The Astrology of Planetary Moons
Image credit: Kevin M. Gill, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
"To understand the whole it is necessary to understand the parts. To understand the parts, it is necessary to understand the whole. Such is the circle of understanding." - Ken Wilber
Popular culture just looks at Sun sign to determine astrology. That gives a very simplistic idea about one's nature, however anybody worthy of being called an "astrologer" knows that one also needs to look at planets which orbit the Sun to get a more detailed picture. Similarly, planets aren't just single points either, but with their moons are like mini-solar systems on their own. These "wheels within wheels" are like a fractal graphic, in which each whole is composed of its component parts. As above, so below! Understanding each planetary mini-system and the positions of its moons can give a more detailed insight into that planet's effect, beyond just its simple sign and house positioning.
Why should an astrologer care about the positions of planetary moons other than Earth's own Moon? After all, these moons will always have zodiac positions very close to their planet (at least when viewed from Earth). However, the positions of moons around a planet are astrologically significant and can modify the planet's energy in several ways, for example:
When any of the above are true, then a moon is considered "prominent", which means it has extra energy or significance. For example, when Ganymede is prominent (such as located between Jupiter and Earth) then Jupiter still has the same interpretation, however the meaning of Ganymede modifies it somewhat, and indicates what parts of Jupiter receive more focus and emphasis.
Moons shouldn't be interpreted independently, but rather as effects that modify their planet. Unlike planets and asteroids, Moons don't orbit the Sun, but rather orbit their planet. A planet is a part of one's self, and its moons can give a mini-reading into that aspect of self. One way to do this is with a planet centered chart, which is similar to geocentric or heliocentric, except it centers positions based on another planet. In a planet centered chart, its moons aren't close to the planet, but rather are distributed around the zodiac. This planet centered mini-chart can show the effect of its moons in several ways:
Another approach is to overlay planet-centric moon positions with the standard geocentric natal chart. This may seem to be "mixing apples and oranges", however because a planet is a mini-solar system, there can be a sympathetic connection between moons around a planet, and planets around the Sun at the same relative angle (or even between moons around different planets at the same relative angle). This is somewhat similar to a harmonic chart, which can (for example) show relations between planets at the same degree of a zodiac sign.
Astrology isn't just intellectual placements and numbers, but properly practiced it is a way of thinking and an approach to life! :-) Philosophically, planet centered astrology charts are a way to consider and include other points of view, or the "other" in general. To truly understand ourselves and the greater groups we're a part of, it helps to understand our peers, the details of their situations, and where they're coming from. Most astrology is geocentric (since we live on the Earth) however there are spiritual types of astrology that work with a heliocentric perspective, to consider transcendental energies that aren’t just personal or even global, but truly operate on a solar systemic level. However, the solar system isn't just the Sun, and a true integrated perspective can also consider the point of view of other planets, and the moons that affect them.
Esoterically, the solar system isn't just the Sun, but rather it has planets as chakra centers in its "body" or aura. Similarly, a "planet" isn't just the center of body (COB) of the planet itself, but is rather the entire planetary system which includes all its moons. Planets have an "aura", and where a moon is positioned within the planetary aura indicates the effect of the part of the planet represented by that moon. This aura is a 3D sphere around the planet's body, and can be looked at along three axes, when viewed from the Earth or another body. Note that if "Lead" is renamed to "Extend ahead", then the six directions Above/Below/Close/Distant/Extend/Follow can be abbreviated ABCDEF, which makes them easy to remember:
Astrolog showing Jupiter and its four Galilean moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
As with planets themselves, interpreting planetary moons is based on both the physical characteristics of the moon and its name in mythology. For example, Mars is a blood red color, and named after the god of war. The following quote illustrates how planets get named appropriately: "The names of the planets are not the result of arbitrary choice, but the planets name themselves." (A Treatise on White Magic, p438-439)
There are many moons orbiting planets. (For example, Saturn has over 80 moons.) Every moon could be given a meaning, however in general the largest or most major moons have the most pronounced meanings, and other moons gradually decrease in prominence. This is similar to the asteroids, and how many astrologers only focus upon the first four asteroids, even though there are over half a million known asteroids in the inner belt alone.
The following table summarizes the 27 most major moons that orbit other planets in our solar system. Earth's Moon is included for comparison. Listed is the planet, the moon orbiting it, and a one word keyword summarizing that moon's influence, or what part of the planet the moon brings forth and emphasizes. Also listed is the planet's orbital period in Earth days, its average radius in kilometers, and its average distance from its planetary barycenter in 1000's of kilometers. When the orbital period is negative (like with Neptune's moon Triton) that means it orbits in reverse direction around its planet compared to others.
The last three fields in the table are about the Swiss Ephemeris format ephemeris files for these moons. First is listed the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) code number for the moon, which is useful to determine the ephemeris file to use for displaying in Astrolog, and the available years covered by that ephemeris file. Finally is listed the worst case inaccuracy of the ephemeris, when compared to the JPL positions from September 2020, as produced by the Swiss Ephemeris utility producing the ephemeris file. These offsets are for positions relative to the planet being orbited, which is why fast moving moons have greater inaccuracy. For example, Phobos is very close to Mars, so 1.4 arc seconds in position for it is very minor, especially considering that Phobos moves about 44 arc seconds per clock second, which is over 3 times as fast as the Ascendant!
