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Sky Matters

4 Class Meetings
Prerequisites: A basic knowledge of astrology

Course Description:

In this class we will learn the basic astronomy required to translate the flat abstraction of the horoscopic chart back into actual celestial reality and this will help us understand how the planets in a chart actually appear in the sky. We will learn how to define a planet's position with respect to the coordinate systems of three great circles: the ecliptic, equator and horizon. We will see how defining a planets position with respect to both the north/south and east/west dimensions of these circles greatly increases the interpretive nuance and more accurately reflects human diversity. Finally we will bring constellations and fixed stars back into our work, so that we will truly have the entire sky at our command.


Class Meeting 1: The Ecliptic, Zodiacal longitude, latitude and Nodes

In this class, we will see how the typical view of the Tropical Zodiac is flat and without a vertical dimension. We’ll introduce the vertical dimension, called celestial latitude, and see that each planet has its own unique latitudinal cycle based on its Nodes or intersection points of its orbit with the ecliptic.

Class Meeting 2: The Celestial Equator, Declination & Diurnal motion

In this class we’ll cover the second main great circle, the Equator, and its vertical dimension called Declination –which is somewhat related to a classical concept called Antiscia. Then we’ll compare and contrast its movement, called diurnal motion –arrived at via the daily rotation of the Earth on its own axis, versus Zodiacal motion which comes from the longer revolutions of the Earth and other planets around the Sun. We’ll see how diurnal motion tells us in what order the planets rise, culminate and set, and therefore whether we can find them in the morning or evening sky.

Class Meeting 3: The Horizon, Solar elongation and Planetary phases

This week we will begin to see how to combine the basic information of the previous two lessons into a more sophisticated understanding of Planets as visual phenomenon. We’ll see how paying attention to the solar elongation cycle –the difference in zodiacal longitude between the Sun and a planet, can give us lots of other information about how a planet appears in the sky, including brightness, relative speed of motion and when a planet is entering or leaving visibility.

Class Meeting 4: The Constellations and Fixed Stars

This week we will look at the constellations and their general meanings, which can be derived from the diverse mythologies handed down from antiquity as well as relationships between various constellations and parts of the sky. We’ll see how these can add a rich extra interpretive layer to readings.

An in depth classical analysis always included a mention of any individual fixed stars found to be in conjunction with planets or angles of the Horoscope. To understand how the fixed stars were delineated, we must first understand the Ptolemaic model and the series of Spheres the Earth was seen to be nested within. Then we will look at the “big seven” stars as beginning point for including these bright beings in our horoscopic charts and readings.

Required/Suggested Materials:

Required materials:

The following required materials are NOT available through the IAA online shopping areas, but may be available elsewhere:

  • The instructor will provide internet links to free basic tools for calculating latitude, declination and fixed star positions as well as recommendations for reading and software for further study/practice.

Suggested/supplemental materials:

The following suggested and supplementary materials are available through the IAA online shopping areas:

Class Offerings and Registration:
This course has no class offerings currently taking registrations.

Please note: In addition to the tuition fee, this class registration is subject to a non-refundable $75.00 administrative fee ($27.00 administrative fee for Pocket Courses). Please also read our tuition refund policy.

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