Sunday, February 15, 2015

Finding Out The Time Of Birth: Part 1, Day Birth Or Night Birth?

I found this very interesting approach in the book by Kennet Gillman, One After Another. Before attempting to find out an unknown time of birth, the first step is to figure out whether the person was born at day or at night. At day means after the sunrise and before sunset, at night, correspondingly, when the Sun was below the horizon.

The criterium is very simple, and in my experience it proves to be quite reliable. Here is the idea: those who were born at day usually have a very important, life changing event at some point from the age of 18 to the age of 19. Theoretically, it should be at the age of 18 1/4, but in practice it can be a little bit before or after that precise age.

On the other hand, those who were born at night usually have a similarly very important, life changing event between the ages of 24 and 25. Again, the precise theoretical age of the event is 24 1/4. If you are interested in the theory behind the use of these specific numbers, please refer to Kennet Gillman's book. Here, I am going to concentrate on practice only. The book also has a number of detailed examples, by the way.

Naturally, the first thing I did is that I tried to test the method on myself. I know my time of birth, and I was born at night. I had no important events in my life between the ages of 18 and 19. However, between the ages of 24 and 25 I had a whole lot of very important events, and the result was definitely life-changing. It was actually a whole process that lasted for more than a year, but one of its points of culmination was around the age of 24 1/4. A few months before the age of 24, I served as a military officer in taiga in the North of Russia, close to the polar circle. That life didn't offer me many prospects, and so I decided to become a researcher and applied for a research position with the military college from which I graduated a few years before. There were, however, a few major obstacles to overcome.

The first problem was that I had a very poor vision. I wore thick glasses and could see close to nothing without them. Two months before my 24th birthday, I had an eye surgery (of a kind that are nowadays done with a laser, but at that time in Russia a basic knife was used). That surgery proved to be very successful, and I never wore any glasses since then — quite a miracle by itself.

Close to the age of 24 years and 3 months, the second major obstacle emerged. I always had difficult relationships with my superiors (I've got my Uranus in the 10th house, if you know what that means), and so they decided to block my application and make sure I could enjoy the rest of my life in the Northern forest. However, a few months later I managed to find a benefactor who supported my application for a different research position, a lot more attractive than the original one, and who also was influential enough to override the resistance of my superiors. It was one and only case in my life when I had such a major support in anything. As a result, I moved from the forest to the suburbs of Moscow right after my 25th birthday. That changed the whole perspective of my life and opened many opportunities I would never have otherwise.

Now let's consider Yury Gagarin, the first human in space, whom I mentioned in the previous blog post. I don't know his time of birth, but using the approach I've just described, I came to believe that he was born at night. Reading his biography, we find no significant events between the ages of 18 and 19. However, there is a bunch of important events around the age of 24: he got married and became an Air Force officer on the same day, 4 months before his 24th birthday, then moved to the North of Russia to serve as a fighter pilot. He applied to join the Soviet cosmonaut training programme when he was 25 years old. I believe this was a very major turn in his life which started before the 24th birthday and ended after the 25th birthday, similar to what I observed in my own life.

Try to test this approach on yourself and other people you know and see how it works. In the next post, I am going to show the next step towards figuring out the unknown birth time.

How To Find Out Your Moon Sign? Part 4: Unknown Time of Birth

First of all, if you do have some idea of what your time of birth could be, like, you were born in the morning or in the evening, or around lunch time, then simply take the approximate middle of the interval (say, 9am for a morning birth). Calculate the Moon Sign using the Moon Sign Calculator (or, if you prefer, a natal chart calculator). Pay attention to the degree of the Moon (the Moon Sign Calculator always shows the degree, like so: Degree: 10° 29'). If it's not within the first two degrees of the sign (from 0º to 2º) and not within the last two degrees of the sign (from 28º to 29º 59'), then you can be quite sure that the sign defined by the calculator is indeed your Moon Sign.

If the degree is within the first or the last two degrees of the sign then you will need to have a better idea of you birth time to have any certainty regarding your Moon Sign. In some cases, you might be able to compare the descriptions of the two neighbouring signs and decide which of them is more like you. A good test could be to recollect how you prefer to recover from a stress. Let's say, for example, that you did the calculation for 9am and you got Gemini for the Moon Sign, but the degree is very close to the beginning, say 0º 12'. If you don't know the precise time of birth, your Moon could be either in the very beginning of Gemini or in the very end of the previous sign, which is Taurus. Here you can ask yourself: what do you prefer to do after a significant stress, how do you recover? If you need for that to speak to someone by all means, and that helps you to restore your emotional balance, your Moon Sign is most probably Gemini. If, however, after a stress you used to have a strong desire to eat something tasty, then I'd believe your Moon Sign is Taurus. You can find out more about different moon signs in my Moon Sign Book.

So you can try to choose between the two neighbouring signs and decide which of them feels more appropriate for you, but if you still believe you need to have a better idea of your time of birth, wait for the next post where I am going to start discussing a very interesting and very simple approach to finding out an unknown birth time.

Now, what can you do if you have no idea at what time you were born whatsoever? There are a couple of approaches that might help you to figure out your Moon Sign, but none of them is 100% reliable. Still, in the very worst case scenario, you'll have only two signs to choose between, and the approach described above might be helpful. Also, in the next few posts I am hoping to show you a way to come to a good idea of your time of birth, even if it is completely unknown.

Let's return to the approach that will help you to at least significantly narrow down the number of candidates for your Moon Sign.

If you have a book with a table of moon signs for many years, like the one described in this blog post, you can check whether the Moon changed sign at all on the date of your birth. Using this example:

04 17:33 Pis
07 06:02 Ari,

if you were born on either the 5th or the 6th day of the month displayed in this particular table, your Moon Sign will definitely be Pisces, as the Moon was in Pisces for the whole of those days (however, do pay attention to the note below). If, however, you were born on the 7th day of the month, then you have about 25% for Pisces and 75% for Aries, the next sign. So you just need to decide which of the signs feels like more appropriate for you.

Note: the described approach will be simple and reliable for you only if you were born close to the time zone for which the tables in the book were calculated. For example, if the tables were calculated for Greenwich Mean Time while you were born in Los Angeles, the time in your place of birth was 8 hours earlier than GMT, so the Moon crossed from Pisces to Aries not at 6:02am on the 7th, as indicated in the table, but at 10:02pm of the previous day, and so you'll need to adjust the logic described above accordingly.

The more reliable way will be to use the Moon Sign Calculator. Let me show you the steps using a specific example. I am interested in the life of the first Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. He was born on the 9th of March 1934 in the same time zone as Moscow, Russia. The time of birth is unknown.

The first step is to calculate the Moon Sign for the very beginning of the 9th of March 1934 (12:00am in the American format or 0:00 in the non-American format). The Moon Sign calculator gave me 19º 11' of Sagittarius.

Next, I'll calculate the Moon Sign for the very end of the date of birth, which is the same as the very beginning of the next day, i.e. 12:00am on the 10th of March 1934, same time zone. The result is 3º 20' Capricorn.

We've got two different signs, so this is a relatively complex case. However, we can see that on the 9th of March 1934 the Moon spent significantly more time in Sagittarius than in Capricorn, so even if we don't have any other information, the probability of Yury Gagarin having Sagittarius as his Moon Sign is significantly higher.

In another case you could find out that in the beginning of the day the Moon was at, say, 9º 20' of Sagittarius, while in the end of that day the Moon was in 22º 30' Sagittarius, so it was in the same sign for the whole day. There would then be no doubt that the Moon Sign of that person is Sagittarius.

Why I used an example of Yury Gagarin here is because many years ago I was trying to find a reliable method for defining an unknown birth time, and I used Gagarin's biography for that. I was unable to come to any convincing result then. Now, in the next few posts, I am going to approach the same problem with the help of a method I've recently discovered. Watch this space.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Lunarium and Caching

I just received an email saying that there is something wrong with Lunarium: the home page shows that the Moon is in Pisces. That, obviously, can't be the case, I mean, the Moon can't be in Pisces, as the Sun is now in Aquarius, and the Moon is full. So the Moon has to be in Leo, the sign opposite to Aquarius. I went to Lunarium, and the Moon was indeed in Leo. So what happened, why another visitor saw it in Pisces?

