Frequently Asked Questions about Astrology Software
Many astrologers and students of astrology write to me, asking me questions about astrology software. Many of these questions are asked repeatedly, so I decided to prepare this F.A.Q. page. If you want to learn the reasons to purchase your astrology software through me, click here.
A. When PCs and Macs were first introduced, they were very expensive. But very quickly PCs dropped sharply in price -- because IBM allowed other companies to make them -- making them much more affordable to astrologers (at the time, Macs cost about three times as much). As a result, PCs outsold Macs by a landslide, and astrology software companies focused on writing programs for PCs. (In 2012, less than 7% of computers sold are Macs.)
As a result, while there are only two Western astrology programs for the Mac, there are hundreds for Windows PCs.
If you want to be able to use a specific technique, or chart a newly discovered planet, or explore a specialized branch of astrology (like Huber, Hellenistic, Cosmobiology, Chinese, Medieval, research, financial, etc.), you will need a Windows PC to be able to do the calculations. Even in more common areas of astrology like astromapping, transit graphing, or Vedic astrology, the programs available for PCs are the by far the best, and offer functions not available on the Mac.
So unless you have a very compelling reason to go with the Mac platform, the best choice is to get a PC running under Windows.
(I am occasionally asked about Linux, smart phone apps, or other operating systems, and in my SoftStar News column, I have started to add articles on programs for these platforms.)
B. Some of the main reasons to purchase a Windows PC instead of a Mac are:
1. More for your money. Even in 2012, there is a "Mac tax", i.e. you pay hundreds of dollars more for a Mac than a performance-equivalent PC. For those on a limited budget, PCs are much better choices.
2. Many more calculation programs. There are only two calculation programs for the Mac, and there are dozens upon dozens of calculation programs for the PC. Having a much wider selection means not only that you have access to a great many astrological techniques that cannot be performed on a Mac, but also that you get to choose from a wide variety of software styles to find the one that runs in a way that works for you, and that prepares charts, tables, and other graphics which appeal to your esthetic tastes.
3, Many more interpretive reports. Being limited to two programs on the Mac also means that you might or might not like the interpretive reports offered, or the range of interpretive reports. I..e. that you might want a report interpreting asteroids, or karma, or minor aspects, or lunar returns, etc. none of which are available on the Mac.
4. More Powerful Features. Mac software has chart animation functions, but neither compare to the versatility or power of the chart animation functions of Solar Fire Gold on the PC. Similarly, both offer astromapping modules, but they are very basic in comparison to the incredible range of capabilities offered in the astromapping features in some PC programs. E.g. Kepler and Sirius offer theme maps (showing where to go for love, creativity, etc.), interpretations for major and minor map lines, Local Space maps (a method of drawing planet lines that I find very accurate), minor aspect and midpoint lines, and much more that is unavailable in Mac astromapping.
5. Research Only one of the Mac programs allows you to search chart files for planets in signs, houses, aspects, etc. but there are incredibly powerful astrological research tools in many astrology programs that run under Windows.
A. To evaluate the accuracy of the planetary calculations or the atlas in your software, go to the tests in my article "The Optimal Use of Astrology Software" by clicking here. This article will help you evaluate the accuracy of your software very effectively.
B. "The Optimal Use of Astrology Software" article mentioned above explores how to use your programs effectively. You can read it by clicking here.
C. The best astrology programs offer:
A. Great customer service. When you get one of the best programs, the company will provide wonderful customer service to help you install the software, use the program and resolve problems that arise, and they also offer prompt bug fixes. (When you purchase programs through me, you get each company's full customer support as well as my support via email.)
B. Continuing development. Good companies continue to develop their software and offer major updates every few years. You can count on new techniques, new astronomical bodies, and new capabilities to be added to your program. In addition, they update their time change atlases, which is crucial for accurate results.
C. Accuracy and Quality. The best programs are very accurate, function smoothly, rarely if ever crash, and are largely bug-free. You can count on the charts, tables, graphs, and reports they produce.
Note: I recently wrote an article comparing the features of the best astrology programs. You can read it by clicking here.
