SoftStar News

March 2003

A First Look at the forthcoming Parashara's Light 6.0


I received an early, pre-release version of Parashara's Light 6.0 (which I'll call PL6 from now on) and would like to share my first impressions, and tips on learning how to "get up to speed" with it more easily.

PL6's most major change is the enhancement of the worksheets. In Parashara's Light, worksheets are individual screen pages for which you can select a format and then fill each cell -- section of the screen -- with whatever charts, graphs, lists, and tables you want. You can now have up to 300 different worksheets, each with its own format (with 10 formats offered, starting at 2 cells by 2, and going up to 5 by 5). You can name each worksheet you design, save your favorite ones to the Charts menu, and display any worksheet quickly by pressing the first letter of its name (pressing the letter more than once to cycle to the right one, if there are several worksheets starting with the same letter). You can also use the up and down arrow keys to scroll through all of the worksheets.

Before going further, I'd like to mention a couple of tips that will make creating and customizing tables easier and more efficient. First, you can click on the worksheet name (if it has been named) or number -- at the top right of the worksheet, to quickly navigate to different worksheets, to change the format of the worksheet, to add it to the Charts menu (by clicking on the Favorite button), or to add the Time Change or Location tool to the worksheet. The latter two tools are important and powerful additions to any worksheet. The Location tool shows a map of the World, and allows you to instantly relocate all of the charts, tables, listings, etc. on a worksheet to a new place. The Time Change tool allows you to shift the birth time for all of the charts, tables, graphs, listings, etc. forward or backwards in time manually (by time steps from seconds to 10 year) or automatically, and can also show time shifts in real time.

Secondly, you can right-click on any cell, and pop up a screen that offers additional options including copying the cell's contents -- with or without its title -- to the clipboard for pasting into other applications, changing the chart style, to showing -- for individual charts -- the house cusps, dagdha rasis, significations, bhava bala, and more.

The real power of the worksheets comes in the inclusion of many, many added and powerful tables, charts, dasas, timelines, muhurta tools, and more. In fact, there are so many additional elements to include in cells that I cannot possibly describe even most of them in this short introduction to the program. And all of the (old and) new tables can be now be shown for any chart (any varga, Varshaphal, event chart, etc.) not just for birth charts. PL6 includes several more dasa systems, including Narayana dasha, Lagna Kendradi dasha, Sree Lagna Kendradi, and Shoola, all of which can be calculated for any varga. There are new tables (and a very cool new chart wheel showing a nakshatra ring as well as rashis) for Krishnamurti Paddhati work, and several new tables - for 7 or 8 karakas -- for the Jaimini system. You can also add the Muhurta elements to any page.

PL6 also adds several very useful "timelines". These are time graphs that show changes over time in kakshas, malefic transits, shadbala or malefic transits for a selected planet, transits, and auspiciousness. I look forward to learning how to use these more in my work.

Many of the program's other functions have been significantly enhanced too in this version, including Varshaphal and the animated transits screen. You can copy any of the interpretive text to a word processor now. And even though these are not new features, I applaud Geovision for including a dictionary of astrological terminology, which is a well-done glossary that will help many people, and its extensive tutorial on Vedic astrology.

I will be writing more in future columns about Parashara's Light version 6, as I explore the power of this major upgrade more fully.

More on Kepler 6.0


Kepler 6.0 has just been released, and has been enhanced even further since my January SoftStar News mention (which you can read by clicking here). Many additional astro-mapping enhancements have been added, including a tool to measure the distance between any two points (e.g. between two cities, or between a planet line and a city), and the ability to create predictive maps (which show the transiting or progressed or solar arc lines to the natal angles). You can also see a "live cursor", i.e. as you move your mouse over a map, it shows you the the longitude, latitude, ascendant, and midheaven changes as the pointer moves to new locations. You can now copy maps to the clipboard (for pasting into articles, letters, etc. in your word processor), save maps to files, and email maps. Map land and water colors can be changed, and maps print larger, too.

Even better, you can now generate astrolocality reports for any number of cities for a specific person's chart, interpreting the major and minor aspect lines and midpoint lines for each location (and the report indicates how strong each line's influence is). You can also simply point and click on any location to immediately see the influences on it. These are great new features. When you look at a chart wheel, you can point and click to see interpretations of planets in signs appear.

