Monday, April 21, 2008

See Mercury after Sunset!

As I have mentioned earlier, we are entering a period where it will be possible for visual amateur astronomers to get a glimpse of the most elusive of the heavenly bodies, the fleet-footed messenger of the Gods, Mercury. Joe Rao, in his latest article has written an excellent overview of Mercury and how to view this planet in the evening skies for both Hellenic Pagan Astronomers and Astrologers:

See Mercury, the Elusive Planet
by: Joe Rao, Skywatching Columnist
(visit )

The planet Mercury is often cited as the most difficult of the five brightest naked-eye planets to see. Because it's the planet closest to the Sun, it never strays too far from the Sun's vicinity in our sky. It is often referred to as "the elusive planet." And there's even a rumor that Copernicus, never saw it, yet it's not really hard to see. You simply must know when and where to look, and find a clear horizon. And for those living in the Northern Hemisphere, a great "window of opportunity" for viewing Mercury in the evening sky is about to open up.

Mercury is called an "inferior planet" because its orbit is nearer to the Sun
than the Earth's. Therefore, it always appears from our vantage point to be
in the same general direction as the Sun. In the pre-Christian era, this
planet actually had two names, as it was not realized it could alternately
appear on one side of the Sun and then the other. Mercury was called Mercury when in the evening sky, but was known as Apollo when it appeared in
the morning. It is said that Pythagoras, about the fifth century B.C.,
pointed out that they were one and the same.

A bright evening "star"
Mercury just passed superior conjunction on April 16, but in the days to come it will bolt out to become easily visible low in the west-northwest at dusk. On Wednesday evening, April 23, Mercury should be visible within about 30 minutes after sunset if your sky is quite clear. Mercury will be shining at magnitude -1.6, slightly brighter than Sirius (the brightest of all stars). In fact, at that particular hour of the day, Mercury will be the brightest object in the sky!
So, if your sky is free of any horizon haze and there are no tall obstructions to your view (like trees or buildings) you should have no trouble in seeing it as a very bright "star" shining with just a trace of a yellowish-orange tinge. By April 30,
Mercury will be setting as late as 85 minutes after the Sun. That evening,
binoculars may show the Pleiades star cluster 4 degrees directly above it. (Your
clenched fist held at arm's length measures about 10 degrees in width.)
In the evenings that follow, Mercury will slowly diminish in brightness, but it will also slowly gain altitude as it gradually moves away from the vicinity of the Sun. This is just the start of Mercury's best apparition of the year for mid-northern viewers. On the evening of May 6, be sure to look for a delicately thin sliver of a 1.5-day old crescent Moon sitting just a couple of degrees above and slightly to Mercury's right.

Pinnacle: May 14
Mercury, like Venus, appears to go through phases like the Moon. Right now, Mercury is a nearly full disk, which is why it starts off appearing so bright. Mercury reaches its greatest elongation, 22 degrees to the east of the Sun, on May 14. Shining at magnitude +0.4 (as bright as the star Procyon in Canis Minor), it will set nearly two hours after the Sun. By the time it arrives at its greatest elongation, it will
appear roughly half-illuminated and the amount of its surface illuminated by the
Sun will continue to decrease in the days to come. So when it begins to turn
back toward the Sun's vicinity after May 14, it will fade at a rather rapid
In fact, on the evening of May 22, Mercury's brightness will have
dropped to magnitude +1.7; only 1/20 as bright as it was on April 23. In
telescopes it will appear as a narrowing crescent phase. This, in all likelihood
will be your last view of it, for the combination of its lowering
altitude, plus its descent into the brighter sunset glow will finally render Mercury
invisible by the final week of May.

Orbital peregrinations
In old Roman legends, Mercury was the swift-footed messenger of the gods. The planet is well named for it is the closest planet to the Sun (at an average distance of 36 million miles) and the swiftest of the Sun's family, averaging about 30 miles
per second; making its yearly journey in only 88 Earth days. Interestingly, the
time it takes Mercury to rotate once on its axis is 59 days, so that all parts
of its surface experiences periods of intense heat and extreme cold. But we
cannot say that a solar day on Mercury lasts 59 days because its highly
eccentric orbit causes an effect known as a 3:2 spin�orbit resonance. As a
consequence, because Mercury rotates three times for every two times it revolves
around the Sun, the time it takes from one sunrise to the next is equal to about
176 days.
So for 88 days, the Sun is constantly above the horizon and surface temperatures soar to nearly 900 degrees F (482-degrees C). Daytime temperatures are high enough to melt zinc and tin. Then comes 88 days of darkness, with surface temperatures plummeting to -300 degrees F (-184 degrees C) — the greatest range of temperatures of any planet.
In fact, on some parts of Mercury's surface, it is even possible to see the Sun briefly reverse its course in the sky. This happens around the time that Mercury arrives at that part of its orbit which places it closest to the Sun (called perihelion), where it's orbital speed can briefly exceed its rotational speed.
At sunrise, this strange effect would cause the Sun to appear to rise above the horizon ... then slow to a halt ... then reverse direction and drop back below the
horizon. At sunset, the Sun would drop below the horizon, then pop back up into
view before resuming its normal course, ultimately setting again for a second
time within a week.

