The movement of the planets around the ecliptic, and also around the Zodiac is a cosmic dance on the grand scale, and also one on the intimate scale going on for each one of us. As we take a close look into someone's Birth Chart - which is a Sky Chart for the exact moment of one's birth -, we use as a reference for our calculations the month, day, year, the place and the time, that the pearson was born. Hence, Astrology is the study of sky patterns and relationships - of planets in motion.
In brief, a natal chart is composed of ten planets: two luminaries, the Sun and the Moon, three fast-moving or individual planets, Mercury, Venus and Mars, two slow-moving planets, Jupiter and Saturn, and three very slow-moving planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Additional secondary elements are: the Lunar Nodes, the Dark Moon or Lilith, Chiron and other celestial bodies, such as asteroids and fixed stars. They are all posited on the Zodiac wheel consisting of twelve signs, from Aries to Pisces, and divided into twelve astrological houses.
Your birth chart is a map of the planet's alignments at the exact moment you were born, which reveals your areas of greatest potential and your unique personality characteristics. Find out how the planets' positions at your birth influence your entire life, from your relationships to your finances and much more.
Astronomy is the Fundamental Basis of Astrology
I want to help you gain some understanding about Astronomy, a science which is a fundamental basis of Astrology. Throughout the ages, man has looked at the starry heavens and marvelled. The infinite immensity of space, with its terrifying beauty has caught the imagination, instilling a sense of spiritual awareness, and wonderment. The questing spirit of man has enabled us to confront the unknown frontiers of space and to discover that, not only is the Universe magnificent, it is far more magnificent than we had ever imagined.
Astronomy, as well as demonstrating a mathematical and physical beauty, it also allows scope for limitless philosophical speculations. An understanding of Astronomy and its principles enriches, and as we study the heavens and marvel at its misteries, its precision, its aesthetic beauty, we realize that our transient existence is ordered and controlled by powerful and subtle Universal Forces.
The last few decades have seen an unparalleled revival in the study of both Astronomy and Astrology. The Space Age, with its existing discoveries, has stimulated the imagination and, although Astrological concepts and teachings need re-appraisal, we may eventually see Astronomy and Astrology reconciled, with both contribuiting toward an appreciation of true values and real purposes concerning life, and all its manifestations.
Mythology and Its Correlation With Celestial Phenomena
Many ancient cultures looked skyward as they searched for guidance there. Initially, the fear of the unknown and superstitious beliefs resulted in a mythology of the heavens being developed, but in the course of time, that which had been regarded as inexplicable was gradually accepted and adapted for more pratical purposes. The myths and rituals of many diverse cultures often have a common base, frequently associated with celestial phenomena.
In his endless struggle for existance, early man became intimately aware of the relationship existing between heaven and earth. The period of growth and harvesting could be related to the appearance of certain constellations and would correspond with the Equinoxes (Spring and Autumn), while high summer and mid-winter coincided with the Solstices (June and December). This fact, along with other celestial phenomena, doubtlessly instilled in early man a sense of divine wonderment, with which he sought to combine the spiritual with the mundane.
Myths connected with growth and fertility owe their origins to lunar influence. The preocupation of early man with the Moon and its motions, was derived, not only from any mythological significance, but chiefly from the pratical implications associated with its movements. The relationship of the tides with certain phases of the Moon would have been noted, and the plotting of the Moon's position would give a good working knowledge of the "when" and "how" of tidal activity. At a very early date, man commenced travelling extensively, and although his sea-going craft were primitive he, nevetheless, managed to navigate treacherous coastal waters, because they were well acquainted with the Moon's effect on the tides.
The correlation between Moon and the Tides, Moon and Growth, and Moon and Human Physiology would all have an extremely important significance. Innitially, the reasons for the association would not have been known, but over a period of time, the knowledge and experience gained from close observations would have been put to pratical use.
The Moon's phases could be symbolically interpreted as the sowing of the seed and birth (New Moon), a gradual increase in light until Full, then slow decrease and death. This cycle, which could be related to human existence, had pratical as well as symbolic connotations; an essencial interchange existed between lunar motions and human expressions, and activities. There is much in favor of support for the tradicional tales concerning lunar influence, not least the Moon's role in relation to sexuality and procreation. Early man would have been aware of this, hence the importance attached to the Moon and its movements. They combined a sense of the mysthical with an appreciation of the pratical funcional.
Astronomy and The Early Civilizations
The earliest records show that the civilizations of the Tigris and Euphrates valley, the Indus valley and China were actively studying and observing the heavens. Astronomy and Astrology were compatible and remained so, with certain modifications, until the Renaissance (15th century). The Babylonian Astronomy / Astrology was a highly developed study, and the advances made by the Babylonians became the basis for the Greek Astronomy.
The combination of Babylonian observations, and Greek Astronomy, enabled Hipparchus (c. 130 B.C.) to devise the concept of celestial bodies moving in epicycles and deferents. Earlier, Eudoxus (408 - 355 B.C.) a pupil of Plato, suggested a planetary system of heavenly bodies attached to transparent spheres turning on separate axes.