D. The Windows 7 operating system is much like Vista, just a bit more polished. As such, virtually every major company now has their software working perfectly with Windows 7. The only exceptions are 1. AstroDatabank, which is no longer being sold and had problems with Vista, and 2. programs that are written strictly for Macintosh computers. In early November 2009 when I talked to the folks at Astrolabe, they mentioned that if you are trying to install Solar Fire Gold on a Windows 7 PC using a Solar Fire Installation CD that you purchased before November 2009, during the installation process, when it asks "Do you want to check for updates?", click on No, and the installation will work perfectly.
Recently, an astrologer asked me to check whether the major Windows programs would run under 64 bit Windows 7. I am running all of the programs myself on a 64 bit Windows 7 system without any problems.
E. Since the Spring of 2006, Apple has been selling Mac computers with Intel processors -- the same processors used by Windows PCs. This has made it significantly easier to run Windows programs on Macs. In most cases, it requires that you purchase both an emulation program and a copy of Windows, and if you decide to do so, you will also need anti-spyware and anti-virus software to protect your Windows on the Mac. Additionally, there can still be a few compatibility issues (e.g. especially with certain printers) and other problems, and most astrology software companies cannot help you with such issues.
So be sure and get a demo of the software to test before you spend a lot of money on software (up to $300) that will allow you to run Windows astrology programs on your Mac.
Fei Cochrane of Cosmic Patterns has written a very fine article on this topic, which you can read by clicking here.
The GIZMODO website just wrote an excellent article comparing methods of running Windows on Macs which you can read by clicking here.
And one of my favorite websites, lifehacker.com, has now released an article on running Windows programs on a Mac. Click here to read it.
F: Here are six reasons why it is important to update your software:
1. Support the company. Companies rely on update orders, not just sales, to keep on going. If you want your software to continue to be developed and supported, help the companies survive by purchasing updates.
2. Get updates to essential features. If you have an old version of most programs, chances are high that the internal time-change atlas has out-of-date information, meaning that some of the charts you calculate will be miscalculated. Companies often update their atlas when they update their software, and this is an essential component to have as current as possible.
There are also astrologers who want to use the new bodies discovered by astronomers in their charts. Only by updating can these planets and other bodies be calculated.
3. Receive enhanced versions of the features that you love. Each program has features that are really valuable to their owners. With new versions, these features are often enhanced, often in ways that are priceless to astrologers. For example, new versions of some programs can depict applying aspect lines as solid, and separating aspect lines as dotted. This differentiation may be neat for birth chart work, but is essential for chart animation, i.e. where being able to see which transits are applying is crucial to choosing the best times for classes, weddings, etc.
4. Be dazzled by incredible new features. Recently, many programs added powerful primary direction calculations, astrological monthly calendars, and enhanced astro-mapping to their functions. Most companies include many great new capabilities in each new upgrade.
5. Have compatibility with the latest version of Windows or OS X. It is unlikely that an old version of most programs will install on the latest operating systems, so if you buy a new computer, you're going to have to upgrade anyway. So why not enjoy the latest features of programs before you're forced to update?
6. Get longstanding bugs and design flaws fixed. For many years, most ancient charts created by Win*Star Plus were miscalculated, due to an atlas look-up error. While it took the company years to fix the bug, later releases were fixed and those who updated could calculate ancient charts accurately.
Similarly, before Solar Fire Gold, versions of Solar Fire (and some other programs, too) had a serious design flaw that resulted in some transits and progressions being omitted from hit lists and Time Maps, which was mentioned in my Optimal Use of Astrology Software -- specifically the first topic in this section called Missed Events. In Solar Fire Gold, this problem finally got resolved.
And until a fix that is being implemented this year, progressions were imprecisely calculated in Kepler and Sirius.
Therefore it is vital to upgrade your programs in order to have major software issues fixed.
G: I am having problems with my software. What should I do?
To get help with a bug or problem you are having, please read my new web page on getting support, by clicking here.
Why doesn't my astrology software work perfectly on my computer?
First of all, please understand that each person's PC can be quite different from another person's. The Operating System (e.g. Windows XP, Vista, 7), the printer, the protective programs (firewalls, anti-spyware, etc), the startup programs, and the other installed programs are all unique on each PC.
That makes it impossible for software designers at astrology software companies to anticipate every configuration and every possible conflict. For example, on the newer Windows operating systems (Windows 7 and Vista), there are more built-in protections against attack, but these same protections can interfere, on occasion, with installing a new program.