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for The New York Times and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, New York.

Monday, April 7, 2008

4 Mounykhion

Today is sacred to Hermes, Aphrodite, and Eros.

Orphic Hymns of the Day:

Moon in Taurus: The key words for the Zodia of Taurus are feminine, fruitful, intellectual, inflexible, of short ascention (in the Northern Hemisphere), earthy, and nocturnal. It is easy to see why Aphrodite was seen to "rule" this Zodia according to traditional Greek and Roman Astrology. This Zodia is much more amenable to fair Aphrodite, and it will provide a relief from the past two days' stay in Aries; we are to recognise what it means to be persistent in matters and to reconnect with our earthy, practical side during this period.

Moon in Taurus sextile Uranus and North Node in Aquarius: The Zodia of Aquarius is considered to be masculine, sterile (like the ocean was thought to be before scientists learned what we currently know about the variety of the benthic biome and marine biology), scientific, inflexible, giving eloquence, attuned to the path of serving, airy, and spiritual. This is an excellent space for Ouranos to express himself. The message of this aspect is that the Gods want us to begin to use our humanitarian natures, universal tolerance, scientific knowledge, and beliefs to solve the problems - such as the Iraq/Afghani occupation, the economy, global warming, pollution, and problems with the educaitonal system - that affect the entire community of mankind. This aspect encourages us - much like the commentary of Al Gore - that we can solve the problems that face us with innovative thinking and hard work.

Moon in Taurus sextile Mars in Gemini: this aspect continues.

Moon in Taurus square Neptune and Chiron in Capricorn:

Moon in Taurus trine Juno, Pluto, and Jupiter in Sagittarius: This is a modification of the aspect we experienced on the 2nd Mounykhion. Juno and Jupiter have joined Pluto in the Zodia of Sagittarius. This is a particularly powerful aspect as we have Zeus, Hera, and Hades together in a sign that has the following attributes: masculine, fruitful (a powerful placement for Chthonian and Olympian dieties), reproductive, flexible, of long ascention (in the Northern Hemisphere), fiery, energetic, bicorporeal and ambitious. These are the Gods who have rulership over the created order and the realm of the dead traversing through the Zodia which deals with the mind, religion and faith, journeys, and the environment. This aspect is the Gods' way of calling us to become aware of the importance of these subjects in our lives; the Gods are asking us to each discover who we are, what we believe, and what our gifts are so that as we enter this time we can work together to effect change in cultural and religious awareness, social justice issues, and public policy. It is crucial that we act now, or we will experience the ill effects of ignoring the promptings of the Gods.

Moon in Taurus trine Saturn Retrograde in Leo:

3 Mounykhion

Today is sacred to the Birth of Athena.

The Moon is still in Aries and is sextile Mars in Gemini: This aspect placement combines the properties of Moon in Aries (which I described in yesterday's entry) with the properties of Mars in the Zodion of Gemini. The Zodion of Gemini is classified as being of short ascention (in the Northern Hemisphere), airy, spiritual, bicorporeal, communicative, and can be volatile... which is an interesting place for Ares to express himself. When Ares experiences the Gemini Zodion, he reacts in a more mental manner than we are accustomed to seeing in the God of War.

If we want to handle this aspect and be in harmony with the Gods today, we should consider how our thoughts and communications will affect others. Before we speak too quickly, it is wise to consider how the feelings and emotions of others might be impacted by our statements. If we work to balance the energies of Ares, Demeter, and Hermes in our lives today, we can enjoy quick thinking, innovative solutions to problems, creative insights and the energy to carry them out, positive communications and a drive towards intellectual achievements and goals.

If we do not seek to balance these energies and honor the gods, we will likely experience fluctuating energy levels, frustration at those around us, argumentativeness, malaise, a lack of energy to follow things through, and a possibly malicious tongue.

