[Note: This review appeared in Aug/Sept 2008 issue of The Mountain Astrologer in the Little Giants article.] |
Little Giants Introduction:
Many astrologers and students of astrology neither need nor want the most extensive (and most expensive) astrology programs. Whether they are on a budget, or just want simpler-to-use software, many flock to programs in the under $200 price range. The programs reviewed in this article offer excellent accuracy, and have full time-change atlases (which automatically call up the longitude, latitude, time zone, and time changes for over 250,000 places in the U.S. and around the World). They run under the Microsoft Windows operating system. (Note: TimePassages Advanced is also available for Macintosh computers running OS X.)
All three offer many of the basic astrological functions, including creating chart wheels with aspect lines as well as biwheels & triwheels, calculating progressed and Solar and Lunar Return charts, chart and biwheel animation (seeing charts move forward or backwards in time, by a user-specified time interval ), and the option of showing the four major asteroids. They all have birth chart interpretation reports built-in, also offer interpretive report add-ons.
Win*Star Express is designed for two different audiences: amateurs getting their first astrology program, and professional astrologers want to add it to their existing astrology software library.
For beginners, Win*Star Express has many educational features including an extensive glossary of astrological terms, a review of basic concepts in astrology, brief biographies of over a hundred historical astrologers and astronomers, and a set of interpretations for planets by sign, house, and aspect, and for rising signs.
Win*Star Express also includes several interpretive reports: a natal report interpreting planets by sign and house and aspects, a transit report delineating transit-to-natal aspects and transiting planet house ingresses (without orbs or dates indicated), a synastry report showing one person's planets in the other's houses and the inter-aspects between both charts, and a Trans-Neptunian report delineating the house position and aspects for the Trans-neptunian points. You can also point-and-click on planets in wheels (and aspects in lists) to get interpretations.
You can view single wheels, biwheels, triwheels and quadwheels; and choosing what chart to see in each ring -- natal, progressed, transit, or directed -- is remarkably easy. The program provides four styles of screen wheels, and heliocentric charts. In its Browse window, you can quickly go up or down a list of charts on file, and immediately see them in a wheel, or in the outer ring of a biwheel (with interaspects shown).
Win*Star Express borrows many of its unique features from Matrix's older professional-level program Win*Star Plus. For example, it offers many screens of data pages including ones showing elemental balances, aspects sorted in a variety of ways, midpoint trees, strengths & dignities, rising and setting times, declination graphs, and more.
It also has the lovely Time*Scan feature, which is a multilayered horizontal bar of many transits showing different sets of events depending upon the length of the time period displayed. For example, if you select the minimal length, which is three days, it shows the lunar and solar transit-to-transit and transit-to-natal aspects occurring during the time period, plus when the Moon is void-of-course, the transiting Moon's sign and house ingresses, the planetary hours, and the house ingresses of the Sun and Mercury. You can also move a vertical line over the Time*Scan image to see exactly when each of these events occurs. See Figure One: Three Day Time*Scan.
If, on the other hand, you select the maximum length of time (21 years) the Time*Scan shows inner planet and lunar progressed hits, transiting outer planet and directed planet conjunctions to natal planets, and progressed Moon and transiting outer planet house ingresses. You can move forward or backward in time easily, as well as select from several intermediate length time spans.
While Win*Star Express lacks some standard astrological functions such as composite charts and transit or progressed hit lists with entering and leaving orbs, etc., these absences don't detract from the large number of capabilities it does have.
For example, Win*Star Express has surprisingly powerful animation features. You can watch individual charts (or planets in a biwheel)while they move -- either one step at a time or automatically -- backwards or forwards in time by time increments of seconds to years, or view sequential Solar or Lunar Return charts at the click of a button. You can also see the next and previous lunar phases or eclipses, and when any planet reaches an angle. Win*Star Express also includes an astro*clock showing the planet and angle positions for the present moment, automatically updating.
Another valuable capability of Win*Star Express is its Aspect History function. While viewing a chart, you can select a specific natal aspect, and view a list of all of the dates and times when the one of the planets conjuncts, squares, or opposes the other natal planet, by transit, progression, or direction. You can also instantly see a chart or a biwheel for any of these events.
Win*Star Express comes with an incredible number of PDF printouts. The PDF format allows all of the charts and pages to print out with great resolution and color. There literally over a hundred different chart wheel pages for a variety of uses (mostly single wheel pages, but also bi- & tri- wheels and dial pages too) with previews and notes explaining the use of each printout. There are several types of local space wheels, wheels for horary work and for publication, and an incredibly beautifully designed page of 81 years of progressions, showing the age, year, progressed Moon's house, sign, and Soli-Lunar Phase, the degree of the Progressed Sun, and Progressed Moon aspects to the natal Moon, Sun, and Saturn. See Figure Two The Progressions Page.
Added features in Win*Star Express include lists of midpoints and Arabic parts, showing their position (in degrees and minutes) and house placement and the aspects they make to natal points. You can sort them by planet (e.g. first those made by the Moon, then the Sun, etc.) or in Zodiacal order. There is a planetary hours table and a listing of the "lifetime arcs" (a technique by A.T. Mann). The "Around the wheel" feature shows when a transiting, progressed, or directed planet first conjuncts natal points (including each house cusp), marking events on the chart wheel that show the month and year, and the program lists them with the time of the event.
Win*Star Express is a one-of-a-kind program. It enables beginners to get started learning astrology, and provides more advanced astrologers with an interesting set of tools, as well as a very large variety of well-designed printouts.
Older Win*Star Express First Look
I have just looked at the new Win*Star Express program, designed for beginning astrologers. It is much easier than the standard Win*Star to use for creating bi-, tri-, and quad-wheels both onscreen and printed out (however, unlike Win*Star, the number of choices of wheel styles is limited to just four types). It is also easy to print reports; load, print, and save charts; swap charts in bi-wheels, or switch to heliocentric positions.
You can enter new charts, using a built-in electronic time change atlas to automatically enter the correct longitude, latitude, time zone, and time change for you for 7800 cities, and view an ever-updating astro-clock of the present positions and an interaspect listing between any two charts. You can also look at a variety of data tables for each chart, such as natal positions, aspect sortings, elemental balances, rulerships, dignities, Lilly strengths, and more.
Novices will definitely enjoy the point-click-hold feature of Express. You can point to a planet in a wheel or bi-wheel -- or a transit or progressed event in the TimeScan -- and get an immediate pop-up interpretation! Express interprets natal planets by house, sign, and aspect, progressed and transiting planets by house, and progressed and transiting aspects.
Perhaps one of the nicest features is the new Time Scans, which can scan short periods from 3 days to long periods of up to 20 years, showing different transiting, progressed, and directed to natal aspects depending upon the length of the scan. For scans of a few days, the aspects made by the transiting Moon are shown; while for the lengthy several year scans, transiting outer planet conjunctions (Saturn thru Pluto) to natal points, as well as all of the ptolemaic Progressed and Directed to natal aspects are shown). The display is quite beautifully colored, and simple to use, but the scans only show exact hits, no entering or leaving dates, and you can only print out one screenful at a time, not a complete scan.
While Win*Star Express doesn't have most of the more powerful features of Win*Star Plus (and other professional programs) have like astro-mapping, entering and leaving orbs for transits and progressions, etc., those who keep growing in their astrological needs can upgrade to Win*Star Plus within six months and get full credit from their purchase of Win*Star Express.
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