Sun makes is a trine to Neptune, but that would suggest her glamorous image and also the music and recording career.

Saturn rises, and rules the seventh house of partners. She depended on someone older to protect her and mentor her into the music business. Saturn in the first also describes her low self-esteem. She was truly an ugly duckling type: awkward, bad skin, shy, sullen. She is also dyslexic -- but once she reads a script she knows it verbatim.

It was difficult for her to reconcile her need for discipline with a great need for freedom and personal expression. This is expressed in the T-square between the Saturn in Cancer, Moon opposite in Capricorn, and Jupiter in Libra in the fourth house. T-squares, by the way, often burst through with pent up energy in the empty leg of the T. Here, that is the tenth house of career. She also has a problematic conjunction of Mars and Pluto in Leo in the second house, square Mercury in Taurus in the eleventh. All that Mars-Pluto energy is very combustible, especially in a Fire sign, so it is lucky she has the outlet of musical (Taurus) communications (Mercury).

You may not know that she had a sideline of rehabbing and redecorating houses for resale. The also taps into that energy of the T-square but focuses on the Jupiter in the fourth house leg. I am told that she did quite well in that business, altho a couple times disputes with workmen broke into the news when they alleged she did not pay overtime.

Now the brassy, trashy image is receding from the limelight as she has retired from touring, and has not made a movie in several years. She has come a long way, tho, from the ugly duckling in El Centro.

Friday, August 15, 2008

August Astronomy Notes From Around the Local Galaxy

Mars Could Be Between Ice Ages
After examining stunning high-resolution images taken last year by the Reconnaissance Orbiter, researchers have documented for the first time that ice packs at least 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) thick and perhaps 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) thick existed along Mars' mid-latitude belt as recently as 100 million years ago. In addition, the team believes other images tell them that glaciers flowed in localized areas in the last 10 to 100 million years - a blink of the eye in Mars's geological timeline.

This evidence of recent activity means the Martian climate may change again and could bolster speculation about whether the Red Planet can, or did, support life.

Water on Mars, An Ocean on Europa? The Story in Pictures
Europa is a strange place, with a frozen surface that almost certainly has an ocean beneath it. NASA scientists lean toward the idea of a salt-water ocean, pointing to the red deposits thrown up on the surface from beneath the crust of ice. Because of geologic activity, the heavy tides from the pull of nearby Jupiter, and other factors, Europa is a dynamic, changing moon.
The picture on the right with the red spots and lines is evidence that Europa's icy shell churns away beneath the surface like a lava lamp, with warmer ice moving up and breaking through in places, where it re-freezes.

Have I Mentioned the Coolest Animated ‘Planetarium’ Online?
For a little astronomy and astrology fun go to Shadow & Substance website. They have the coolest animations of solar and lunar eclipses plus the Perseid meteor showers and Comet Holmes. The website is Everything is free; they even have links where you can download the software for an animated image of the night sky from wherever you are located. PLUS another link for listings of sunrise and sunset in your locality.
For example here is the listing of current sunrise and sunset times for Washington DC for a week in August -- --
You can set the parameters for your locality and for a full month.
Lots of fun and you can use this for everything from planning fishing trips to photography shoots (if you want to shoot a sunset) to -- well, you will think of other ways to use it, I‘m sure.

'Earth Explorer' to Map Planet "Inside Out" From Space
The most accurate gravity map of Earth ever will soon be recorded - from space, of course. The Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Explorer (GOCE) will be launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) on the 10th of September, there to explore Earth inside and out like never before.
GOCE is equipped with a triple-accelerometer gradiometer, accurate to within one part in one hundred trillion of standard Earth gravity. Don't pretend you understand that -
GOCE homepage

The Milky Way Influences Earth's Biodiversity Cycles? Research Says Yes
Horoscope enthusiasts will be happy to hear that a grand cosmic force does indeed seem to be responsible for controlling the direction of all life on Earth. However, this grand cosmic cycle has more to do with extinction than finding a tall, handsome stranger.
Research has revealed that the rise and fall of species on Earth seems to be driven by the undulating motions of our solar system as it travels through the Milky Way. Some scientists believe that this cosmic force may offer the answer to some of the biggest questions in our Earth’s biological history—
Our own star moves toward and away from the Milky Way's center, and also up and down through the galactic plane. One complete up-and-down cycle takes 64 million years- suspiciously close to the Earth's biodiversity cycle.