The final five lines are for the planetary center of body (COB), and how it compares to the planetary system barycenter. Mars isn't present because its moons are so light that the planet and its barycenter are effectively the same. In cases where the planet has one large moon (such as Saturn's Titan, Neptune's Triton, and Pluto's Charon) the planet orbits the barycenter, and the period and distance are given. In cases where the planet has multiple moons of similar size, such as Jupiter and especially Uranus, the planet moves chaotically relative to the barycenter and the distance varies. Uranus body has good median accuracy, however an outlying worst case of 2.36'. That's because when the planet moves more or less directly over the barycenter, the zodiac position relative to it can quickly move up to 180 degrees.
|5.9||Jupiter||Center of Body (COB)||Varies||15-224||599||1800-2199 (400)||0.811"|
|6.9||Saturn||Center of Body (COB)||15.95||284||699||1800-2199 (400)||0.022"|
|7.9||Uranus||Center of Body (COB)||Varies||0-45||799||1800-2199 (400)||141.206"|
|8.9||Neptune||Center of Body (COB)||-5.88||75||899||1850-2049 (200)||0.020"|
|9.9||Pluto||Center of Body (COB)||6.39||2139||999||1900-2099 (200)||0.017"|
Mars has two moons: Phobos and Deimos. Both are very small and irregularly shaped (Phobos, the larger, is only 11km or 7 miles in radius) however they're still significant as Mars' only natural satellites. In mythology, Phobos (meaning "fear") and Deimos (meaning "terror" or "dread") were the twin assistants of the god Ares. With names like that, they might seem negative, however remember that they modify the meaning of your Mars in your own chart, so they're effectively your own personal assistants. Therefore, they represent more how you could potentially spread fear or terror, or more generally how you use the energy of Mars.
Phobos: Phobos (fear) is more personal and specific. When Phobos is prominent, it accentuates our ability to be assertive and stand up for ourselves. Negatively, Phobos can be aggressive or domineering, especially over other individuals. The fear aspect of Phobos can actually be a good thing, if it means one intelligently avoids danger or helps others avoid danger. However, fear can also control us, like how bullies are often afraid on the inside, and therefore try to overcompensate in their interactions with other people on the outside.
Deimos: Deimos (terror/dread) is more impersonal and general. Dread is more general than fear, for example one fears specific situations like an angry dog or their boss firing them, but one dreads more abstract issues like nuclear war or global climate change. Deimos represents our energy levels or personal willpower, and when Deimos is prominent it accentuates our energy which we can apply to activities and getting things done, even in challenging situations. Phobos is analogous to a sprinter, while Deimos is more a marathon runner: Both have strong Mars energy, but different aspects of Mars are being accentuated.
Ganymede: Ganymede is the largest moon in the solar system (larger than Mercury), and is also the only moon in the solar system with its own magnetic field. In mythology, Ganymede was a mortal so handsome he attracted the attention of Zeus, who made him cupbearer to the gods. Positively, Ganymede emphasizes abundance and attracting good fortune (which sometimes comes in a sudden and spontaneous manner). Negatively, it can mean taking things to excess and getting carried away. It can also mean unwanted attention or "too much of a good thing", as Ganymede was abducted by Zeus and made cupbearer regardless of his own wishes.
Callisto: Callisto is Jupiter's second largest moon, and the third largest moon in the solar system after Saturn's Titan. Callisto's dark gray and brown surface is the oldest and most heavily cratered in the solar system. Callisto has low radiation levels, so is very quiet in that respect. Unlike most large moons, Callisto's interior isn't highly differentiated with different layers, which means it's mostly the same composition all the way through. In mythology, Callisto was a nymph who followed Artemis, goddess of the hunt. However, after being abducted by Zeus, Callisto was rejected by Artemis, turned into a bear by Hera, and then almost killed in bear form by a hunter, until finally she was raised into the heavens and turned into the significant constellation Ursa Major (The Great Bear).
Callisto accentuates wisdom, often the wisdom that comes from age or (sometimes difficult) experiences. Callisto also accentuates the seeking of wisdom or education, especially in more philosophical or spiritual matters. However, as any disciple knows, the Path isn't always easy to follow! Negatively, Callisto can represent pride and being "full of oneself", or zealously defending particular ideas or points of view.
Io: Io is Jupiter's third largest moon. Io has many active volcanoes, and is the most geologically active body in the solar system. Io orbits very close to Jupiter, features mountains taller than Mt. Everest, and is also the densest moon in the solar system. The many plumes of sulfur give Io its unique yellowish coloring. In mythology, Io was a mortal abducted by Zeus. She was turned into a cow to hide her from Zeus' wife Hera, but Hera had a gadfly sting Io continuously, so she had to wander the world (as a cow) without rest. Eventually, she got herself turned back into a human, and became the progenitor of many figures in mythology. Io accentuates creativity, and the (sometimes difficult) adventures it takes to conceive of an expansive creative vision, and bring it into the world. Negatively, Io can be obsessed with some project or idea to the point that they ignore other obligations.
Europa: Europa's surface is young and smooth, and has the smoothest surface of any moon or planet in the solar system. Water oceans exist under its surface, and it's even a likely candidate for extraterrestrial life. In mythology, Zeus was attracted to youthful Europa, and so he took the form of a beautiful cow. Europa climbed on the cow's back, at which point Zeus swam across the sea with her to Crete. Europa became the first queen of Crete, and eventually the entire continent of Europe got named after her. Europa accentuates enthusiasm, happiness, liveliness, youth (of new ideas if not physical age) and the things we appreciate or are attracted to. Negatively, Europa can mean getting distracted or seduced by trivial or harmful things.
