In episode 304, astrologer Patrick Watson takes part in the show to talk about how to use an ephemeris to study the movements of planets in astrology.
An ephemeris is a book of planetary positions that lists where the planets will be in the past, present, or future in the zodiac.
Previously it was used by astrologers to calculate natal charts by hand, but nowadays it is mainly useful for studying planetary transits and cycles.
As the episode progresses, we’ll give a detailed introduction to the ephemeris, talk about some of the things you can do with it, and how you can use it to improve your technical skills as an astrologer.
You can find more information about Patrick on his website:
This episode is available in the following audio and video versions.
View ephemeris episode sketch and notes
Here is an overview of some of the key points discussed in the episode:
- Definition: what is an ephemeris?
- Definition from Google / Oxford languages:
- “A table or data file that shows the calculated positions of a celestial object at regular intervals over a period of time.”
- “A book or a series of such tables or files.”
- An ephemeris is just a listing of the planetary positions.
- A practical way to tabulate the data.
- Allows you to view large amounts of data at a glance.
- Pronounced e · phem · er · is
- Ephemeris is the singular while the plural is ephemeris.
- There are different types of ephemeris
- Astrodienst ephemeris available online for free (Swiss ephemeris)
- The American ephemeris is the printed ephemeris that we use and recommend
- It is currently the most common among US astrologers.
- So we will focus on that and on the Astrodienst ephemeris
- There are several types of American ephemeris.
- The main difference lies in the annual ranges
- How to accomplish the most important thing at this point is the trans-century ephemeris for 1950-2050
- Midnight towards noon ephemeris
- The midnight version starts the day at midnight
- The noon version starts the day at 12 noon
- The difference is negligible for most planets.
- I usually use the noon version so you know where the planets are at noon
- Requirements for using an ephemeris
- Memorizing the glyphs for planets and signs
- Memorizing the aspects ranges from planets
- Understand planetary motions
- Ephemeris shows the longitudinal movements of the planets through signs of the zodiac
- Along the ecliptic, which is the path of the sun
- Breakdown of the information on a page of the American Ephemeris
- Month, year, day
- All planets and their lengths and whether direct or retro
- Stations, intruders, last aspect of the moon
- Phases of the moon and eclipses
- Various astro data: asteroids, galactic center, middle node
- Direct versus retrograde movement
- American ephemeris shades retrograde planets, which is a beautiful feature
- See how fast or slow different planets are moving.
- It shows the degree and minute in which each planet is at the beginning of the day
- Unless you’re using the noon version
- You need to close where it is during the day based on planetary speed
- Because of this, the ephemeris for planets like the moon is pretty approximate.
- In the past, astrologers had to calculate diagrams by hand using the ephemeris
- Also needed an atlas for time zone changes
- Table of houses
- Nowadays all computer programs run on a digital ephemeris
- Astrodienst licenses its Swiss ephemeris for developers
- Astrolabe licenses the ACS Atlas for developers.
- Book for calculating diagrams
- Used to surprise me that astro programs are not run in real time but are calculated based on ephemeris calculated years ago.
- This is because the planetary movements are so steady and regular that once you have them down you can project them far into the future or past.
- Planetary cycles
- Ephemeris can help you get a feel for how long a cycle is
- E.g. the moon needs a month, the sun a year, Jupiter 12, Saturn 27-30.
- There are also broader cycles such as synodic cycles.
- You can use the ephemeris to see the movement of planets, but also to go over to your map
- Keep your birth certificate in mind
- Know what signs and degrees occupy natal planets
- So when you see a planet to some extent, you know that is important to you
- Or someone you know: parent, sibling, partner, turtle, etc.
- Can use books like Planets in Transit to look up transit meaning
- The advantage of knowing the planetary cycles is that you can measure how frequent a transit is.
- You can also see connections between time periods, which gives you insight into the themes and qualities of future events.
- You can do secondary progressions with an ephemeris for the year you were born
- Other types of ephemeris or specialized ephemeris
- Planetary cycle data from Astrodienst
- Astro.com> Everything about astrology> 9000 years of ephemeris> Planetary cycles and signs of dips
- Provides accurate heliacal ascension dates / times and settings for each planet instead of the traditional 15 degree rule
- Also provides maximum elongation data for Mercury and Venus, which are not always easy to see with the eye
- Declination / latitude ephemeris
- Astro.com> All about astrology> 9000 years of ephemeris> 21st century> with declination and latitude
- Also available on Astro-seek.com
- Aspect ephemeris
- Asteroid ephemeris
- Ephemeris center
- Hypothetical planets ephemeris
- Planetary cycle data from Astrodienst
- Tables of planetary phenomena, 3rd ed. Michaelsen and Pottenger
- Has a great darkness ephemeris
- The outer planet is invading
- Outer planetary conjunctions, etc.
- You can use software programs these days to make lists like this one.
- The function for animating diagrams has the same function
- But it’s different when it’s all ahead of you
- The ability to easily fast forward to months or years
Check out the video version of this episode
Here is the video version of this episode on reading an ephemeris:
Listen to the audio version of this episode
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