Understanding Astrology Software

(Note: This essay, written in 2002, appeared in the astrology book: The Encyclopedia of Heavenly Influences, published by Visible Ink Press, February 2003. As such, much of the information in it is out-of-date, because many of the programs mentioned in this review have been greatly enhanced since writing it. Kepler now has a completely new interface, and most of the programs have had major revisions, with many added capabilities. Please read my published reviews of programs to evaluate them. My individual software reviews can be read by clicking here. )

Part One: A Brief History of Astrological Calculation Software

When Matrix Software released the first astrology programs for personal computers back in 1977, a new era in astrology began. Initially loaded from cassette tapes (and later floppy disks), the programs performed accurate calculations more quickly than possible by hand. They were, however, relatively slow, only accurate for the 20th century, had no built-in atlas or time-changes, and produced crude-looking black and white square charts and tables.

By 1986, several important astrology programs were available for IBM PC compatibles, including the (then) state-of-the-art programs Blue*Star from Matrix, and CCRS and Nova from Astrolabe; and Graphic Astrology for Macintosh computers from Time Cycles Research. These programs included circular chart wheels with glyphs, an expanded ephemeris range, greater ability to customize the defaults (e.g. house system, aspect set and orbs, etc.), bi- and tri- wheels, and a wider range of predictive techniques and tables. Ironically, with time, the DOS-based PC programs grew so sophisticated that they offered some techniques and capabilities that are no longer available in today’s Windows programs.

In 1992, Esoteric Technologies and Halloran Software released the first serious astrology programs for Microsoft Windows, called Solar Fire and AstrolDeluxe for Windows respectively. The advanced graphical capabilities of the Windows environment ushered in an era of beautiful colored chart wheels, graphs, and maps, much greater ease-of-use and ease-of-learning, trouble-free installation, greater stability, built-in help files, multi-tasking (the ability to keep several programs open at once and to switch between them), and eventually, tools to design your own charts and page layouts.

Today, in 2002, the most advanced astrology programs are so comprehensive that they have more features than most astrologers will ever use. They now have growing collections of famous peoples’ charts, graphic displays of predictive events, chart animation, eclipse mapping, research features, and much more. Nevertheless, software development continues, and these tools for astrologers will only get better.

Part Two: The Four Categories of Astrology Software

Astrology Software can be divided into four basic types: report programs, research programs, calculation programs, and special-purpose programs.

A. Report Programs.

Report programs, which will not be explored further in this article, generate interpretations of one of the following topics: birth charts (including specialized topics like asteroids, health, etc.), transits, progressions, relocations, or compatibility. There are two tiers of report programs: personal and professional. The personal report programs usually cost $100 or less and their output cannot be sold. The professional-level report programs produce reports that are licensed for resale, and can be customized with a personal logo.

Some professional astrologers look down upon and don’t use report programs, because these programs cannot synthesize at all (they can’t take into account more than one factor at a time). They just call up paragraphs describing, for example, a planet in a sign or a planet in a house. Additionally, the authors of a majority of these reports ignore the strong suggestibility of many people. The way that they delineate natal and relationship factors and make predictive forecasts can be discouraging and frightening, and thereby cause harm to the reader. Nevertheless, some of today’s report programs actually do a remarkably fine job of delineation, given the limitations inherent in this method of chart interpretation.

B. Research Programs.

Research programs, i.e. programs specifically dedicated to finding the charts (from a chart collection or database) containing single factors or combinations of factors, are few and far between. That’s because most professional-level astrology calculation programs include at least some research features. The two most notable research programs are JigSaw II and AstroDatabank.

