After the major eclipse on July 22, 2009 (which had the longest duration of totality of any eclipse in recent history), I decided to test each of the professional astrology software packages to see how well they portrayed the eclipse and also if any could help me find who in my chart file would be most affected by the eclipse.
Some astrologers think that eclipses affect everyone and that there is no need to ascertain where the eclipses actually happened. However, it makes sense that if a person is actually living (or born) in the path of an eclipse, it should affect them more directly, especially those in the path of totality (i.e. able to see the total eclipse).
Part One: The Depiction of the Eclipse on Maps
Much to my surprise, almost every program except Janus, and the new program Regulus Platinum, had deficiencies in portraying total eclipse paths in eclipse maps.
Here are images from each program and comments:
Janus Eclipse Maps
Janus is the best eclipse mapping program. It shows the actual paths of totality and partial eclipse (with the GMT for each section of totality), countries and cities within and near the eclipse zones, and completely flexible zooming.
Regulus Platinum Eclipse Maps
Our new addition to this article, Regulus Platinum, did a surprisingly fine job depicting eclipse paths. It succeeds where all of the other programs except Janus fails, in showing the actual region where totality occurs.
Sirius and Kepler Eclipse Map
Sirius and Kepler, in the module Kepler Workshop, do show the path of totality correctly as a wide line, but one cannot zoom in on the eclipse region in Kepler and so the map is not very useable, and in Sirius, while zooming is possible, one has to keep shifting the map around with the slider bars to focus on the eclipsed area, or choose a different map region. Kepler shows no cities (Sirius does show cities) and neither show any partial eclipse lines:
Sirius Eclipse Map:
Solar Maps Eclipse Map
The Solar Maps eclipse map, on the other hand, does allow zooming in on the eclipse region, does show city names, and does depict partial eclipse lines very well. Its only weakness, which is nevertheless an important one, is that there is not enough width to the total eclipse line, so one cannot see exactly which cities are actually in the total eclipse zone.
Star Trax Millennium Eclipse Map
Star Trax Millennium has a low resolution graphical representation of the eclipse that is interesting, but it's impossible to pinpoint where the total eclipse can be seen, and there is no zooming, city names, or partial eclipse boundary lines.
ZET Eclipse Map
The ZET Eclipse Map shows city names, but only a thin totality line (without depicting any width to it, so one cannot estimate what places can view the total eclipse on either side of the line) and no partial eclipse lines, so it is of limited usefulness.
Win*Star Pro 4 Eclipse Map
The eclipse map in Win*Star Pro 4 and the Horizons program shows city names and a similarly minimalistic total eclipse line and no partial eclipse lines, so it cannot be used to determine what cities can view the total eclipse. When zooming in on India, for example, the total eclipse line is very hard to see, since it is depicted as very light dots separated from each other.
Part Two: Finding people who are most affected by the eclipse
Most astrologers would agree that only those people who have planets or the Ascendant or MC near the eclipse (or opposite to it, especiallly for a Lunar Eclipse) will be significantly affected by that eclipse.
So it would be very useful to be able to scan your chart file and find just those people who have points near the actual eclipse degree.
Unfortunately, some programs are incapable of this kind of search.
Five programs are able to conduct this search:
1. Kepler and Sirius. Both of these programs make the search for planets conjunct an eclipse point quite easily, but you can't search for planets opposite to the eclipse, nor easily view the charts of each of the people who meet the search conditions (which can be done in all of the other programs listed below).
Here are the steps:
A. After entering a person's chart data, you get to the Main Screen of Kepler or Sirius. At this screen, you click on the menu item at the top called Other.
B. Select AstroSearch, and in the new window that pops up, click on the Specific Astro Factors button.
C. Click on H=Degrees: Planets Conjunct Zodiac Degrees.
D. On the new screen that appears, make sure that all of the points you want to include are checked, and then enter the degree, sign, and minutes of the eclipse, and then click OK.
E. That's it. The program will search the chart file for all of the people with any planets within 1 degree of the Eclipse, and even show for each person what planet(s) are conjunct the eclipse.
2. Solar Fire Gold. Using Solar Fire Gold's Chart Search feature, one can perform this kind of search. It requires, however, several steps:
A. Create an aspect set with just conjunctions and oppositions enabled, with an orb of one degree for all points.
B. For each individual planet, in the At Position tab of the Search Condition Selection area of the Chart Search window, pick the point, use conjunct as the aspect, and place the exact degree and minute of the eclipse in the third box.
C. Then click on the Add button to add it to the List of Search conditions
D. Then highlight the just added statement and click on the AND/OR button to switch the logic to OR.
E. repeat steps B and C and D for every point you want to check, and then repeat the whole process for oppositions to the eclipse point, if you want to include them.
F. Then click on the Search button at the lower right of the window.
While this seems like a lengthy procedure, it actually doesn't take that long, once you get into the swing of it.
3. ZET. The program ZET has a Astrological formula description language that one can learn, in order to be able to search both chart files and time for specific factors.
This language is very powerful, and ZET's author responded quickly and well to my emails asking for help in using this feature.
To search one's chart file in ZET for planets and angles conjunct the eclipse point, follow these steps:
A. Import your chart file into ZET, by clicking on the top left pull-down menu choice: Horoscope, then Database, then right-clicking on the Database window left side and selecting Import/Export. ZET will import from Solar Fire, JigSaw, and the Quick*Chart format. (Many Western astrology programs will export their files to the Quick*Chart format.)
B. In the opened Database window, right-click on the chart file you want to search, and select Search Database.
C. In the Look for a Chart window that opens, click on the little toolbox/options button on the lower left and check the Calculate all planets box. Click on the tool button again to close that part of the screen.
D. Enter the following two lines into the white box under the words Search for...
By way of explanation, the first line says that the points you want to search are for the Sun through the North node and both the First and Tenth House Cusps.
And the second line indicates the search range (28 degrees Cancer 30 minutes to Zero degrees Leo 30 minutes).
E. Click on the Execute button to do the search.
F. Click on the Found database to view the charts that are conjunct the eclipse point.
(You can right click on any name in the chart file and select Quick View, after which you will immediately see displayed on the screen any chart in the database that you click on.)
4. Win*Star Plus. I was initially delighted to see that Win*Star Plus had what looked like one of the fastest and easiest method of conducting this kind of search. Unfortunately, in my testing, I discovered that this portion of the Search box wasn't working. The programmers at Matrix have not addressed this bug in the almost two years since I reported it, but once they do fix it, Win*Star Plus (or Pro) will be the best program to use for this kind of search.
Note: I just discovered that I could get the search to work by adding a counter-intuitive step, that I've now added to the sequence below:
Here's the procedure to use once it's working:
A. Click on File at the top left of the main screen.
B. Click on Browse Chart Database.
C. Click on the Telescope image (Search).
D. Select what points you want to search for on the left, under the word Planets (which does include angles).
E. Click on the Zodiac box towards the middle-bottom-right of the search screen and enter the search range (using CA for Cancer and LE for leo)
Added step: after entering the degree range, click on the title of the box labeled Zodiac and it will turn red and the search will be enabled and work.
F. Click on the Search button at the bottom right.
I found it very illuminating to explore both of these eclipse projects. I was surprised at how different programs could or could not perform one or both of the tasks, and it just reinforced my understanding that each astrology program has its own strengths and weaknesses and unique features.