So your computer system may be very different than mine, or from the ones at a software company. One example: years ago, I tried switching from Norton to McAfee for protection, and many of my programs no longer functioned, so I quickly had to return to Norton (which I later abandoned too). [I currently use BitDefender AntiVirus and Online Armor Free to protect my system.]
Some astrology software companies are very responsive to reports of problems and bugs. (But please remember that support personnel can only address a problem that is explained accurately to them, giving them specific details, so that they can replicate the problem.) Other companies, who I usually steer my customers away from, almost never fix bugs or address customers' problems.
A. There are three different ways that you can provide free charts for visitors to your website:
A. Purchase a program that will do this for any website. This costs a minimum of $386 and includes the (optional) ability for visitors to also purchase a natal report at the same time.
B. If your ISP is running a Windows server, there is a $1000 option which requires additional programming that can provide several astrological functions directly within your website.
C. A third solution is to hire a programming team to create a custom-designed set of astrology functions for your website. This usually costs $20,000 or more.
If you want more details on any of these options, please send me an email by clicking here
B. I have been asked this question many times. Unfortunately, to have value daily horoscopes need to be written for each sign one at a time every day. There are presently no astrology programs for sale -- to my knowledge -- that perform this function. One of the reasons why professional-level programs don't offer daily horoscopes is because daily horoscopes are very poor at prediction compared to actual transit interpretations to a person's natal chart.
C. To have your website perform many astrological functions is a major undertaking and costs upwards of $20,000 - $40,000. Essentially, you will need to hire astrological programmers to design and implement the functions you wish your website to have. You can contact me by clicking here if you want me to recommend a programmer who can do this for you.
A. The analysis of a Vedic chart requires the synthesis of many factors, which is beyond the ability of any software program. That's why one should never rely on Vedic software for prediction.
Interpretations included in Vedic software are either written by its author in modern language or taken from Classical Vedic Texts.
Interpretations written by the author of the software can be accurate or not, but are still quite limited since they cannot take enough chart factors into account.
If the interpretations are quoted from Classical Vedic Texts, then the information given is taken completely out of context (of every other factor in the chart) and is therefore usually inaccurate, and is also much too extreme and frightening in its language to be distributed to people as printed reports. Additionally, some programs actually miscalculate many yogas in a chart, i.e. determine that yogas exist in a chart when they do not.
For these reasons, I advise people to never distribute Vedic reports generated by Vedic programs, and to learn Vedic astrology primarily from a living teacher and secondarily my Learn Astrology Free website and from books, and not rely on software for interpretation.
B. One should not distribute interpretive reports that will scare or discourage people needlessly. Reports that give dire predictions for the mildest and shortest of transits are irresponsible -- and inaccurate too! Therefore, I champion report programs that "do no harm", i.e. programs that give accurate and in-depth natal and predictive delineations without an alarmist or depressing tone; in other words, programs that give sound advice.
C. In May 2010 I updated and revised my article, The Strengths and Weaknesses of Interpretive Software. I highly recommend that if you are interested in report software, you read it by clicking here.
A. Astrology software is actually an incredible bargain. Good programs have exceptional accuracy, include a full atlas that enter coordinates and correct time zones for over 250,000 cities throughout the World, and offer an incredible number of features. It can take an astrologer two years to create a single astrological report program -- e.g. one that prints out reports interpreting birth charts or transits. And creating astrology calculation programs entails an incredible amount of debugging and polishing of new features. Additionally, while most software companies charge hefty fees for customer support, astrology software companies provide free support for as long as you own the software. We are very lucky to have such a great selection of astrology programs.
B. For those just starting out in astrology who are on a very limited budget, TimePassages Basic program may meet their needs. There are versions both for the PC and the Mac, and the program includes the full ACS atlas (automatic entry of coordinates and time zones for over 250,000 cities), and the accuracy of the Swiss Ephemeris (the most accurate planetary calculations available). It can calculate natal charts, show an aspect grid, delineate charts patterns (like grand trines), and include the major asteroids, the black moon, and the comet Chiron. You can also view a chart of the transits (i.e. the planet positions for a specific date) around a birth chart. Point-and-click interpretations appear when you click on any planet in either the natal chart or biwheel, and charts can be printed out in black-and-white. You can purchase the program at a discounted price by clicking here.