1. JigSaw II (by Esoteric Technologies, Inc. distributed by Astrolabe)

JigSaw II can search chart files for charts which have a specified point (planet, asteroid, angle, node, house cusp, midpoint, Arabic Part, almuten, fixed zodiacal point, ruler of a point, prenatal position, user-defined point, etc.) in a specific sign, house, aspect, harmonic aspect, dignity, azimuth, decanate, Gauquelin sector, degree, mode, user-defined division, and more. You can combine any number of searches with And/Or/Xor logic. The program can also graph the distribution of any one or all of the specified points in any of the categories listed above, showing which results are above or below the average. JigSaw II can even create control groups to compare with any test group.

JigSaw II also offers the ability to analyze the charts of groups (several people) to find similar placements, including the predominate harmonics, signs, houses, vacant points, and midpoint patterns, complete with excellently written interpretations. Finally, the program allows you to manually or automatically rectify a chart by entering important dates in a person’s life.

2. AstroDatabank (by AstroDatabank)

AstroDatabank is a groundbreaking research program in several ways. First, it includes the Rodden database, the most reliable collection of famous charts (20,000+) in the world. Secondly, each of the charts includes biographical information and is placed in categories relating to health, career, personality traits, family patterns, etc. so that an astrologer can search for both astrological and life factors (e.g. alcoholism) at the same time. Finally, AstroDatabank introduces the ability to create AstroSignatures, i.e. analyzing charts using several factors, each with its own weighting. For example, one could create their own Saturn signature by giving Saturn on an angle 5 points, Sun in Capricorn 3 points, Sun in Aquarius 2 points, Sun aspected by Saturn 4 points, etc.

C. Calculation Programs.

Calculation programs fall basically into three tiers, based primarily upon price and capabilities. (Note: There are a few specialized programs that don’t fall neatly into any of these categories.) Most of the low priced programs, i.e. under $90, are too inaccurate in their calculations for use even by amateurs, have no built-in atlas or time-change data, and are limited in the range of their functions. Among the inexpensive programs that are accurate are Astrology for Windows from Halloran Software, the Electronic Astrologer report programs (which include the ACS mini-atlas), and the freeware Astrolog, AstroWin, Starlite, and Junior Jyotish.

Intermediate level calculation programs cost between $99 and $200, and are geared towards students of astrology and professionals with fewer requirements. Pegasus, Win*Star Express, AstrolDeluxe Report Writer, and TimePassages are Windows® programs that fall into this category. The IO Edition is a Macintosh program and Haydn’s Jyotish is a Vedic program in this price range.

All of the intermediate level programs (except Haydn's Jyotish) offer natal, progressed, directed, solar and lunar return, and composite charts, interaspects, several house systems, biwheels, and a transit hit listing. The Windows programs also offer some birth chart interpretation and a time change atlas. In fact, TimePassages, AstrolDeluxe Report Writer, Haydn's Jyotish, and IO come bundled with the full ACS PC Atlas (for auto-lookup of coordinates and time zones for over 250,000 places). Unfortunately, it is beyond the scope of this article to explore each intermediate program in detail, but you can see in-depth reviews of each on my website (www.soulhealing.com/softwarereviews.htm). as well as an updated version of this appendix with more details on each intermediate program. Among the distinctive features of each of the intermediate programs are:

TimePassages (by Astrograph Software) includes animation: you can see transiting and progressed planets circle a natal chart and form aspect lines, and is available for both the PC and the Mac. Pegasus (by Cosmic Patterns) offers mini-reports for natal, transits, major life themes, and synastry. Win*Star Express(by Matrix) has the full DeVore's Encyclopedia of Astrology, and a nice transit/progressed graph, which shows exact hit dates (but not entering or leaving dates).

Two of the "intermediate" programs, AstrolDeluxe ReportWriter and IO, have the most features in this price range, and provide a complete software solution for many astrologers. AstrolDeluxe ReportWriter (by Halloran Software) has excellent research features, astro-mapping, report writing capabilities, and a very wide range of calculations. IO (by Time Cycles Research) has an excellent page designer, the best transit/progressed hit listing (it includes stations), bi-, tri-, and quad-wheels, many tables, and a graphic ephemeris.

Haydn’s Jyotish (by Haydn Huntley) has all of the basic Vedic features (and some not-so basic) one would expect: rasi, bhava lagna, varshaphal, and varga charts in North and South Indian formats, dasa/bhukti listing, ashtakavarga, shad bala, bhava bala, and vimshopak listings. It also shows sunrise and sunset times, Kujadosha, moon waxing/waning, moon fullness, Tithis, Dagdha Rasis, Yoga Point, Planetary Yogi, Duplicate Yoga, and Avayogi, Karakas, and Raja Yogakarakas. It runs on Windows PCs, Macintosh computers, and MS-DOS.

Advanced astrology programs are usually priced at $200 to $300, and have a very full range of features and functions. Among Western astrology programs, these include the very complete packages Solar Fire, Kepler, Win*Star Plus, and Janus. Shri Jyoti Star, Parashara’s Light, Jyotish Studio, and Käla are the advanced Vedic astrology programs. See Part Three: A Deeper Look at the Advanced Astrological Calculation Programs.

D. Special-Purpose Programs.

Some astrological software doesn’t fall neatly any ordinary category. The ACS PC Atlas, for example, is widely used by astrologers to automatically look up longitudes, latitudes, time zones, and time changes for birthplaces within many professional-level programs, and can be purchased by itself, also. There are several programs designed to help astrologers and astronomers use their telescopes to view stars, planets, and constellations. And there are a group of programs designed to help astrologers and lay people to choose the best time for initiating an activity (this is called electional astrology or muhurta) such as Father Time by A.I.R. Software and Shri Muhurta by GeoVision Software, and another group of programs designed to give the answer to a question that the astrologer or lay person asks at the moment (this is called horary astrology or Prashna) such as Nostradamus by A.I.R. software and VegaSviri Horary by The Center for Temporal Research. I just received an unusual “electional” program called Astrodamus by Nostradamus Corporation that automatically rectifies the birth chart, based upon life events, and then predicts the themes for each year.

Part Three: A Deeper Look at the Advanced Astrological Calculation Programs

Important note: By the time you read this, it is likely that new features will be added to many of these programs, and deficiencies corrected. It is beyond the scope of this appendix to cover all of the unique features of each program, as there are many. Please feel free to contact me via email for more information on the present status of individual programs and their pricing.

A. Advanced Western Astrology Programs.

Author's note: since I wrote this article, there have been many updates to the programs mentioned, new programs have been released, and I've written many new reviews. I suggest that you click here to go to my Ultimate Guide to Astrology Software, and that you might also like to read my latest article comparing the top astrology programs, by clicking here.

Every Western (as opposed to Vedic) astrology program in the $200+ price range offers superb accuracy and a large date range for calculations, as well as transits, progressions, directions, returns, composite charts, interaspect tables, many styles of charts and data tables, astro-mapping and eclipse maps, midpoint trees and dials, the ability to import files from the Quick*Charts format, large built-in time-change atlases (with automatic look up of the coordinates and time zones for most cities), a rectification method (e.g. the ability to change the birth time forward or backwards and immediately see the new chart), at least some interpretations (e.g. of natal planet positions), an astro-clock (i.e. a chart that shows the positions at the present moments and automatically updates when the positions change), ephemeris printing, harmonic charts, and some graphical tables. They all offer the ability to set default colors, house system, zodiac, present location, ayanamsha, True or Mean node setting, a customer's logo, and preferred wheel style. They all run under Microsoft Windows®.

1. Solar Fire 5 (by Esoteric Technologies, Inc. distributed by Astrolabe).

Solar Fire 5 is perhaps the best-designed for ease of use and one of the most polished astrology programs on the market. It is solid (never crashes), includes the most comprehensive manual, an excellent page designer, easiest and most flexible customizing features (e.g. the ability to create any number of aspect sets), and a huge range of functions. No other program allows you to set different orbs for applying and separating aspects (both in natal chart and for transits, etc.)

Perhaps its foremost strength is its incredible interactivity. While looking at a chart wheel, you can change the aspect set, type of wheel or page, points displayed, birth time, etc. and immediately see the changes. Another incomparable feature is its Time Map transit/progressed graph. The Time Map shows each predictive event on one line for a period from one day to any number of years, with the entering, exact, and leaving orb dates for each event. In addition to including standard predictive techniques, the Time Map (and transit list) can include eclipses, transits/progressions/directions to and from sensitive points such as midpoints, fixed stars and many, many asteroids, and to house cusps (not just ingresses), Arabic Parts, fixed Zodiacal positions, and nodes of any planet or major asteroid. You can also merge separate searches into one listing or Time Map.

Solar Fire also offers the best Chart Animator, which allows you to view one (or more) biwheels with transiting/progressed/directed planets moving around a chart at any rate you specify with aspect lines forming over time, plus the ability to see up to four wheels or biwheels at once, triwheels or quadwheels or any page of charts, dials, tables, and graphs. Solar Fire includes many pages, including ones for Cosmobiology, Vedic, Horary, Fixed Stars, and Classical (ancient Western) techniques.

You can record any set of jobs using the program’s unique Astrologer’s Assistant, and then recreate all of the printouts (charts, graphs, maps, etc.) for a new person with the push of a button. The Eclipse search finds eclipses for a range of 5,000 years, with detailed information on each eclipse. Chart files can be exported in many formats including the Quick*Chart format (for importing into most astrology programs) and backed up effortlessly. Solar Fire 5 also includes astro-mapping, an Arabian parts editor, fixed star interpretations, an extensive well-written synastry report, a wonderfully useful graphic ephemeris, and an advanced ephemeris generator that can include Arabic parts, asteroids, transiting midpoints, hypothetical planets, and the Ascendant and M.C.

Finally, Solar Fire offers additional advanced features like MultiWheel Superimposition, which allows you to see bi-, tri-, and quad-wheels with each of the charts having their own ascendant, or with all of the charts aligned to any point (e.g. align all of the Suns). It also has an Extra Points wheel, where you can place any set of extra points within a birth chart. You can create any number of sets of extra points, and choose any midpoints, lunations, eclipses, nodes, Arabic Parts, fixed stars, asteroids, hypothetical points, angles, and planets to comprise each set.

To learn more about the latest version of Solar Fire, click here.

2. Kepler (by Cosmic Patterns).

Kepler is an exceptionally full-featured astrology program that is both rock solid and fully polished.

One of Kepler's strengths for many years has been its unrivaled collection of optional add-on interpretive astrological reports. With each new version, Kepler has become more and more powerful and introduced many unique astrological tools. The staff at Cosmic Patterns continually research time changes throughout the world, and as a result Kepler has the most accurate time-change atlas of any program.

In the area of astro-mapping, Kepler has pioneered incredible advances. Not only does Kepler offer major and minor aspect lines and midpoint lines, but also can show the orb of influence for each line. Beyond this, Kepler includes custom Treasure Maps for specific life themes – like love, career, etc. – that show the places on a map where these goals are most likely to be realized. Kepler takes the same unique thematic approach to its Time Line Profile graph, which indicates, for whatever time period selected, the influence of transits on 14 areas of life, including business success, romance and sexuality, accident proneness, etc.

Kepler is the best program for learning astrology. Its built-in Avalon College includes 47 astrology lessons, an extensive glossary, and many additional articles. Kepler also includes the largest collection (18,000+) of charts of famous people, companies, and events of any professional program. In addition to single factor searches, such as who has a planet in a specific sign or house, Kepler can search for stationary planets, planets conjunct fixed stars, aspects between two charts, planets in another chart’s houses, and can even list charts indicating the strength of traits such as logic, originality, impatience, and zeal.