The Greek philosophers and astronomers contributed immensely towards an understanding of the Universe. Hipparchus supposed that the planets revolved in circles, not about the Earth, but about points which revolved circularly about the Earth. The observations of Hipparchus were summarized by Ptolemy (A.D. 100 - 178) in his great astronomical work of antiquity, the Almagest. Ptolemy's system was a geocentric view of the Universe; the Earth lay at the center of the Universe and around it moved the Sun, Moon and planets. Each planet was assumed to move round a circle or epicycle, the center of which moved round a larger circle (the deferent) which was itself centered on the Earth. At the time of Ptolemy, it was considered that the circle was the perfect geometrical form, and that only perfect motion was possible in the heavens. This was the accepted view until the 16th century, although the Ptolemaic system did not remain rigid, but was constantly modified in the light of new facts.
From the time of Hipparchus until the 16th century, almost 1800 years later, little progress was made regarding the understanding of the Universe. The Greeks had devised a model of the planetary system which was of a limited use, particularly as the Earth was considered to be center of the Universe.
The idea that the Earth is a sphere probably first occured to the ancient Greeks around 500 B.C. The four basic elements, fire, air, water, eath were assumed to occupy particular places in the Universe or 'cosmos'. Aristotle, in developing this theory, reasoned that the Earth must be at the center of the Universe, because rocks fall downward, while the upper atmosphere was composed of fire because flames tend to leap upward. In between, were two fluids, air and water (corresponding to the Earth's atmosphere and oceans) and above the upper atmosphere was the 'sphere of the Moon'. In all these regions bellow the Moon, the normal course of events was for matter (composed in differing proportions of the four elements) to change and decay, but above the Moon were the unchanging heavens, where the Sun, planets and stars moved in perfect circles. In this celestial region there was only one element, ether. Aristotle's theories formed a basis of Astronomy and Physics until the 17th century, and were not seriously questioned until then.
Ships sailing away from land disappeared hull first, with the sails being the last part to vanish below the horizon. The Earth's surface must therefore at least be curved.
During an eclipse of the Moon, the Earth's shadow is not straight but curved, similar to the shadow cast by a ball.
Mariners sailing southward reported that the Pole Star (Polaris) appeared progressively lower down in the northern sky, again suggesting a curved surface for the Earth.
An additional piece of evidence was supplied by the philosopher Eratosthenes of Cyrene in the 3rd century B.C. He showed that on the same day of the year, a stick placed in the ground at Syene in Egypt cast no shadow at noon, the Sun then being directly overhead, but a stick in the ground at Alexandria, 500 miles to the north, cast a short shadow at the same time of day, indicating that the Sun was 7 1/2 degrees from the overhead point (Zenit). By measuring the distance between Syene and Alexandria, Eratosthenes was able to calculate the circumference of the Earth and arrived at a surprisingly accurate result (within a few percent of modern estimates).
The first person to suggest the Earth and the other planets move around the Sun was Aristarchus of Samos, in the 3rd century B.C. Aristarchus also measured the distances of the Sun and Moon, using geometrical methods, obtaining a quite accurate value for the Moon's distance, but a grossly erroneous one for the Sun's. But his theories of a Sun-centered Universe were forgotten until the time Copernicus in the 16th century, and an Earth-centered Universe was assumed.
Ptolemy was the last great astronomer of the ancient period, and for many centuries afterwards, the development of Astronomy and science came almost to a standstill in Europe. The Mediterranean civilizations was eventually dominated by Rome (2nd Century B.C.), and when in turn the Roman Empire declined during the first few centuries of the Christian Era, much of the ancient astronomical tradition and knowledge was lost, and only re-discovered many centuries later when the Islamic science reached its peak. After the middle of the 7th century, the Moslem world expanded rapidly, and the ancient sciences were translated into Arabic, and further fundamental advances in Mathematics and Astronomy were made. The Islamic contribuition is important in that it preserved the ancient traditions of Greek Astronomy, which later, European scholars found so valuable. Ptolemy's great work, the Almagest, was translated into Arabic, and eventualy into Latin (A.D. 1175). During this time, however, the ideas of Aristotle concerning the physical workings of the Universe still went unchallenged, and the Earth was still considered to be at the center.
The 16th century saw the circumnavigation of the Earth by Magellan (1519-22), and the sphericity of the Earth was stablished. This was the age of geographical exploration; the discovery of the Americas, and the sea route to India via the Cape of Good Hope. All this demanded efficient navigational instruments and tables. No satisfactory determination of longitude was possible, (this came later with the invention of the marine chronometer by Harrison), but latitude could be found from tables of solar declination or from Pole Star altitude corretions. These extensive voyages in southern latitudes contributed to further advances in Astronomy, in that the southern constellations were examined and studied for a substitute for the Pole Star.