Titan: Titan is Saturn's largest moon (larger than Mercury), and is large enough that it contains over 96% of the mass of all Saturn's moons. Titan is also the second largest moon in the solar system. Before space probes got a closer look at it, Titan was thought to be the largest moon, due to its hazy atmosphere. Titan is the only moon with a dense atmosphere, and with liquid surface oceans (although of hydrocarbons instead of water). Titan isn't named after a single individual, but rather a group of gods. The Titans ruled the world until they were overthrown by the Olympians and imprisoned underground. (Earthquakes were believed to be the Titans trying to escape.)
Titan accentuates the past, and whatever environment the past has produced that we're forced to live and work within during the present. Therefore, Titan can represent the national, racial, and economic situations and issues we were born among, whether privileged or disadvantaged. Titan can also represent "karma" and its resolution, and even physical matter and its inherent qualities. The past can hold us back, or it can be a source of advice and assets, and act as "shoulders for us to stand upon", but either way it's present and it greatly conditions our existence.
Rhea: Rhea is Saturn's second largest moon. Rhea has a minor atmosphere, and may even have its own rings (making it a ringed moon orbiting a ringed planet)! In mythology, Rhea was a Titan, the wife of Kronos and mother of Zeus. Kronos was destined to be overthrown by his own children, so in an attempt to prevent that he swallowed his children at birth. Rhea however gave him a stone instead of baby Zeus, and hid Zeus away until he grew up and could rescue his siblings. Rhea emphasizes family bonds, such as obligations to or received from one's spouse, children, and parents. It can also be bonds from family-like environments such as work. Just as Rhea helped Zeus at the expense of her husband, Rhea sometimes indicates tough choices, tough love, or sacrifices given in family environments at times of crisis.
Iapetus: Iapetus is Saturn's third largest moon, however it's the largest moon in the solar system that isn't in hydrostatic equilibrium (which means able to be spherical under its own density). Therefore, Iapetus has an irregular shape, is covered with deep craters, dark splotches, and other blemishes, and its orbit is highly inclined as well. In mythology, Iapetus was a Titan, and his sons had many vices and moral failings. Iapetus accentuates limitation, whether physical (e.g. from age) or mental. It indicates things that are unevolved or need to be fixed or worked upon. Iapetus gives one a great opportunity to grow and overcome shortcomings, but often one doesn't want to do the needed work or is too proud to face their problems, so it can also indicate pessimism or depression.
Dione: Dione is a significant moon, since it has high density, has a minor atmosphere, and likely even a salt water ocean beneath its surface. In mythology, Dione was a Titan, who was a consort or even a wife of Zeus before he married Hera. Dione also had real life cults, and worshipping in her honor. Dione emphasizes respect, whether given to others or received ourselves. Dione can also highlight respect that one might feel is lacking and should be given, or the reverse case of respect that is unearned or superfluous. Either way, when Dione is prominent, issues of respect are too.
Tethys: Tethys is a pale colored, low density moon. In mythology, Tethys was a Titan, but relatively quiet, with only a few myths involving her. Her few references include why the constellation Ursa Major never sets and is kept separate from the ground, or about Tethys herself being estranged from her husband (both of these can be representative of the separation between heaven and Earth). Tethys emphasizes solitude, self-isolation, and the self-reliance parts of Saturn. Separation may be painful, but is sometimes necessary.
Enceladus: Enceladus is a small moon, but very bright and reflective, since it's covered with smooth ice. Enceladus has a deep ocean beneath its surface, which sometimes ejaculates forth in huge geysers. The moon's surface looks like sperm meeting an egg, which combined with the moon's white coloring gives Enceladus a strong relation to the human reproductive system. In mythology, Enceladus was a Giant, born from the blood of Uranus when Uranus was castrated by his son Kronos. Enceladus at times fought with Athena, goddess of wisdom. Enceladus accentuates manifestation, hard work, and the process of building and forging things. Negatively, Enceladus can indicate being buried in work or drudgery, ruining ones environment through continual "progress", or one who ignores or puts down the more emotional or "feminine" parts of life.
Mimas: Mimas is like "The Little Engine That Could"! It's one of the smallest moons considered here, and is the smallest moon able to be round in shape due to its own gravity. Mimas is cracked and cratered, including one giant crater that almost destroyed it. As a result Mimas looks a lot like the Death Star from "Star Wars". In mythology, Mimas was a Giant who fought against and was eventually slain by the Greek gods. Mimas emphasizes the Saturnian qualities of discipline, patience, staying focused, not giving up, and making good use of time in general.
Hyperion: Hyperion is an irregularly shaped moon (one of the largest non-ellipsoid moons in the solar system) which rotates in a difficult to predict manner. This moon is highly porous, and is nearly half empty space, with a surface like that of a sponge. In mythology, Hyperion was watchful and observant, and the first to understand the movements of Sun, Moon, and stars, their effects upon the seasons, and to teach this knowledge to others. Hyperion is effectively an astrologer and sage, and therefore the moon most associated with the science and art of astrology. More generally, Hyperion accentuates proper timing, patience, and focused observation.
