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The Astrolabe Companion by Martin Lewicki

Book Review

Astronomy for Astrologers (Astrolabe Companion)
Interactive CD compiled by Martin Lewicki

Available at
Price (update as of 11 June 2008) : for version 3 - AU$60

Understanding the astronomical cycles that underpin horoscopic interpretation is such a fundamental element of working effectively as an astrologer that a lack of knowledge or confusion in this area will certainly impede anyone's development. It is only through an informed knowledge of the mechanics of heavenly movement that we can truly connect with the shifting patterns of our celestial environment, understand the basis of planetary motion and events, feel secure in calculations and the timing of predictions, speak the grammar of astrology with fluid cohesion and fully appreciate the history and development of our art.

The advent of computerised calculation has led many self-taught astrologers to underestimate the necessity for solid comprehension of how celestial movement is monitored and measured, and although the major qualifying courses still devote considerable time and attention to this issue, instruction manuals in the past have always seemed daunting, frustrating and decidedly uninspiring. Sadly, the result is that many astrologers see the astronomical technicalities of their art as the unpleasant pill that has to be swallowed, to be taken only when absolutely necessary.

Yet there is nothing that compares with the sense of marvel and inspiration that the heavens impart when we look up at them and see the real celestial drama which we only partially capture on our 2-dimensional chart forms. The new instructional CD Astronomy for Astrologers, compiled by Martin Lewicki and published by Canopus, breaks into new boundaries of conveying what has often been seen as complicated and intimidating information in the most stimulating, illuminating and easy to understand manner.

I approached the review of this product with half-hearted expectations, but it took just a few moments before I became very excited and enthusiastic. Put simply, the basis of celestial circles, astronomical events and planetary motion can't be conveyed by words, they have to be demonstrated through diagrams. But the 2-dimensional illustrations that you find in a printed book cannot possibly do justice to the 3-dimensional scheme they are trying to represent; hence it all becomes a mental challenge. But in a multi-media, animated format, where movement can be illustrated, viewed from different perspectives and combined with other cycles at a pace you can control, it all becomes so simple and straightforward. In this subject matter at least, the efficiency and capability of this manual stands head and shoulders above anything you can read away from the computer screen.

I can't imagine any astrologer that wouldn't benefit from this CD. It is written with beginners in mind, so nothing is assumed, but it is all demonstrated so effectively that comprehension of the essential principles soon allows progression to the more complex components that have previously relied upon an advanced level of commitment. Besides the celestial sphere and great circles, the tutorials demonstrate the basis of positional astronomy, ecliptic projection, zodiac systems, hemispheric differences, diurnal motion, declinations, the basis of house systems and the problems that arise near the poles, galaxies, orbits, constellations, local directions, retrograde motion, heliacal rising and setting, solar and sidereal time, right ascension, the Vertex, nodes and east point; the Ptolemaic system and the Copernican Revolution; Kepler's Laws, lunation cycles, eclipses and Saros cycles, precession and in fact everything that is relevant to understanding why that planet is placed in such a position on that chart and what we might expect to happen next. Furthermore, you will never again be confused about the difference between the Sidereal, Synodic, Tropical, Draconic or Anomalistic months.

If any of that sounds tedious, then clearly you haven't seen the CD! Astronomy is the fascinating parent of our study and Astronomy for Astrologers is focused purely upon the techniques that have a directly useful and applicable purpose for astrologers. It's not only simple to digest, but it has a lot of fun and entertainment value built into it too. This is most definitely a winner and hopefully the forerunner to other similar ventures.

Deborah Houlding
July 2004