From the Gods' places in the skies to our lives!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

2nd Mounykhion

Moon in Aries: Today Selene and Demeter are in the zodia of Aries, which means that we need to be aware of what they are telling us. The Moon in Aries has the positive effects of allowing us to experience, according to which topos - or house - Aries occupies in our birth charts, strong emotional responses, the ability to react and respond to stimiuli and events, and the ability to change behaviour and habit patterns. The negative effects of The Moon in Ares are that we may be more impatient and irritable than usual - as our feelings and emotions are in danger of being affected by Ares, the God of Conflicts and Struggle.

Today it is important to identify when we want to be short or irritable with others, and then try to temper that with the kindness and understanding of Selene and Demeter. This mindfullness will help us to use the creative energies of this aspect between the Gods to our advantage.

Venus in Pisces: Let's learn what this powerful combination of Planet and Zodia means for us in light of Hellenic Paganism and Astrology; this placement encourages us to be loving and sympathetic to those around us. When Aphrodite is found in Pisces, she encourages us to do or make something artistic, musical, or otherwise creative. This is a time when we can call upon the Goddess, and the Muses along with her, to help us give birth to acts of art, beauty, creativity, and unconditional love. Venus in Pisces is a time in which we are called to serve others and to provide inspiration to those who need comforting and encouragement.

Venus in Pisces can have some negative effects however, and we must be on the guard against these excesses: seeking egotistical or narcissistic ends in serving others - as in helping others merely to recieve kudos or accolades, seeking to find spiritual comfort and fulfillment through merely physical or romantic relationships, self-deceiving ourselves in our relationships (not just romantic, but all relationships!), self-pitying, and a feeling of "poor me" during this aspect. People who have personality disorders are apt to be particularly unbalanced and/or neurotic during Venus in Pisces, as it is a particularly powerful Zodia for the Goddess to inhabit.

Venus in Pisces is square Pluto Retrograde in Sagittarius: This aspect, even though it is a square or quartile, is a good one for us as Hellenic Pagans to learn from. Modern astrology has given some aspects, such as squares and oppositions, a bad wrap. Let's review the properties of squares in Hellenic thought before we discuss the properties of this particular aspect.


  • the planets involved are separated by three zodia and topoi (or 90 degrees)
  • the planets involved share the same modality, but have different elements and polarity
  • this aspect represents the Platonic form of the square

This means that Aphrodite in Pisces is in a Zodia that is feminine, fruitful, flexible (also called common), of short ascention (in the Northern Hemisphere), watery, and serving. This is in full harmony with the nature of Aphrodite, and allows her to express herself fully, without conflict or restraint. Pluto in Sagittarius is also in a Zodia that is especially compatable with his nature - his Zodia is masculine, fruitful (a powerful placement for Chthonian dieties), reproductive, flexible, of long ascention (in the Northern Hemisphere), fiery, energetic, bicorporeal and ambitious.

This is a good aspect - despite how "modern astrologers" view it, as both Gods involved are acting comfortably within their respective Zodia while complementing each other in terms of elements and polarity. This aspect is the Gods' way of telling us that we are entering a time when we can all work together to effect change in cultural and religious awareness, social justice issues, and public policy.

From the Gods' places in the skies to our lives!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Meditations for the New Moon in Pisces

Areas where I can improve during this Moon cycle:

  • I want to assert myself constructively and turn my visions into reality

  • I want to take control of the course of my destiny

  • I want to find a true soul-mate with whom I can share my dreams

  • I want to grow in my relationship with my soul-mate

  • I want to develop self-confidence in everything that I undertake

  • I want to deal with my friends and acquaintances with compassion in my heart

Affirmation for this Moon cycle:

Listening to my inner voice will show me the way

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April Evening Sky Watch

If you go outside about an hour after sunset on the evening of Tuesday, 8th of April, you will see a conjunction between the Crescent Moon and the Pleiades. It will look similar to the following picture (although the sky will be less dark):
:: :: recommends using binoculars to look at the moon and the star cluster. Below is a star chart (also from that should help you to locate the conjunction for viewing through binoculars or a telescope. The Moon and The Pleiades are both found within the constellation of Taurus, which will be hovering around the horizion after nightfall.
Ptolemy states that the Pleiades have the "qualities of the Moon and Mars mixed together"; this means that we should understand the Pleiades as representing facets of both Demeter and Mars.
This is an interesting conjunction, as it is telling us that we need to process our feelings and emotions dealing with violence, war and oppression. It is no coincidence that today the Pentagon stated it will be reducing tours of duty for tours in Iraq to 12 months instead of the current 15 months while Bush promised yet more troops for support of the Occupation of Afghanistan. How is this possible in a military force that is already stretched to its limits? Will troops who leave Iraq be sent to Afghanistan for another hellish tour? It will be interesting to see how this plays out - especially in light of Ares' and Kronos' places in the zodia.

This conjunction also tells us that we should find balance between action and feeling in response to events in our lives - this is a time for us to stop and ask ourselves if what we are getting angry about is really what is making us angry. Are we really angry at the person who jumps the queue ahead of us - or are we angry that some people think the rules just don't apply to them? Ask Selene, Demeter and The Pleiades to help you learn how to balance your emotions (including anger!) and actions, so that neither rules your life. It is best for a person to know what they are feeling and what they can do with that feeling to effect change in the world around them.

Some other Planets to look for when skygazing:

On the 15th of April, the Gibbous Moon will be directly beneath Saturn in Leo. The Moon and Saturn will be especially close to α Leonis, which is called in ancient Greek Astrology the heart of the lion.

Mars is currently an evening star - look for him in Gemini shining a bright red. On the evening of April 11th and 12th, be sure to look in Gemini, as the Moon will pass 1.2 ° north of Mars.

Mighty Saturn is currently in Leo, where he shines all the way until Eos' rosy rays shine in the East. It will be easy to recognise Saturn, as he is shining at magnitude 0.4 - or 2.5 times brighter than the brightest star in the entire constellation of Leo! (Regulus or α Leonis shines at 1.35 apparent magnitude). Saturn will be particularly beautiful to behold on the 22nd, when the Lyrid meteor shower will peak in the early morning hours. (I will blog later about what I think the Lyrid meteor shower and the Moon's Void of Course on the 22nd have to say about the PA Primary!). Saturn will close out the month due south, having its ascendency at twighlight.

On the evening of the 28th and 29th, Mars will pass 5 ° south of Pollux (β Geminorum) - a fixed star which portends well. The following is a quote from Manilius on β Geminorum:

From the Twins come less laborious callings and a more agreeable way of life,
provided by varied song and voices of harmonious tone, slender pipes, the
melodies inborn in strings and the words fitted thereto : those so endowed find
even work a pleasure. They would banish the arms of war, the trumpet's call, and
the gloom of old age : theirs is a life of ease and unfading youth spent in the
arms of love. They also discover paths to the skies, complete a survey of the
heavens with numbers and measurements, and outstrip the flight of the stars:
nature yields to their genius, which it serves in all things. So many are the
accomplishments of which the Twins are fruitful.

(Manilius, Astronomica, 1st century AD. p.281)

Mars will close the month of April in proximity to both Castor and Pollux (this will last about a week).

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Sidereal Astrology Almanac

2nd April:

  • The Moon is conjunct Neptune (0°.002 South of Moon) in Capricorn @ 04:00 CDT
  • Pluto is stationary in Sagittarius @ 00:57 CDT - Pluto, while not one of the visible (or Classical) planets, does have an effect on our lives. Pluto is an important God within the Hellenic Pantheon; even though he never sets foot on Mt. Olympus, Pluto is one of the three great Gods (Zeus, Poseidon, and Pluto/Hades). Pluto is the god of death, rebirth, and regeneration. Currently, Pluto is within the sign of Sagittarius, which is seen as being a sign of expansion, learning, and growth. This is a good placement for Dis, and his coming to a stop here before going retrograde shows that expansion is what we need right now. Wherever each of us has Sagittarius in our birth charts is an area of life that we need to look at and assess during this phase of Pluto's journey. It is likely that we have had little experience with the affairs of this house (both in this life and previous lives) and that we have experienced limitations in affairs associated with the house which Sagittarius rules. Pluto is calling us to examine those areas of our lives over the next few days while he is Stationary before going Retrograde. During this period of stasis we only need to acknowledge our limitations and boundaries - Pluto will lead us to work with them more deeply once he goes fully Retrograde on the 3rd of April.

3rd April:

  • Venus enters Pisces @ 20:40 - Aphrodite enters Pisces to start off the Solar Month of April. In Hellenic Astrology, Aphrodite is in Exaltation in Pisces. She is also the diurnal ruler of the sign as well as ruling the first eight terms of the sign. This means that not only is Aphrodite at home in Pisces, she is able to effect great changes within the areas of life associated with the sign. Hellenic Astrology views the sign of Pisces as the area of life where we should let our intuition guide us and where we should have faith. We should open ourselves to Aphrodite's love and feminine intuition while she is in this sign... listening to our quiet inner voice can be most fruitful during this cycle.
  • Mercury enters Pisces
  • Pluto begins Retrograde motion in Sagittarius (starting @ 06°17' )
  • The Moon enters Aquarius

4th April:

  • The Moon is 3° north of Uranus in Aquarius @ 05:00 CDT
  • The Moon is 5° north of Venus in Aquarius @20:00 CDT

5th April:

  • Asteroid Astraea is at opposition @ 20:00 CDT
  • The Moon enters Pisces
  • New Moon in Pisces @ 23:55 CDT

The Sabian Symbol for this New Moon is:

A prophet carrying tablets of the New Law is walking down the slopes of Mt. Sinai

This New Moon shows us that we can recieve messages from the Gods, if only we are willing to listen; in order for us to recieve the teachings of the Gods, we need to be open to them in our lives. This would be an excellent month to look within yourself to see how your relationships with the Gods are doing... are your relationships growing? Are they stagnant? Nonexistent?

