by David Cochrane
(This is the full text of my review of Kepler 4.7 in the Mercury Direct section of The Mountain Astrologer, with additional reviews thereafter.)
When Cosmic Patterns first released Kepler (for DOS) over a decade ago, it rapidly grew in popularity as the software that allowed you to run any of their wide variety of astrological interpretation programs. As the number of choices of reports grew, so did Kepler's features, but most astrologers still thought of Kepler as "a report engine" and not a calculation program in its own right.
In the mean time, Kepler began to advance in ways that astrologers knew nothing about. David Cochrane, the lead programmer at Cosmic Patterns, began developing a database of time changes for cities throughout the world, with a special focus on South America and Asia, that was more accurate than any other source, and now exchanges data with Astro Communication Services, and has continued to provide, in Kepler, the most accurate and up-to-date time change data in the world.
Cosmic Patterns also began including a collection of charts for both famous people and events in the software. This collection has grown to a size of over 17,000 charts -- the largest of any major calculation program -- and now includes charts for businesses as well.
As Kepler kept advancing, it has gone beyond the standard features we expect in software – natal, progressed, composite, and return charts; and interaspect, harmonic, midpoint, Arabic Parts, and transit & progressed hit lists – to include powerful research features, the most advanced astro-mapping of any program, beautiful graphics, educational and reference materials, and much more. Kepler can even read Solar Fire, Win*Star, and AstroDatabank files directly, so that you won't have to re-enter your chart data to get started.
The latest version (4.7) of Kepler's most outstanding contribution to the field of astrology is its supremely powerful mapping features. No other program can show as many types of Astro*Carto*Graphy lines. Other programs only show lines for planets rising or culminating, and as a result, most cities aren't near any lines at all.
Kepler can graph major and minor aspect lines to the Ascendant and M.C., planetary midpoint lines, and asteroid lines . To use Kepler's astro-mapping, you simply type in the name of any city, state, or country. Then you select the degree of detail, first choosing with or without asteroid lines, and then the lines for conjunction/opposition, major aspects, major and minor aspects, major aspects and midpoints, or all aspects and midpoints. For larger areas, like U.S. states, whole countries, or the World, Kepler automatically selects the set of lines to use so that they won't overcrowd the map (however, you can modify this selection at any time). You can view any map onscreen as well as print it out.
Kepler is also the first program that allows you to see the orbs for each line, so that you can tell what cities are within the range of a particular influence. And you can also view "treasure maps", i.e. maps with specific sets of lines that show you the areas that will enhance your career, love , family, excitement, or inspiration.
Another pioneering feature in Kepler is its Time Line Profile. In addition to being able to graph transits by event in Kepler's regular Time Line, the Profile version shows you shaded bar graphs that indicate the waxing and waning peaks of your athletic performance, business success, drive/ambition/work, good luck and optimism, mental acuity, imagination, inspiration, emotional sensitivity, romance/sexuality, physical sensitivity, friendship/family, relaxation, solitude, and accident proneness.
Kepler 4.7 also introduces a new module called The Kepler Workshop. In addition to displaying and printing graphic ephemeride and text ephemeris pages, you can view and print out (and zoom in on) eclipse maps with totality lines for a much wider range of dates than any other program, from 1 A.D. to 2991 A.D. Note: total eclipses start as partial eclipses ½ hour before totality, and on the maps you can see the exact location and time that an eclipse starts.
For those interested in using astrology software to evaluate stock market trends, Kepler introduces a Financial Analysis Toolbox. You can import data from Commodity Systems, Inc. and graph data in 2D or 3D; view raw scores or % change graphs; select open, high, low, or closing prices to graph; and find days that meet specific criteria such as price rises or falls of a certain percentage.
Kepler offers two types of astrological research tools. The more unusual tool searches your entire chart file for people with specific personality traits (as defined by built-in astrological combinations), such as child-like exuberance, logic, originality, impatience, and loyalty; as well as some experimental signatures for alcoholism, baseball pitcher, and football quarterback. Kepler also has the ability to create your own astrological/psychological profiles, but this feature currently requires the laborious process of editing a file with rather arcane looking codes. An easy-to-use visual interface for doing this will be added in future versions (at present, only very motivated researchers will create new, or modify the existing, categories).