Unlike other planets, moons of Uranus aren't named after ancient mythology, but are rather named after characters from more modern literature, such as Shakespeare. This is important to remember, since revolutionary Uranus is able to depart from old social structures, and focus upon change produced by humanity itself.
Titania: Titania is Uranus' largest moon. In "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Titania was queen of the fairies. She wanted to keep a human baby and argued with her husband Oberon over what to do with it, and she later fell in love with a man who was enchanted with the head of a donkey. The play is a crazy, fun comedy! ;-) Titania emphasizes individuality, and the unique gifts and desires each person has. This moon supports quirkiness, and not caring what other people or society might think. Negatively, Titania can be so individual it means ignoring or disregarding others.
Oberon: Oberon is Uranus' second largest moon. In "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Oberon was king of the fairies. He managed to take a human baby from his wife Titania by enchanting a man with the head of a donkey, and then enchanting his wife to fall in love with that man. Uranus represents change, and Oberon is the directing agent who conceives of change, drives revolutions, or takes advantage of changes taking place. Negatively, Oberon can be a scheming opportunist who intentionally stirs up chaos or manipulates others.
Umbriel: Umbriel is a dark colored moon, and the character Umbriel from Alexander Pope's poem "The Rape of the Lock" is a gnome or earth fairy described as dusky and melancholy. Umbriel was able to carry unique or impossible things in his containers, such as passions and sorrows. Umbriel accentuates the ability to express and bring forth new and unique things into the world. It can also represent the difficulties and annoyances of expressing, changing, or getting the world to change and recognize what you want to share.
Ariel: The moon Ariel has unique features, such as long canyons and brightly colored areas. Ariel is a sylph or air fairy, and appears in both "The Tempest" by Shakespeare, and "The Rape of the Lock" by Alexander Pope. In both cases, Ariel has magical or oracular powers, and gives advice and protection to mortals. As a fairy instead of a human, Ariel represents the new ideas that can come from radically different perspectives, even non-human ones. When Ariel is prominent, expect to receive inspiration and revolutionary ideas, as if you have your own muse. The only downside is just as the muses sometimes drove people mad, the sparks of inspiration may be so abstract that it's challenging to properly understand, process, or ground them.
Miranda: Miranda is much smaller than the other four moons of Uranus, however it makes up for it with intense features, such as a 20km or 12.5 mile high cliff (the highest cliff in the solar system). In Shakespeare's "The Tempest", Miranda was a girl (actually a princess but she didn't know it) who grew up on an island with her father, isolated and sheltered from the rest of the world. She compassionately begs her father to spare a ship from a storm, and quickly marries a man from that ship. She believed he was so handsome that he had to be a spirit, and that she'd be his servant if he wouldn't take her as his wife. In astrology, Miranda represents idealism (often intense idealism) along with purity and innocence. Negatively, Miranda can represent being immature, naive, too open-minded, or too impractical. Uranus is about change, but the Miranda aspect of Uranus is the important motivation behind why one wants to change.
Triton: Triton is Neptune's largest moon, and is large enough that it contains over 99% of the mass of all Neptune's moons. Triton is one of the few geologically active moons, and spews up content from its depths. As the only major moon in the solar system with a retrograde orbit (moving in opposite direction to its planet's rotation) it feels alien or out of sync with the rest of the solar system. In mythology, Triton is a sea god, son of Poseidon. Unlike Poseidon who was human in appearance, Triton had the lower body of a fish (like a mermaid). While Poseidon ruled the surface of the ocean, Triton dwelt in the dark and murky depths.
Triton accentuations psychological depths, and the mysterious subconscious, unconscious, psychic, and spiritual realms or states of being. These unknown depths may bring forth beautiful or horrifying imagery, but when Triton is prominent these urges, feelings, ideas, or visions are present one way or another. It's up to each person whether they remain secret in the closest, or whether they rise up from beneath the waves like a kraken or leviathan.
Proteus: Proteus is Neptune's second largest moon. Proteus has a lumpy shape, with many valleys and other features on its irregular surface, and it orbits very close to Neptune. In mythology, Proteus is another son of Poseidon, and the shapechanging "Old Man of the Sea". He's an oracle, but only for those who can catch him, and he's not easy to catch! Proteus represents the concept of fluidity and changeability. Positively, Proteus accentuates versatility, flexibility, and adaptability. Negatively, it can mean dishonesty, sneakiness, delusion, and a creator of or believer in illusions and falsehoods.
Nereid: Nereid is Neptune's third largest moon. It has the most elliptical orbit of any major moon, and it often appears to change its brightness too. Nereid is notable because (along with Titan) it's the only moon named after a group of beings, instead of just a single individual. In mythology, the Nereids were 50 beautiful sea nymphs, who would often help sailors in distress. Nereid accentuates compassion, group consciousness, and appreciation of diversity. Negativity, Nereid can indicate being too giving of oneself, being too passive, too accepting, too sentimental, or letting a group stifle or suppress individuality.
Charon: Charon is by far Pluto's largest moon. Charon is half of Pluto's diameter, and is large enough that the barycenter or center of gravity of the Pluto system is outside of Pluto's interior. That makes Charon the largest moon in the solar system when considered as a percentage of its planet's size, so it could be considered a double planet. In mythology, Charon was the boatman who ferried souls of the dead across the river Styx to the underworld.
