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©2010 by Richard Nolle
last revised DEC 31, 2010

If you were expecting some kind of sun sign nonsense, forget about it. This is real astrology for the real world. If it's real astrology for yourself that you want, you can get it by phone or in print. If you need help deciphering the astrological glyphs in the graphics accompanying this article, see Astroglyphs: Astrological Symbols Guide. Please note: this forecast is expressed in terms of Universal Time (UT). Also please be aware that, while I never change a forecast once it's published, I do post errata to acknowledge typographical errors and the like.

Finally, please be aware that this is an abridged version of my 2011 World Forecast Highlights. You're welcome to order your own personal copy of the complete forecast if you like, either the print version for USPS delivery ($75) or a PDF version for email delivery($50). Orders may be placed by mail or phone as always, using check or money order or major credit cards. (See contact details at the end of the forecast.) Or feel free to use my PayPal page, for online ordering any time.

Every generation thinks it’s the last,
thinks it’s the end of the world.

-- Wilco, "You Never Know"

MAR 28, 2011 Jupiter-Saturn OppositionFitful booms and busts will be the big economic and financial story for 2011. The world financial system hasn’t solved its fundamental problems yet, and won’t manage that feat this year. It’s two steps forward, one step back – at best. As predicted in my 2009 and 2010 forecasts respectively, the recoveries in equity markets and economic activity generally that began under the aegis of the January 2009 and August 2010 Venus Max cycles are running out of steam as the current Venus Max phase comes to an end in January. There’s still lots of momentum, so there won’t be an immediate crash and burn. But the initial boost phase is basically over for now. And there are several debt crisis indicators ahead on and off throughout the year, as Jupiter aligns with Saturn, Saturn with Uranus; and Pluto turning it all into a T-Square. Yes, that T-Square, the one described in my 2010 World Forecast Highlights as a harbinger of "a day of reckoning" in the debt crisis underlying the ongoing collapse of the global financial system. It’s baaaaaaack!

Don’t let that day of reckoning phrase conjure apocalyptic visions for you. As I have taken pains to emphasize ever since I first predicted this economic crisis several years ago, this isn’t really an outright, fall-off-the-cliff crash. It’s more like the settling of a soufflé: an ongoing process that happens slowly and gradually. This isn’t the end of the world, as the Chicken Little types so enthusiastically proclaim. (And no, it won’t happen in 2012 either – wacky Mayan aficionados notwithstanding.)

And don’t let yourself be distracted by the popular focus on "the economy," either. In the first place, that’s only one of the major themes for the year. There will also be some wonderful and exciting developments afoot in the fields of science and technology, as Jupiter aligns with Uranus in January. (Physics and astronomy are prominent on the science end of the spectrum, while medicine and energy rank high on the technology end.) Venus aligns with both planets, although one at a time, in April and May: in each case, a sign of happier times, if only for a short while. The former alignment suggests lavish entertainments and spectacles, of which Britain’s scheduled royal wedding is a prime example. (Mercury Max being in full voice at the time, one wonders how smoothly that will come off. The Royal Mint couldn’t even get the commemorative coin right, after all.) The latter alignment is spectacularly sexy – all the more so, with the accompaniment of the lusty, passionate Venus-Mars conjunction. (Lock up your starlets, Hollywood!) There are challenges ahead, to be sure – but there are happy distractions along the way, as well.

MAR 8 Saturn-Neptune Opposition: the 536 T-squareBeyond the balance factor, it’s important to recognize that the financial meltdown and economic downturn of the last several years goes way beyond the customary business cycle. For several years now, I’ve been pointing out how we’re going through an historical watershed, the likes of which have not been seen in some 1,500 years. Not since the last Roman Emperor (Justinian) sat on the throne has there been a sequence of celestial cycles like what we have experienced so far in the 21st Century: climate change, technological revolution, mass migrations, and the like have been ongoing since the 21st Century began, under a sequence of celestial configurations not seen since the 6th Century CE. On top of that, we’ve entered a period of accelerated economic, technological and political change since the Great Chronocrators (Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions) in 1940-41 and 1980-81. It’s all building up to the 2020 Great Chronocrator, which ushers in a new order of the ages unlike anything civilization has experienced since the 1840s. For more on these topics, be sure to read my 2006-2010 World Forecast Highlights. For now, let’s focus in on the year at hand.

Mars Max: The Red Planet Looms Large

Another "Mars Max" cycle gets underway in autumn this year, and lasts into summer of 2012. It begins on October 28, 2011, when the Red Planet's daily apparent motion through Earth's sky drops below its mean motion for the first time since May 25, 2010 at the end of the last Mars Max cycle. This relative slow-down is the precursor to the Red Planet retrograde that begins on January 24, 2012 and ends a few months later on April 14. Mars Max also marks the beginning of the biennial Mars perigee phase, as Mars and our home planet come together for their close approach during the Sun-Mars opposition of March 3, 2012.

This proximity means that Mars gets brighter and bigger in the night sky, culminating in the March perigee and then slowly dimming back to normal. Likewise, all things pertaining to Mars loom larger and larger in human experience during this period: haste, heat, fire, danger, belligerence and conflict - literally and figuratively - are more and more on the rise during the October 2011-July 2012 Mars Max cycle. This means a spike across the whole spectrum of violence, from the individual to the collective, from domestic, school and workplace violence to mass murder and spree killings all the way to suicide bombings and other terrorist atrocities. Criminality, terrorism and military conflict are never rare, but they'll loom larger and larger in the news from late October 2011 into July of 2012. You know what copy writers say: "If it bleeds, it leads." They'll have plenty of material to work with as Mars looms large in the night sky.

Synodic Cycle of MarsAt the height of the Mars Max, as Earth and the Red Planet are in their close approach, occurs the Mars retrograde. Astrologers who only know from ephemerides miss the real meaning of retrogrades: they occur when a planet is nearest the Earth. When we step away from the ephemeris and out into the night sky, we see that the retrograde planet is as big and bright as it ever gets. Far from being ‘weakened’ – as those who don’t know better believe – that planet is in reality at its peak presence for those of us on Earth. The retrograde cycle, when the planet in question appears to reverse the direction of its apparent motion in our sky, is precisely when that planet is foremost – not debilitated at all, but exalted if anything. And that’s why Mars Max (and the retrograde it subsumes) is such an über Mars time.

Determining the beginning and end of one of these Mars Maximum cycles is a bit tricky. With the inferior planets, Mercury and Venus, it's pretty easy to tell when the close approach phase is active. It stretches from the maximum eastern elongation (evening star apparition) through the retrograde to the maximum western elongation (morning star). With superior planets - those from Mars outward - there's no similarly obvious astronomical cue. Over the years, I have experimented with using the geocentric Sun-Mars squares (90° and 270° arcs) as delimiters for the Mars Maximum cycle. I've also tried the heliocentric Earth-Mars squares. Nothing really quite fit. After some years observing and researching it, I am persuaded that a superior planet's close approach cycle effectively begins when its daily apparent motion drops below its mean value, extends through the retrograde, and continues until daily apparent motion surpasses the mean daily motion again. (See the animation to get a view of the cycle as a whole.)

I hasten to add that it's not enough just to use the mean daily motion for a superior planet's synodic cycle. That's too rough a measure, because it fails to take into account the relationship between Earth and the planet in question. Take Mars, for example. It makes one orbit in about the time Earth makes two. Mars' mean daily apparent motion for the entire cycle is 0° 31'. However, for roughly half of the Mars cycle, it is physically closer to Earth and therefore moving relatively slowly through our sky. During the other half of the Mars cycle, the Red Planet is on the far side of the Sun from Earth and therefore has a faster apparent motion. There are other factors affecting the daily apparent motion of Mars, such as its perihelion (close approach to the Sun, the faster end of its orbit) and aphelion (the opposite point); as well as Earth's perihelion and aphelion.

