SoftStar News

February 2007

Daylight Saving Time Alert!

On Monday, August 8th, 2005 President Bush signed an bill that lengthened daylight-saving time by four weeks starting in 2007. Under the bill, Americans in the 48 states that currently observe daylight-saving time (Arizona and Hawaii don't) move their clocks ahead by an hour starting on the second Sunday of March, rather than the first Sunday of April. They set clocks back an hour on the first Sunday of November, rather than the last Sunday of October. The changes take effect in March 1, 2007.

Canada has decided to go along with the United States and abide by these changes, too.

What this means to astrologers is that most astrology programs that have not been recently updated will inaccurately calculate daylight saving time for a four week period every year from this point (March 2007) onwards.

This is a very serious situation.

If you own the latest version of Kepler 7, Solar Fire Deluxe, Day Watch, Horizons, Janus, Kala, or Win*Writer and have downloaded the latest updates, your software will have the new correct daylight saving time changes.

I have tested many programs but not all, and several do not yet have the correction available.

If you want to test your current software, enter the following data and see if you get the correct Ascendant:

March 22, 2007 10:00 AM Berkeley, California

If you are using Western astrology software (and the Tropical Zodiac), the Ascendant will be 1 degree 32 minutes of Gemini.

If you are using a Vedic astrology program (with the Lahiri ayanamsha in the Sidereal Zodiac) the Ascendant will be 7 degrees 34 minutes of Taurus.

If the program you use does not give the correct Ascendant, you can contact the company that made it and ask when an update will become available. In the meantime, please correct all of the charts you calculate.

This underscores the need for astrologers to own the latest programs and to update them frequently. Go to the company's website to get the latest updates. Remember that they may have a separate Atlas update available, which you need to download too.

What about Microsoft Vista?

I am starting to receive questions from astrologers about the compatibility of astrology programs with Microsoft Vista.

Unfortunately, for the first time since the introduction of Windows 95, Microsoft has introduced an operating system that is incompatible with many of the features of both astrology programs and software in general.

One problem, which I know many programmers are working intensely on resolving, is that Vista breaks the Help system built in to Windows programs. Microsoft promised programmers a fix months ago, but never kept their promise. As a result, the Help features of many programs no longer work under Vista.

A second common problem is that programs come with an "installer", i.e. a program that installs the software onto your computer. Again Vista is incompatible with many installers and therefore many programs simply won't install on a computer running Vista.

Finally, this version of Windows is so different from previous versions than many of your programs (utilities, antivirus, etc.) simply won't work at all.

Vista has other very serious problems, including incompatibility with older computers, video cards, etc., and you have to reinstall all of your programs when you upgrade (if you can), and must have a pretty powerful computer to run Vista.

So for the next many months, I'd say avoid upgrading to Vista if at all possible.

Free tools for astrologers

There are many free programs for Windows PCs that are valuable to the astrologers. Here are some that I recently discovered:

The first is called AlfaClock Classic, and it places the present date, day of the week, and time at the bottom right of your computer screen, and can also synchronize your computer's clock (via the internet) to keep it very accurate. The clocks built in to computers are notoriously inaccurate, and any astrologers who wants to create a chart for the moment needs a utility like this to synchronize the computer clock with a precise atomic clock regularly.

You can download the program by clicking here.


The second program is called Sky Charts. You can download it by clicking here.

Sky Charts is a powerful astronomical sky charting program that enables you to draw sky charts, making use of the data in 16 catalogs of stars and nebulae. In addition the position of planets, asteroids and comets are shown.

You can use Sky Charts to prepare different sky maps for a particular observation. You can specify the color and the dimension of stars and nebulae, the representation of planets, the display of labels and coordinate grids, the superposition of pictures, the condition of visibility and more.

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