Charon is a guide, and represents guidance to Pluto's transformation. When Charon isn't prominent, the inevitable transformations in life are more likely to hit one hard or catch one unprepared. Charon prominent means you have external people or inner qualities to help guide you through change. However, Charon is sometimes depicted as unkempt or skeletal in appearance, and he demands payment in order to ferry you across (and sometimes across to a place you don't want to go)! Therefore, Charon isn't necessarily positive, and may represent how to deal with a difficult transformation, or represent a false or at least a mixed guru or other teacher figure, especially one that teaches through rough methods or demands things in return from you.
Hydra: After Charon, Pluto's remaining moons are very small and irregularly shaped. However, just as Pluto itself is powerful in spite of its size, so are its "lesser" moons! Hydra is Pluto's second largest moon, and the one with the widest orbit and longest orbital period. In mythology, the hydra was an immortal multi-headed beast, such that when one head was cut off two would regrow in its place. Hercules finally overcame it by using fire to burn the cuts so its heads wouldn't regrow, and then burying what's left under a boulder. Being immortal, the hydra can't ever be completely destroyed, only sealed away. Hydra represents the struggle of evolution, which is usually against our lower nature or negative qualities, or the classic "dweller on the threshold". Pluto is about transformation, and Hydra is that which is being transformed, and the reasons for seeking transformation in the first place.
Nix: Nix is almost as large as Hydra. In mythology, Nyx was the goddess of the Night, from which all creation emerged, and who was said to have such power (and beauty) that even Zeus feared her. Nix has a classic "feminine" orientation, and can represent the magic and power of motherhood or parenthood in general, "goddess" energies and sexuality, and occult arts such as divination and "witchcraft", even if such things are disregarded or disliked by others (or ourselves). Nix can also represent one's archetypal shadow side, being lost, or experiencing "the dark night of the soul". It can also mean attraction to or involvement with (or obsession with) things of a dark, morbid, or unknowable nature.
Kerberos: Kerberos is named after Cerberus, which in mythology was Pluto's vicious three headed beast which guarded the way to the underworld, and prevented the dead souls from escaping. Kerberos represents resistance to or fear of transformation (from others or ourselves) and what must be faced in order to achieve real transformation. Hercules was able to fight and overcome Cerberus using his own strength, while Psyche (a mortal who was eventually transformed into a goddess) charmed Cerberus by feeding it cake. Pluto is about transformation, and Kerberos is the guardian to ensure one is worthy of transformation.
Styx: Styx is Pluto's smallest moon, just as Pluto is the smallest classic planet. Styx is effectively Pluto's Pluto! ;-) Styx is significant because it's the only moon named after an aspect of nature instead of an individual entity. Styx is named after the divine river between the ordinary world and the underworld. The river Styx has magical powers, and could grant invulnerability (such as to the hero Achilles) or permanently remove one's memories. Styx is a catalyst of change, and accentuates the transformation capacities of Pluto. Pluto is about transformation, however Styx is the essence of transformation itself, and the new qualities that transformation can bring forth.
Astrolog showing Jupiter occulting and being transited by Io, Europa, and Ganymede.
Astrolog supports planetary moons starting with version 7.20. :-) To use them, first download the planetary moon ephemeris files linked to below. The Windows version has several commands dealing with planetary moons on the "Setting / Planetary Moons" submenu. To display moons, simply click to turn them on in the "Moon Restrictions" dialog. One can also toggle them on all at once with the "Include Moons" menu command or the backquote ("`") hotkey. These are full objects like any other planet, and simple interpretations are available if "View / Show Interpretations" is turned on.
Planetary moon ephemeris files can be downloaded at http://www.astrolog.org/ftp/ephem/moons. Available at this time are the 27 most major planetary moons listed above. Also available are planetary center of body (COB) positions for Jupiter through Pluto. (Mars' center of body is super close to its barycenter, i.e. about 20 cm in space, so doesn't need an ephemeris file.) In this directory is one master ZIP file containing all 27 moons and 5 center of bodies, along with individual ZIP files for each planet which contain the exact same files. Once downloaded, unpack and place the ephemeris files where they'll be found by Astrolog, such as in the same location as the main Swiss Ephemeris files for the planets themselves.
The Swiss Ephemeris offers additional ephemeris files for asteroids and other minor bodies, and as of October 2020 there are Swiss Ephemeris format ephemeris files for planetary moons too. Planetary moon ephemeris files have filenames like “sepm9XYZ.se1”, in which “XYZ” is the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) code for the moon. In this designation, “X” is the planet being orbited (4=Mars, 5=Jupiter, 6=Saturn, 7=Uranus, 8=Neptune, 9=Pluto) and “YZ” is the moon in question. For example, “sepm9501.se1” defines Jupiter’s Moon Io. Also, “moon” #99 is the true non-barycentric position of the planet, e.g. “sepm9599.se1” defines the actual position of Jupiter’s center of body taking into account the gravitational perturbations of its moons (in comparison to the standard Jupiter planet object which is the center of mass of the Jupiter system).
Astrolog supported planetary moons in older version 7.10 too, although it required the command line to configure their use. In Astrolog, the -Yem command switch will redefine an unused object to be a planetary moon. For example, “-Yem Cup 501” will redefine Cupido’s object slot to be Jupiter's moon Io, assuming the ephemeris file sepm9501.se1 has been downloaded. Also, the -Ym switch will turn on a mode such that planetary moons and other objects orbiting planets are displayed as orbiting the central object instead, or in other words will overlay planet centered moon positions with the standard natal chart.