The second type of research is simpler. You can search your files for charts with a single astrological factor, such as a planet in a sign, house, aspect, element, mode, specific degree, retrograde or stationary, conjunct fixed stars, or at a specific midpoint. You can also search charts with two planets in a specific sign, element, aspect, house, etc. as well as for aspects between two charts and one chart's planets in another's houses. Kepler is the only software I've found that can actually locate stationary planets.
Additional features of Kepler include the ability to create listings of 1,000 asteroid positions, or just the asteroids used by Martha Wescott, for any chart (or 10,000 with the optional $75 add-on disk), Transneptunians and other points, primary arcs, conjunctions to fixed stars, and house cusps for all house systems.
An excellent harmonic aspect grid shows you exactly what aspects each pair of planets makes (using harmonics), e.g. my Sun and Moon are separated by 149 degrees 16', which is a quincunx within 44' orb, and a 12/29th aspect within 18' of orb. This table enables you to look more deeply at the harmonic relationships between planets. The program also allows you to create a harmonic interaspect table, for examining these aspects between two peoples charts. Kepler also constructs midpoint trees between two charts.
The transit hit listings are the only ones available in any software than can be configured to include transits that are in orb during the search period, but neither enter orb or reach exactness during the period. You can configure the program to do this by going to Customize, Transit-to-Natal aspects, No Interpretation, and selecting the point range and format you want, and then select option G: Dates and Times to Print, and change the top right hand corner field to the value of 3 (under the title The Number of Months Before and After the Printout to Find: the checkbox next to Aspects in Orb).
For those who wish to earn money online with their software, Cosmic Patterns had done the Herculean task of creating an online chart service for everyone who owns the new version and at least one additional report program. They have created an order page for each person, offering printouts from the reports that you own. You can link to your own website to this order page or send people to it directly, and customers can then select and buy reports online. The reports are automatically and immediately presented to them onscreen and can be viewed for a month as well as printed out.
Kepler does all of the processing and accounting, and sends you a check for 40% of the purchase price, quarterly. For all of those who don't have the expertise to set this up by themselves, this is an excellent way to start an online chart service. You can even go away on vacation and still earn money.
One of the increasingly popular features of Kepler is its built-in course in astrology called Avalon College. Now up to 47 lessons, students can learn astrology step-by-step from the very beginning through quite advanced concepts. They can take quizzes, see graphics and tables that help them understand the concepts, and graduate with a good understanding of many astrological fundamentals, including the basics, plus relationship astrology, relocation, harmonics, forecasting with transits and progressions, and more. Another unique feature of Kepler is the Live Mini Reading, where you can hear (on your computer's speakers) a delineation of any birth chart.
Kepler also has an excellent built-in astrological encyclopedia. Unlike other software, this not only includes an extensive glossary of astrological terms, but also well-written articles on chart synthesis, cosmobiology and midpoints, lunar phases, degree meanings, progressions and directions, and more. The program even comes with well-written mini-reports which can interpret birth charts, transits, and chart comparisons. One can learn an incredible amount of astrology studying all of the material in Kepler.
Kepler also includes a large set of graphics, including artistic renditions of the planets in each sign, and photographs of the planets and galaxies, that can be used to adorn charts and reports.
Vedic features now include Vimshottari Dasas and Bhuktis and interpretations of the birth Lunar Nakshatra. Be careful in using these functions, however, as the software shows you both Tropical and Sidereal calculations for both, and the Tropical ones are meaningless, since both Nakshatras and Vimshottari Dasas are based on fixed star positions, i.e. Sidereal longitudes.
A new version of Kepler is released every year in the Fall, and I've received a very early version of next year's 4.8 to examine. It will include greatly expanded Vedic features, enhanced research capabilities, and much easier to edit interpretations.
Kepler has graduated to the top of the class. It offers calculation and graphical features no other program has, the most accurate time zone atlas on Earth, and access to the largest collection of interpretive reports available anywhere. I heartily recommend this program.
My SoftStar News columns (you may need to scroll down to see the sections on Kepler):
On Kepler 5.0
On Kepler 6.0
More on Kepler 6.0
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