Another unique advance in Kepler is its aspect and interaspect listings showing all of the harmonic aspects between each pair of points. Kepler offers the only graphic ephemeris that allows you to put transits, secondary progressions, and solar arc directions on the same graph. Kepler can read many other program’s files directly and/or import them, as well as export to several formats. It also offers a list of the positions of 1,000 asteroids. For the aesthetics amongst us, Kepler offers stunning new Art Wheels, charts with beautifully rendered backgrounds of sunsets, angels, night skies and more. Kepler also includes chart pages designed for using Huber methodology.

Finally, Kepler has the most Vedic astrology features of any Western program. Besides displaying wheels and a well-formatted dasa/bhukti/antara listing (with optional interpretations), the program offers divisional (varga) charts, a detailed shad bala table, and a very sophisticated Gochara (transits) graph which takes into account Vedhas.

To explore the features of the latest version of Kepler, click here.

To learn about the more advanced Sirius program from the same company, with the same interface and core features, click here.

3. Win*Star Plus (by Matrix Software).

Win*Star Plus inherited many of the capabilities of the powerful Blue*Star program, and offers the largest selection of well-designed wheels and chart pages, and includes a utility to preview each page before choosing it, and a Publisher’s Assistant to create wheels of any size for publishing and printing. The software includes the complete DeVore’s Encyclopedia of Astrology, as well as a glossary of astrological techniques. Its DataView function shows a variety of tables, and unique graphs (for any chart) of planets by (geo- or heliocentric) longitude and latitude, right ascension and declination, azimuth and altitude, angular separation, and midpoints.

Win*Star Plus’ powerful Searches feature allows you to execute up to six different types of searches at once. You can select the type of search method for each of the six (e.g. transit-to-transit, tertiary progressed-to-natal, etc.), both the search planets and the natal planets to use, search for natal midpoints, the aspect set for each method, and whether to show stations, ingresses, parallels, and entering/leaving dates for each method. Finally, you can select the time range for the set, and then name and save as many sets of searches as you want.

After running a search, you can sort the listing in many ways, create a custom layout of which columns to show and where, merge the listing with another listing (even another person’s, whose name will be shown to differentiate both sets of transits – outstanding!), hide or only display some of the items in the list temporarily (e.g. inner transits), and view a bi-wheel chart for any event around the natal chart. No program makes complex searches so easy to create.

Win*Star Plus also excels in the exceptional quality and power of its beautiful astro-maps. It offers the ability to zoom in and out on any area of a map smoothly and easily with the click of a button. Additionally, the program can show the current longitude and latitude and ascendant and midheaven wherever the cursor is placed. Astronomical lines, such as the ecliptic or horizon, and constellations, such as the zodiac, can be shown on maps, as can space-based house cusp lines (e.g. Campanus, Regiomontanus, etc.), and even the region of a map where a planet actually is at the moment of birth, and/or where on the map a planet occupies a specific house (by any house system). The maps produced by Win*Star Plus are by far the highest-resolution and best quality.

The Win*Search function not only allows you to quickly and easily search your chart file (or any subset of it) for a planet by sign, house, specific degree position, aspect or angular separation from another point, dignity, date range, or quadrant; or charts with emphasis of a mode or element, or a lunar day or phase or quarter, but it includes an extremely powerful and unique Astro*Query search language that enables astrologers to create complex And/Or searches of their own. Win*Search can also create distribution graphs for an entire chart collection (or any subset) showing all or specified planets by sign, house, degree, and many other factors.

4. Janus (by Janus Astrology Software).

Janus is the newest professional-level and comprehensive Western astrology program. It is very easy to use, and has the best context-sensitive help screens of any program, which not only document all of the features of the screen you’re working on, but also are cross-referenced to allied topics, and include excellent reference tables, and a bibliography on the technique.