FEB 4, 2011 Sun-Mars ConjunctionTo adjust for these variables, I calculate the mean daily apparent motion of the superior planet from its conjunction with the Sun to its solar opposition, and from opposition back to conjunction. Each of these halves of the cycle has its own mean daily motion. In the case of Mars, for example, its 2011-2012 close approach cycle begins on October 28, 2011, when the Red Planet's daily motion drops below its mean value (0° 32.7') for the period from the February 4, 2011 Sun-Mars conjunction to the March 3, 2012 Sun-Mars opposition. The cycle continues until July 12, 2012, when the daily apparent motion of Mars finally gets back up to the mean daily motion (0° 32.9') for the period from the March 3, 2012 Sun-Mars opposition to the April 18, 2013 Sun-Mars conjunction. What to expect? Let's look at the record . . .

The most recent (2009-2010) Mars Max began the same day (September 23, 2009) that the US, Great Britain and France exposed and denounced Iran's secret nuclear facility - to which Iran responded within days by launching a barrage of ballistic missiles in what was termed an exercise unrelated to the nuclear program controversy. From that time forward, there was a surplus of "if it bleeds, it leads" headlines all the way through that particular Mars Max, which ended May 25, 2010. These included the Fort Hood massacre, the Christmas Day suicide bomber attack on a Northwest airliner, the February 12 start of the major offensive in Afghanistan (one of the target zones right under Mars, as mentioned in my 2010 forecast); as well as the mass murder at the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) and the kamikaze attack on the IRS office in Austin TX. (In both these latter two instances, the perpetrator was actually born under a Mars Max.) And then there was the attack on the South Korean corvette Cheonan, torpedoed and sunk with a loss of 46 crew by a North Korean submarine on March 26; and the female suicide bomber attacks on the Moscow subway system on March 29. Ironically, the very first female suicide bomber attack on the Moscow subway took place in July 2003 - during a previous Mars Max cycle. And likewise the Korean War began under a Mars Max as well. (You just can't make this stuff up.)

MAR 3, 2012 Sun-Mars OppositionBy far the most significant of the 2009-2010 Mars Max events - environmentally and economically, at least - was the catastrophic explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon rig and the blowout of the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico. It happened on April 20, in the midst of the Mars Max cycle described in my 2010 forecast as a harbinger of "fires, clashes, crashes and explosions . . . a disruption in the oil and natural gas supply chain." (And right in one of the particular Mars Max risk periods for April, as described in my online forecast for that month: "around the 22nd when the Moon aligns with Mars.")

Mars phases of this sort happen once every couple years or so; the last one ran from fall 2009 to spring 2010, and this next one starts in autumn 2011 and lasts into early summer 2012. Obviously, we've survived plenty of them to date. This isn't Armageddon, in other words. It's just a predictable upsurge in the already considerable nominal human penchant for mayhem: plenty sufficient to make for a surfeit of those "if it bleeds, it leads" headlines, but not likely the harbinger of the next world war - let alone some kind of mass extinction event. Such Red Planet close approaches are not unlike the Max cycles of Mercury and Venus, in that they emphasize the nature of the planet in question during that portion of its orbit where it passes closest to Earth. So the high Mars cycle that begins in October 2011 and concludes in July 2012 indicates a period of elevated tension and conflict, the kind of atmosphere that cultivates inflamed passions, hot tempers and rash, even violent action - of the criminal and military type, from terrorist atrocities to large scale military conflict. (Not to mention the smaller scale stuff like domestic violence, school and workplace shootings, mass murders and spree killings, etc.) A notable increase in dangerous fires, crashes and explosions is also typical of the Mars Max cycle, which is accompanied by rash, hasty and impulsive action generally.

Apart from the direct impact of the fires, clashes, crashes and explosions that are par for the course under this sort of Mars close pass, some such incidents can raise the possibility of a disruption in the oil and natural gas supply chain - which in turn can shock the financial markets and set investors and institutions in a mad dash for the exits. Military conflicts can have the same effect - and not only on energy supplies specifically, but on the whole spectrum of commerce. The centerpiece of this particular Mars Max, the March 2012 Sun-Mars opposition, also features a Venus-Saturn alignment; which suggests a strong potential for greater or lesser financial panics stemming from mishaps and misadventures associated with this Mars cycle - and certainly not only around the time of the Sun-Mars and Venus-Saturn alignments themselves, but throughout the Mars Max phase.

MAR 3, 2012 Sun-Mars Opposition Astro-MapBeing months in duration and planetary in scale, you can pretty well figure that Mars Max effects will be seen worldwide. But there may be one very broad hint as to areas of particular vulnerability during this cycle. Astro-locality mapping the March 3, 2012 Sun-Mars opposition that anchors the 2011-2012 Mars Max cycle reveals several longitudinal special risk zones, including one in the western US from southern California in the vicinity of Los Angeles due north through western Canada, passing over the pole to come down through Russia and the Middle East in the area of the border Iran shares with Afghanistan and Pakistan. Except for skimming the far north of Canada and the southern tip of Greenland, the Sun-Mars horizon arc mostly spans open ocean - except where it touches eastern Australia (around Melbourne), Papua New Guinea and New Britain on its way across the Pacific to the Kamchatka Peninsula and the coast of Siberia.

Once the history of the 2011-2012 Mars Max cycle is written, the above-mentioned danger zones will figure prominently - though certainly not exclusively - when it comes to the "if it bleeds, it leads" headlines of the times: the fires, crashes, explosions, military/paramilitary attacks (including terrorism) and criminal violence, etc. Astro-locality mapping the Sun-Mars opposition anchor of the 2009-2010 Mars Max showed Afghanistan right under the Mars meridian line for this alignment, for example. That was indeed the locus for the biggest military conflict of the year, but there was a whole lot more to the Red Planet story during that period. As I wrote in my 2010 forecast, "these are some but not all of the focal zones for the alignment." And so it will be for the Mars Max that gets underway this year.

We'll have plenty of time to watch the headlines and observe the Mars Maximum correlates as they develop. Just remember that they don't develop only `out there' in the world at large. They're also alive in us, in the people around us. This is a time to be safety conscious, to get a grip on the animal spirits within and channel them productively rather than letting them loose on anyone who gets your goat. If people are cranky, if you're short tempered too, realize that this is just the nature of the time/space field for now, and do your best to ride it out with as little drama and damage as possible.

APR 18, 2012 Mars=Saturn OppositionIn the span of the 2011-2012 Mars Max cycle as a whole, there are more than a few temporal hot spots during this close approach of the Red Planet; mostly in 2012 because the cycle doesn't start until late in 2011. Examples of the earlier variety include the October 26-28 squares to Mars from Venus and Mercury and the October 28, 2011 Mars Max starting point itself; plus the November 7 Mars-Neptune opposition and the December 2-4 squares to Mars from the Sun and Mercury. Examples from the 2012 portion of the Mars Max cycle include the January 24, 2012 Mars retrograde station, the March 3 Sun-Mars opposition (effectively the Mars perigee), the April 14 Mars direct station, and the July 12, 2012 end point of the Mars Max phase itself. (Always remember – see note below – not to make a fetish of exact dates. Most of these Mars aspects are potent for at least a few days before and after the exact dates cited here.)