Kepler now also allows you to re-view any map, chart, report, or table you've created during a session. It creates a listing on the lower right of the screen and you just click on the item you want to see again, and it instantly reappears. Version 6 adds several new wheel choices, including three Huber-style wheels, and the ability to add the CoAscendant, Polar Ascendant, mean black moon Lilith, and true black moon Lilith into chart wheels.Finally, if you decide to resize a chart when you save it to a file

Kepler has added the ability to save sets of jobs (e.g. a set of charts, maps, reports, etc.) and apply them at a later date to other charts. This will automate and expediate your work with clients if you want a standard set of printouts for each. You can also easily create charts for planetary ingresses into signs and for lunations and eclipses.

Kepler 6.0 is a major, major upgrade. With its completely revamped user interface, powerful customizing features, new built-in interpretations, and phenomenal astromapping capabilities, Kepler 6 is a valuable set of tools for virtually every astrologer.

(Note: As I've mentioned in earlier articles, Cosmic Patterns, the creator of Kepler, has a unique upgrade policy: they upgrade any interpretive reports that you own for free every time you purchase an upgrade to Kepler. Most other companies charge for upgraded reports, sometimes as much as $100 per report!)

Solar Spark and AstroTides

Esoteric Technologies, the creators of Solar Fire, Solar Maps, and JigSaw, have released two smaller programs that have not gotten as much notice.

Solar Spark

Have you ever wanted to have the ability to instantly see the chart for the present moment? While those who own professional-level programs can do so by leaving them running (in an astroclock mode), if you are not running Windows XP, NT, or 2000, this might take up too much computer memory or system resources. Enter Solar Spark, a little program that is designed to be kept running at all times. Each time you switch to it, you can see a chart for the present moment, or view their Sabian Oracle, which displays the interpretation for the Sabian Symbol for the present degree of the Sun or Moon or MC, or for a manually selected or randomly selected degree of the Zodiac. You can also view an aspect grid (which is important since the chart doesn't show aspect lines), a planetary dignities table, and a mini interpretive report for any chart.

Solar Spark can both calculate new charts and load charts from a Solar Fire, Nova, Quick Chart, or Blue*Star format file. You can use the Adjust tool to shift the birth time of a chart forward or backwards in time, as well as use the Step tool to shift the displayed chart forward or backwards in time by any number of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years manually or automatically (note, however, that on a fast computer, the animation is too rapid to be used).

Finally, you can select and set alarms that notify you when specific planets enter signs or aspects other planets. These can only be set for mundane events (i.e. transiting planets to transiting planets, as opposed to transits to natal planets).

Solar Spark will be useful for those who need its capabilities, and don't want a larger astrology program running all of the time.

AstroTides

AstroTides is a kind of linear astrological lunar calendar which can show a variety of lunar information for a period of from one to one hundred days. (See the image below.)



You can choose what lines you want shown, including the Sun and/or Moon's sign, lunar nakshatra, lunar mansion, 2, 4, or 8 lunar phases, lunar voids of course, tidal ranges, lunar events (e.g. apogee and perigee), and lunar phase and sign returns to a specific chart.

You can, of course, include bars showing the date and month, and customize AstroTides to your current location, as well as enter one birth chart for the personal lunar phase and sign return bar.By clicking on any bar, you can see additional information about that particular bar (e.g. what the different symbols mean, the name of the bar, etc.). AstroTides also allows you to move a vertical slider to different places on the calendar, to see details about different dates. You can even configure AstroTides to run in real time.

For astrologers who want to keep track of lunar influences on themselves and others, AstroTides is an excellently conceived and executed tool with great flexibility and power.

Important Atlas Lookup Bug in Goravani's Jyotish version 2.26

I was contacted by a fellow Jyotishi about a discrepancy in Antonio Banderas's birth chart as calculated by different programs, and discovered a bug in Goravani's Jyotish software. When calculating charts for locations with longitudes near 0 Greenwich (e.g. Great Britain and Spain), the program sometimes comes up with a time zone of +1 when the accurate time zone is -1.

You can get the correct chart for these locations by entering the number 2 in the DST/WT entry field (daylight/war time), but please be careful when calculating charts in this part of the world to double check to see if you're getting the correct chart.

I called Das Goravani, and he was already aware of this bug, and said it will be fixed in version 3.0 when that is released.



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