I receive emails with similar complaints from time to time, and the reason for the problem is caching. It can happen in a few different places, from the user's web browser to some server on the Internet through which the request and the response pass between the user and Lunarium. The nature of the problem is that the Internet (including all those bits from which it is made) wants to please you by all means, and for that to deliver each and every page you request as quickly as possible. Since many pages on the internet do not change every minute, web browsers and servers try to save the page that was requested (like the home page of Lunarium), and if it is requested again later, instead of going to Lunarium and retrieving the page again, they just send to the user the saved copy.

There are ways to prevent page caching. A web developer can use special headers to tell web browsers and servers to not cache the page. However, that doesn't guarantee that each of those guys will concede, as experience shows.

Problems like this do not happen too often, fortunately. But when they do happen, all you can do is re-request the page again. Sometimes you might have to do that a few times, before the culprit will realise that no, you don't want to have the cached copy, you need the real thing.

There is normally a button somewhere at the top of the web browser window, so try to simply press it. Or, if that doesn't help, press it again, but this time also pressing the Shift button on the keyboard. That should help.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

How To Find Out Your Moon Sign? Part 3: Using a Natal Chart Calculator

Perhaps the best way to figure out someone's Moon Sign is to use a free online horoscope calculator. There are a few of them available, and they do all the calculations that would otherwise be performed by a professional astrological software. These calculators simplify the job as much as possible. The main benefits of using them are:

  1. They make use of the high precision astronomical algorithms (in fact, the same algorithms as those used by my Moon Sign Calculator).
  2. They use a state-of-the-art database of geographical locations and time zone changes — something that my Moon Sign Calculator cannot offer). So these calculators provide the highest possible precision, in terms of time and space.
  3. They provide a lot more than just the Moon Sign. You will also get your Ascending Sign, the precise position of your Sun, and many, many other things.
  4. They typically provide an interpretation for various astrological factors.
These wonderful tools have a few downsides too. The main of them is that the resulting natal chart (a.k.a. horoscope) looks overwhelming to those who are not familiar with its basic structure and astrological symbols. On a positive note, you'll have a chance to learn something new, and it's really not that much to learn. You could use my free online lessons of astrology, if you wish. 

In this post, I will give you step-by-step instructions and an example of how to figure out the Moon Sign for a particular person. You can start here and then continue the adventure as far as you wish. 

On one of my websites, I host the online natal chart calculator created and maintained by Astrotheme. I believe it is the easiest to use, of all the existing similar calculators. This is how it looks initially:

We'll be calculating the Moon Sigh (as well as the whole natal chart) for Bruce Willis, who, according to AstroDatabank, was born at 6:32pm on the 19th of March 1955 in Idar-Oberstein, Germany. Let's enter all this information into the calculator. You should have no problem with the date and the time, and once you start typing the name of the place into the City of Birth box, the calculator will start suggesting different locations that match what you've entered so far. It is sufficient to enter "Idar", and the calculator will already know exactly what you need. It will not only figure out for you the precise coordinates of the selected location, but also all the peculiarities of its time zones, as far as possible. I really like this feature! Here is what you should see after entering the data:

Press the Next button, and here it is, in all its beauty, the natal chart for Bruce Willis:

It can be a bit overwhelming, if you are new to horoscopic astrology, but bear with me. All you need now is to find the symbol of the Moon, which is a familiar crescent. Here is just the portion of the chart that shows the Moon:

You see that little yellow arrow that points from the symbol of the Moon to the zodiac. If you know the symbols of the signs of the zodiac, you'll immediately understand that at the moment Bruce Willis was born, the Moon was in Aquarius, so that's his Moon Sign. You might also notice that the exact position of the Moon in the natal chart of Bruce Willis is 2º 31' of Aquarius. However, you don't really need to be able to figure out all those tiny details. It is sufficient to just hover your mouse over the yellow symbol of the Moon, and the banner above the natal chart will put all the relevant details in plain English:

Now, if you click on that little orange square with an arrow on the righthand side of the banner (or, alternatively, simply click on the symbol of the Moon), you will instantly get a substantial amount of information about the Moon in general, about the Moon in Aquarius, and about a few other things. Some of that information can sound a bit cryptic, but there is still a substantial amount of what you can understand and appreciate:

Try clicking on different symbols, and you'll have a chance to learn quite a lot about the natal chart you've just calculated, and about the person to whom it belongs. There might be too much information there, so don't try to digest it all. This is a raw material of astrology. The role of an astrologer is to make sense of this ocean of details, to find a common theme, to define a problem — and hopefully to suggest a solution. But we are not going there right now. We wanted to find out the Moon Sign, and I hope you'll agree that it wasn't difficult. 

Similar free services are offered by Astrodienst (go to Free Horoscopes > Horoscope Drawings & Calculations > Chart Drawing, Ascendant) and by Astrolabe.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How To Find Out Your Moon Sign? Part 2: Using the Moon Sign Calculator

I created this calculator several years ago, with the aim to make finding out one's Moon Sign as easy as possible. Since then, the Moon Sign Calculator became very popular: about 10,000 unique visitors use it daily.

The strengths of this calculator are:

  1. It uses the state-of-the-art astronomical algorithms to calculate the position of the Moon. Most professional astrological programs use the same algorithms. When a person who had a doubt whether the Moon Sign Calculator's result was precise enough gave me her birth details, I calculated her chart using Solar Fire and then compared the position of the Moon in that chart with the result of my calculator. The results were exactly the same. 
  2. It is very easy to use. You just need to enter the date and the time of birth, as well as specify the time zone where you were born. The calculator will make all the necessary adjustments and corrections and give you the position of the Moon at your birth with the minute-of-the-arc precision. 
  3. It offers a focused, compact interpretation of the found out Moon Sign, concentrating primarily on those attributes that are strongly associated with the Moon. If you prefer a more detailed description, with examples, I'd recommend you my Moon Sign Book
The calculator also has some issues associated with it. The main of them is the inability of some users to figure out how to use the calculator, even though it is so simple.

The date entry problem. There are two different date formats used in the world. One of them is common in the USA; it can be briefly described as mm/dd/yy, which means the month goes first, then the day of the month, then the year. The 26th of May 1990 in this format will become 5/26/90. The other format is used in the rest of the world; it can be described as dd/mm/yy, which means the day of the month goes first, then the month, then the year. The 26th of May 1990 in this format will become 26/05/90.

To steer around this problem, I decided to use a calendar widget. As soon as you put your cursor in the date field, the widget appears:

If you use this widget, — select patiently the month, the year and the day — the resulting date will be entered in the correct format, no matter where you are from, in the world. However, many people do not bother using the widget, they just type in the date of birth in the format they are used to. And that can create a problem.

Initially, the default format of the calculator was European, dd/mm/yy. That's because I live in the UK. However, most of the website's visitors are from the USA, and I kept getting emails saying that the calculator does its work for some totally different date, not the one that was entered. What was happening in reality looked like this: a user entered his or her birth date as 5/26/90; calculator understood that as the 5th day of the 26th month of the year 1990; it tried to be user friendly, so didn't complain and went ahead with the calculation for the 5th of May 1993 (which is equivalent to the 26th month of 1990); but that obviously, wasn't acceptable for the user.

Since most of my visitors are from the USA, at some point I simply changed the default date format of the calculator, and I didn't have any complaints since then. But the possibility of an error still exists. If someone will type in the date in the European format, ignoring the calendar widget (and ignoring the 'mm/dd/yy' hint clearly visible next to the Birth Date field), they will get a wrong result. 