Outside the Mars Max cycle itself, there are a number of Mars alignments in 2011 that up the ante for those "if it bleeds, it leads" headlines. These include the February 4 Sun-Mars conjunction (a poisonous substance figures into one of these headlines) and the alignment with Uranus on April 3 (protests turn into riots) The April 18 full moon SuperMoon Mars-Saturn opposition (just a week after the Mars –Pluto waxing square) has some ominous antecedents, geopolitically as well as geophysically. A longitudinal swath touching Ottawa, New York, Washington, Cuba and Hispaniola and virtually all of western South America figures into this; as well as Indonesia, Indochina, China, Mongolia and Siberia – and that’s just the geopolitical end of the spectrum. (What kind of geopolitical risk? Look back to previous Mars-Saturn oppositions, just before and during the Korean War, in the Cuban Missile Crisis, etc.) Geophysically, these danger zones are shifted eastward, e.g. into central South America in the western hemisphere and eastern China, the Korean Peninsula, the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia in the east. Other notable Mars alignments leading into the Mars Max cycle of 2011-2012 include the conjunction with Jupiter on May 1, and the opposition to Pluto on August 11.

In addition to these direct alignments in the sky over the coming year, other temporal hot spots for martial behavior and all the rest of the Red Planet stuff – belligerence, clashes personal and social (from assault to murder to riots in the street), military and paramilitary attacks (including terrorism), fires, crashes and explosions - will tend to cluster around Mars passages over (and opposite) the eclipse degrees of the year. These bunch up in the summer of 2011, pointing to an active wildfire season in the northern hemisphere – in addition to all the other normal Mars manifestations just cited. Indicated dates (plus or minus about a week) include June 24 (Mars opposite the November 25 solar eclipse degree), July 6 (at the degree of the June 1 solar eclipse), July 17 (on the December 10 lunar eclipse degree), July 26 (opposite the June 15 lunar eclipse degree), August 17 (Mars at the degree of the July 1 solar eclipse), and August 24 (Mars opposing the January 24 solar eclipse point).

It’s worth noting that the spring-into-summer eclipses occurring in the midst of all this Mars eclipse activation are accompanied by a wide but still effective opposition from Saturn at one end of the sky, and Uranus at the other, with Pluto turning it all into a T-Square. This includes some of the same major combinations of celestial factors operative over the last several years, the ones I have used to foresee the most significant world developments in this period. The 2008-2010 Saturn-Uranus oppositions, for example, have heralded what I’ve called a harbinger of "panic in the markets, panic in the streets, people in need of rescue, just a whiff of revolution in the air". Per my forecasts, these things have been much in evidence these past couple years, from strikes and riots in the streets of Athens, Paris, London, Port-au-Prince and Tehran to debt crises and wild swings in equity markets worldwide; into precious metals and away from threatened bonds and currencies; to the unemployment and foreclosure crises here in the States. This is still far from over, there’s bound to be more public unrest on and off throughout 2011 – particularly under the aegis of the Mars factors at work in the spring, summer and late fall of the year and the others scattered here and there as noted previously. For a year that includes only a couple months of Mars Max at the very end, 2011 appears to have way more than its share of those "if it bleeds, it leads" headlines from start to finish.

Venus Max: Nice While It Lasts

Like Mars, Venus spends part of 2011 in its close approach (Max) phase as well. Unlike Mars, which starts its Max phase late in 2011 and carries over into 2012, the Venus Max began in 2010 (on August 20) and barely spills over into 2011 (ending on January 8). While Mars Max comes around roughly once every couple years, these Venus Max phases happen once every year-and-a-half or so. The early 2009 Venus Max heralded the inauguration of the President Barack Obama, and the stimulus program begun under his administration. The 2010-2011 Venus Max began with Venus as evening star (Venus Vesper) reaching maximum elongation east of the Sun at 12° 57’ Libra on August 20, conjunct Mars and smack in the middle of the Great 2010 T-Square. The cycle ends with Venus the morning star (Venus Lucifer, aka Venus Hesperus) attaining its greatest western elongation on January 8, 2011 at 1° 11’ Sagittarius. In between came the Venus retrograde cycle, beginning with the retrograde station on October 8 (conjunct Mars again) and concluding with the direct station on November 18, 2010. In between those two turning points came the keynote of the whole cycle, the inferior conjunction with the Sun on October 29, as Venus passed directly between Earth and Sun.

Most people are at least nominally familiar with Mercury's retrograde, but not much attention is given to the retrogrades of other planets. When one of the inner planets (Mercury and Venus) in its faster orbit starts catching up on the slower orbiting Earth, the inner planet's apparent motion in our night sky begins to slow. The planet moves slower and slower until it comes to an apparent standstill in the heavens. This is the retrograde station, the point at which the planet appears to stop and then begin moving backwards (clockwise, or westward) through the sky. This period of reverse motion continues for some weeks (roughly three weeks for Mercury, about seven weeks for Venus), until the planet once more slows its nightly progress through the sky and again comes to an apparent standstill - the direct station, in this case. Normal (direct, i.e. counterclockwise, i.e. eastward) motion then resumes, until the next intersolar Max cycle brings a new retrograde.

DEC 20, 2010 S&P 500Now that you've got the picture, one thing should be clear: during its intersolar Max cycle, when it passes between us and the Sun, an inferior planet is actually closer to Earth, making it brighter and more prominent in our sky. That’s why I’ve christened it the planet’s Maximum (Max) cycle. In the case of Venus, this tends to coincide with a period of relative ease and prosperity, all else being equal. All else has been far from equal during the 2009 Venus Max cycle. It still isn’t back to battery in the 2010-2011 cycle, which began under the aegis of the Great 2010 T-Square.

My 2009 World Forecast Highlights described "the January 14-June 5 Venus intersolar cycle of 2009 as arguably the most positive part of the year, as far as financial markets and economic development go." Indeed, the Obama administration’s stimulus program got underway during this period, and the great market rally of 2009 got started on the very day Venus’ retrograde began (March 6). The 2010-2011 Venus Max arrived during a time when the first stimulus had pretty well run out, and the bills for financing it had started coming in faster and bigger every month. As I wrote in my 2010 World Forecast Highlights, "Probably this means that the fall-off in economic activity associated with this summer’s Great T-Square will be moderated somewhat. Things get a little better, but they don’t get really good just yet." US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced the Fed’s QE2 (follow-up Quantitative Easing economic stimulus program) at a speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on August 27, 2010 – exactly one week after the start of the 2010-2011 Venus Max cycle. Since that time, there has been a marked improvement in US equity markets and economic activity. It started with a triple-digit gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) the next trading day after the Jackson Hole conference, and it’s been upward and onward ever since (allowing for the customary profit-taking pull-backs etc.).

Take a look, for example, at the year-to-date S&P 500 Index, as illustrated by a screenshot from the iPhone CNBC Real-Time stock market app. Notice how the first higher low in months followed the onset of Venus Max - prior to that, it had been lower lows since the beginning of the year, and lower highs since May. Stuck in a trading range since early July, the S&P 500 and other major indices did a turnaround once Venus Max was underway. This isn’t metaphysical mumbo-jumbo word salad: this is real money real astrology. Everything is temporary, but temporarily good beats temporarily bad every time – and Venus Max is more good than bad, on the economic and financial front. (For more on this, see my Venus Max Facebook Note, published September 9, 2010.)

