by Boots Hart, CAP

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Draconids 2013

Comet 21P (Giacobini-Zinner) as photographed by NASA-JPL

The Draconid meteor shower begins on October 2nd and runs through the 16th, peaking around October 7th through the 9th.

Astrologically (which is to say, metaphysically), should we care?

Well, maybe.

The comet responsible for the Draconids is Giacobini-Zinner, so named because it’s one of those lovely little objects which got discovered twice: the first time in the year 1900 by Michel Giacobini, and the second time in 1913 by Ernst Zinner (hence the name).

Known in astronomical terms as 21P (a lovely designation, don’t you think?) Giacobini-Zinner was discovered while traveling through Aquarius. And that’s an interesting “commentary” (metaphysical commentary, I mean) because the actual radiant point for Giacobini-Zinner lies in constellation Draco (the dragon), a constellation which in Earth terms is oriented towards the pole – Earth’s north pole, to be exact.

  Constellation Draco - Image produced in Stellarium

In astrology, Draco is probably best known for a star named Thuban which, contrary to what you might think is located down in the constellation’s “tail.”

Thuban as superimposed on the globe of the Earth
in Solar Fire's Planetarium module
Thuban is a star which evokes the desire to…or need to protect or act as a guardian for something precious. Or at least something you think of as precious. That can be something physical, materialistic, spiritual, emotional or coming from some sort of reference to knowledge. Thus Thuban can apply to something you are or some physical attribute you want to ‘protect’ …it can refer to one of your gifts. It can refer to something you do, something you want to be, or something you understand which you want to be careful with – or about. Thuban can refer to a person in your life, or how you handle some relationship. It can refer to a goal, a job, a belief system, something you’ve been working on…

It’s a very encompassing star.

Located (currently) at 6 Virgo, Thuban exudes a quality of ‘the prize, the gift, the ability’ which you own or experience before coming to grips with or even recognizing the cost of. And because of this, Thuban is associated with people who burn out early. Or people who show great promise but who can’t ‘guard’ their treasure. Thuban asks us to figure out how to guard that which is worth guarding and to fine the (Virgo) proper ways and avenues through which to utilize our advantages without squandering our opportunities.

And that goes very well with the sense of Draco the dragon rather well – as does the fact that this star which is part of the ‘tail of the dragon’ is also one of the stars which has been Earth’s pole star.

Earth's precessional pole star cycle with dates noted for when each of the stars
will be our planet's northern "guiding light," a reference which goes to the
difference between that which is 'heady' or 'head strong' and that which we do
in a most thoughtful and considered manner, drawing on what we might think of
as 'the best of all worlds' in our Self...and in the greater sense of THE world.
Our current pole star is Polaris – a star which refers to our ability to be a leader…or to be led. Or maybe even led on by something – some desire, some image, some something.

But when the full ‘tale of the tail’ is told…then we come to Thuban and learn how to ‘do it for real.’ So at some level what we feel drawn to ‘aim for’ (Polaris) is part of a cycle – a great and vast cycle which at this point at least, isn’t as careful as it might be.

We may all be prone to doing a bit of squandering, especially since Polaris is currently positioned at 28 Gemini, putting it in conjunction with Betelgeuse, a star which on one hand represents things being made easy…and which on the other hand tempts us to take the easy way out.

No, they’re not always the same.

Metaphysically, these pole stars refer to a cycle by which we learn. Thus the Gemini choices we make to be a leader and make things easier all the way around is most likely going to be the thing which in the end allows us to safeguard our treasure, whatever that may be.

Those who take the easy way out…who maybe don’t make waves, or who opt for that thing which is so tempting and ‘shiny’? They will face Thuban’s price on…well, let’s just call it the ‘back end’ of things.

And that takes us back to Draco, the radiant point for the Draconids. There are two stories behind Draco, both of which speak to this constellation as not being all that nice and twinkly to begin with. The first story had Athena (dispassionate wisdom) killing Draco and tossing the dragon’s body up into the sky for all to see – and one figures, to be warned by. The other reference to Draco comes from the idea of Draco as a ‘fire-breathing creature of the Earth’ – a child of Gaia (earthiness) which is associated with Typhon, that most primal of titan (titanic) instincts.

Whether we’re speaking of Typhon the celestial object or Typhon the titan of myth, the references are those which we might think of as ‘core’ and biological. Sleep, sex, food, breath – these are the things of Typhon, as are the fight-or-flight mechanisms concerned with survival.

And when we think of that part of the story – the ‘survival’ level of Typhon against the ‘tale of the tail’ which is Thuban AND Thuban’s current position at 6 Virgo, then we really get to what may be at stake now as we’re moving towards a Scorpio solar eclipse.

Are we being driven by instinct? Are we taking some easy way out or are we being a leader? I’ve had a few situations arise in my own life which highlight this exact sort of thing: do we follow the letter of (Virgo) protocol and custom or do we do that which is right as a person, as a human, as an individual dealing with individual choice of who we want to be and what we are or aren’t willing to take on as part of the challenge involved in being that better person?

Since astrology tends to go with origination charts as the point upon which we build, here’s the (year 1900) discovery chart for Giacobini-Zinner – it’s “natal” chart as far as we’re concerned:

 Discovery chart for Giacobini-Zinner (21p) - Dec 20, 1900 - Nice, France
(Aries Wheel - time unknown)

In this chart, the Sun is at 27 Sagittarius – the current position of the Galactic Center. The Galactic Center is always a point about what we ‘give’ or ‘give out.’ Against this, we have 27 Sagittarius, a degree which is verbal and communicative in nature, and which shows great promise early on, but which often experiences great challenges elicited by jealousy. This is a social degree and one which may tend to focus on how we want things as opposed to the better Sagittarian path, which is all about what works all the way around. Sagittarius always asks us to see whether our ‘idea’ of the thing (the Gemini part of the polarity) works “in the big world of life operations.” So whatever you’re doing, or whatever your (Thuban) treasure is, or whatever ‘prize’ you are in danger of meeting up with the price of – that’s the thing of the moment.

And let’s remember, this is not just about us as individuals – these sorts of influences (speaking of the meteor shower) are entirely and eternally global.

For those not into math, Polaris and Betelgeuse most affect any placement which is between 23 Gemini and 3 Cancer. Maybe more importantly, anyone with celestial objects (particularly the Sun, Moon, Ascendant or Mercury) in strong aspect to Thuban…you’re probably in for something of a ‘heads up’ now, as the ‘price’ you pay may be more than your psyche wants to cash.

(If you know the original expression I’m alluding to there, aren’t you proud of how I converted it?)

So…the aspects to Thuban are:

- 1 Virgo to 11 Virgo. Yes, this is about you. (Sun) Your sense of your own life is the focus. (Mercury) The devil is in the details, for sure. (Moon) Pragmatism is lovely providing you aren’t being so clever that you outsmart yourself! (Ascendant) Following the straight and narrow is fine providing you don’t run yourself right off a moral cliff claiming you “couldn’t.”

- 1 Pisces to 11 Pisces. You need to pay closer attention to who and what you’re dealing with. Or not dealing with.

- 1 Gemini to 11 Gemini (OR) 1 Sagittarius to 11 Sagittarius. Your priorities are going to get challenged. Opting for that you like may be just fine providing what you like is in your best and greater interests. Problems arise where preference gets in the way of realities.

One last set of thoughts here…courtesy of JPL and its lovely Small Body Database browser:

Image courtesy of JPL's Small Body Database
I haven’t been able to come up with an install for Giacobini-Zinner’s astrological orbital positioned, but given the above…and that we know that Saturn is in early Scorpio, that Uranus is in the early ‘teen degrees of Aries and that Pluto (at the bottom) is in early Capricorn, that means that 21P (Giacobini-Zinner) is somewhere in Libra.

And that tells us that it is who we are being to others or the quality (high or low) or qualities (nature of presentation) that we are bringing to what we do which is going to be in focus during this meteor shower.

Give or take the fact that the overarching measure of all that we’re going into now has to do with Things Scorpio and whether we’re owning who we are, our issues with security and who or why or how we’re going about forming relationships and negotiating with others and conducting ourselves emotionally. Those of us who have self worth issues which involve denying some problem or that your feelings about something are being driven not by who you actually are but what you want others to think you are…? You’re going to be having bigger problems now – as are those who simply refuse to take anyone else into account. The ‘my way’ folks are likely to be acting out big time now, and in doing so, they’re creating their own karma.

(Don’t you love karma? It’s so the biggest bitch in the universe…!)

At the same time however…and this is where the rather magical quality of metaphysics comes into play…while doing whatever unfeeling thing they may be doing, the ‘I deny your value because I’m just all about only being invested in me’ people are also challenging those who are going along to get along to stand up and do the thing which is right in their own life.

See how that works?

Ain’t the universe grand?


  1. A few years ago, I discovered that astronomers had a new way to calculate meteor showers. They determined which comet left behind dust trails during close encounters with the sun. Then it was easy to calculate the 3D path throughout history. Whenever the Earth passes through a dust trail, the meteor intensity is highest. Close approaches outside the trail have lower intensity. Some astronomers have produced pretty accurate prediction charts, but I've been unable to find anything for the Draconids 2013. I'll keep looking. In the meantime, you might like this page on the Draconids 2011:

    Note the chart "Nodes (1935)" which shows the orbital plane of Earth, and where the comet trail intersects it (the black dots) and a plot of Earth's daily orbital position. Then underneath, a 3D plot of the dust trail.

    Underneath that is a detailed plot of the 2011 nodes. Notice they have markings for dust trails for several cometary approaches over the years. Some orbits produced more intense dust trails than others.

    I just don't understand why I can't find any good nodal plots for 2013. Astronomers have limited resources (mostly the limited number of astronomers) so they tend to focus on the meteor showers that have the greatest potential. But they don't know that unless they calculate the nodes. So I will keep looking, and also see if there are any future plots of interest. This plot of 2014 is very interesting, a prediction of a high intensity meteor shower on Mars:

    Another peripherally interesting fact, is the existence of this French organization, the Institut de Mecanique Celeste et de Calcul des Ephemerides. I did not know there was another set of ephemerides by another organization.

  2. Hi, Charles...!

    As always, interesting thoughts! (We'll just call you "Sir Thinkery" - and what sayest thou to that?)

    If Congress hadn't just done its best to shut the nation down (no comment) I'd say email NASA with regards to nodal plot points. But since NASA's offine (perish the thought!) my next suggestion would be to check with one of the heads of a big observatory - like the one in NYC which is famous for helping the public find access to information. Alternately, you might check out a honcho astronomer-professorial type at a university - preferably one which has a strong astronomy department - Caltech, Harvard and U of AZ leap to mind.

    As for ephemerii (one ephemeris, two ephemerii?) out there...yes, there are a handful - I think I've seen four or six or so (not counting the fact that any given company may produce one timed for noon and one timed for midnight). The question always is "where is the source data from?" and when it comes down to that, the JPL files seem to be the accepted baseline readouts used.pretty much by everyone out there - and those are certainly the files which underlie the Swiss Ephemeris which all the astro-software.packages work with.

    I'm pretty much an ACS ephemeris user, myself.

    Thanks for the info!


  3. My own alma mater has a well renown astronomy department, and I took a couple of courses (as you might have suspected). But I am irritated that they recently scrapped their observatory and their lovely 42 inch reflector telescope. They have switched to radio astronomy and satellite instrumentation. So I don't suppose it makes any sense to maintain a dinky telescope less than half the diameter of the Hubble. I don't think they have any cometary astronomers but I could check.

    You know, I recently compared the Swiss Ephemeris vs the JPL DE406 Ephemeris, when there was some discussion on the net about the birth of Prince William with the Sun at 29'58" Cancer, within 2 arcseconds of the cusp. Some people miscalculated him as a Leo. Where is the Royal Astrologer when you need him? That turned out to be a time zone error. But in the process of looking at that Sun position in extreme detail, I discovered there is a difference between the Swiss and DE406 ephemerides. They generally do not deviate more than 1 arcsecond, but they do definitely disagree at times. I'm not sure it is really necessary to calculate charts at resolution beyond 1 arcsecond, but you know I am prepared to do it!

    Speaking of which, it looks like JPL Horizons is still online despite the shutdown. I am off work for a week (not shutdown-related) and am trying to work on some new calculations.

    1. All the static JPL access points I use (the stuff which is just there to use like the Small Body Database) is online as far as I can tell. NASA TV and a lot of the 'real time reporting' stuff seems to be down, apart from that which is on an automated feed.

      But more to the point of the ephemeris calculations...there is more than just that in play when it comes to calculating. It's long been known in the astro-community that there are some time zone errors in some software programs. I've also had clients come to me who have cast charts at which plainly are wrong. So that's a whole other problem. I know the team which vetted Solar Fire, so I go with that and occasionally run the numbers myself. (Casting charts keeps the brain oiled by forcing me to go back and forth between Base 10, 30 and 60, too!)

      It's funny when and about what we all get fussy. When I was writing the appendixes for the book on my travels through Maya Land (Mesoamerica) I ran into the issue of where the Galactic Center would have been back in 3,113 BCE. I had a fellow friend astrologer who thought it was "good enough" to do a rough calculation but for whatever reason that didn't work for me...I agonized about it for a bunch of days, prowling sites for data and numbers and got all frustrated and "irrigated" about it...then it occurred to me to write Mike Brown (professor and planet hunter at Caltech) to ask him about the yearly rate of arc movement and whether there was any "parabola" variation because of the Milky Way's spiral. Answer - basically no, though he did note that there's a teeny tiny variation beyond what I was calculating for which wouldn't amount to much more than a sneeze over a paltry distance like 5,000 years. (Don't you love it when 5,000 years is considered a mere dust mote?)

      Good luck with your calculating!

  4. Doing a little paleoastronomy, were you? Astronomers love that stuff, it makes them feel like Indiana Jones.

    1. Absolutely. Love the hat!

      Seriously though...what I was doing was looking at the beginning of the last Mayan Tzolkin round (a subset of the larger Mayan Long Count calendar) to compare the 'then' and the 'now' as the cycle recommenced. Seemed worth doing...and hey, any time I can indulge in some upscale geekery, I'm there!

  5. The dialoging of 'Sir Thinkery' and 'Indianetta Jones'... (you can leave your hat on) ... is almost more tantalizing than the Darconids article! Thank you for all the yummy tid-bits of info dotted betwixt and between the sentences. It does put one into a certain perspective to realize that 5,000 sun-revolutions can be just a "dust-mote" when it comes to the larger dynamics of the cosmos.

    1. Hiya, Aaleyth!

      It is indeed sobering...and inspiring to think of the enormity of space and the expanses of time. Sometimes when I go outside at night I look up at the stars and try to really grasp the idea that the light I'm seeing in my 'now' happened so long ago that for all I know, those stars don't exist any more. It's one of those things I think astronomers and astrophysicists are better in touch with than astrologers, as when you get right down to it astrology is an Earth science about our life right here on our home Terra.

      (And when I'm done doing that, I go ahead and finish taking the trash out.)

      There have been a few societies which have really contemplated the vastness of time - it's one of the things which I find so stirring in Mayan timekeeping. That calendar I referred to - the Long Count - is the only calendar which in being strictly mathematical was structured to run backwards as well as forwards.

      As for the nattering which Sir Thinkery and I get into from time to time, its rather fun, isn't it? To me that's part of the fun of getting to know people in allied fields such as astronomy as they bring their skills to astrology.

      On the dust mote thing...I'll be very honest - it first occurred to me when someone read me "Horton Hears a Who" as a child. I've never lost that idea that everything we think of as unbounded could just possibly be some Dr. Seuss posie.

      And that may just prove I'm still a heart and otherwise!

  6. Greetings Boots,
    Fortunately, for us humans we have the potential to 'ideal' away the 'time' with such and the same musings ... thank all the gods and goddesses! With out the opportunities to expand outside our small minds i suppose i would have to say that life would be so constrictive as to be unbearable ... at least for me.
    So appreciate the reminder that the Mayan Long Count Calendar 'moved' backwards as well as forwards. An intriguing reminder that thought flows outward from every moment, and since thought seems to be a generating energy it 'balences my scales' that contempletive thinking (or probably any thinking) would/could 'move' backwards' as well as forwards, in other words affecting the expressions of those thoughts that 'have been' as well as the thinking that 'will be'. Hmmmm seems i have allowed 'my thinking' to stretch way ahead of my Libran logistics!
    And isn't that just like the silly musings of the wondering child .... yet those have brought me from there to here.

    1. The wondering inner child is often the source of our greatest brilliance as its in that child mind that we allow ourselves the freedom to see things as new.

      For whatever reason the Mayan Long Count has always made me think of ripples in a pond...the pebble drops in...and from there the ripples spread in all directions.

      Silly? Poetic? Maybe both...but also purely and simply the truth of natural existence.

      So much to little time, eh?