by Hank Friedman
Note: In this review, we'll examine several different astrology programs' approaches to astromapping, instead of the usual focus on the features of one program. Please understand that many of these programs offer a great deal of other features.
Are you aware that there's one astrology program that can show map lines for two different people on one map and another software that does true Cyclo*Carto*Graphy? And that a third shows you a changing relocated chart as you move the cursor around the map? We astrologers are blessed with an incredible wealth of innovative astromapping software.
Many different astrological techniques are used to determine the effect of location on an individual's chart. Well before Jim Lewis popularized the method invented by Gary Duncan (that Jim dubbed "Astro*Carto*Graphy"), the foremost technique was to simply relocate birth charts to new coordinates. Since then, new methods of astromapping have come into being. Although most astrology programs offer some form of Astro*Carto*Graphy, they must call it by a different name (e.g., astromapping), unless they license the name from the late Mr. Lewis's estate. For the sake of clarity, I will call this technique Astro*Carto*Graphy in this article.
We will explore the astromapping features of the following astrology programs: Janus 3, Kepler 6, Locality Maps, Solar Fire 5, Solar Maps 3, Win*Star Plus 2, Shri Jyoti Star 5, and Digital Jyotish 1. Amazingly, most of these programs have at least one unique astromapping feature not found in any other software. By the time you read this article, new astromapping features will undoubtedly be added to some of these programs, so please check with the manufacturers or read my SoftStar News articles (at www.soulhealing.com) for up-to-date information.
Besides the programs reviewed here, the $169 AstrolDeluxe ReportWriter 6.1 from Halloran Software creates Astro*Carto*Graphy maps with lines for the planets, nodes, Lilith, Chiron, and the four major asteroids; it includes a "live" cursor that shows changing latitudes, longitudes, and locations. Also, Parashara's Light 6 facilitates chart relocation by displaying a world map that you can click on to instantly relocate a chart and all of the tables on the same screen.
All of the programs in this review share the ability to relocate a natal chart and to display and print Astro*Carto*Graphy maps with planetary rising, setting, culminating, and anticulminating lines. Every program, except Shri Jyoti Star and Digital Jyotish, can also display eclipse paths on maps, show city names, and create Local Space charts.
I find it interesting that, because Astro*Carto*Graphy uses mundane planetary positions (i.e., without reference to the zodiac), astromaps from Vedic astrology programs show the same planet lines as those from Western astrological software. Those programs that allow astrologers to switch from mundane lines to zodiacal lines create very different maps when you switch from the Tropical to the Sidereal zodiac, or vice versa.
The quality of the actual maps varies considerably from program to program. When working with whole countries or continents, this is not as critical, but when you use the zoom feature on the low-precision maps of Locality Maps and Janus, coastlines become unrecognizable and city names can be misplaced. Win*Star, Kepler, and Solar Maps offer the highest quality maps — both the best looking and most accurately rendered. Digital Jyotish takes an alternate route: It shows a photographic map of the world instead of an outline map, thus offering a beautiful image but no country/state boundaries or city names.
The Table (click on the word "table" to open it) lists a large number of astromapping functions (most are shared by two or more programs) and the programs that offer them. A few items in the table are worth clarifying. The term "pinpoint" means either to show a circle around a city or to center the map on the city, so one can easily see what lines are nearby. "Live cursor" means that, as you move the pointer across the map, you can see the longitude, latitude, Ascendant, and Midheaven positions for the location under the pointer. "Predictive lines" are planetary lines for progressed, transiting, solar arc, or return positions. "Maps by theme" is a major innovation in astromapping wherein you can see the best places on a map for a specific goal, involving romance, profession, education, etc. "Orbs" means that the planet lines are displayed as wide bands instead of single lines, to show how far from a line the influence extends.
We will now examine the unique features of each of the programs. (See Figure 1, Unique Program Features.)
Janus 3 has all of the standard mapping features plus the ability to add map lines for several extra points, including astronomical points like the Barycenter, Galactic Center, and the Vernal Point, and for new points such as the Black Sun, Diamond, Priapus, and Transpluto. You can select different points (planets, asteroids, Uranians, etc.) for each mapping technique — i.e., for Local Space, Astro*Carto*Graphy, and Sky Maps.
Janus will also print out a general Astro*Carto*Graphy report. By "general" I mean that the report is not for a specific person's map, but instead simply delineates all of the possible planetary lines (Sun through Pluto) and all of the possible Parans (crossings). As such, this report can be helpful, but it is not the type of report that can be sold. Finally, Janus can create charts using alternate coordinate systems, such as the Invariable Plane, Galactic Longitude, Rationalized Semi-Arc, and Horizon Astronomical Azimuth.