There’s more to this than equity markets, of course. The "less bad" trend since the Venus Max began can be seen in many economic statistics as well; in increasing corporate profits, higher retail sales and consumer confidence, increased hiring and decreasing unemployment claims. It’s enough to lull us into believing what we all truly hope: that this whole "Great Recession" is behind us. Just remember that the current Venus Max ends early in 2011. It has a certain amount of inertia, so there won’t be an immediate crash and burn in its aftermath. But like a rocket that continues its upward arc for some time after the fuel burns out, inertia can only carry so far.

In this case, I figure it probably carries until sometime in March, when the last exact Jupiter-Saturn opposition of the current series occurs. The two giant planets are within just a few degrees of their March 28 exact alignment from mid-March into very nearly the middle of April, so the tipping point can happen anywhere in this range and still be very much on schedule. With this in mind, it wouldn’t be out of the question for major equity markets to start losing momentum around the end of the first week in January, as Venus Max sputters out. And when Jupiter and Saturn line up at opposite ends of the sky in late March-early April – well, we’d all do well to have a parachute packed.

Mercury Max: Stay Sharp, Or Else Murphy’s Law Reigns Supreme

Mercury's Synodic CycleAnd then there are the Mercury Maxima for 2011. Being closest to the Sun, Mercury goes between Earth and Sun more than any other planet; several times a year in fact, including the infamous Mercury retrogrades of astrological legend. While most astrologers pay a fair amount of attention to Mercury's retrograde, few realize that it's only a part of the more fundamental intersolar phase in the orbital interaction between Mercury and Earth, as they both orbit around the Sun.

The Mercury Max phase begins when the little Sun-grazer reaches its maximum elongation east of the Sun - its evening star phase. This happens when Mercury has come 'round to the same side of the Sun as Planet Earth, and is relatively near us. The little planet is then pulling up to pass Earth on the inside track, as it were; catching up to us from behind and then passing between us and the Sun. Just as it catches up with us, Mercury passes directly between Earth and the Sun. This is Mercury's inferior conjunction with the Sun. After the inferior conjunction, Mercury continues pulling ahead of us until it reaches its greatest elongation west of the Sun (its morning star phase), at which point the little planet is headed toward the far side of our parent star. Between these two extremes, the greatest east and west elongations, comes the fabled Mercury retrograde period of astrological lore.

It’s worth noting that with the inferior planets (those inside Earth’s orbit; namely Mercury and Venus), the closest approach to Earth coincides with the inferior (retrograde) conjunction with the Sun. With the superior planets (those outside Earth’s orbit), the closest approach to Earth coincides with the planet’s (retrograde) solar opposition. Clearly astrological doctrine regarding planetary retrogrades is completely unthinking. Rather than being weakened or debilitated in some way, a retrograde planet is in fact bigger and brighter in our sky, and closer to our home planet. Not unlike a SuperMoon, in that respect . . .

Accordingly, Mercury Max is a peak Mercury experience, with the little planet shining brighter than usual as the evening star at the beginning of the intersolar phase. And then it gets really strange, when Mercury’s apparent motion through our sky slows, then comes to a standstill, and then reverses direction – the dreaded Mercury retrograde. After a few weeks, the reverse motion slows and stops, and then the little planet resumes its normal course of motion through our sky. Mercury remains brighter than usual following the end of its retrograde cycle, until it reaches maximum elongation west of the Sun (Mercury’s morning star phase) and then passes behind the solar plane as seen from Earth.

What I have termed the Mercury Max cycle is a way of putting the Earth-Sun-Mercury relationship into a perspective that reflects real-sky, observational astronomy; the dynamics of our solar system as seen from our home planet perch. Look up in the sky over the indicated period and on the specified dates listed below, and you will see the phenomena described above. This perspective replaces the stilted, removed-from-reality practice of looking not at the sky, but at an ephemeris: first to see when Mercury comes to the degree at which it will later makes its direct station, and second when it reaches the degree at which it will later make its retrograde station; and then referring to the overlap between these two dates and the lesser included Mercury retrograde dates as the "shadow period" of the retrograde.

For example, the shadow period for the March 30-April 23, 2011 Mercury retrograde would begin on March 17 (the day Mercury reaches the degree at which it goes direct on April 23) and end on May 11 (the day Mercury returns to the degree at which it went retrograde on March 30). But in terms of any organic, visible manifestation in the skies of our home planet, these ephemeris-derived dates have no relevance to the Earth-Sun-Mercury dynamic. It’s like left-brain versus right-brain thinking, linear versus holistic. One is a made-up abstraction looked up in a book, the other a reality that can be seen in the sky. The corresponding organically derived dates are March 23 (greatest eastern elongation) and May 7 (western elongation maximum). Occasionally the real Mercury Max begin and end dates will coincide with the artificial so-called shadow period start and stop dates. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. But the reality is there to see in the sky.

Retrograde means moving backwards. This is what Mercury appears to do in our skies when the little inner planet catches up on us and passes us on the inside, between Earth and the Sun. First Mercury reaches its greatest eastern elongation, then it appears to stand still in the sky (the retrograde station), and then it appears to move backwards through the heavens for a period of several weeks: that's Mercury retrograde for you. It ends when the little Sun-grazer's backwards motion comes to an apparent halt (the direct station); after which, Mercury moves forward again, until it reaches its maximum elongation west of the Sun. The reality of course is that Mercury never stops in its orbit, and never moves backward: this is only how the relative motions of Earth and Mercury around the Sun cause Mercury to move through our night sky.

Mercury retrograde is the cycle when everything goes wrong, to hear some astrologers tell it. The truth is not so simple-minded. All things Mercurial are crucial during the intersolar Mercury phase; infrastructure, commerce, information, communication and transport being prime examples. Absent careful investigation and planning, and conscientious follow-through, all such things are apt to go off track during these cycles. Mercury's intersolar (Max) phase is a time for focus, concentration, planning, follow-through and communication - all the qualities of the active and involved mind, in short. In case you haven't noticed, most people are not especially alert and focused most of the time. When this kind of sleepwalking runs into Mercury's intersolar cycle, with its focus on mental acuity, it doesn't take long for things to go awry. If you're sharp and focused and alert, you can avoid a certain amount of this mess. In fact, you can even prosper by concentrating on tasks that center on thought, planning and communication. But you'll still have to dodge all the chaos created by the people who are sleepwalking.

Among the sort of things to be ready for during the above mentioned Mercury intersolar cycles: strikes and other disruptions affecting transportation and communication (e.g. postal, phone, mass transit, trucking, airline, shipping, dock and warehouse workers, teachers and all manner of media). Weather both terrestrial and solar (including geomagnetic storms) can play a part in the kind of breakdowns described here, but human effort (and sometimes malicious action) is a part of the mix as well. Power failures due to infrastructure breakdown and computer network disruptions caused by hacker attacks, software vulnerabilities and the like are also just a crossed wire or a keystroke away from a major mess at these times.

If I had to pick a day to have a backup generator all fueled up and ready to go, a contingency plan in place in case the scheduled or expected didn't come to pass, a day to be especially sharp and steady and focused - it would be during one of these Mercury cycles. Note these dates; be ready with a fallback plan just in case. It's not so much that disaster is destined to strike when Mercury is in its intersolar phase. Rather, it's that everything pertaining to Mercury becomes crucial; and unless it's treated as such, then it goes awry. More and more, we live in a "just in time" world - and if the slightest delay holds up just one single thing, then a whole process screeches to a halt. Unfortunately, few people keep their eye on the ball with any consistency and diligence. And that's the reason these Mercury cycles tend to turn into Murphy's Law festivals. Practically speaking, this means that having a "just in time" inventory of essentials is risky business at times like this. Don't say I didn't warn you!