Janus offers Horary astrologers a fine module specifically designed for their needs, making turning the wheel, evaluating the considerations of the horary chart, and seeing the significant factors (e.g. lunar aspects, aspects to Arabic Parts and Fixed Stars, planetary hours, receptions and dignities) effortless. The Electional module is similarly well organized, and adds a graph for the day of changing dignities for each of the Ptolemaic planets, easy time shifting of the chart (by seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, or years), and the ability to adjust what strength aspects are displayed.

Janus also has the best Planetarium/Sky Map, which shows the celestial sphere with the constellations, signs, and stars clearly marked, day/night shading, animation, zoom, find (a star, planet, sign, or constellation), and the ability to set colors, select what to display, what coordinate system to use (ecliptic, equatorial, or horizon), and what date to show, as well as information on a large number of fixed stars including both astronomical details and astrological meanings. The astro-mapping feature uniquely offers a general report (i.e. not for a specific city or chart) of interpretations both of planetary lines and of parans.

The predictive search can include void-of-course Moon, lunar phases, unusual methods of progression (e.g. by solar or sidereal days by draconic month, anomalistic year, or eclipse year), arc directions by planetary arcs (instead of just Solar arcs), and a remarkably large number of ways to sort the listing of predictive events. Similarly, Janus offers a wider variety of return options than many programs, including planetary midpoint, Synodic, Metonic, and Anlunar returns. The graphic ephemeris can also include lunar phases, house ingresses, and eclipses.

To learn more about Janus, click here.

B. Specialized Western Professional Astrology Programs.

Several additional programs offer advanced astrological functions, and have many but not all of the basic and professional-level features that astrologers expect. They will be treated here as specialized software.

Millennium (by A.I.R. Software) offers an incredible number of unique and powerful predictive techniques, most notably the Time Tunnel – a circular graphic ephemeris which can use many predictive methods at once (e..g transits, secondary progressed, solar arc directed, etc.) and show where and when they converge, and an excellent dynamic predictive graph that shows the cumulative effects of transits, progressions, etc. There’s a transit calendar, a unique tool for searching complete chart files to see who has the same event happening to them, the capacity to work in many different coordinate systems and to utilize a large number of natal points, planetary phases, and many additional predictive tools. Millennium also has many optional and powerful add-ons, including astro-mapping, electional tools, sophisticated time searching and rectification tools, and much more.

C. Advanced Vedic Astrology Programs

Every professional-level Vedic program offers North and South Indian charts, several standard ayanamsas and a user-defined ayanamsa, animated transits, rectification tool(s), a time-change atlas, multiple dasha systems, the ability to import files from the Quick*Charts format, Classical Vedic interpretations (e.g. of natal planet positions), an astro-clock (i.e. a chart that shows the positions at the present moments and automatically updates when the positions change), varga (divisional) charts, research tools, tables and graphs including ashtakavarga, kutams, nakshatras, shri pati house cusps, aspects, panchang, upagrahas, and shad bala; and the ability to design your own screens and pages, and to select the default house system, present location, True or Mean node setting, and a customer's logo.

1. Shri Jyoti Star (by ShriSource).

Shri Jyoti Star excels in the great range of calculations and tables that it offers, including many compatibility features (e.g. Kuta and Yoni for all planets, cross-chart tables of relationships, aspects, lords, ashtakavarga, etc. and the ability to show two different people’s charts, graphs, and tables on the same page), and a wealth of graphs and tables for individual charts (such as astronomical, arabic parts, panchang, avasthas, argala, udayas, rashmis, latitude, house strengths, and many more) .

The Time Shift tool is exceptional in its usefulness in rectification. While viewing any screen(s) of charts, graphs, and tables, you can easily shift the birth date forward or backwards in time by any increment, and see all of the charts, graphs, and tables change accordingly. Shri Jyoti Star also offers a unique Circle Chart display, where you can view two charts concentrically, seeing house boundaries and cusps (bhava madhyas) and sign boundaries, and watch planets transit around a chart.