Planets in Late Degrees -- What Do They Mean?

Sometimes I refer to planets that are at the very end of a sign as having an extra oomph. It certainly seems like people who have their Sun in the last couple degrees of a sign are all packed and ready to go in this lifetime -- meaning that they have an unusual ability that could not have been developed only in this lifetime. Maybe they have spent several lifetimes, in fact, perfecting how to play a violin or mastering the laws of science.

The fact is that the royal fixed star Regulus is believed to be at 29 degrees of Leo and whose prominence in a birth chart promised a life lived among the socially prominent. This only adds another layer of energy to the late degree phenomenon.
So let me lay out some information on what you can expect from seeing a planet in the late degrees of a sign. A strict interpretation of ‘late degrees” means the last degree only. But practically speaking, the last three or four degrees are almost equally potent. If you see a Sun, Midheaven, Part of Fortune, or chart ruler in those degrees, then the career should have a measure of fame. But any planet in a late degree is going to throw more weight than you might otherwise expect from the placement or aspects.

ARIES -- People with a Sun or other planet in late degrees of Aries are often explorers and pioneers of some kind. Maybe they are inventors, or they push their entire profession in a new direction. Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, had his North Node at 27 degrees of Aries. Shaquille O’Neal has Venus at 29 degrees of Aries; Venus is expressed in his fondness for personally handing out toys at Christmas and Aries is expressed in his graduation from a police academy and being sworn in as an officer in Los Angeles and Miami; Aries rules police.

TAURUS -- People with a Sun or other planet in late degrees of Taurus are sadly often the victims of financial ups and downs. Maybe they even go through a bankruptcy. A friend with Venus in late Taurus has not been able to save much money due to periods of unemployment in between periods of working very hard and at long hours. Galileo had Mars at 28 Taurus sextile Jupiter and Saturn in late Cancer. His enormous scientific contributions netted him a moderate income from publishing his books, yet he died poor, in ailing health, and under house arrest, too.

GEMINI -- People with a Sun or other planet in late degrees of Gemini are often famous writers or dancers. Julia Child had Pluto at 29 Gemini and her first French cookbook revolutionized American cookery. Billy Joel with Uranus at 28 degrees Gemini, is a prolific writer/performer of rock music (Uranus) tunes. Jay Leno has his Part of Fortune at 28 degrees of Gemini; Gemini excels at comedy because they have great timing.

CANCER -- People with a Sun or other planet in late degrees of Cancer have often inherited property, or they gain wealth through property development or the hotel business. Donald Trump has Venus and Saturn in late Cancer. JFK had Saturn at 27 degrees Cancer, representing his inheritance of the Kennedy name above all else, as well as a “family business”, national politics. He also had his Part of Fortune at 29 Capricorn.

LEO -- People with a Sun or other planet in late degrees of Leo are often famous because they were born into the aristocracy (or infamous for scandals), or involved in entertainment. They rise to positions of command. Winston Churchill had his natal Moon at 29 degrees of Leo; the Moon probably signified the lasting influence of his beloved nanny, Elizabeth Anne Everest. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf had natal Sun at 28 degrees Leo. One woman tarnished by scandal was the famous Amy Fisher, the Long Island Lolita; she had her Sun at 29 degrees Leo. Saturn’s transit thru the last degrees of Leo last spring and summer triggered a rash of scandals involving sports and entertainment figures.

VIRGO -- People with a Sun or other planet in late degrees of Virgo often gain fame for work in design and especially dress design. Virgo rules textiles even tho Leo rules high fashion. Christa McAuliffe had Mercury at 29 degrees of Virgo, flanked by Saturn at 28 of Leo and Mars at 29 of Libra. Virgo is also the sign of the schoolmarm; she was a beloved teacher who planned to teach her class while in space. Roy Horn, of Siegfried and Roy fame, has Mercury at 27 degrees of Virgo. He supports the College of Magic in South Africa with a grant.