For a quick way to demo and play with planetary moons in Astrolog 7.10 or beyond, download the Astrolog script file http://www.astrolog.org/ftp/script/plmodemo.as. To use it, start Astrolog, select the "File / Open" menu command, and open the file plmodemo.as. You will see a wheel chart with Jupiter's four moons located nearby Jupiter. Afterward press the following keys:
Astrolog's report for moons of Jupiter and Saturn.
Astrolog offers a unique planetary moons report, which will show all positions and aspects involving planetary moons. Display it for the active chart with the "Setting / Planetary Moons / Moons Chart" menu command (and also turn “View / Show Graphics” off). The location of each moon is indicated in both standard geocentric coordinates, and planet centered coordinates.
Astrolog's planetary moons report will also show aspects involving planetary moons. The following six types of aspects are listed in additional sections:
The six types of aspects above can be divided into three general categories: (A) Geocentric aspects as seen from Earth or some other body, which generally requires very narrow orbs (or rather orbs defined in terms of planet and moon disk widths instead of degrees) since moons orbit very closely to their planet when viewed from other planets. (B) Planet centered aspects as seen from the planet itself that the moon orbits, which can affect the planet's energy and therefore the energy the planet sends to Earth. (C) Overlayed aspects that compare objects seen from two different bodies, which can still have a sympathetic connection even though the aspect is "virtual" and is acting as if the two objects orbited the same point.
Astrolog’s planetary moons chart can also be displayed in graphical form. Show it by selecting the “Setting / Planetary Moons / Moons Chart” menu command (and also turn “View / Show Graphics” on). The graphic planetary moons chart shows planetary moon placement and aspects in graphical form. This chart is divided into four parts, which show top and side views from both geocentric and heliocentric perspectives. Front views are like Astrolog’s telescope chart viewing the planet from the perspective of Earth or the current central body, and show prominence zones making it easy to see whether a moon is leading, following, above, or below its planet. Top down views are like Astrolog’s solar system orbit chart looking down upon the ecliptic plane, and show prominence zones making it easy to see whether a moon is leading, following, close to, or distant from its planet. All four views have a central circle which indicates the planet itself, in which a moon will only be displayed within the circle if it’s actually eclipsing (transiting over or occulted by) the planet from the perspective in question.
Astrolog's graphics planetary moons chart.
Our solar system has its main planets, and then various dwarf planets and asteroids of increasingly smaller size. There's no obvious boundary for when objects become too insignificant to have astrological meaning. Similarly, some planets have dozens of different moons of increasingly smaller size. The Swiss Ephemeris and Astrolog draws the boundary after the main 27 moons above. However, additional moons are present too, and looking at them in astrology is similar to looking at more obscure asteroids beyond the first four and Chiron. Below are 16 additional planetary moons of interest, which are the next largest moons of the planets in question.
These moons don't have Swiss Ephemeris format ephemeris files, but can still be computed in Astrolog 7.30 or later by having Astrolog do online queries to the JPL Horizons Website. To display a minor moon in Astrolog, inside the Object Customization dialog change an unused object slot to have the definition of "j" plus the JPL code number, e.g. enter "j505" to compute Jupiter's moon Amalthea. From the command line in the Windows version, the -Yej switch will redefine an unused object to be JPL Horizons computed. For example, “-Yej Cup 609” will redefine Cupido’s object slot to be Saturn's moon Phoebe.
Amalthea: After Jupiter's four largest planet sized Gallilean moons, its next moons are much smaller. Amalthea is Jupiter's 5th largest moon, which has a small 12 hour orbit. It's bright red in color and and helps maintain Jupiter's thin ring system. In mythology, Amalthea was Jupiter's foster mother and nursemaid, who kept him hidden from his powerful father Kronos until he grew up. It was a thankless effort at first, but eventually she was raised into the sky and turned into the constellation Capra. Amalthea can represent Jupiterian optimism and the light of hope, and the small but useful roles we can play among larger powers. Even the king of the gods was once a baby.
Himalia: Himalia is named after a nymph who attracted Zeus, and gave birth to three sons. The sons' names are associated with harvest and a golden age. The moon Himalia can be associated with ease, relaxation, and happiness, or sloth and too much pampering in a negative sense. It has a long and lazy eight month orbit around Jupiter. Himalia is aligned with Jupiterian good fortune, and can be a positive balance to Ganymede, the latter of which can potentially bring abundance or attention in a sudden or unwanted fashion.
Thebe: The moon Thebe is named after a nymph, but Thebe was actually a common Greek name, and there were also several cities named Thebes (and there's still cities called that today). Thebe can be associated with the Jupiterian energy of presence or radiance. It can indicate energies such as charisma or royalty, or negatively one who is too focused upon the image given by themselves or perceived by others.
Elara: Elara is named after a mortal princess who was one of Jupiter's lovers. Jupiter hid Elara away from his wife by hiding Elara deep beneath the Earth, where she gave birth to a Giant (but died in childbirth due to the enormous size of her baby). Elara represents excess, being restricted or cramped due to one's large size, and problems such as obesity or hoarding. It's possible to have too much of a good thing.