Another priceless feature is its Yogas and Time Search tool. With incredible ease, you can search for when, in the past or the future, any planets were in specific signs, degrees, or degree ranges (e.g. a Moon at 4 to 6 degrees Aries). You can also search a chart file to see which charts have any individual classical yoga or combination of yogas. Finally, you can construct your own combinations of factors, complete with And/Or logic, and search your chart file to see who has them. For example, you could look for who has the ascendant hemmed in by malefics while in a particular nakshatra and while the lord of the ascendant is in the navamsha of a great enemy (or, of course, any simpler search.) Shri Jyoti Star’s searches are lightning fast, simple to do, and completely accurate. After a search is done, you can click on any of the names listed (of people who met the search requirements) and instantly view their charts.

The newest features include a neat instant prashna where you can ask a question and get an answer, group muhurta, i.e. find the best nakshatra for a person, couple or group to initiate an activity, brilliantly executed aspect lines between points in both rasi and varga charts (a first!) and between any two charts with the ability to set orbs, five tables of Arabic Parts, the ability to analyze a rasi chart for a person’s inner harmony/tension and compatibility with family members, a Levacy-style South Indian chart, and Arudha Padas in all charts. There is even powerful Astro*Carto*Graphy mapping, that allows you to instantly relocate one or two people's charts, as well as the unique ability see two people's planetary lines on one map.

Shri Jyoti Star offers superb accuracy, many Hart and Iyer options, simple drag-and-drop chart positioning on both the screen and printed page forms, a rich panchang report, a simple chart relocation tool, the largest number of dasa methods, and much more.

To learn more about Shri Jyoti Star, which has become the preferred Vedic program by the top Vedic teachers, click here. 2. Parashara’s Light (by Geovision Software).

Parashara’s Light combines beautiful graphics with exceptional ease of use. Its unparalleled Page Designer allows you to precisely control the size and placement of charts, tables, and graphs, and to make as many custom designed pages as you want. The software also allows you to create your own sets of pages to be printed at the push of a button.

Parashara’s Light has many unique features including the only Vedic transit and dasha listing that can include entry into signs, nakshatras, navamsas, specific degrees, and kakshas, as well as whole sign and degree transits, sade sati, and dasas up to five levels. The program can also prepare a monthly calendar showing these events, and is the only Vedic program to offer a graphic ephemeris too.

The software has a wonderful and easy to use Muhurta (electional) screen, complete with a simple indicator of general auspiciousness (of the date and time) that anyone can understand, plus a fine time-shifting tool, as well as rasi and navamsa charts, and detailed tables of planetary information (including avastas, kakshas, and ashtakavarga), five levels of three dasa systems, and the results of the present tarabala, chandrabala, tithi, karana, and nakshatra.

The program has a wonderfully formatted Kaksha report, the ability to graph distributions on groups of charts for signs, nakshatras, dignities, shad bala, aspects, and conjunctions for each planet and the ascendant, and a point calculator (e.g. sun - moon). It searches from 1001 yogas for the ones that apply to the chart, and then interprets (and shows the formula for) each yoga. Its auspiciousness graph is an excellent display of each planet’s strengths by shad bala, vimsopaka, dignity, number of good vargas, shastiamsha, and two systems of avasthas.

3. Jyotish Studio (a.k.a. Goravani’s Jyotish, by Dancing Moon Inc.)

The Jyotish Studio has an immense reference section with a Vedic tutorial with several lessons, an extensive glossary of Jyotish terminology, valuable tables (e.g. exact degree of exaltation, nakshatras, friendships, etc.), and the full text of both the Bhagavad Gita and David Frawley’s Astrology of the Seers –a fine Vedic astrology book. It also has an incredible list of karakas, i.e. the planets, houses, or signs that signify specific objects, people, etc. (e.g. Epistles and the 3rd house, or Esophagus and the Moon).