Use this month to approach the Gods through offerings, mediatation, and prayer - let them know you would like to have a relationship with them, and ask them to enter your life.

As an interesting note as to the primaries, The Sabian Symbols & Astrological Analysis by Blain Bovee, contains the following admonishments about the 22nd-23rd degree of Pisces:

Apply this [Sabian Symbol] with a mind to the awareness of prevailing standards
of privilege and power; justifications that can really burn you up. Think of
tendencies to spiritually rationalise actions and one's own position of
authority; to pontificate from an out-of-touch vantage point; intense feelings
about being the chosen one; passions that champion divine right rule. Watch for
wearing authority on one's sleeve; official uniforms; badges; the smarts to see
trouble coming; readiness to take up the fight.

This may be the Lunar Month that sees Hillary Clinton finally concede the Democratic Party Nomination to Barack Obama. Hillary's campaign has become increasingly frantic, panicked and desperate over the past Lunar Month - and this month's Sabian Symbols indicate that if she does not heed the promptings of the Gods and continues to attack Obama out of hubris and her narcissistic delusions, she will pay the Karmic Debt for her actions within the next two Lunar cycles. The fact that the PA Primary (on which she is placing all of her hope for the Democratic Nomination) occurs during the peak of the Lyrids and while the Moon is Void of Course indicate that Mrs. Clinton's hopes will be unfulfilled. Obama (despite what the Clinton campaign and MSM claim) stands a good chance of achieving a "come from behind" win. I predict Obama will win by 2-3% in the PA Primary.

Because Obama will win, I feel that the PA Primary on the 22nd will present itself as the time where Hillary can either accept defeat gracefully and exit the race, or she will implode like a dying star. If she chooses the volatile path that parallels the death of a star, she will likely be left with only a cold, dark core where a bright, shining future in politics once shone. The choice is entirely up to her.

7th April -

  • The Moon is at perigee (or 224,365 miles from Earth!) in Aries @ 15:30 CDT
  • The Moon enters Aries

8th April:

  • The Moon enters Taurus
  • The Moon passes through The Pleiades star cluster (in Taurus)

9th April:

  • The Asteroid Iris is at opposition @ 05:00 CDT

10th April:

  • Asteroid Daphne is at opposition @ 05:00 CDT

11th April:

  • The Moon enters Gemini

12th April:

  • The Moon is conjunct (1.2° north) Mars @ 02:00 CDT
  • The First Quarter Moon @ 14:32 CDT

13th April:

  • The Moon enters Cancer

15th April:

  • The Sun enters Aries
  • The Moon conjunct (0.9° south) Regulus @ 22:00 CDT
  • The Moon conjunct (3° south) Saturn @ 14:00 CDT

16th April:

  • The Moon enters Leo
  • Mercury enters Aries
  • Mercury is in superior conjunction @ 03:00 CDT

18th April:

  • The Moon enters Virgo

20th April:

  • The Full Moon in Virgo @ 18:25 CDT
  • The Moon enters Libra

22nd April:

  • Lyrid meteor shower peaks (in the constellaiton Lyra - hence the name!)

23rd April:

  • The Moon enters Scorpio
  • The Moon is at apogee (252,241 miles from the Earth!) @ 05:34 CDT

25th April:

  • The Moon entersSagittarius

27th April:

  • Venus enters Aries
  • The Moon is conjunct Jupiter (3° south) @ 01:00 CDT

28th April:

  • The Moon enters Capricorn
  • The Last Quarter Moon in Capricorn @ 22:12 CDT
  • Mars conjunct Pollux (5° south) @ 16:00 CDT

Locations of the Planets in April:

  • Mercury - can be seen in the evening sky in the West

  • Mars - can be seen in the southwestern evening sky, and in the western sky closer to midnight

  • Jupiter - can be seen in the morning sky in the southeast

  • Saturn - can be seen in the southeastern evening sky, and in the southwestern sky closer to midnight

  • Uranus - can be seen in the eastern morning sky