Phoebe: Phoebe is Saturn's 9th largest moon, and is the largest retrograde orbiting moon in the solar system after Neptune's Triton. Phoebe has a long 1.5 year orbit, in comparison with Saturn's other moons which orbit it in less than a month (or a couple months for Iapetus). Phoebe was once round, but has been heavily battered over the eons. Phoebe is named after a Titan who inherited the Delphic oracle. Astrologically, Phoebe can represent Saturnian weariness and common sense that comes from a long life and hard experiences, and is somewhat similar to a street smart version of Jupiter's Callisto.
Janus: Janus is named after the well known two faced god, who has a face on both sides of his head. In Roman culture, Janus was associated with division (such as defined by doorways or fences), duality (between two different concepts), and beginnings/endings. Astrologically, Janus can represent the Saturnian concepts of classification, labeling, and definition. Janus can also represent the classic vice of being "two-faced", with a focus upon being able to maintain a fixed mask obstructing one's true nature.
Epimetheus: Epimetheus is named after a Titan whose name means "hindsight" or "after-thinker". He was often considered foolish compared to his twin brother Prometheus, since hindsight is always perfect or "20/20", but by then it's too late. Astrologically, Epimetheus can represent looking back upon past experiences (often with Saturnian regret) and hopefully learning from them. Those who fail to understand and learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Prometheus: Prometheus is named after the well known Titan who gave fire and therefore civilization to humanity, but was punished by the gods for doing so. He was twin brother to Epimetheus, and the name Prometheus means "foresight" or "fore-thinker". Astrologically, Prometheus represents the Saturnian quality of sacrifice, and being willing to do something in spite of knowing there will be difficulties or unpleasant consequences. The story of Prometheus is similar to that of the Christian Garden of Eden, in which humanity transitioned from blissful ignorance to the ability to grow and make mistakes, and the giver of knowledge (Prometheus or the serpent) was punished for making it happen.
Puck: Puck is Uranus' 6th largest moon. Puck is named after Robin Goodfellow, the impish sprite from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Astrologically, Puck represents Uranian energies expressed as playfulness, mischief, and pranks. More seriously, it can align with a "sacred jester" role who intentionally behaves in a contrary manner, such as the Heyoka in the Sioux indigenous culture. As Puck says in the play, "Lord, what fools these mortals be!" ;-) As it was only discovered in 1985, and at this time there's no orbital data for it before 1980, Puck is focused upon more modern expressions of mirth that may not be understood by those of earlier generations.
Sycorax: Sycorax is named after the powerful witch in Shakespeare's "The Tempest", whose sorcery was so strong that she could control Earth's Moon. Sycorax moves in a retrograde motion and takes over 3.5 years to orbit Uranus, giving it a longer celestial cycle than Mars and most asteroids. Astrologically, Sycorax represents metaphysics, the occult, and other forms of magic, whether used for good or ill. It has some similarity to Pluto's Nix, although it's more Uranian than Plutonian in quality.
Portia: Portia is named after the wise heroine from Shakespeare's play "The Merchant of Venice", who was quick-witted and fond of proverbs. Astrologically, Portia represents the Uranian qualities of wit, cleverness, and intelligence. As it was only discovered in 1986, and at this time there's no orbital data for it before 1980, Portia is focused upon modern forms of wit that may be incomprehensible to those of earlier generations.
Larissa: Larissa is Neptune's 4th largest moon. Larissa is named after a nymph, however unique in that her father was Pelasgus, said to be the first man, or at least the founder of Greek civilization. Larissa's heritage is therefore a combination of the immortality of being a nymph, combined with the positive expression of humanity. Astrologically, Larissa represents the higher intuition. Properly understood, true Neptunian intuition takes place when one's soul is oriented both towards the immortal Spirit, as well as toward a coordinated and developed personality, and has positively integrated them together.
Galatea: Galatea is one of the Nereids, whose name means "she who is milk-white". Galatea is also the statue carved by Pygmalion, after which he fell in love with his own sculpture, until the goddess Aphrodite turned it alive so he could marry it. Astrologically, Galatea represents the idealism nature of Neptune, in which one forms an ideal and appreciates it, and which can sometimes crystallize into figurative or literal idols that one worships or otherwise passionately supports.
Despina: Despina is the younger daughter of Demeter (the older being Persephone). Despina is a goddess of sacred mysteries, whose real name is not revealed to the uninitiated, and she's often depicted with a veil. Astrologically, Despina represents secrets and mysticism, especially of a more esoteric or spiritual nature.
Thalassa: Thalassa is the primeval goddess of the sea, equivalent to Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky), from which all the other gods descended. It's a small roughly disk shaped moon, formed from rubble clumped together. Astrologically, Thalassa represents Neptunian unity, or a union of different things brought together and mixed. Positively it can represent Oneness or the whole being greater than the sum of the parts, while negatively it can mean a government or other group oppressing and stifling individual freedom.
Naiad: Similar to Nereid, Naiad is named after a group of beings, instead of just a single individual. The Naiads were spirits of springs and rivers. Unlike the always helpful Nereids, the Naiads were more diverse and could sometimes be jealous or wrathful. Astrologically, Naiad represents feelings, although in a deeper fashion than that associated with Earth's Moon. Naiad represents beliefs and beyond that the collective feelings or zeitgeist of a group or generation.
The 16 additional minor moons described here, combined with the 27 major planetary moons directly supported, produces the following list of 44 planetary moons in total. Included are all known moons of Earth, Mars, and Pluto, the 8 largest moons of Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune, and the 12 largest moons of Saturn. In this context, the "Years Covered" column is that for JPL Horizons itself, and not the Swiss Ephemeris format ephemeris file which is often for a shorter period:
Astrolog showing Saturn and its rings and moons, viewed from its moon Iapetus.