Kepler 6 can create standard Astro*Carto*Graphy maps (if you change the settings from Zodiacal to Mundane), but most of its mapping features are oriented toward using the Zodiacal frame of reference. This major departure from Jim Lewis's methods allows Kepler to add significantly innovative mapping techniques, including Treasure Maps, lines with shaded orbs, major and minor aspect lines, midpoint lines, and interpretations based upon both aspects and midpoints. All of these methods were first introduced to astrology software by Kepler.
Most astrologers don't realize how difficult it is to determine the "orb of influence" of map lines. Both the curvature of the Earth and the differing strengths of specific types of lines (e.g., major vs. minor aspect lines) are obstacles to knowing whether a given city is under the influence of a particular line. Kepler has solved this problem by showing — with a shaded, gradually fading color that surrounds each line — where the lines are operational.
Perhaps even more valuable are the many thematic Treasure Maps; these provide both novices and professional astrologers alike with maps that show just where to go to augment the energies for particular themes. Kepler includes theme maps for Love & Romance, Vocation & Career, Friendship & Family, Imagination & Inspiration, and Excitement & Instability. These maps are simple to understand and incredibly useful.
It can be frustrating for people who are interested in the planetary influences on specific cities to have their software show very few, if any, influences for some locales. Kepler allows you to add major and minor aspect lines, midpoint lines, and extra point lines (asteroids and/or Transneptunians), so this is no longer an issue. Every location has many nearby lines.
To make these extra lines understandable, Kepler provides point-and-click interpretations for all of the lines near any location and also has the capacity to print comprehensive reports for any number of cities (selected from the atlas), which indicate how strong each line is. Kepler is the only program to interpret major and minor planetary aspect lines and midpoint lines.
Kepler has added a slew of predictive techniques to its latest version (6.0), including the standard transit and progressed and solar arc to natal angle lines, as well as progressed and solar arc map lines. In sum, Kepler offers an incredibly diverse and comprehensive set of mapping features, with many valuable pioneering innovations.
Locality Maps (by A.I.R. Software) is a dedicated mapping program. It is bundled with the ACS mini-atlas, but it can read the full ACS atlas if that is installed on your PC. And although the maps have poor rendering of coastlines and show no U.S. state boundaries, the ability to plot cities is very useful, and the program is quite functional.
Locality Maps is the only program that allows you to see both natal planetary lines and predictive planetary lines on the same map. It also offers the largest choice of predictive lines (42 types in all), both direct and converse, including transits; secondary, tertiary, and minor progressions; directions (degree for a year and degree for a day, both standard and equatorial); solar arcs; lunar arcs; profections; and a large variety of Tropical and Sidereal solar, lunar, and planetary returns, including returns plus directions. These are important features for astrologers who are looking at cyclic effects on relocation.
Besides displaying eclipse paths in a more graphic form than other programs (see Figure 2, Various Eclipse Maps), Locality Maps is unique in depicting the epicenter of each eclipse. Locality Maps is also the only program that highlights Parans and maps the paths of the planets' occultations by the Sun.
Locality Maps generates distinctive and well-written interpretive relocational reports for individual charts. It can create two kinds of reports: one that delineates all of the standard planetary lines and Parans for a specific city and a second one that does a report for all of these lines in the world for a specific person's chart. This second approach is comprehensive and focuses on planetary lines, giving the user a list of cities near each line.
Finally, the Optimized Place Finder allows you to see maps that show the best places to achieve specific life goals — in love, work, or education. As you move your pointer over a map, the program shows how strong (as a percentage) each area is for the theme you've chosen. If you feel expert enough to create your own rules, the Model Editor included with the program allows you to create your own sets of themes and to display them on a map.
These are powerful tools, both for amateurs who just want to find the best places for themselves and for advanced astrologers who would like to create their own models.
Solar Fire 5 has a "Lite" version of Solar Maps built into it. In addition to the astromapping features mentioned in the table, Solar Fire offers a variety of Locality Charts, including Johndro and Geodetic charts in Right Ascension or longitude, as well as user-defined Geodetic charts (where you can specify the zero point in R.A. or longitude). When you click on a planet displayed in Solar Fire's Planetarium, the nearest fixed star is highlighted and its meaning is displayed.
Solar Maps 3 is a stand-alone mapping program (i.e., it doesn't require Solar Fire to run) designed for astrologers who want the full range of Astro*Carto*Graphy techniques. It offers all of the standard mapping features and such predictive map lines as transit, secondary, and tertiary progressed and solar arc lines. But Solar Maps is the only program to produce true Cyclo*Carto*Graphy maps: outer planet transit + inner planet secondary progressed lines on the same map. It is also the only astrology program that can animate predictive planetary lines so you can watch them move across the map over time, at whatever rate you specify. This is amazingly useful — and fun to watch! You can even use its Astro*Clock to view the lines of today's transiting planets move over a map in real time.
