Win*Star

Dear Reader,

I'm including my original review of WinStar 1.0, plus the updated review for WinStar Plus 1.5 here.

Important Note: Several astrologers have let me know that they are unhappy with their purchase of Win*Star. Please contact me, before buying the software, if you wish to know more.

WinStar 1.0

Matrix Software recently released WinStar, their first Windows astrological program, at $200. I found WinStar pretty stable, with only a few bugs that should be fixed by the time you read this. To get good performance using WinStar, you'll need at least a 486 processor, 8 megabytes of memory, about 25 megabytes of free hard disk space, Windows 3.1 or later, a fast video display card, and a SVGA color monitor. On slower systems, you'll have to wait for some calculations, and for responses to mouse clicks. If you do have enough computer "muscle", WinStar is a very worthwhile and full-featured professional astrology program.

WinStar offers an incredibly wide range of astrological calculations, displays, and printouts, with fine accuracy. Because Win*Star is a Windows program, everything can be viewed onscreen, as well as printed out. Like its predecessor Blue*Star, Win*Star can prepare natal, transit, progressed (secondary, tertiary, minor, vertex), relocated, return, harmonic, helio, Davidson, composite, and local space charts; dials, grids, bi- tri-, and quad-wheels; and hit lists of transits, progressions, solar arcs, parallels, ingresses, and void of course, with entering and leaving orb dates. WinStar has an extensive built-in time-change atlas for automatic entry of the longitude, latitude, and time zone for 7600+ cities and 4000 hospitals; and can calculate coalescent, draconic, and geodetic charts.

WinStar is highly customizable. You can create any number of aspect sets (but not different orbs for applying & separating aspects); design your own logo; choose from 14 house systems; use Chiron, Transpluto, the Parallax-corrected Moon, True Node, and Uranian points; and modify the colors used for the planets, signs, and aspect lines. You can import data from Blue*Star, Quick Charts, Compact Data, Prima, Nova, CCRS '92, and Kepler 2.5 files; and view your chart file (database) sorted by last name, first name, date, birthday, place, longitude, latitude, or keywords. You select astrological operations (e.g. new charts, returns, etc.) in WinStar by using pull-down menus, key combinations, or clicking on labeled buttons in the button bar on the right side of the screen. You can customize the operation of every button that creates a chart wheel or grid to use whatever chart form you want. For example, you could assign the Helio button to create a wheel using the Heliome chart form (or any other chart form), while having the Return button create a wheel with, for example, the House Wheel form.



Most of the program's functions are easy to use, but some take a bit of time to understand and master. For example, in order to set the colors for the signs or aspect lines, you have to navigate through several menus first. There are three different types of chartwheel formats in WinStar: fixed wheels, and resizable screen & printer wheels. You have to learn to move between these categories of wheels (in Add Wheels) to find the ones that you want. There are over 250 excellent single, bi, tri, and quad wheels, tables, and grids, and WinStar simplifies the selection process by showing you thumbnail images and descriptions of each wheel.

Among the wheels are many gems, including old favorites such as the Horary wheels with a bar showing aspects formed before and after the birthdate, and a whole slew of beautiful new color wheels, for both viewing and printing.

Matrix has provided two superb help tools in WinStar: the online Help extensively documents every program feature, while the Astro*Tutor includes the complete text of the excellent DeVore Astrological Encyclopedia, interpretations for planets by sign, house, and aspect, and explanations of all of the major astrological techniques.

WinStar has three new modules for viewing charts, tables, and graphs: QWheel, DataView, and Wheel Viewer. QWheel displays charts quickly, and gives you a choice of six wheel styles, including a colorful and easy-to-read Euro wheel, a 90 degree dial, and a heliocentric chart. The 90 degree dial has concentric wheels to quickly display positions of both natal and directed planets. It also allows you to see the midpoint between any two natal or directed points. The Astro*Clock shows the chart for here and now, and the Rectify Assist enables you to change the second, minute, or hour of the birth time and immediately see an updated wheel.

DataView allows you to explore many facets of your data, showing colorful and very useful graphs of many factors such as planetary strengths (according to Lilly), Ptolemaic dignities, lunar phenomena, midpoint trees, elemental balances, planetary latitudes, aspect totals, angular separations, and more. It also includes tables of planetary positions, sorted aspect listings, rulerships, and additional planetary data.

In the Wheel Viewer module, you can point-and-click to see interpretations of planets by sign, house, aspect, and Sabian symbol. You can zoom in on any portion of a chart; this is especially useful when using the Solar Arc dial, which shows the years of Solar Arc conjunctions. Viewer also has an aspect finder, and shows planetary data, chart patterns, and angular separations.

My favorite module in WinStar is called Maps. Here you can view Local Space and/or Astro*Carto*Graphy lines drawn on any of 19 maps, including the World, the U.S. and regions of the U.S. I love being able to click on any place and instantly see a relocated chart for that location, or view local space lines drawn at the new location. As you move the pointer around the map, the program displays the changing longitude, latitude, and relocated ascendant and MC for the area being pointed to. This module is designed primarily for viewing, as opposed to printing, maps.

With WinStar's enhanced transit module, you can easily specify any range of dates and points to search, do transit-to-transit, progressed, or natal; progressed-to-progressed or natal; solar arc to natal, eclipses, and any combinations of searches. This module can even calculate transit searches by right ascension, heliocentric, or precessed coordinates. WinStar provides many ways to select transiting and transited points, as well as search date ranges, and makes it easier to do searches to or from a single planets, or a few points, than any other program. Once you've created a set of search parameters, you can save them to reuse whenever you want.

Win*Star's predictive searches are exceptionally fast, and the results can be displayed in a remarkable variety of formats. You can choose a layout showing entering-exact-leaving dates (and times if you want) for each event on a single line; you can merge two different people's hits and display them in one listing (with each person's hits a different color); you can select a layout that focuses on eclipses; or you can design you own layout and save it to reuse later. As you view the hits, you can filter them, i.e. have the program show you only some of the hits. You can, for example, view just the inner transits, outer transits, ingresses, conjunctions, squares, or stations; and then return to viewing all of the hits. You can also see a chart for any event, e.g. the moment Mars squares your Sun. Finally, you can view delineations for each of the major transits in your hit list. WinStar's search module breaks new ground in versatility and power.

Win*Star has two additional modules for exploring predictive events: TimeScan and DayScan. TimeScan loads the results from your most recent transit/progressed search, and displays the hits as a series of colored bars across the time range. Clicking on a bar shows the entering, exact, and leaving dates and times for each event. The Time*Scan graphs are both visually appealing and very functional, and print out in easy-to-read grayscale output. TimeScan is completely scalable, i.e. it can display hits for one day or fifty years with equal ease and beauty. This is a superb feature!

DayScan focuses on the transits for a few days (5 days maximum), showing the exact transit-to-transit and transit-to-natal hits. You can see the degree positions for any planet(s), the planetary days & hours, a day/night indicator, the phase of the Moon, the Moon sign, and, like TimeScan you can point-and-click on any event, or align a vertical TimeLine, to see the exact time of that event. Day*Scan is an great way to look at what's happening for the next few days. [Note: some of the features in DayScan that I mentioned in my "Software at UAC" article were not quite ready for this version of WinStar.]

WinStar is a very powerful professional program. Its built-in astrological encyclopedia, online help, and natal & transit interpretations will help both beginning and advanced astrologers to extend their understanding of the art. With hundreds of wheel styles, well-designed transit graphs, full astro-mapping capabilities, colorful data views, and powerful searches, WinStar will help you explore new horizons, delight your senses, and fulfill your astrological needs.

Win*Star Plus (version 1.5)

$295

When I first reviewed Win*Star, at the time of its initial release, I tested the program on a 486 with a small monitor (screen) and a black and white printer. Since then I have upgraded all of my hardware, and feel that it is time to re-view Win*Star, in its Plus version, on the type of system it was designed for.

Win*Star Plus is the largest and most diverse piece of astrological software on the planet. If I had to take only one program to a desert island, this would be it.
[Important Added Note: After I wrote the above statement, Astrolabe improved Solar Fire, and it now includes astro-mapping. Solar Fire is the software I would definitely select if I had to choose only one program.]
That's because in one $295 package, Win*Star Plus provides Astro*Carto*Graphy and Local Space mapping, a complete astrological encyclopedia, a full time change atlas with over 200,000 cities, over 200 different styles of the best chart wheels and tables of any software, superb accuracy, a phenomenally powerful predictive module, and a truly huge range of astrological calculations.

The latest version (1.5) is more stable and debugged, and the Plus version adds several very useful modules, each of which can use a full range of planets and points (including the Uranians, asteroids, part of fortune, and the angles): a flexible and powerful ephemeris table creator called Time Tables, a graphic ephemeris, Win*Search, and the Publisher's Assistant.

Win*Search can search your chart files, very quickly, for any point in a sign, house, quadrant, dignity (exalted, rule, etc.), aspect to another point (within any orb you wish), specific zodiacal range (e.g. 2 to 4 degrees Aries), as well as search for lunar phases and days, and emphases of modes, elements, and modal houses (e.g. angular). You can combine search criteria, with AND or OR, and save sets of charts that meet the criteria into a new file. Win*Search can also beautifully graph the distribution of any (or all) points (in your whole file or in the section that passed a search), in their signs, houses, aspects, degrees, decanates, elements, modes, modal houses, quadrants, hemispheres, polarity, declination, latitude, in a 30, 45, or 90 degree dial, or just a point's aspects. This is an excellently designed and executed module.

I actually like the Publisher's Assistant even more, because it allowed me to resize charts to exactly pocket size, which I then laminated and gave as gifts to my astrologically oriented friends. In this module, you can change any chart or table to precisely the size you want, and copy it to the clipboard to paste into another program, or save it as a graphics file to use in a word processing program or graphics software.

The color output from Win*Star is incomparable. While learning how to change the planet or aspect colors takes some time (but fortunately the online help explains the procedure), you can make any point or aspect line just the color you want, and then the program remembers it for all your charts, tables, and maps. Win*Star comes with over a hundred beautiful color wheels, plus colorful tables and graphs (of such things as elemental balance, lilly strengths, and midpoint sorts) in their DataView section, as well as colored lines in the mapping module, and colored bars in DayScan and TimeScan transit graphs.

In addition, Win*Star is the only program that lets you see small images of every chart wheel and table as you peruse the list of available forms, making it is easy to find and select just the ones you want. In the transit module, you can even create a (merged) listing of two different people's transits, and see each person's events in a different color. This is a great tool for couples and families. And for the programmers in the audience, Win*Star provides a chart editing tool that allows you to design exactly the type of pages you want, completely controlling the size and placement of each glyph, wheel and table on a page. Win*Star is the color printer owners dream come true.

Of course, for those new to Win*Star, the array of features is dazzling, to say the least. The program has all of the functions that both amateurs and professionals want, including point-and-click interpretations of natal planets and aspects and major transits; relationship charts, return charts, dials, rectification tools, an updating chart display for the moment, interaspect grids, bi-, tri-, and quad-wheels, relocational charting, harmonic charts, an incredibly powerful transit/progression module, and a huge variety of tables and graphs.

All in all, Win*Star Plus is an awesome program. Its range of functions are vast and unparalleled, and on today's computer systems, it works very well and produces stunning printouts.




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