LIBRA -- People with a Sun or other planet in late degrees of Libra gain fame as dancers, judges, or other positions in the law field. Or for their marriages. Princess Grace Kelly had natal Venus at 28 degrees of Libra on her ascendant; while her early fame was for her great beauty and her film career, her main claim to fame is her marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco. Brigitte Bardot was another famed beauty, with Jupiter at 27 degrees Libra; she was possibly the most photographed woman in the world at that time. Famous Libra dancers include Ben Vereen, Fayard Nicholas, Arthur Duncan, and Juliet Prowse.

SCORPIO -- People with a Sun or other planet in late degrees of Scorpio are known for their passions or dedication to goals. Or a life identified with just one thing. Gangster “Lucky” Luciano had Uranus at 29 degrees Scorpio sextile the North Node at 28 degrees Capricorn. He had total control (Scorpio) of New York brothels (working the prostitutes 60 hours a week) and made the drug trade an international business by establishing the “French connection”. Capricorn ties in because his legacy of narcotic racketeering outlived him. Author Gustave Flaubert had Mercury at 29 degrees Scorpio, expressed in his masterpiece novel “Madame Bovary”, considered a very realistic depiction of adultery. That it was at first condemned is seen in Mercury’s trine to Pluto at 27 Pisces. Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung had his Midheaven at 29 Scorpio; plumbing the depths of the human mind was his life’s work. Scorpio also rules the occult; famous witch Sybil Leek had her Part of Fortune at 27 degrees Scorpio.

SAGITTARIUS -- People with a Sun or other planet in late degrees of Sagittarius are often religious or spiritual leaders, athletes, actors, or lucky gamblers. Pluto has been grinding away at the latter degrees of Sag and that is one reason we have had scandals affecting the Catholic Church and many actors and athletes. Al Gore’s Jupiter at 28 degrees of Sag probably accounts for the spectacular lost election of 2000; Sag and Jupiter both rule national politics.

CAPRICORN -- People with a Sun or other planet in late degrees of Capricorn often build a business, one that may outlive them or be passed on to family members. See Lucky Luciano under Scorpio, and JFK under Cancer. Princess Diana had her North Node at 28 Leo, which would account for all the scandals she brought to the House of Windsor -- but she also had Saturn at 27 degrees Capricorn. This leads me to believe that her son William might be her greatest legacy; only time will tell if he proves to be a good king.

AQUARIUS -- People with a Sun or other planet in late degrees of Aquarius are mental detectives. Marie Curie had Jupiter at 28 degrees of Aquarius and her research into the properties of radium introduced us all to the atomic age. She also had Mars at 29 degrees of Scorpio, another sign of great researchers, detectives and investigators.

PISCES -- People with a Sun or other planet in late degrees of Pisces are nicknamed the “weeping tree”. Their favorite phrase might even be “a river of tears” or the weeping willow. Their lives seem like one disaster after another although somehow they survive them all. Some say that 22 degrees Pisces is also known for this. Jack Kerouac had his Venus at 29 degrees Pisces; tho his Mercury was well aspected and brought him fame for his writing, he became disillusioned with fame and withdrew from life “On the Road”. Queen Victoria had Pluto and Saturn at 27 and 28 degrees of Pisces; the one thing she is best known for is her lifelong garb of black “widow’s weeds” after the early death of her beloved husband. That the British Empire also started to unravel is almost a footnote. On a more upbeat note, Clara Barton had Pluto at 27 degrees Pisces and worked hard to clean up the image of nurses as well as distribute medical supplies to the front lines of the Civil War.

Other notables: Tiger Woods has Venus at 28 degrees Scorpio and Mercury at 26 degrees Capricorn; his Tiger Woods Foundation gifts (Venus) money for golf clinics, grants and scholarships. I have no doubt that this foundation will be a legacy that lives on after him (Capricorn).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Astrology Attack Kit and Your Defense Answers

In 1995 someone named Andrew Fraknoi wrote a column on the astronomy website AstroSociety. He called it the Astrology Defense Kit but it is really an astrology ATTACK kit. I may as well include it here altho I really don’t want to give this troll any further attention than he already has gotten. Then following that are some astrology defense arguments that you can use to protect yourself. Good luck, have fun.