The predictive features of the Jyotish Studio are diverse and powerful. The Panchang function can show either detailed information on specific day, complete with the results for an individual chart, or a listing of any duration of all of the relevant factors like the tithi, karana, yoga, nakshatra, paksha, etc. The transit hit list function allows you to see when planets form exact tajika aspects; sign, nakshatra, navamsha, and antardasa ingresses; conjunct equal, placidus, and shri pati house cusps, and conjunct upagraha, the yogi point, and the part of fortune. The excellently designed tarabala calendar shows a monthly calendar with detailed information for each day on the tithi, nakshatra, moon sign, tara bala from the moon and ascendant, chandra bala from the moon and the ascendant, and the bright/dark quality of the moon. It also shows changes, to four levels, of the dasa, and planetary station dates.

The Jyotish Studio offers a fine array of truly lovely Vedic charts, some with carefully designed beautiful backgrounds making them suitable for wall hanging. It also has the largest collection of famous peoples’ charts (for a Vedic program). You can view and print very useful sorted listings (with many choices of sorts) of the charts in the database, a compact listing of everyone’s data and planetary placements, and even compare any chart for similarities with all of the other charts in the database.

The program is packed with a huge variety of nice touches. For example, you can easily rotate any chart to show any sign as lagna. One powerful table shows both the exact degrees for planets in each of the vargas, and a well-thought-out table showing the conjunctions of planets in divisional charts with rasi points. You can also create a listing of planetary stationary times, tertiary progressed stations, kakshas, and custom designed listings of exactly the information you want output, from a huge list of attributes. Jyotish Studio has more unique features than can possibly covered in a brief overview.

4. Käla (by Jyotish Academy International)

Käla is the newest professional-level Vedic program to be released. As such, it is being enhanced at a rapid rate and many new features – including a Muhurta screen – are likely to be added by the time you read this. Käla has a 10,800 year ephemeris range, a very simple to learn user interface, the ability to open any number of additional charts and tables at once, and classical text delineations for marriage and sexuality, mental illness, transits, illness and accidents, and dasas.

Käla is most immediately noteworthy because of the quality of its modern interpretations. Its core yoga delineations are impressively thorough and very well written, and its in-depth analysis of planets in combustion, debilitation, and the nodes, as well as the ruler of each house, are very good. Käla also offers very comprehensive information on Vedic compatibility factors.

One of the most valuable features of Käla is its carefully designed screens for specific functions. Its Compatibility screen shows a biwheel or composite chart, kuta analysis for all of the planets, tajika aspects between the charts, and more. The Transit screen also shows an animated biwheel, with aspect lines drawn in (if they’re in the same navamsa portion), as well as valuable (animated) tables.

Käla’s Varshaphala screen is also carefully designed for greatest applicability and includes Mudda, Patyayini, and 1 year Vimshottari dasa listings, sahams, three types of Varshaphal strengths, and much more. The Prashna screen allows you to select the Prashna and the Arudha, offering several prashna techniques and the pertinent yogas (from 12 classical Vedic texts).

Part Four: Limitations and Conclusion

For all of the power and accuracy of today’s astrological software, there are still sources of errors. Data entry is of course the primary cause of incorrect charts. Older time change atlases and incorrect birth times are also common sources. You might read my article, “The Optimal Use of Astrology Software” at /optimal.htm to see what other problems are caused by small errors in birth time, what software limitations are commonplace, and for tests you can employ to see if your program and its atlas are accurate.

We astrologers are blessed with many programs of incredible versatility and power, and with programmers committed to advancing the field every year. Future programs will be able to help astrologers combine predictive techniques even more effectively, weight factors in relationship to each other, and perhaps even arrive at chart synthesis.

Contact Information:

For more information about any program, for guidance in selecting software, or to purchase many of the programs mentioned here at a discount, you can contact Hank Friedman via email

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