By Edward Snow
Here’s a blast from the past.
One hundred years ago, students seeking to improve their knowledge of astrology pored over the birth charts (horoscopes) published in Alan Leo’s 1001 Notable Nativities book. A big part of the learning curve for astrologers in this era involved studying these charts to discover commonalities.
“Astrology is based upon studying the charts and seeing what people with a particular chart factor have in common. Learning astrology in this way goes all the way back to the Babylonians,” astrologer and computer software program designer John Halloran explains.
Halloran is founder of Halloran Software and makes the point that astrologers still make the same sort of comparisons today. Only they now look up biographical and matching astrological details for well known subjects in huge computer databases created for this purpose.
In today’s world, clients seek the help of professional astrologers to learn how planetary influences are working in their lives and how their personal potential might best be realized. Computer technologies impact every aspect of the astrologer’s work day, increasing efficiencies and enhancing the astrologer’s ability to deliver accurate and meaningful information to clients, he says.
Before computers, astrologers needed to maintain a library of planetary ephemeris books (ephemerides) for all of the birth years for which they might have clients. An ephemeris describes the astronomical positions of the sun, moon and planets at Greenwich, England, at either noon or midnight and must be converted to a local time and place.
Even with a calculator Halloran says it could take astrologers up to two hours to calculate the exact degree for every planet and its precise location in an individual’s birth map. Once the planetary positions were known the astrologer was able to individually calculate the angular relationships formed between them (the aspects).
But the job still wasn’t done. The final step was to fill this information in on blank, wheel-shaped horoscope forms.
“Today, computer software programs automate these calculations and save the charts for easy retrieval in the future,” Halloran said.
Effectively, computer software programs enable the astrologer to swiftly move the positions of celestial objects on the individual’s sky map backwards and forward through time. To assess compatibility, the astrologer is able to quickly generate and compare saved charts with others. Or she/he can quickly calculate when transiting or progressed planets are forming positive or challenging aspects to planets in the client’s natal (birth) horoscope.
Astrologers analyze transits and progressions for timing purposes to determine when the most opportune times to act – or not act – might be. As seen from earth, transiting aspects to the natal horoscope are those formed by the planets as they orbit the sun at varying distances. Progression advances the planets in the natal horoscope using a formula that survives from antiquity.
Halloran says software programs used by astrologers today have kept pace with Space Age discoveries that continue to expand our awareness of exotic new solar system neighbors, including asteroids and dwarf planets that are orbiting the sun far beyond the orbit of Pluto.
“It’s no wonder so many astrologers say they love their computer programs. It saves them a lot of tedious work and frees them up to concentrate on what the chart means,” he said.
Research astrologer and programmer David Cochrane is founder of Cosmic Patterns software. He believes 21st century computer-driven research programs are poised to help change the way astrology is perceived in the Western world.
“These systems have an enormous number of easy-to-use research features. Astrology is being completely transformed from an ocean of anecdotal evidence to a coherent body of knowledge that is useful and relevant,” he says.
Cochrane notes that some research programs have data for more than 85,000 birth charts (and more than 20,000 charts with accurate birth data) that can be used in research activities of all kinds. He predicts the future will see a closer integration of astrology with mainstream academia and more practical usage of astrology by businesses.
“The revival of a more evidence-based astrology has begun,” he believes.
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