Your Astrology Defense Kit by Andrew Fraknoi
It happens to all of us - astronomers, amateurs, and teachers. We tell someone about our interest in the heavens and quickly get drawn into a debate about astrology. For many of us it's hard to know how to respond politely to someone who takes this ancient superstition seriously.
The revelation that daily schedules in the Reagan White House were arranged and rearranged based on the predictions of a San Francisco astrologer focused new attention on astrology's widespread public acceptance. More than ever, we are likely to face questions about astrology, especially among young people. So here is a quick guide to some of the responses you can make to astrologers' claims.
The Tenets of Astrology
The basis of astrology is disarmingly simple: a person's character and destiny can be understood from the positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets at the moment of his or her birth. Interpreting the location of these bodies using a chart called the horoscope, astrologers claim to predict and explain the course of life and to help people, companies, and nations with decisions of great import.
Implausible as such claims may sound to anyone who knows what and how distant the Sun, Moon, and planets really are, a 1984 Gallup Poll revealed that 55 percent of American teenagers believe in astrology. And every day thousands of people around the world base crucial medical, professional, and personal decisions on advice received from astrologers and astrological publications.
The details of its precise origins are lost in antiquity, but astrology is at least thousands of years old and appears in different forms in many cultures. It arose at a time when humankind's view of the world was dominated by magic and superstition, when the need to grasp the patterns of nature was often of life-and-death importance.
Celestial objects seemed in those days to be either gods, important spirits, or, at the very least, symbols or representatives of divine personages who spent their time tinkering with humans' daily lives. People eagerly searched for heavenly signs of what the gods would do next.
Seen in this context, a system that connected the bright planets and "important" constellations with meaningful life questions was appealing and reassuring. (Astrologers believe that the important constellations are the ones the Sun passes through during the course of a year; they call these the constellations of the zodiac.) And even today, despite so much effort at science education, astrology's appeal for many people has not diminished. For them, thinking of Venus as a cloud-covered desert world as hot as an oven is far less attractive than seeing it as an aid in deciding whom to marry.
Ten Embarrassing Questions
A good way to begin thinking about the astrological perspective is to take a skeptical but good-humored look at the logical consequences of some of its claims. Here are my 10 favorite questions to ask supporters of astrology:
1. What is the likelihood that one-twelfth of the world's population is having the same kind of day?
Proponents of newspaper astrology columns (which appear in more than 1,200 dailies in the United States alone) claim you can learn something about your day by reading one of 12 paragraphs in the morning paper. Simple division shows that this means 400 million people around the world will all have the same kind of day, every single day. Given the need to fill so many bills at once, it is clear why astrological predictions are couched in the vaguest and most general language possible.
2. Why is the moment of birth, rather than conception, crucial for astrology?
Astrology seems scientific to some people because the horoscope is based on an exact datum: the subject's time of birth. When astrology was set up long ago, the moment of birth was considered the magic creation point of life. But today we understand birth as the culmination of nine months of steady development inside the womb. Indeed, scientists now believe that many aspects of a child's personality are set long before birth.
I suspect the reason astrologers still adhere to the moment of birth has little to do with astrological theory. Almost every client knows when he or she was born, but it is difficult (and perhaps embarrassing) to identify a person's moment of conception. To make their predictions seem as personal as possible, astrologers stick with the more easily determined date.
3. If the mother's womb can keep out astrological influences until birth, can we do the same with a cubicle of steak?
If such powerful forces emanate from the heavens, why are they inhibited before birth by a thin shield of muscle, flesh, and skin? And if they really do and a baby's potential horoscope is unsatisfactory, could we delay the action of the astrological influences by immediately surrounding the newborn with a thin cubicle of steak until the celestial signs are more auspicious?
4. If astrologers are as good as they claim, why aren't they richer?
Some astrologers answer that they cannot predict specific events, only broad trends. Others claim to have the power to foresee large events, but not small ones. But either way astrologers could amass billions by forecasting general stock-market behavior or commodity futures, and thus not have to charge their clients high fees. In October, 1987, how many astrologers actually foresaw Black Monday when the stock market took such a large tumble and warned their clients about it?
5. Are all horoscopes done before the discovery of the three outermost planets incorrect?
Some astrologers claim that the Sun sign (the location of the Sun in the zodiac at the moment of birth), which most newspaper horoscopes use exclusively, is an inadequate guide to the effects of the cosmos. These serious practitioners (generally those who have missed out on the lucrative business of syndicated columns) insist that the influence of all major bodies in the solar system must be taken into account - including the outmost planets Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, which were not discovered until 1781, 1846, and 1930, respectively.
If that's the case, what happens to the claim many astrologers make that their art has led to accurate predictions for many centuries? Weren't all horoscopes cast before 1930 wrong? And why didn't the inaccuracies in early horoscopes lead astrologers to deduce the presence of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto long before astronomers discovered them?
6. Shouldn't we condemn astrology as a form of bigotry?
In a civilized society we deplore all systems that judge individuals by sex, skin color, religion, national origin, or other accidents of birth. Yet astrologers boast that they can evaluate people based on another accident of birth - the positions of celestial objects. Isn't refusing to date a Leo or hire a Virgo as bad as refusing to date a Catholic or hire a black person?
7. Why do different schools of astrology disagree so strongly with each other?
Astrologers seem to disagree on the most fundamental issues of their craft: whether to account for the precession of the Earth's axis (see the box below), how many planets and other celestial objects should be included, and - most importantly - which personality traits go with which cosmic phenomena. Read ten different astrology columns, or have a reading done by ten different astrologers, and you will probably get ten different interpretations.
If astrology is a science, as its proponents claim, why are its practitioners not converging on a consensus theory after thousands of years of gathering data and refining its interpretation? Scientific ideas generally converge over time as they are tested against laboratory or other evidence. In contrast, systems based on superstition or personal belief tend to diverge as their practitioners carve out separate niches while jockeying for power, income, or prestige.
8. If the astrological influence is carried by a known force, why do the planets dominate?
If the effects of astrology can be attributed to gravity, tidal forces, or magnetism (each is invoked by a different astrological school), even a beginning physics student can make the calculations necessary to see what really affects a newborn baby. These are worked out for many different cases in Roger Culver and Philip Ianna's book Astrology: True or False (1988, Prometheus Books). For example, the obstetrician who delivers the child turns out to have about six times the gravitational pull of Mars and about two thousand billion times its tidal force. The doctor may have a lot less mass than the red planet, but he or she is a lot closer to the baby!
9. If astrological influence is carried by an unknown force, why is it independent of distance?
All the long-range forces we know in the universe get weaker as objects get farther apart. But, as you might expect in an Earth-centered system made thousands of years ago, astrological influences do not depend on distance at all. The importance of Mars in your horoscope is identical whether the planet is on the same side of the Sun as the Earth or seven times farther away on the other side. A force not dependent on distance would be a revolutionary discovery for science, changing many of our fundamental notions.
10. If astrological influences don't depend on distance, why is there no astrology of stars, galaxies, and quasars?
French astronomer Jean-Claude Pecker has pointed out that it seems very small-minded of astrologers to limit their craft to our solar system. Billions of stupendous bodies all over the universe should add their influence to that of our tiny little Sun, Moon, and planets. Has a client whose horoscope omits the effects of Rigel, the Crab pulsar, and the Andromeda Galaxy really had a complete reading?
Testing Astrology
Even if we give astrologers the benefit of the doubt on all these questions - accepting that astrological influences may exist outside our current understanding of the universe - there is a devastating final point. Put simply, Astrology doesn't work. Many careful tests have now shown that, despite their claims, astrologers really can't predict anything.
After all, we don't need to know how something works to see whether it works. During the last two decades, while astrologers have somehow always been a little too busy to conduct statistically valid tests of their work, physical and social scientists have done it for them. Let's consider a few representative studies.
Psychologist Bernard Silverman of Michigan State University looked at the birth dates of 2,978 couples who were getting married and 478 who were getting divorced in the state of Michigan. Most astrologers claim they can at least predict which astrological signs will be compatible or incompatible when it comes to personal relationships. Silverman compared such predictions to the actual records and found no correlations. For example "incompatibly signed" men and women got married as frequently as "compatibly signed" ones.
Many astrologers insist that a person's Sun sign is strongly correlated with his or her choice of profession. Indeed, job counseling is an important function of modern astrology. Physicist John McGervey at Case Western Reserve University looked at biographies and birth dates of some 6,000 politicians and 17,000 scientists to see if members of these professions would cluster among certain signs, as astrologers predict. He found the signs of both groups to be distributed completely at random.=09
To overcome the objections of astrologers who feel that the Sun sign alone is not enough for a reading, physicist Shawn Carlson of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory carried out an ingenious experiment. Groups of volunteers were asked to provide information necessary for casting a full horoscope and to fill out the California Personality Inventory, a standard psychologists' questionnaire that uses just the sorts of broad, general, descriptive terms astrologers use.
A "respected" astrological organization constructed horoscopes for the volunteers, and 28 professional astrologers who had approved the procedure in advance were each sent one horoscope and three personality profiles, one of which belonged to the subject of the horoscope. Their task was to interpret the horoscope and select which of the three profiles it matched.
Although the astrologers had predicted that they would score better than 50 percent correct, their actual score in 116 trials was only 34 percent correct - just what you would expect by guessing! Carlson published his results in the December 5, 1985, issue of Nature, much to the embarrassment of the astrological community.
Other tests show that it hardly matters what a horoscope says, as long as the subject feels the interpretations were done for him or her personally. A few years ago French statistician Michel Gauquelin sent the horoscope for one of the worst mass murderers in French history to 150 people and asked how well it fit them. Ninety-four percent of the subjects said they recognized themselves in the description.
Geoffrey Dean, an Australian researcher who has conducted extensive tests of astrology, reversed the astrological readings of 22 subjects, substituting phrases that were the opposite of what the horoscopes actually stated. Yet the subjects in this study said the readings applied to them just as often (95 percent of the time) as people to whom the correct phrases were given. Apparently, those who seek out astrologers just want guidance, any guidance.
Some time ago astronomers Culver and Ianna tracked the published predictions of well-known astrologers and astrological organizations for five years. Out of more than 3,000 specific predictions (including many about politicians, film stars, and other famous people), only about 10 percent came to pass. Veteran reporters - and probably many people who read or watch the news - could do a good deal better by educated guessing.
If the stars lead astrologers to incorrect predictions 9 times out of 10, they hardly seem like reliable guides for decisions of life and affairs of state. Yet millions of people, including the former First Lady, seem to swear by them.
Clearly, those of us who love astronomy cannot just hope that the public's infatuation with astrology will go away. We must speak out whenever it is useful or appropriate - to discuss the shortcomings of astrology and the shaky ground it is based on. Those of us working with youngsters can use these ideas to develop a healthy skepticism in the students and encourage an interest in the real cosmos - the one of remote worlds and suns that are mercifully unconcerned with the lives and desires of the creatures on planet Earth. Let's not allow another generation of young people to grow up tied to an ancient fantasy, left over from a time when we huddled by the firelight, afraid of the night.
[End of the Fraknoi column]