A. When you purchase software through me, the programs are sent to you straight from the manufacturer, exactly as if you ordered by calling them yourself. You get the company's full support, and get the latest version fully registered to you. The only difference is that you get a great discount on the software and, if you want it, my expert guidance in helping you choose the best program(s) for your needs.
B. I am always surprised when other websites claim "the widest selection of software on the web" and "the best prices" when they offer neither. I do not advertise nor have the time to create a fancy commercial website, but because I do not rely on software sales for my income (I'm a professional astrologer, psychic, and hypnotherapist), I can offer better discounts than other websites, and much better programs, too. In fact, in some astrological arenas, I am the only person allowed by a program's creator to offer their software, which is better than any other in that genre.
Readers of this website might have noticed that lately a few products (Solar Fire Gold, Shri Jyoti Star, and Kala) are no longer discounted by as much as they used to be. That's because the companies have decided to control how much discounting they allow distributors to offer.
I am making a special effort to provide additional gifts to you, to compensate for this pattern. With Solar Fire Gold, for example, I am providing free Express shipping anywhere in the World and also over 60 additional beautiful Chart Art pages that I lovingly designed. For Shri Jyoti Star, I designed an additional manual that I add to each order.
C. In 1978, I gave an astrology reading to the 14-year-old daughter of a client of mine. He reported that his daughter found the experience to be life-changing, and he decided to give me the money to purchase a computer for astrology. Shortly after that, I began helping companies debug their programs, and then began helping them design and improve their software.
In 1984, I was asked to write the book, "Astrology on Your Personal Computer", which was a great success. Shortly after that, I started writing astrology software reviews for the AFA Bulletin, American Astrology, and eventually The Mountain Astrologer.
I decided early on that I wanted my reviews to be completely accurate, so I submitted them to the software companies for correction before sending them to my publisher. Therefore, every review on this website has been examined by the software creator and deemed accurate.
I continue to this day to help companies debug, design, and improve their programs (and do not charge anything for my services, and offer them to all companies). I also continue to review software for The Mountain Astrologer as well as publishing my online SoftStar News column weekly.
I love both astrology and astrology software and am happy to be a part of the evolution of astrology software.
The fact that I am a practicing astrologer, as well as a computer programmer who has designed their own astrology software, helps me to know the needs of astrologers. Since I am also a hypnotherapist, I am very sensitive to the wording in interpretive reports, and can recommend programs whose delineations are constructive instead of harmful. I was recently told by one of the foremost astrology software experts, "You are the only person on Earth who knows astrology software better than I do."
D. Do I need to have the earlier version of an astrology program on my computer in order to install an update?
No. While some companies require that you provide a serial number, to prove ownership of a previous version (especially if the company cannot find your previous order on file), no company requires that the previous version be installed on your computer before you can install a newer version.
However, if you do have an older version on your PC, most programs can import your old settings (e.g. house system, color schemes, etc.) into the new version as you install it, which can save you a lot of work.
E. If I don't like a program I have purchased, can I return it or sell it to someone else?
Because it would be so easy for people to purchase a program and then return it while keeping a copy on their PC, software companies in general, and astrology software companies in particular, do not accept returns after the package is opened.
You are, however, usually allowed to sell software you are unsatisfied with, and transfer the title to another person, provided that you contact the company that created the software first, and get their authorization.
F. Why do you sell astrology programs at a discount (and have the lowest prices)?
I love astrology, and love the empowerment that having astrology software gives to astrologers. It's like having more tools in your toolbox.
So I always give people the largest discount that I am allowed to.
Since I earn my living with my in-depth sessions with people, I can afford to give astrologers a break on their software.
G. If I purchase an astrology program to receive via download, how long will it take?
If you order during the week, you will usually receive the download link on the same day that you order. Some companies respond within an hour, while others process download orders at the end of their business day. If you don't receive the email with the link by the end of the day, first check for it in your Spam folder, and if you still can't find it, please contact me.
If you order on a Friday afternoon or on the weekend, the order will be processed on the following Monday, when the companies reopen for business.
I have created The Ultimate Guide to Astrology Software, with reviews, frequently asked questions, free software and demo versions, and much more, which you can look at by clicking here.
I have recently created websites devoted to each of the top astrology programs, which offer all of my reviews, screen shots, videos, tutorials, frequently asked questions about the program, and more, so please feel free to explore each one: