Transit Graphs and Time Maps in Astrology Software

by Hank Friedman

A major function provided by the top astrological programs is the ability to create a graphic representation of the transits, progressions, and directions. This transit graph, aka Time Map, Time Line, Aspect Diagram, or Transits Calendar, as it is called in different programs, makes it much easier to see what events are going on, how the events reinforce, counterbalance, or otherwise interact with each other, and how long each event will last.

[By the way, I am not talking about a graphic ephemeris, which is quite limited in its scope, but a depiction that shows the range of dates across the top of the diagram and then one predictive event, e.g. transiting Saturn conjunct Mars or progressed Moon opposite the Sun, on each line.]

Different astrology programs implement this feature in their own ways, and in this article I will explore each programs methods and options, show images of each program's time map, examine the unique strengths and weaknesses for each, and then compare the different programs' features with each other.

Before I start, I'd like you to view the following video about Solar Fire Gold's Time Map. This will serve to illustrate the potential value of such depictions very clearly:

My YouTube Video on Solar Fire Gold's Time Map


In the next few weeks, we will explore in detail all of the major versions of transit graphs by different astrology software companies.

The Criteria for Evaluating Time Maps

There are a large number of factors to consider in evaluating the functionality of each program's Time Map. Each capability can make a very large difference in how useful the Time Map is. Here are a list of some of the desired functions.


Are the dates visible across the top of the Time Map?

The Time Maps must show the dates in an easily readable fashion to be useable.


Does the map show the exact dates of each of the events?

Some programs don't show the date for each event, and are therefore much less useful.


Does the map show entering and leaving dates?

A surprising number of programs lack this important feature.


Is there a pointer or vertical line that can be moved over the Time Map to show the exact date?

This is a very useful feature, especially if exact, entering, or leaving dates are not shown.


How scalable are the date ranges?

Some programs are ultimately flexible, allowing date ranges from one day to hundreds of years, while others have a limited fixed number of ranges.


Does it show exact times for short scans?

In examining a day or two, e.g. for choosing a time for the "I do's" at a wedding, it is incredibly useful to be able to create a one or two day time graph that shows the exact time each transit occurs.

Does the graph show events already in motion?

A major failing of astrology programs in the past was the omission of events from transit hit listings and time maps that had already begun but wouldn't arrive at an exact hit during the range of dates being searched. All of the transit graphs examined in this article now will show all such events.

Does the program indicate the changing intensity of the predictive events?

Some programs actually show an increasing color intensity as each event approaches exactness. This is a nice visual reminder that the moment of exact hit is the strongest expression of each event.

Can one see changes in direction of the moving planets?

Planets can retrograde or turn direct while making an aspect to a natal point. To be able to see these changes in motion can be incredibly valuable, especially since at the turning point the intensity of the event is very high.

Can planetary stations be interpolated into the graphing of each line?

In 1984, I wrote my own software to place planetary stations in a transit graph, to show the changes of direction that I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Besides the method mentioned above of showing the changes of direction, actually placing the planetary stations on each line can also allow one to see these crucial times.

How easy is it to set the starting date?

All programs allow you to set a starting date for a search, but some allow you to preset different starting dates (e.g. six months before the current date).

Can events other than transits (e.g. progressions, directions, etc.) be included in the map?

The more events mapped, the more one can observe the synergy between them.


If so, what types of predictive events can it display?

The more types of events, the more the astrologer work with at one time.


Does it collate different predictive events (e.g. transits, progressions, directions) in one Time Map?

Some programs show all of the events in one map, which gives the astrologer the most integrative perspective.


Can the map be sorted in different ways?

Sorting can be incredibly helpful, e.g. seeing the map organized by natal point, or entering date, etc.


Can you select different planets for each type of predictive search?

Can you select different aspect sets for each type of predictive search?

Can you select different extra points for each type of predictive search? If so, what types of points?

Can you easily select a different location or starting date for the search?

Some astrologers want to watch transits to and from midpoints, or to Fixed Stars or Arabic Parts. Or want to use a different set of aspects for transits vs. progressions vs. directions.

Can you to save specific search configurations for later reuse?

Different searches can be designed for different purposes, and so being able to save and re-use searches is a very valuable feature.


Is it possible to merge two or more searches into one Time Map?

When looking at two people's transits, for example, at the same time, merging searches can be very valuable.


What advanced features does each program offer?

I was surprised, in writing this article, to discover that some programs are introducing pioneering astrological techniques to their transit graphs. E.g. progressions to another person's chart, composite transits, and phase angle return events.

Can one see interpretations of Time Maps?

Being able to point-and-click on an event and see a delineation appear is important to beginning astrologers. Some programs can generate a full report based upon the events in the graph.

I have just designed a table showing how different programs meet the above criteria. In order to do so accurately, I contacted each company to verify the accuracy of my analysis.

Here's the new table:

Time Map Feature

Solar Fire Gold

Kepler 7

Sirius 1.1

Janus 4

Regulus 5*

ZET 9

Win*Star Pro 4.0

Features that help to see when each event will occur

are dates shown at the top of map

Yes

No3

No3

No3

Yes

Yes

Yes

exact dates of events at each event

Yes

Yes

Yes2

No

Yes

No9

Yes

entering/leaving dates for each event

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

No9

Yes

live pointer or vertical line helps find date

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

    exact time of events for 1 - 2 day scans

Yes

Yes1

Yes1

No

Yes

with pointer9

No

The date ranges that can be employed

configure starting date settings

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

flexibility of date range increments and the number of date increments for search

unlimited

13

13

unlimited

unlimited

7

unlimited

Ability to see changes in direct and retrograde status and stations on each event line

Shows direct/retro status of moving point

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

place planetary stations in event line

No

No

No

No

Yes

No

No

Color changes show waxing/waning

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

Using different predictive methods in one time graph

# of types of predictive methods in 1 search

13

28

28

35

16

1

10

include different methods within one map

Yes

No4

No4

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

progressed to another person’s birth chart

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

number of sorting options

9

4

4

none

5

none

9

Customizing elements of each search

choose planets for each predictive method

Yes (2)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

one at a time

Yes

choose aspect set for each predictive method

Yes6

Yes6

Yes6

Yes

Yes

not directly

Yes

extra moving points for predictive method

Yes7

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

one at a time

Yes

extra natal points for predictive method

Yes7

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

one at a time

Yes

how many types of extra points

6

2

2

3

2

2

12

Advanced features

return to natal angle between planets

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

composite chart of transit and natal chart

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

save search configurations for reuse

Yes (100's)

Yes (10)

Yes (10)

Yes (100's)

Yes (100's)

Yes (100's)

Yes (100's)

merge two or more searches

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Interpretations of events

point-and-click interpretations of events

Yes

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

interpretive report for time map events

Yes

No5

No5

Yes

No

Yes8

Yes

Time Map Feature

Solar Fire Gold

Kepler 7

Sirius 1.1

Janus 4

Regulus 5*

ZET 9

Win*Star Pro 4.0


Yes, outstandingly
Yes
Yes, with limitations
No

* Note: Regulus 5 will be released in early 2011.

1. Kepler and Sirius show the abbreviated name of the month at the top of the page and vertical lines showing the beginning of each week. Janus shows abbreviated name of month at the bottom of the page.

2. Kepler and Sirius cannot show dates of ingresses

3. Kepler and Sirius can show exact times for transit scans only (not progressions or directions)

4. Kepler and Sirius show different methods in their own sections. Also there’s a limit of 244 individual events.

5. Short transit interpretations are available in another section of Kepler & Sirius.

6. Kepler and Sirius allow you to choose from two different aspects sets for each predictive method and 16 aspects or harmonic aspects can be defined. Both programs are shipped with ½ degree orbs, when most astrologers use 1 degree orbs and therefore must modify the default settings.

Solar Fire Gold lets you select one aspect set for transits, and one for all other progressions & directions, but you can define your own aspects (and symbols), use differing applying & separating orbs, use true body, traditional, unidirectional, or other advanced orb methods, etc.

7. Solar Fire allows you to use Arabic Parts, Fixed Stars, over 1000 Asteroids, a huge number of Midpoints (e.g. including Lilith, etc.), fixed Zodiac points, and house cusps.

8. ZET has one set of interpretations that it employs for all predictive methods. Solar Fire Gold and Janus have separate sets of interpretations for transits and for progressions.

9. ZET has an Aspect Data Window that will show the precise entering, exact, and leaving dates and times for any event that you place your cursor on. This is useful for onscreen work.

10. Only the Professional version of Win*Star 4.0 has all of these features.

Other Types of Transit Graphs

While the type of transit graph explored in the above table is the most common type of transit graph, there are two other kinds of transit graph available in software:

1. Theme Transit Graphs

The two calculation programs offered by Cosmic Patterns -- Kepler and Sirius -- attempt to interpret the effect of transits or progressions on life themes, e.g. the increasing and decreasing likelihood of accidents, romance, etc.



As you can see from the above diagram, the Time Line Profile of Kepler and Sirius show the increasing and decreasing likelihood of themes like Athletic Performance, Business Success, etc. in their interpretive transit graph.

The graph's calculations can be based upon either aspects or aspects plus midpoints, and every formula can be customized, and one can employ transits or any one of several types of progressions or directions.

The problem in using universal significators


In order to help people understand the meaning of astrological factors, some companies have created theme-based maps, transit graphs, and compatibility graphs that attempt to interpret the astrological patterns. For example, a theme-based astromap might show where to relocate for love, or for inspiration.

All of these tools rely upon the universal significators of life themes, e.g. Venus for love, the Sun for Father, etc. The weakness of this approach, well known to the Renaissance astrologer Morinus and to Vedic astrologers, is that universal significators are much too general; they supposedly work for all charts no matter what the birth time, and what houses are occupied or ruled, and therefore completely lack the specificity afforded by more transitory factors like house placement and house rulership.


This principle is well stated in Morinus’ Astrological Gallica Book Twenty-One:


“Undoubtably, the Sun represents the father and is the universal significator of honors, but what astrologers wish to deduce therefrom is absurd – namely, that in any horoscope the honor and the prestige of the native, as well as the father, is to be judged chiefly by the Sun alone, regardless of the house it may occupy or be ruler of.” “these specifics [of a person’s life] are determined through it’s [a planet’s] position in or rulership over particular houses.”


What J.B. Morin is saying is that one will have much more accurate and specific information about a person's marriage from the occupants of the seventh house and the ruler of the seventh house than from the universal significator Venus.


And yet every astrology program that attempts to map where one will find love uses Venus and not the occupants of or ruler of the seventh house, and that is why such attempts are often unsuccessful (especially in charts where Venus rules challenging houses). Interpretive time maps fall prey to the same failing, although by taking aspects (and midpoints) between planet into account, they may achieve somewhat greater accuracy.


2. Cumulative Transit Graphs

Millennium StarTrax is the only astrology program that offers a transit graph that depicts the effects of all of the current transits at once.

This is a brilliant feature. Early in my astrological practice, I would painstakingly graph all of the supportive transits above a line, and all of the challenging transits below the line, and thereby hand-create a similar graph. Before too long, such manual efforts proved too time-consuming, and now Millennium offers the ability to create such graphs automatically.

It offers many controls, including the choice of predictive events to include (e.g. transits, directions, profections, Solar Arc, and several types of progressions.), the weighting for each natal and moving planet, for each aspect, for planets ruling specific houses, and more.



Images of Time Maps


Let's look at images of each of the programs' Time Maps, with annotations pointing to someof their prominent features.

1. Solar Fire Gold



Before we can look at the Time Map that Solar Fire Gold generates, we must first examine the screen displayed above, which is used to specify what factors we want to search for, the date range, etc.

Note the blue arrow points to the Start Date. As the red arrow indicates, one can configure the Start Date to always be any number of days (or months or years) before or after the current date or the birth date, or to start on any specific date. [This is particularly useful if you save searches and reuse them later.] You can search for any span of time (i.e. choose the number of days, months, and years for each search).

The brown arrow points to Saved Selections, i.e. it is simple to save any of the searches you design to re-use at any time.

The green arrow shows that you can easily add sets of extra points as transiting, progressed, and/or natal points, while the orange arrow shows where you can select different aspect sets for transits and progressions.

Finally the purple arrow points to where you can merge different searches into one listing.

I cannot emphasize how easy Solar Fire makes it to customize all of the features. Adding points or creating a new aspect set or selecting which predictive methods to use are all effortless.

The following screen appears after you have run a search in Solar Fire Gold:



Note that you can click on any of the columns at the top, some of which are pointed to by the red arrow, to sort by any column. You can also add any of a huge number of columns to display more information. The green arrow points to where you can sort the listing easily (and this sort carries forward to the actual Time Map).

Note you can also view a chart for (or get interpretations of) any event.

Here's the actual Time Map from Solar Fire Gold:



In the above image, you can see transiting and progressed events, ingresses, and eclipses, with entering, exact, and leaving dates easily readable. One of the great advantages of this type of image is that it enables you to see how events overlap in time (and thereby synergize).

more to come



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