Now, here is a suggested defense for those questions, written by a real astrologer -- His name is Jack Fertig but he goes by the handle STARJACK.

1. What is the likelihood that one-twelfth of the world's population is having the same kind of day?

That depends on how broadly you describe "the same kind of day". You seem to be referring to Sun Sign astrology that attempts to describes daily experience solely by sun sign. This is astrology at its lowest common denominator, even when those newspaper columns are written by qualified astrologers. Few of them are. A complete horoscope is much more personalized, considering the position of the Sun, Moon, and planets calculated to the minute of a degree at the moment of birth and from the perspective of the birthplace.
2. Why is the moment of birth, rather than conception, crucial for astrology?

Because, as we've seen from thousands of years of empirical observation, it works.

The time of birth is identifiable, and marks the beginning of life as an autonomous human being - unlike the moment of conception, which is rarely identifiable. (And as for when a zygote becomes a viable life form, this is a question that has gone back and forth on the whole question of abortion. Nobody has a clear answer, and it seems to be a philosophical, rather than a scientific, question about the very nature and meaning of the beginning of life.)

3. If the mother's womb can keep out astrological influences until birth, can we do the same with a cubicle of steak?

If a cubicle of steak could be devised to provide full life support so that the individual inside had no need for independent breath, food, elimination, cleaning, etc. that might be an interesting experiment. But then a person living in such a vegetative state would not be able to make the choices or have the experiences that astrology is used to help with.

Actually the research of Michel Gauquelin shows astrological patterns within families. (I've seen this in my own work, and other astrologers see it regularly, but unlike our "anecdotal experience" Gauquelin has applied scientific standards of statistical methodology.) He sees this as suggesting that astrological influences may trigger the birth, so the child may well be susceptible to astrological influences in the womb well before birth.

4. If astrologers are as good as they claim, why aren't they richer?

Many of us began the study of astrology as a spiritual pursuit rather than a commercial one. The field is predominant with people who consider philosophical and spiritual wealth far more important than money. Still, most of us are indeed richer than we would be without astrology, both financially and philosophically. There are many branches of astrology and very few astrologers use astrology for financial investments - usually because skills and interests lie in other fields. Some astrologers can see that they have no chart for making money, but may help those who do. As J. P. Morgan said: "Millionaires don't use astrologers. Billionaires do."
5. Are all horoscopes done before the discovery of the three outermost planets incorrect?

Was astronomy incorrect before the Hubble Telescope? Every body of knowledge that is worth anything is constantly expanding, gaining new information, re-evaluating old theories in light of new evidence. Certainly horoscopes including the three outermost planets contain more information.

6. Shouldn't we condemn astrology as a form of bigotry? Isn't refusing to date a Leo or hire a Virgo as bad as refusing to date a Catholic or hire a black person?

Bigotry is pre-judging a person by skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or other factors that have nothing to do with the substance of his/her character. Astrology is a manner of assessing the substance of his/her character. A simplistic approach -- i.e. Aquarians are good people, Scorpios are evil -- is indeed a form of bigotry. A full chart analysis could actually help people into the jobs where they would be most satisfied and productive. (I might want a Virgo for an accountant, but not if s/he has a Sun-Neptune conjunction in the 6th house on the apex of a t-square between Jupiter and Mars -- although that person might make an excellent EMT.)
As for whom you choose to date, that's a highly personal matter. If you don't want to date Catholics, I'm one RC who won't snap your mackerel, but respect your right to choose your dates as you wish. Now Fraknoi is going from telling us how we should think to how we should love.

Moreover he repeats the same questions ad nauseum and ignores the answers. This is as narrow-minded a prejudice as any form of religious bigotry. Besides which, it is the opposite of science.

7. Why do different schools of astrology disagree so strongly with each other?

There are disagreements within any discipline of knowledge. Within a large group of astronomers there will also be disagreements. It is this writer's opinion, though, that those sciences which have been supported by universities, governments, and large corporations have had the great opportunities and funding to test more fully many theories, some of which have been proven wrong, some right, some still in contention. Astrologers have no such support and rely more on personal, indeed, anecdotal experience. Also as a field where there is no established consistent code of credentials and protocols there is inevitably more variation of thought. Some of us regard this diversity as a great opportunity; some consider it a gateway to sloppy research, theorizing, and interpretation.

8. If the astrological influence is carried by a known force, why do the planets dominate?

Astrological influence is not carried by a known force. If it were, the scientific community would have no choice but to accept its validity.

9. If astrological influence is carried by an unknown force, why is it independent of distance?

How can one judge the properties of an unknown force?

10. If astrological influences don't depend on distance, why is there no astrology of stars, galaxies, and quasars?

There is, although it is practiced by a small minority of astrologers. But more to the point, we don't know to what extent distance is or is not a factor in astrological influence. I subscribe to the theory that astrology deals exclusively with influences of our Sun, Moon, and the planets, an interactive matrix of influences entirely within our solar system. The stars of the zodiac are only markers -- relatively unmoving guides against which we can measure planetary, solar, and lunar motion.

Post Script - Reviewing these questions one can easily see that they have no scientific basis, that they are intended to bait rather than to investigate. They are reflective of a narrow mind trying to ridicule what it does not understand, rather than making the scientific admission of humble ignorance as a starting point in the pursuit of knowledge. That anybody would pose such questions in the name of science should embarrass real scientists.

Thank you, Starjack, and now back to our regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.

Saturn's Moon Titan Proving to be Full of Surprises

Key Indicator of Life Found on Saturn’s Moon Titan -- Electricity
“Physicists say they have “unequivocally” proved that there is natural electrical activity on Titan, the largest of Saturn's moons. The world scientist community believes that the probability of organic molecules, precursors of life, being formed is higher on planets or moons which have an atmosphere with electrical storms.”
From Daily Galaxy from materials provided by Plataforma SINC, via AlphaGalileo.
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Saturn’s Moon Titan Has Hydrocarbons, Too
A giant, glassy lake larger than North America's Lake Ontario graces the south pole of Saturn's largest moon Titan, new research from the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory confirms. Titan, which is one-and-a-half times the size of Earth's moon and bigger than either Mercury or Pluto, is one of the most intriguing bodies in the solar system when it comes to exploring environments that may give rise to life.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Jupiter’s Moon Io is Having Volcanic Spasm

A huge eruption on Jupiter’s moon Io has been captured in pictures taken over a period of five months. This eruption affected an area 250 miles across on the Pillan Patera, as its volcano spews out sulfurous material. The sulfur takes on different colors depending on its temperature, so this area looks like a mess of yellow, orange, red and brownish blotches.
It is also interesting to speculate if Io has an iron core, which accounts for the moon having its own magnetic field.
See full story here at

Saturday, July 12, 2008

July Astronomy Notes from Across the Universe

Volcanism forged Mercury's surface
Images provided by MESSENGER from its January 14 fly-by provide strong evidence that volcanoes played a critical role in forming Mercury's surface, according to geologist James Head of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. The Caloris basin, with a diameter of 960 miles, is one of the solar system's biggest impact craters. (TWO links below -- Reuters story plus original and better article on

Speaking of Mercury -- The Last Thing They Expected to Find Was H2O!
Mercury’s exosphere (as it's normally termed) is so thin that the MESSENGER [name of Mercury mission] can fly directly through it without burning up (though if it had been worried about burning it wouldn't have flown to Mercury in the first place). On the way through its Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer detected an awful lot of rock elements, as you might expect, but also signals indicating water element groups. To the general reactions of "What the Hell?" "Check it AGAIN!" and eventually "Wow!" back at mission control.
One explanation for this momentous moisture is that charged hydrogen atoms from the solar wind (which constantly flays the surface) can combine with oxygen from the vaporized crust of the planet to form the essential H2O. Sun radiation combined with blasted rocks on another planet - it makes Evian look like tap water in a council flat.

Universe Sandbox -- Kinda Like “Smashing Planets” Plus Astro ‘Aquarium’
Check out this cool program: you can smash planets together, introduce rogue stars, and build new worlds from spinning discs of debris. Fire a moon into a planet or destroy everything you've created with a super massive black hole.
You can simulate and interact with:
Our solar system: the 8 planets,160+ moons, and hundereds of asteroids
Nearest 1000 stars to our Sun
Our local group of galaxies
An unlimited number of fictional scenarios

Moon Volcanoes Show Detectable Water
All previous studies on moon samples had a minimum moisture sensitivity of fifty parts per million; it turns out the precious water was hiding down at the forty-six per million mark. Analysing samples of volcanic glass beads with the new technique of Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) the bashful water was finally detected.
The distribution of H20 in the samples is consistent with the original material being relatively rich in water, about as much as the Earth's upper mantle, but the volcanic processes causing 95% of it to be lost.

Are Jupiter's "Red Spots" Under Siege from Violent Climate Change?
The little red spot (LRS) was first identified by John Rogers, British Astronomical Association’s Jupiter Section director. As Rogers recounts, “This spot appeared last winter while Jupiter was hidden behind the Sun. I noticed it on March 1st in images taken by amateur astronomers Tomio Akutsu in the Philippines and Anthony Wesley in Australia. Such spots in the South Tropical Zone (STrZ) are very rare.”
Since LRS’s discovery, the currents of the STrZ have carried it inexorably toward the Great Red Spot. Jupiter watchers wondered what would happen to the small spot when it encountered the GRS and the adjacent Oval BA (Red Spot Junior). The moment of fate arrived on July 3rd, when the LRS tried to squeeze through the narrow gap between the GRS and adjacent Oval BA like dough through the rollers of a pasta machine.

As of this date, the little spot’s ultimate fate remains unclear.