Updated: 24 april 2001 To the Software table of contents
Introduction   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8 (reversal 1)   9   10   11   12 (reversal 2)   13   14   15 (summing up)


Charts in arctic regions of the earth

Calculating charts for latitudes north of the northern arctic circle (6623.5' northern latitude) and south of the southern arctic circle (6623.5' southern latitude) makes it necessary to consider some odd behaviour of the horizon relative to the plane of ecliptic. 

I hope my contribution will help bringing a little more clarity to this issue and point to which user-options software developers has to put in the astrology software.


These regions of the earth are called the polar regions. The plane of ecliptic also might be named the plane of the tropical zodiac.


The ascendant

Most astrologers having pondered the problem of charts erected for polar regions agrees on what to do with the ascendant

When the ascendant move forward through the zodiac and coincide with the MC/IC axis it becomes stationary and then reverse its direction of movement from direct to retrograde motion, i.e. the point of zodiac having ascendend will hover on the horizon and then slowly slip down below the horizon. On the opposite side of the zodiac the point having descended will begin to rise above the horizon. In the chart this is reflected this way: the ascendant has to "jump" to its opposite point in the zodiac.

When the ascendant is retrograde and coincide with the MC/IC axis it becomes stationary and reverse from retrograde to direct motion. In the chart the ascendant will "jump" to its opposite point in the zodiac.

In reality no such jumps occur. To the eye the eclitiptic is making a seesaw motion in the heaven. It will rise with its zodiac signs in their usual order (first 2 Sagattarius rise, then 3 Sagittarius, etc). Then it will rise slower and slower until its doesn't move at all. After that it will move in the opposite direction (first  3 Sagittarius will fall below the horizon, then 2 Sagittarius, etc). Later it will again reverse its direction of movement. Twice each day this reversal of movement occur.


The MC

There are two mutually exclusive opinions on what to do with the MC depending on how you define it:

  1. MC is the intersection of the meridian circle with the ecliptic above the horizon. 
    The advantage of this is that MC will always be above the horizon.

    During the period of the ascendant's retrogradation you will have to accept these two facts:
    - MC will be in the north on the other side of the north pole.
    - MC will be the point of the zodiac having reached its lowest point in the sky.

    In the chart the consequence of this is that the MC has to "jump" to the opposite point of the zodiac at the same time as the ascendant reverse its direction of movement (jumps to its opposite position in the chart). 

  2. MC is the point of the ecliptic culminating.
    This point always is the intersection between the meridian and ecliptic in the south. The advantage of this is that MC is the point of the ecliptic having reached its highest point in the sky, and it is always in the south.

    During the period of the ascendant's retrogradation you will have to accept one fact:
    - MC will be below the horizon, and IC above the horizon.

    In the chart MC will not "jump" to the opposite point of the zodiac when the ascendant turns retrograde. 

Which definition is to prefer? The ancient astrologers i Greece and the Middle East never had practical reasons to confront this problem because at their geographical latitudes a point on the ecliptic always culminate in the south and above the horizon. They were however aware of the special situation of certain parts of the zodiac always being above the horizon (this is clear from Almagest by Ptolemy). I assume they never met someone born i polar regions so they never had any practical reason to decide whether the MC derived its symbolic meaning from the act of culmination or from intersecting the meridian above the horizon

When it comes to charts for polar regions we will have to make this decision because it is impossible to define the MC as both the culminating point and as a point above the horizon. Culminating is one thing, and being above the horizon is something else.

Presently there are no hard evidence favouring either definition. So, until someone present such eveidenceas it's a matter of which definition the individual astrologer find most attractive.

The ancient doctrines of houses are intimately coupled with the symbolism of east (rising, life, strength), west (descending, death, weakness), above horizon (public life), and below horizon (private life, hidden life). Deborah Houlding in her comprehensive and elucidating book Houses - Temples of Heaven argues that the ancient Egyptian world view has influenced the meanings of the houses, because they begun to show up in horoscopes during the period when Alexandria was a vital centre of astrology. We still use some of this ancient symbolism, e.g. IC is the point of endings and beginnings because at that point below the horizon the sun-god died and was reborn. Will this symbolism still be appropriate when we are using definition 2 and are faced with an IC above the horizon? Or is this symbolism adhered to in a better way when we use definition 1 giving an IC always below the horizon?

I am inclined to favour definition 1 because it sticks with the symbolism of above and below the horizon.

Collecting horosocopes and character descriptions of people having retrograde ascendants might be a way to settle this issue.

As this is not an issue having a self-evident answer I suggest the software developers ought to supply both alternatives for the user to choose between.

Now, let's look at some charts to see what happens. I have split them up on several pages to decrease your download time in case you have a slow internet connection (most pages are 70 Kb, some a little more than 100 Kb). 

Next page >

My email address: