Volume 16

“Spring—an experience in immortality.”

Henry D. Thoreau

The Show Must Go On

Hope all of you enjoyed the Venus/Jupiter show these last few weeks. It was amazing to realize that those incredibly bright lights so close together were our beloved benefic grahas.

For awhile longer, you can still enjoy the Venus/Jupiter show. On March 25th and 26th, Venus, Jupiter and the crescent Moon will be visible close together and on the 27th, Venus reaches its point of maximum distance from the Sun. It will be visible longer this night than any other night. You will see it high up in the Western sky right at dusk and it won't set for at least four hours after sunset. Jupiter and Venus will remain the brightest objects in the West in the early evenings in April. Starting in May, Jupiter will bow out of view except for some peeks before sunrise until October so take advantage of these last glorious days.

In our ongoing viewing of nakshatras, Venus will be a good marker for seeing the cluster of stars known as the Pleiades at nightfall on April 3rd. In the Vedic tradition, this cluster is known as the nakshatra of Krittika.

There are a couple of other "nakshatra moments". April 6th features a special treat. A couple of hours after sunset, you will see a lovely full Moon near the brilliant marker star Chitra nakshatra known as Spica in the West. This is the nakshatra that serves as the pointer for the beginning point of the zodiac as it is exactly across from 0 degrees Aries. A total bonus is that Saturn will be just to the left of Spica and Saturn will actually be BRIGHTER than Chitra!

After you drop off your taxes on April 15th, take a look at Mars right near the bright star of Regulus which is the marker star for Magha nakshatra. This will be viewable in the southern sky around two hours after sunset. And, Saturn will reach its exact opposition point to the Sun - bright and again visible close to Chitra.

Eclipse season starts in May with an annular solar eclipse. An annular eclipse occurs when the Sun and Moon are exactly in line, but the apparent size of the Moon is smaller than that of the Sun. Consequently, Sun appears as a glowing ring or annulus surrounding the outline of the Moon. The actual annular phase will be visible from southwestern Oregon and northern California for only around five minutes at around 6:30 PM PDT. Most of the rest of western North America will be able to see the partial phase.

The corresponding lunar eclipse occurs on June 4th. This partial eclipse is visible in central and western North America. Maximum eclipse happens at 4:00 AM PDT when the bottom third of the Moon will be shadowed.

Finally, the start of a very rare transit of Venus will be visible in North America. Venus touches the upper left edge of the Sun at 7:04 EDT and can be seen at the corresponding time in all the time zones. The full transit takes about 6 hours but the Sun will go down before the transit ends. CAUTION: YOU NEED TO EQUIP YOUR TELESCOPE WITH A SOLAR FILTER TO SAFELY VIEW THIS TRANSIT. Read up on the precautions. Please read the Wikipedia article entitled Transit of Venus. Next one won't be until December 2117. Wow. What a spectacle!

The Limbs of Jyotisha

In the last newsletter the first of the six limbs of Jyotisha, Gola, was discussed.

The second limb is called Ganita. The word Gana forms part of the name of the beloved elephant headed deity Ganapati or Ganesha. Both of those names can be translated as the overseer or lord of Gana. Gana and therefore Ganita can be thought of as an understanding of the categories of all things and their proper relationship to each other (logic). It also refers to mathematics and calculation.

Contemporary astronomers and mathematicians are in disbelief at the accuracy of the ancient skywatchers in this tradition. How is it humanely possible for them to have so precisely calculated the vast distances in our galaxy without the benefit of contemporary instrumentation? How were they able to observe and and predict the occurrences of astronomical phenomena without telescopes? Yet, their knowledge is preserved for the ages in astronomical treatises of mind boggling computations called Siddhantas.

The entire unfolding of our karmic script is based on accurate calculation. In ancient times, to undertake the task of casting a chart was a time consuming and painstaking commitment. These days, those calculations are performed by a computer but the ramifications of that are sobering. On one hand, the relief from very tedious and repetitive computations is very welcome. On the other hand, there are astrologers who have become divorced from what goes into those calculations and even worse, have no understanding of the basic relationship between the abstract print out of a chart and the observable sky pattern.

The ability to mentally handle basic calculations and memorize core principles keeps the astrologer’s mind sharp and fluid. This is the kind of mind that will be able to see subtle yet relevant interconnections, the mind that will connect the dots that reveal the destiny patterns. This insight and empowerment is the gift of the rishis of this tradition for the all who are inspired to learn and utilize its amazing tools.

The Media Corner

Darshan: The Embrace 2006

The Sanskrit word Darshana or Darshan literally mean seeing or beholding but as with many Sanskrit words, it evades a simple definition. Darshan is especially difficult to define since it involves a heightening of consciousness or spirituality as a result of an interaction between devotee and a representation of the divine be it guru, image, sculpture etc.

This film portrays this shift in consciousness as devotees “receive darshan” from Mata Amritanandamayi Devi known as Ammachi or Amma to her disciples. Her darshan is in the form of a hug of unconditional love.

Viewers will be immersed in the vivid images of India ranging from the countryside to the chaos of the cities and will feel the corresponding range of emotions these images elicit.

The film is available on Netflix and Amazon. There are also clips and trailers on Youtube.