The time zone versus the location problem. Another problem some users complain about is that they can't specify their precise birth location in the calculator. They could write, like, "I can select Europe/London, but there is no Liverpool where I was born". The thing is, you don't need to know the precise location to calculate the Moon Sign. All you need is the time zone of birth, and that's exactly what the calculator offers to select. But since time zones are named after major cities, some users get confused and try to find their exact town. Don't do that. Just use Europe/London for the whole of the UK, or America/New York for the whole of the Eastern Time area. 

Admittedly, I could simplify this time zone selector, leaving just "Eastern Time", "Mountain Time" and so on. I will think about that.  

The birth time uncertainty. There are relatively frequent questions about whether it is possible to find out your Moon Sign if you don't know the time of birth. It is possible, in the greatest majority of cases, and I am planning to devote one of the coming blog posts to answering this question. 

A rare time zone error. Let me tell you straightaway that this problem will hardly affect more than 1% of the users, possibly a lot less. To be among those whose Moon Sign will be defined wrongly because of the technical limitations of the calculator, you need to be born very close to the time when the Moon crossed the border between two signs AND to be born in one of those places on the Earth where the time zone history is not straightforward.

By "not straightforward" I mean that there are areas like Florida, where currently the Eastern Time is used in the same way it is used in New York, however in the 1950s Florida didn't observe Daylight Saving Time. The calculator doesn't know such nuances. It uses the definitions of the time zones provided by the computing platform. Those definitions are good enough in most cases, but not in all cases. To make the calculator more precise, I would need to use a special database containing all the known historical changes to the time zones around the world. Such a database does exist, but its licensing terms are prohibitive. However, the same database is used in many astrological software packages, and if you really need to know your Moon Sign with the highest precision and reliability, wait for one of my coming posts where I'll explain how to use some of the free packages available online.

It should come as no surprise that if the government in some country (like Russia) keeps changing time zones and rules for daylight saving times, the most recent changes will not be reflected in the online time zone definitions, so again, my Moon Sign Calculator can be an hour off in those cases. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

How To Find Out Your Moon Sign? Part 1: Using a Book

I received an email from a person who stated that different sources give her at least three different versions of her Moon Sign, so she was confused. I asked her what those sources were, and she answered that the first of them was a book. That book offered a very simple approach: "you look up your date of birth, and your Moon Sign is listed next to it".

If you have a book like that, please do not trust it. The situation with the moon signs is a bit more complex than that. The Moon can change sign at any moment during a particular day, and so to find out in which sign it was at the moment of birth you need to take into account both the time of birth and the time zone of the location where the person was born.

Let's consider an example. I have a book by David Wells titled "Your Astrological Moon Sign. Werewolf, Angel, Vampire, Saint? Discover Your Hidden Inner Self". This book offers Moon Tables that were designed to help the reader to find out his or her Moon Sign. Let's have a look into those tables. Let's say you were born in 1975, on the 5th of May. For May 1975, we'll find in the tables the following records:

04 17:33 Pis
07 06:02 Ari

What this means is that the Moon entered the sign of Pisces on the 4th of May 1975 at 5:33pm and remained there until the 7th of May, 6:02am. Therefore, everyone who was born on the 5th or the 6th of May that year had Pisces for their Moon Sign, and not even the time of birth will be needed to figure that out. So simple.

But what if you were born on the 4th of May instead? Before the Moon entered Pisces on that day, it was in the previous sign, Aquarius. So, you might guess that if you were born before 5:33pm, your Moon Sign is Aquarius, after that — it's Pisces. Is that really so? Unfortunately, not. Before using the Moon Tables, you were supposed to check the very first page of them, which states: "The times shown here are GMT. If you were born outside the UK, please readjust your time of birth to GMT". In fact, even if you were born in the UK, life won't be that easy for you: you'll need to take into account the daylight saving time, and whether it was in use at the moment of your birth. 5:33pm GMT on the 4th of May will be actually 6:33pm GMD.

And if you were born in New York, the time of the Moon's entry into Pisces was 12:33pm EST. Again, you'd need to figure out whether the daylight saving time was in use, and if it was, you should use 1:33pm EDT instead. For other locations, like Los Angeles, Tokyo, Sydney, all the times will be very different, of course.