Moons aren't the only significant things orbiting planets and influencing the "planetary aura". Saturn and other planets have rings! Note that rings are effectively moons that orbit too close to their planet for the moon's gravity to hold them together (or more technically are located inside the Roche limit) so tidal forces break them up and distribute them around the planet. Even though such "moons" no longer have definite locations around their planet, rings can still be influential when looked at as a whole and when viewed from Earth.
Looking at Saturn, either one will seem to be "above" it looking down upon its rings, "below" it looking up at its rings, or looking at the rings edge on. This produces three different types of energy, or general approaches to Saturn:
Are you a "grower", a "builder", or an "edger"? Look at your Saturn in Astrolog's telescope chart to find out! :-) To do this, select the "Graphics / Draw Telescope" menu command, and change "Graphics / Graphics Settings / Telescope Focuses on This Object" to "Saturn" (which is "-XZ Sat" from the command line) and then zoom in with "Graphics / Map Orientation / Zoom In" until the rings become visible. Also turn on "Graphics / Map Effects / Use Ecliptic Axis" to see the proper angle of the rings relative to Earth's ecliptic.
Note that the 29.5 year cycle in which Saturn orbits the Sun, is similar to 29.5 day cycle in which the Moon orbits Earth. There is a sympathetic connection between the microcosmic cycles of the Moon and the macrocosmic cycles of Saturn, and both planets can relate to material expression and challenging emotions or situations.
Uranus has rings too, and Astrolog can display Uranus' rings starting with version 7.30. Uranus' axis is highly tilted to the ecliptic, so its rings are too. That means we aren't ever "above" or "below" Uranus' rings, but rather to the left or right of them. More significantly, Uranus' extreme tilt means at times its rings can form a perfect circle around it, as if we were looking directly up or down upon them. Since Uranus is an outer planet, the angle of its rings indicates more generational influences affecting society as a whole, as opposed to individual personality characteristics. Here are different energies radiated by Uranus' rings:
In addition to rings, there are other features on planets that can be considered astrologically significant. Jupiter's "Great Red Spot" orbits Jupiter roughly once every 10 hours, so once every 10 hours it's pointed towards Earth. This great "Eye of the Heavens" is larger than the entire Earth, and can accentuate Jupiter's energy at the times when it's pointed towards us. Similarly, features like Olympus Mons on Mars (the tallest volcano and mountain on any planet in the solar system, which is 2.5 times the height of Mt. Everest) can accentuate Mars' energy once every 25 hours, when it's pointed towards Earth.
Note that both Jupiter's Great Red Spot and Mars' Olympus Mons are similar, in that they're a major energy center or chakra of the planet. Every planet is largely liquid (even those with rocky or gas surfaces) and its spinning produces physical vortexes. On planetary scales, every planet will tend to produce a large vortex at 19.47 degrees north or south latitude. That point is as if a tetrahedron were inscribed inside of the planet with one point at a pole, which will make one of the other points of the tetrahedron be at 19.47 degrees, and coincide with the position of the vortex. Most planets have visible features at this location (i.e. in large gaseous planets you tend to get a large stormy spot, and in planets with a hard crust you tend to get large volcanoes). For example, Earth has Mauna Kea in Hawaii at 19.47 degrees north, which is also the tallest mountain on Earth (taller than Mt. Everest) when measured from base to top (because most of the Hawaiian mountains are underwater). Mars has Olympus Mons at 19.47 degrees, Jupiter has its Great Red Spot at 19.47 degrees, and Neptune has its Great Dark Spot at 19.47 degrees. Interestingly, the main crater of Olympus Mons has moved slightly over the eons (in which there's the main crater, and other much older craters nearby), and the same can be seen in Hawaii with its active volcanoes on the Big Island and its other more weathered islands leading away from it. This suggests that as a planet's axis wobbles, the vortex moves to the new 19.47 degree spot.
Proposed planet names for the Trappist-1 system.
"Fractal astrology" isn't only about planetary moons circling their planets, just as planets circle our Sun. The concepts of fractal astrology also apply when considering the influence of other star systems. Fixed stars have been a part of astrology for centuries, however only recently has science discovered and been able to measure the presence of exoplanets, or other planets orbiting these stars.
Since 1992, over 4000 confirmed exoplanets have been detected in over 3000 star systems. For example, the Trappist-1 system (39 light years away from our solar system) has seven exoplanets detected so far, three of which are in the "habitable zone". That means any or all three of those planets may house extraterrestrial life!
Just as moons transiting over a planet modify and accentuate its energy, so too do conjunctions of an exoplanet transiting over the surface of its star modify and accentuate its energy. Interpretations of stars are currently static and generic, since they move so slowly. However, if one considers a star's planets, then it can make their interpretations more detailed, and it can also indicate time periods when the star's energy is more prominent.
Exoplanets are just being discovered, so astrological software doesn't have data on their orbital periods yet. However, astronomy sites can already calculate when exoplanets transit stars. Beyond calculation, it will take time to learn about exoplanets' physical and and spiritual properties, in order to understand how they astrologically affect their star. Still, it's important to realize that exoplanets will likely become a major part of astrology in the decades and centuries to come! :-)