Solar Maps offers still more. It has an excellent interpretive report that delineates Astro*Carto*Graphy planet lines and Parans, and it is the only software that also includes interpretations for Local Space lines. The report even indicates how strong each line's influence is. You can run reports for any number of cities by clicking on city after city on the map. It also is the only program to offer major and minor aspect lines and midpoint lines for both the zodiacal and mundane coordinate systems.
For those who are interested in mapping geocosmic events, Solar Maps adds event mapping — for hurricanes, storms, volcanoes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. You can plot multiple events, such as all hurricane tracks in one season or all of the earthquakes on file, as well as import new events (bird migrations, etc.) from the Web. For advanced locational astrologers, Solar Maps can also show Geodetic charts, aspects by azimuth, fixed star lines, and day/night shading.
Solar Maps is one of the easiest programs to use, with excellent context-sensitive help, a free instructional CD, several lovely color schemes to choose from, and the ability to customize many of the program's features (including fonts, cities, lines). The Zoom areas are highlighted so that you can enlarge sections of maps very precisely. Even the mouse pointer changes to show you which tool (zoom, measuring, interpreting, relocating, etc.) you are using.
The superlative interpretive reports, elegant simplicity, and awesome capabilities make Solar Maps the program of choice for many astrologers who specialize in relocation.
Win*Maps is part of the Win*Star Plus 2 program and offers excellent, powerful, and diverse astromapping features. Its printed maps are by far the most beautiful, and their accuracy is unparalleled. The maps are so high-resolution that you can see the precise positions of lakes, rivers, and even county boundaries. In fact, this is the program I choose when I want the highest quality maps.
The map interface is simple to use; it includes the ability to turn Astro*Carto*Graphy and Local Space lines on and off, individually or simultaneously, and to instantly relocate Local Space lines. You can see exactly where any planet is in a specific house on a map (choosing from eleven house systems); plot house boundaries for four spatial house systems (Campanus, Meridian, Alcabitius, and Regiomontanus); and plot the actual physical positions of planets on the map and the exact places where Parans occur.
Win*Maps has by far the most robust astronomical mapping features of any program. You can view, on either a sky map or an Earth map, the placement of individual stars, the zodiac, constellations, galaxies, nebulae, pulsars and quasars, globular clusters, supernovae, and much more!
For the astrologer who wants stunning printouts, Outer Space mapping, and the most accurately rendered maps, Win*Star is the program to use.
The following two programs are Vedic software that offer astromapping features.
Shri Jyoti Star 5 is a very powerful Vedic program that introduces several unique innovations to the field of astromapping. You can place two people's planet lines on one map, thereby making it easier to find the ideal place for partners, and you can choose to include outer-planet lines. The program offers the option of using red lines for the first person and blue lines for the second, so you can easily distinguish between each person's lines. As you move the cursor over the map, you can watch both people's Ascendants and Midheavens change with location, and you can even relocate two people's charts, tables, and graphs at the same time.
Even more powerful is the ultimate live cursor: You can choose to have the mouse movements over a map instantly relocate the chart you're working with. Because the map takes up only a fraction of your computer screen, you can see several charts and tables to the left of and below the map. You can select which charts, tables, and graphs you want displayed, and as you move the mouse pointer over the map, you can see all of them shift as you change location. This is a truly incredible feature. Bravo!
Digital Jyotish 1 is a new Vedic program developed in India. Unlike all other astromapping programs, it shows a satellite photo map of the Earth instead of a two-dimensional map. The photo map is lovely, but it lacks details (state boundaries, city names and placements, etc.). Fortunately, you can enter the name of a city, and it will show a circle centered around the city's location. (The company tells me that they are going to shift to a more standard two-dimensional outline map in the next version.)
You can easily turn individual planet lines on or off in Digital Jyotish. When you move the pointer across the map, you can see the changes each shift makes in longitude, latitude, Ascendant and Midheaven positions, and to a chart (North Indian, South Indian, or circular), Ashtakavarga table, Shad Bala table, and planetary positions table.
In the field of astromapping, we now have an incredibly wonderful selection of powerful programs and features to choose from. I would be hard pressed to recommend any one program, because each contributes unique capabilities that empower us in our exploration of astrolocality.
© 2003 Hank Friedman – all rights reserved
Hank Friedman is renowned in the San Francisco Bay Area for his astrological and transformative counseling work with individuals and couples. His in-depth astrology readings blend Western and Vedic astrological approaches with his intuitive gifts. Since 1978, Hank has assisted thousands of astrologers, personally and through his software reviews, to find the best software for their needs. He has helped all of the major astrology software companies to debug their programs, add new features, and lower prices. He is author of Astrology on Your Personal Computer and has written numerous software reviews for various astrological publications. Feel free to contact Hank via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Web site: www.soulhealing.com, where he has a monthly tutorial on metaphysical astrology and an online column, called SoftStar News, which features the latest developments in astrology software.
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