Even that isn't complex enough to be precise. In some locations, the time zone rules changed over time. For example, if you were born in Florida relatively recently, you could use Eastern Time for your time zone in the same way you'd do that for New York. However, a little bit further into the past (probably in the 1940s, but that's from the top of my head) Florida didn't observe daylight saving time, and you should take that into account if it's relevant for your date and place of birth.

To summarise, it is possible to use a table like in David Wells' book to find out your Moon Sign. If you were born on one of those days when the Moon stayed within the same sign for the whole day, you'll get the answer quickly and easily (although if your time zone was different from GMT, you'd have to make an adjustment to figure out where the day begins and ends). However, if you were born on one of those days when the Moon changed its sign, you'd need to take into account the time zone of birth, the daylight saving time, and to do a bit of calculation before you'll be able to figure out your Moon Sign.

If your book tells you that you can find out your Moon Sign simply from the date of birth, don't trust that book.

By the way, did you know that I've written a Moon Sign book myself? It doesn't contain any tables as it relies on very different ways of finding out your Moon Sign. I will discuss one of those other ways in the next post.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

More on Cutting Hair with the Moon

In a very old post on using the information about the Moon's phase and sign to choose a time to cut hair, I followed the same approach that would be appropriate in gardening. Indeed, the way how hair grows is, in terms of biological evolution, similar to the way how plants grow.

Now, however, I found an additional information in a medieval astrological manuscript from the collection of Elias Ashmole. To be able to use this information, you need to know what the Mansions of the Moon are. You will also need to use the Universal Lunar Calendar, set up for your location.

Here is the list of the mansions from the Ashmole 396 manuscript that are related to cutting the hair, in one or another way:

Mansion 1: "Cut your hair and your nails".
Mansion 5: "Wash your head, shear your hair".
Mansion 7: "Shear your hair and wash your head, wear new clothes".
Mansion 9: "Shear not your hair".
Mansion 11: "Shear your hair if you will".
Mansion 13: "Wash your head and cut your hair".
Mansion 15: "Shear not your hair".
Mansion 17: "Shear not your hair".
Mansion 18: "Shear not your hair".

Sunday, January 11, 2015

iLuna: the Next Steps

Right now, I am working on iLuna for Android. It so happened, historically, that the Android version was a bit simpler than the iPhone one (well, at the time I created it, Android was still in version 1, and there was one and only Android phone in the whole world). It offers all the same information, but, perhaps most significantly, it's missing the Month view that allows to see at a glance the whole month, and to navigate by a month at a time.

So the first thing I am going to do is to bring iLuna for Android to the same level of user interface sophistication where iLuna for iPhone is right now.

The next task is internationalisation (i18n). That's something I should have done years ago, simply because Russian is my first language, and I could easily do a Russian translation myself. So I did it, for the current Android app, but I haven't applied it to the iPhone one yet. I've also got a Korean translation, but I still need to implement it in both apps. Why exactly Korean? Well, it looked like the best choice on the website of the translation company I used. Whether I was a right decision or not, the future will show.

So the current target for me is to have both apps with a similar user interface, and translated into Russian and Korean. I will then be gradually adding other translations, beginning from Spanish.

In terms of content, the next step will be adding the Lunar Mansions. Then retrograde Mercury will be added too. It isn't exactly a lunar thing, but creating a separate app for retrograde Mercury doesn't look like a good idea, and this information was requested by the existing users of iLuna. It is quite important too.

In terms of functionality, the next step is adding the possibility of exporting the information to a calendar. The other steps will be creating notifications for the selected bits of information, and the possibility of sharing the information in various ways.

This is the roadmap, but I can't tell you how much time it will take to implement it, because I can only work on iLuna in the evenings and on the weekends, after my regular job (which is about creating mobile apps for various businesses).

One decision I've made however is that I should send out a Lunarium Newsletter at least weekly, so if you want to keep in touch, you are very welcome to subscribe to it.