In the previous article (Planetary Hours, Part One), I described
how the ancients divided the time between sunrise and sunset into
12 equal parts, and then divided the time between sunset and sunrise
into another 12 equal parts. These early astrologers correlated
each of these parts of the day with the seven known moving bodies
in the sky. They observed and organized a pattern based on the apparent
speed of these bodies, namely Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus,
Mercury, and Moon. They repeated the sequence three times for the
seven moving bodies as they named the Planetary Hours, taking the
next three planets from the fourth sequence to complete the twenty-four
parts necessary for the day. Unfortunately, these 24 parts of the
day, which vary in length from day to day and from week to week,
are all called "hours" although they seldom are actually
60 minutes in duration. Each 24-hour sequence ended at sunrise,
when a new day began.
What is sunrise? What is sunset? Probably to the ancients, sunrise
was the first light of day, and sunset was the last light of evening.
We modern astrologers, with accurate ephemerides and tables of houses,
and with computers, are accustomed to dealing with the center of
the Sun's disk on the Ascendant and Descendant to mark sunrise and
sunset. Who knows what the cheerful weatherman on television uses
to demark what he calls sunrise and sunset, and for what longitude
and latitude is he reporting?
Before there was adequate computer software, I used to follow the
sunrise and sunset times reported in the newspapers and on television,
making corrections for the longitude difference between where I
was and the television studio's or newspaper's city. I would calculate
the number of hours and minutes between sunrise and sunset, convert
this to minutes, then divide by 12 with a hand-held calculator to
determine the length, in minutes, of each Planetary Hour for the
day. I would then do the same for the Planetary Hours between sunset
and the next sunrise. I became quite proficient at this simple task.
It was worth the effort. I was able to effectively plan my day.
I agonized over the use of computer software, because there was
a discrepancy between the time of first light and the time provided
by computer-generated astrological sunrise. The discrepancy was
only a few minutes, and I made the decision to use astrological
sunrise and sunset. My personal experience shows that my decision
was the right one, and I no longer have to hand-calculate the Planetary
Hours for each day the way I once did. Instead, I use computer software
that I arranged to have created for me to calculate and print Planetary
Hours for several months in advance, always being careful to use
daylight-saving time when appropriate. I cut the printout into daily
sections to carry on my person, and of course, I have the printouts
on my desk. When I plan to travel to other cities, I prepare the
Planetary Hours for the time zone, latitude, and longitude of my
It is very interesting to study how the duration of the Planetary
Hour depends upon the amount of sunlight and darkness experienced
at your latitude on any given day. I shall illustrate the amount
of daylight and darkness using New York City in 1998.
On the day of the vernal equinox, Friday, March 20, 1998, sunrise
will start with a Venus hour at 6:04 a.m. EST and sunset will be
at 6:03 p.m. (computer round-off). On this day, each Planetary Hour
will last for sixty minutes.
On the day of the autumnal equinox, Wednesday, September 23, 1998,
sunrise will start with a Mercury hour at 6:47 a.m. EDT and sunset
will be at 6:47 p.m. EDT; and again, each Planetary Hour will have
a duration of sixty minutes. There is an equal amount of daylight
and darkness. After all, equinox means equal night and day.
Now take a look at the examples and compare them with those of
the summer solstice and the winter solstice, also calculated for
New York City. On the day of the summer solstice, (the longest day
of the year,) Sunday, June 21, 1998, sunrise will start with a Sun
hour at 5:30 a.m. EDT and sunset will be at 8:25 p.m. EDT. On the
day of the winter solstice, (the shortest day of the year,) Monday,
December 21, 1998, sunrise will begin with a Moon hour at 7:21 a.m.
EST and sunset will occur at 4:27 p.m. EST.
At the summer solstice, in New York City, we experience much more
daylight than darkness, so each daytime Planetary Hour lasts 75
minutes, while each nighttime Planetary Hour lasts only 45 minutes.
Just the reverse occurs on the day of the winter solstice, when
each daytime Planetary Hour is only 45 minutes long, and each nighttime
Planetary Hour has a 75-minute duration.
In between the equinoxes and the solstices, sunrise and sunset
varies from day to day, sometimes by only a minute, as the days
get longer or shorter. A two- or three-minute change in the length
of the day is small when divided into 12 equal increments. Therefore,
the length of a Planetary Hour does not change much from day to
day. See the listing below, calculated for New York City, and adapted
from Sundial Software: Planetary Hours. It shows the complete listing
for Tuesday and partial listing for Friday of the week of publication
of this article.
TUESDAY 09 DEC 1997
73.57 W 40.33 N
Mar 7.13a Sat 4.24p
Sun 7.59a Jup 5.38p
Ven 8.45a Mar 6.52p
Mer 9.31a Sun 8.06p
Moo 10.17a Ven 9.20p
Sat 11.03a Mer 10.34p
Jup 11.49a Moo 11.49p
Mar 12.34p Sat 1.03a
Sun 1.20p Jup 2.17a
Ven 2.06p Mar 3.31a
Mer 2.52p Sun 4.45a
Moo 3.38p Ven 5.59a
FRIDAY 12 DEC 1997
73.57 W 40.33 N
Ven 7.15a Mar 4.24p
Mer 8.01a Sun 5.38p
Moo 8.47a Ven 6.53p
Once you have calculated the Planetary Hours for the day and location
of interest, how will you use them? This will be covered in the
next article, but, for those of you who are impatient, the clue
to their use is the consideration of the nature of the planet involved.