The first Mercury Max phase of 2011 is already underway as the year begins. It actually started with the little planet's maximum eastward elongation on December 1, 2010 and ends with Mercury's greatest western elongation on January 9, 2011. Next comes the March 23 greatest eastern elongation, initiating a Mercury Max cycle which includes the March 30-April 23 retrograde and the April 9 inferior conjunction, and concludes with the May 7 western elongation maximum. Mercury’s July 20 greatest elongation east of the Sun marks the next Max cycle of the little planet, which continues through the August 3-26 retrograde and the August 17 inferior conjunction, ending with Mercury’s maximum western elongation on September 3. Finally this year comes the Mercury Max phase that starts with the maximum eastern elongation on November 14, includes the November 24-December 14 retrograde and the December 4 inferior conjunction, and wraps up with the western elongation extreme on December 23, 2011.

One of the Rarest Conjunctions You Never Saw

AUG 16, 2011 Mercury-Venus ConjunctionSpeaking of the Max cycles and Mercury and Venus, conjunctions of these two planets are not uncommon. They happen a few times in the average year. What is rare is a Mercury-Venus conjunction that happens with both planets retrograde. This occurs only when each planet is on the same side of the Sun as Earth - during the Max cycle of each planet, in other words. That makes for a double-inferior conjunction, one with both planets between Earth and Sol. The last time this happened was in 1991 (a pair three days apart, both in Virgo), and the next time will be in 2025. Pairs of Mercury-Venus conjunctions often happen fairly close together in time - days or weeks apart, for example. Such a pair happens in 2011, one on May 9 at 22° 23' Aries and one on May 16 at 0° 34' Taurus. This pair, incidentally, happens with both planets in normal (direct) motion, which is the most common variety of Mercury-Venus conjunctions.

August 16, 2011 brings the next rarest Mercury-Venus conjunction, with Mercury inferior (between Earth and Sol) and Venus superior (on the other side of the Sun). An inferior-superior Mercury-Venus conjunction is often a triple alignment, like this one: a Sun-Mercury-Venus conjunction. When not actually conjunct Sol, the inferior-superior Mercury-Venus conjunction is never far from the solar disk, because Mercury's retrograde always takes place fairly close to the Sun's apparent position. (In any case Mercury is never more than about 28 degrees from Sol as seen from Earth.) The inferior Mercury-superior Venus conjunction with the Sun is therefore typically invisible in our skies, because from our perspective the two inner planets get lost in the glare of our parent star. The last inferior-superior Mercury-Venus conjunction (Mercury inferior and retrograde, Venus superior and direct) occurred on January 5, 2010. There won’t be another until March 6, 2013. (The two inner planets almost make a superior-superior conjunction in early November this year, pulling to within a fraction of a degree before slowly separating. They’ll look conjunct, but they won’t actually be . . . still, a beautiful sight in the evening sky.)

Look for increased solar and geomagnetic activity (including auroral displays) during any Mercury-Venus alignment, and particularly any with one or both planets retrograde (i.e. in their Max Cycle, putting them on the same side of the Sun as our home planet). On the geophysical level, this is very likely to be a harbinger of increased storm and seismic activity; particularly if reinforced by a new or full moon. That’s exactly what happens in the case of the May 16 Mercury-Venus conjunction, which comes just a day after the lunar perigee and a day before the full moon at 26° Taurus – which is in turn just a day before the Moon’s south declination peak on the 18th. Likewise, in the case of the August 16 alignment, there’s a full moon just three days before – occurring with the Sun, Mercury and Venus all within a few degrees or so, and on the very day that the Moon makes its northward crossing of the celestial equator.

The August 16 triple conjunction looks like a pointer to disturbances in the world financial markets, due either to the latest debt crisis outbreak or to military/paramilitary conflict (including terror atrocities) or civil strife (riots etc.). It coincides with a Mars-Pluto opposition, turned into a T-Square by Saturn. The Sun-Mercury-Venus conjunction opposes Neptune, while the Moon is conjunct Uranus at the time. Debt defaults, public welfare cutbacks and revelations about fraud in the markets and financial system are all likely to be in the mix, and could trigger enough outrage to send people to the barricades. It wouldn’t be the first time this year, and it won’t be the last.

While I expect that we’ll see an elevated level of geocosmic disturbances within a few days either way of all these 2011 Mercury-Venus conjunctions (viz. May 9 and 16 plus August 16) – a rash of headline-making storms with high winds, heavy precipitation and lots of lightning, and to a lesser extent an upsurge in moderate-to-severe seismic activity including magnitude 5+ quakes and volcanic eruptions – the May 16 and August 16 alignments look like the anchors of the most significant outbreaks along these lines. With Mercury in its Max phase (and retrograde to boot) for the August 16 alignment, breakdowns affecting communication and transportation systems and other infrastructure, whether due to force majeure (e.g. severe weather) or accidents or even nefarious activity, can have very wide implications at times like these – with effects reaching out into financial markets and the broader economy. These are times to stay alert and focused, to concentrate, to keep your eye on the ball – lest it smack you between the eyes.

SuperMoon and Other Extreme Alignments

I mentioned how lunar perigee complicates things during the May 16 Mercury-Venus conjunction, while the full moon does likewise during the August 16 alignment. The fact is that full moons, and new moons as well, put Earth and Moon and Sun all in a line: Earth is in the middle in the full moon alignment, while the new moon happens with Moon in the middle. (This coming together in an alignment is technically termed a syzygy.) Sometimes these things also happen when the Moon is in its perigee, or closest approach to Earth. Astronomers call this very special alignment a perigee-syzygy. I call it a SuperMoon – which is a whole lot easier on the tongue.

SuperMoon is a word I coined in a 1979 article for Dell Publishing Company's HOROSCOPE magazine, describing a new or full moon (syzygy) which occurs with the Moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth (perigee) in a given orbit. In short, Earth, Moon and Sun are all in a line, with Moon in its nearest approach to Earth. (My most recent print article on this subject appeared in the October-November 2007 issue of The Mountain Astrologer.)

SuperMoons are noteworthy for their close association with extreme tidal forces working in what astrologers of old used to call the sublunary world: the atmosphere, crust and oceans of our home planet - including ourselves, of course. From extreme coastal tides to severe storms to powerful earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the entire natural world surges and spasms under the sway of the SuperMoon alignment - within three days either way of the exact syzygy, as a general rule. SuperMoon solar eclipses tend to have a wider sphere of impact, extending roughly a week before and after the actual event. And other lunar extremes (of declination, for example) can extend the geocosmic stress window by a day or two here and there in any case.

If you're interested in the history of SuperMoon alignments in connection with great storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, you'll find a sampling of them in my book Interpreting Astrology (published by the American Federation of Astrologers). But a simple review of the news over the past few years should serve to get you acquainted. Take Hurricane Katrina, for example; spawned from a tropical depression formed within three days of the August 19 SuperMoon. My forecast for 2005 warned of severe storms within plus or minus three days of the day Hurricane Katrina formed, and even specified the Gulf of Mexico as one of the areas at risk in connection with that particular SuperMoon alignment. I've done this for over thirty years now, from articles in the astrology press to the online forecasts at my website, astropro.

Examples of the SuperMoon connection with major storms and seismic events abound: the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, the largest volcanic event in the second half of the 20th Century, took place on June 15, 1991 (within three days of a SuperMoon); the October 6, 1948 Richter 7.3 earthquake that struck Ashgabat, Turkmenistan and took 110,000 lives, one of the deadliest earthquakes on record (again within three days of a SuperMoon, allowing for time zones); and the September 8, 1900 hurricane and tidal surge that struck Galveston, Texas on the day of a SuperMoon, which killed more people (8,000 dead) than any other Atlantic hurricane on record and remains the deadliest natural disaster yet to strike the United States. I'm just scratching the surface here, citing only a few historic instances in the past hundred years or so. Look a little deeper, and you'll run across literally hundreds more greater and lesser seismic and meteorological disturbances, from Hurricane Andrew in 1992 to the 1989 World Series (Loma Prieta) earthquake - just to name a couple contemporary notable examples.

More recently, there was the February 28, 2010 SuperMoon, which well illustrates the storm and seismic potential associated with this alignment. As described in my 2010 World Forecast Highlights, the geocosmic shock window associated with the February 28 SuperMoon ran "from February 25 through March 3," signaling a "newsworthy upsurge in moderate-to-severe seismic activity (including magnitude 5+ earthquakes and volcanic eruptions), plus strong storms with damaging winds and heavy precipitation; along with extreme high tides." My forecast described the alignment as "global in scope by definition," but with "special risk zones" including "west-central South America." If you don’t remember it, Google the freakish combination of a monster megathrust 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile, a Pacific tsunami, the “snow hurricane” in the Northeastern US, and hurricane-force killer winds in France - all happening at once on February 27.

Obviously it won't be the case that all hell will break loose all over the world within a few days either side of the SuperMoons of 2011. For most of us, the geocosmic risk raised by SuperMoon alignments will pass with little notice in our immediate vicinity. In the grand scheme of things, we may live on a little blue marble in space; but it’s still a rather roomy planet, after all. A SuperMoon is planetary in scale, being a special alignment of Earth, Sun and Moon. By the same token, it’s planetary in scope, in the sense that there's no place on Earth not subject to the tidal force of the perigee-syzygy. Of course, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions don't go wandering all over the planet. They happen in (mostly) predictable locations, like the infamous "Ring of Fire" around the Pacific plate. If you're in (or plan to be in) a place that's subject to seismic upheaval during a SuperMoon stress window, it's not hard to figure out that being prepared to the extent that you can is not a bad idea. Likewise, people on the coast should be prepared for extreme tidal surges. Severe storms on the other hand can strike just about anywhere, so it behooves us all to be ready for rough weather when a SuperMoon alignment forms. Astro-locality mapping each SuperMoon can help indicate areas of special risk, but the whole planet is in the bull’s eye when one of these geocosmic shock windows opens up. Don’t be paranoid – but don’t be complacent, either.

That said, there's no harm in making sensible preparations for this year’s SuperMoons. The worst that can happen, if the worst doesn't happen, is that you end up with a stock of fresh batteries and candles, some extra bottled water and canned goods, maybe a full tank of gas and an evacuation bag packed just in case. (The US Department of Homeland Security has a detailed evacuation kit inventory that, to quote them, "could mean the difference between life and death".) And maybe you'll think twice about being in transit and vulnerable to the weather hazards and delays that are so common during SuperMoon alignments. These are the kind of sensible precautions that can make a big difference if the worst does come to pass. It certainly will come to pass somewhere – hopefully far from you and me, but we can’t be sure of that.

Like eclipses, there are typically four or five SuperMoons annually. There are six in 2011. All of the 2011 SuperMoons are closely associated with another extreme lunar factor: the Moon’s crossing of the celestial equator (the plane of Earth’s equator, projected out into space)the Moon’s crossing of the celestial equator (the plane of Earth’s equator, projected out into space), or its peak declination north or south of that plane. This close association between the lunar perigee and the lunar equatorial crossing (or peak) is something that slips in and out of synch. The two have been meshing within a couple days of each other from summer into fall of 2009, a period of notable storm and seismic activity; and throughout 2010, which has likewise been turbulent. For 2011, the February 18 SuperMoon is a day from a southward equatorial crossing, the March 19 SuperMoon happens the same day as the crossing, the one on April 18 is three days after the southward crossing, the September 27 SuperMoon is a day after the southward crossing, the October 26 event comes three days after the southward crossing. The final perigee-syzygy of the year, the November 25 SuperMoon solar eclipse, breaks the southward equatorial crossing pattern – but replaces it with a combination that’s arguably a bigger deal. It occurs just one day before the Moon reaches maximum declination south of the celestial equator.

My world forecasts had been warning well in advance that we were headed for a peak in geophysical disaster years; like 2005-2007, when the Moon reached the apex of its 18.6-year declination cycle – the so-called lunar standstill. Maximum lunar declinations were running in excess of 28° back in 2005-2006. For 2010, the peaks dropped down into the 25° range, and they’re down into the 22-24° range for 2011. Extreme lunar declination years tend to have extreme storms and seismic activity. Think Hurricane Katrina, the December 2004 Sumatran earthquake and monster tsunami: these natural disasters accompanied the most recent peak in the lunar declination cycle. We’re well away and fast retreating from those high declinations and associated risks this year. (The pace of decline accelerates with each passing year now.) Nevertheless, having a string of SuperMoons each very near critical points in the monthly lunar equatorial cycle is a combination that enhances the prospects for geophysical extremes – even more than an ordinary SuperMoon, which is in its own right a harbinger of enhanced disturbances in the skies, seas and crust of our home planet. I’m not expecting a Katrina or Sumatra class year of hurricanes or seismic activity in 2011, but I do anticipate a more than usual level of major storms, extreme tides, quakes and volcanic eruptions (occasionally followed by tsunami) associated with this year’s SuperMoons and eclipses. (Consider all the above-mentioned severe seismic and storm activity happening within a day of last year’s February 28 SuperMoon as a case in point.)

First for 2011 comes a string of three consecutive full moons, starting with the one on February 18 at 29° 20’ Leo, followed by the March 19 full moon at 28° 48' Virgo (the year’s most extreme SuperMoon) and the April 18 full moon at 27° 44’ Libra. After a hiatus of several months, the SuperMoon train resumes with a trio of new moons starting with the one at 4° 00’ Libra on September 27, followed by the October 26 new moon at 3° 03’ Scorpio, and then the only eclipse SuperMoon of the year, the partial solar eclipse at 2° 37’ Sagittarius on November 25. (There won’t be another SuperMoon until the April 6, 2012 full moon.)

There was an unusual Mars-Venus theme to the SuperMoons of 2010, what with four out of that year’s five alignments featuring a Venus-Mars conjunction. No such pattern holds for the 2011 SuperMoons, but there is a clear progression of oppositions and conjunctions involving major planets and SuperMoon alignments. The February 18 full moon, for example, features the Moon opposing a rolling conjunction comprising the Sun, Neptune, Mars and Mercury. The March 19 alignment features the Moon opposing a Sun-Uranus conjunction. The April 18 SuperMoon occurs with the Moon opposing a rather wide Sun-Jupiter conjunction (embracing Mars and Mercury). The September 27 new moon SuperMoon is conjunct Mercury and opposite Venus, while the October 26 alignment is opposite Jupiter. The sole exception to this pattern of 2011 SuperMoon alignments is the partial solar eclipse on November 25 – which is notable for other reasons, including the out-of-sign but closing (to within two degrees arc) Jupiter-Saturn opposition.

FEB 18, 2011 Full Moon SuperMoonThe lack of a similar over-arching theme to the SuperMoons of 2011 suggests that this year’s batch will be different from last year’s. To be sure, the storm, tidal and seismic extremes are still very much in play, as these alignments stir up powerful disturbances in the crust, seas and atmosphere of our home planet. But last year’s Venus-Mars tie-in was more up close and personal than this year’s association primarily with the gas giants. Last year, passions were stirred, fear and greed were predominant. This year, the SuperMoons speak more of collective power – the social rather than the personal, the intellectual rather than the emotional. Sure, we’re all still people this year. But we’re littler somehow, when the turning points come ‘round. The "panic in the markets, panic in the streets, people in need of rescue, just a whiff of revolution in the air" that I’ve been forecasting these past few years has come through right on schedule. When it comes through again this year, manning the barricades will be beside the point: individuals will have no power to turn the course of events, no matter how mightily they protest. And protest they will, around these SuperMoon dates – particularly the first three alignments - as well as a few other key points during the year.

The first SuperMoon of 2011 falls on February 18 at 29° 20’ Leo, when the full moon opposes Mercury, Mars and Neptune as well as the Sun in the sky. Simultaneously, there’s a loose T-Square in which Jupiter and Uranus square Pluto and oppose Saturn, which is squared by Venus. These are signs of more debt crises, government support cutbacks and tax hikes: tightening the screws coming and going. Issues of nuclear proliferation raise geopolitical tensions. There’s growing fear of sneak attacks and terror atrocities using WMD – the fear is certain, the actuality far less so. February 12-21 marks the temporal range of this particular SuperMoon, which appears to be most intense around the 13th (when the Moon hits maximum declination north of the celestial equator), the 18th and the 19th. (The heightened geopolitical threat level extends beyond the SuperMoon window itself, it should be noted.)

Stirring up strong tides in Earth’s crust, seas and atmosphere, this SuperMoon signals the usual: increased notable seismic activity (including magnitude 5+ earthquakes and volcanic activity), extreme tides (including tsunami resulting from the aforementioned seismic stuff), and severe storms (with high winds and heavy precipitation). A rash of weather-related crashes will likely make headlines, along with tie-ups in transportation and outages in power and communication infrastructure.

MAR 19, 2011 Full Moon SuperMoon ExtremeThat’s the when and the what . . . as for the where, astro-locality mapping points out a few areas of special vulnerability along north-south lines through east Africa, the Middle East and Russia in the Old World, and through the central Pacific coast of North America in the New World – think British Columbia and the US Pacific Northwest down into northern California. A horizon arc sweeps northeasterly across the Brazilian coast (touching Rio de Janeiro), crossing the Atlantic to pass over Iceland, turning southeasterly to cross Siberia, northeastern China, the Korean Peninsula and Japan, traversing the Pacific to pass over parts of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia. I’m not saying to be careless if you’re not going to be in one of these elevated risk areas during the February 12-21 geocosmic shock window. In truth, no place on Earth is beyond the reach of a SuperMoon, because it’s astronomical in scale and planet-wide in scope.

The March 19 full moon at 28° 48' Virgo is arguably the year’s most extreme SuperMoon, for a couple of reasons: it’s the closest SuperMoon of the year, occurring within an hour of lunar perigee (the Moon’s closest approach to Earth): the Moon will look huge when it rises at sunset. And being so close to the vernal equinox, this SuperMoon occurs within hours of the moment the full moon crosses the celestial equator from north to south, just as the Sun crosses in the opposite direction. That makes this a major geophysical stress window, centered on the actual alignment date but in effect from the 16th through the 22nd. Of course you can expect the usual: a surge in extreme tides along the coasts, a rash of moderate-to-severe seismic activity (including Richter 5+ earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions), and most especially in this case a dramatic spike in powerful storms with heavy precipitation, damaging winds and extreme electrical activity. Floods are a big part of the picture in this case, although some of these will be dry electrical storms that spark fast-spreading wildfires.

APR 18, 2011  Full Moon SuperMoonBeing planetary in scale, there’s no place on our home planet that’s beyond the range of a SuperMoon, so it wouldn’t hurt to make ready wherever you are or plan to be during the March 16-22 SuperMoon risk window. That said, possible zones of special vulnerability may be indicated by astro-locality mapping this particular SuperMoon alignment. Among these are longitudinal meridian lines defining a swath of elevated risk running through North and Central America from Chicago at the eastern edge to Winnipeg and Mexico City on the west. This same longitudinal swath crosses the poles to sketch out a similar swath in Asia, through Siberia, eastern India, Bangladesh, Nepal, western China and Mongolia. In addition, horizon arcs sweep from New Zealand through the Pacific across to the Russian side of the Bering Strait, across Greenland and Iceland, and down through northern and western Europe and west Africa.

The April 18 full moon at 27° 44’ Libra is the year’s third SuperMoon, and has an effective shock window that runs from the 14th through the 21st (and maybe a few hours into the 22nd). This is quite a complex in the sky, in which the full moon opposes the Sun, Mercury, Mars and Jupiter in Aries, with Mars also opposing Saturn and in a wide square to Pluto – the latter factor turns the whole thing into a loose but effective and very extensive T-Square. This bespeaks lots of tension at all levels, from the geophysical to the geopolitical. The geopolitical element can indicate military or paramilitary threats and action – the sort of thing that tends to panic markets for a time. The geophysical component is the usual SuperMoon stuff: damaging storms, moderate-to-severe seismic disturbances (magnitude 5+ earthquakes, volcanic eruptions), and extreme tidal surges (including tsunami). If you can’t get out of the way entirely – and you can’t because this is a planetary phenomenon – then you can at least have your emergency plans and preparations ready to hand. This includes lots of extra cash if you plan to be traveling as the SuperMoon lines up in the sky, with a Mercury Max cycle in effect at the same time: mass transit schedules tend to go out the window when they run head-on into a force majeure like this.

SEP 27, 2011  New Moon SuperMoonAgain, let me emphasize that no one can afford complacency under a SuperMoon alignment, since the kind of heightened storm and seismic activity associated with this celestial phenomenon can reach anywhere on Planet Earth. That said, east Asia from China down through Japan and the Korean Peninsula lies under a longitudinal astro-locality arc, which runs south through the Pacific to cross the Philippines, Indonesia and central Australia. On the other side of the world, this same arc runs through Greenland, easternmost Canada and eastern South America. Separately, a risky-looking horizon arc cuts across the California coast, the northwestern US, southern Alaska and western Canada, across Greenland and down through Scandinavia, eastern Europe, the Middle East and east Africa.

The SuperMoon train resumes in the fall with the new moon at 4° 00’ Libra on September 27, having an associated shock window that runs from September 24 through October 3. (It gets a slightly extended run due to the October 2 southward lunar declination extreme.) This particular SuperMoon comprises another T-Square pattern: Sun, Moon and Mercury all oppose Uranus, while Pluto squares the whole face-off. Venus and Saturn are conjunct at the time, near the western horizon at sunset. It’s a time for austerity, for taking profits, for backing away from the speculative in favor of the solid stuff. At least the crazies are mostly sitting on their hands, for lack of funds and other resources. This should make for something like a sullen peace, a certain gravitas.

Of course there’s a higher-than-normal risk for elevated storm and seismic activity during the September 24-October 3 SuperMoon window. It would be a good time to have your emergency kit ready, whether traveling or safely ensconced at home. Most especially, perhaps, if you’ll be in one of the astro-locality risk zones associated with this alignment. These include a longitudinal meridian line running through the Bering Strait, across the southern Aleutians and down through the Pacific Ocean, emerging on the other side of the world to cross west central Africa, central Europe and Scandinavia. Also rather risky-looking is the horizon arc through western South and Central America, Cuba, the Bahamas and the eastern US and Canada, across Greenland and down through central Asia from Russia through Mongolia, China, the Indochina Peninsula, Malaysia and Indonesia. Batten down the hatches, have the go-bag, candles, bottled water and canned foods ready just in case.

OCT 26, 2011  New Moon SuperMoonNext up is the October 26 new moon SuperMoon at 3° 03’ Scorpio, anchoring a geocosmic shock window that runs from the 23rd through the 30th. Opposing Jupiter – putting the Giant Planet in its annual closest approach to Earth – and happening with Mercury and Venus just a couple degrees apart in the evening sky, this looks like a respectable storm and seismic signal. And something of a financial up-tick as well: it should be good for bonds, stocks and good strong currencies. Increased production and hiring look like part of this one. This isn’t the Second Coming, by any means: the return of prosperity is years away yet. And economic disruptions due to storm-related infrastructure damage can take the bloom off the rose at least for a time.

The storm and seismic potential associated with the October 23-30 SuperMoon shock window is planet-wide in scope, by its very nature. If there are signs of particular target zones, they may be suggested by the astro-locality map for this alignment. This would include a longitudinal zone running from Iran up through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia; and along the middle Pacific coast of North America (including Alaska, British Columbia, and the Pacific Northwest as well as California in the US). There’s also a horizon arc sweeping northeasterly through Australia and across Papua New Guinea, on through the Pacific to Kamchatka, crossing the Bering Strait and running along northern Canada before turning southward to pass through the Atlantic just off the eastern tip of Brazil. When the headlines of the day are written, they’re bound to include some extreme storm, tide and seismic activity along one or more of these zones. (The last SuperMoon of 2011 is the total lunar eclipse of November 25, detailed in the eclipse section below.)

Eclipses Cast a Shadow Before

JAN 4, 2011  New Moon Partial Solar EclipseThere are six eclipses this year, an above-average number: five solar eclipses (all partial) and two lunar eclipses (both total, one of them a SuperMoon). They’re continuing last year’s transition from the Cancer-Capricorn polarity (where the first and fourth occur) into the Gemini-Sagittarius polarity (where the second, third, fifth and sixth occur). If you happen to have been born under skies that emphasize these sectors – check your chart – then it’s probably not a bad idea to stay especially focused around the time of these eclipses.

The January 4 partial solar eclipse at 13° 38’ Capricorn belongs to Saros Cycle 151, which began on August 14, 1776; the week that news of the American Declaration of Independence reached England. (Fitting that it reappears now, in a time when there’s "a whiff of revolution in the air".) The eclipse is in quadrature (90° arc) to Saturn, and comes at a time when Jupiter and Uranus are conjunct once more (the last apparition in their three-peat series). Pluto is emphasized in the heavens at this time as well, being on the north node and transited by the Moon in the hours preceding the eclipse. Mercury and Venus are both still in their Max cycle, but they’re down to days left now. Equity markets should still be more positive than negative over-all – but probably not for long. A good time to start thinking about taking profits, if you can; and looking to buy precious metals on the dips whenever possible. No hurry, mind you: the trigger for panic in the markets is probably a debt crisis that next emerges in March. But with Saturn and Pluto being emphasized in this eclipse, ominous rumblings of the next debt crisis – the next of several, mind you – will cast a shadow over the otherwise sunny Venus Max cycle that’s been in effect since August 2010. There’s some kind of major scientific/technological break-through at work this month – the whole month, what with Jupiter and Uranus remaining all month within a few degrees of their exact alignment on the day of the eclipse. Bear in mind that, this being a solar eclipse, it’s actually operative from December 27 into January 11. Greatest intensity during this period will likely be on or about January 2, 4 and 9.

The storm and seismic potential associated with the December 27-January 11 solar eclipse shock window is considerable. It occurs with Earth at perihelion (closest approach to the Sun), and just a couple days after the Moon’s maximum declination south of the celestial equator. The Mars, Pluto and Saturn emphasis in this eclipse conjures an iron fist – no velvet glove whatsoever. So be as ready as you can, for things like extreme storms with high winds and heavy precipitation, unusual tidal surges, and noteworthy seismic activity (including magnitude 5+ earthquakes and volcanic eruptions). If you must travel during this period, be aware that weather-related delays are likely. (Think of the "snow hurricane" airport shutdowns in the US, Europe and Russia at the end of 2010, as this eclipse window opened up.)

JUN 1, 2011  New Moon Partial Solar EclipseVisible over much of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, eclipse manifestations of the sort described above will certainly be seen and felt in those parts of Planet Earth. But that’s hardly the whole story. Being astronomical in scale, the geophysical shock window for an eclipse encompasses the whole of our home planet: tides raised in the crust, seas and atmosphere know no boundaries. Batten down the hatches as best you can, and have your emergency kit ready just in case . . . maybe especially if you’ll be in sight of the eclipse, or in one of the astro-locality target zones for the alignment. These include a horizon arc sweeping across Great Britain and northern Europe; China, the Korean Peninsula and Japan; the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand; and pretty much the whole of South America except the northwestern quadrant of the continent. And then there are the longitudinal meridian arcs of vulnerability, stretching from the eclipse’s zone of visibility in the Old World, crossing the pole and coming down on the Pacific coast of North America, from Alaska on down.

June 1 brings another partial solar eclipse, at 1° 11’ Gemini. This one belongs to Saros Cycle 118, which began on May 24 in the year 803 – a time of great migration (due at least in part to changing climate) and the conflict it engendered. (Think Vikings and Moors in Europe. Now look around you.) A couple of things are notable about this eclipse. One is that it makes no major aspects to anything else in the sky. Usually that means that it’s a big newsmaker in its own right – in terms of geophysical effects, in other words. The other is that something else is very much in focus in the skies as the eclipse lines up: a Saturn-Uranus opposition, and a Venus-Mars conjunction. This suggests a familiar theme hits the headlines again around this time: "panic in the markets, panic in the streets, people in need of rescue, just a whiff of revolution in the air". A good time to be on the sidelines, rather than in the thick of the fray – whether it’s the markets or the streets. Not a good time to be in line at your bank.

Visible mainly in the Arctic, across Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland and Iceland, the June 1 eclipse happens within a half-day of the Moon’s northern declination peak. The geocosmic shock window for this particular alignment runs from May 24 through June 10 (extended by the southward equatorial crossing on the 9th). The most intense action during this period is likely around May 26, June 1-2, and June 9. Powerful storms and moderate-to-severe seismic activity (including volcanic eruptions) associated with this eclipse will likely focus on the area of visibility mentioned above. But they will not be limited to this zone, due to the planet-wide scale of the geocosmic shock window associated with each and every eclipse. Astro-locality analysis shows a number of possible target zones. There’s a longitudinal meridian running from the Pacific Ocean across Alaska and over the pole down through Russia, the Middle East and East Africa; also a horizon arc sweeping across Great Britain and northern Europe, down through China, the Philippines, New Guinea and Indonesia, on across Australia (and just off the New Zealand coast), to emerge in South America (arcing over Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil and out across the Atlantic).

JUN 15, 2011  Full Moon Total Lunar EclipseThe first of the two total lunar eclipses in 2011 debuts on June 15, at 24° 23’ Sagittarius. Mercury and the Sun are conjunct for this eclipse, while the Moon crosses through the degree of Pluto the next day. Saturn and Uranus are still in their loose opposition alignment, so there’s bound to be some market turbulence and unsettling economic developments afoot during this eclipse window – and still a fair amount of social unrest due to tough economic times. (The rich get richer, and wonder why the poor don’t eat cake.) Breaking news and issues centered on communication, transportation and other infrastructure stir the pot this time around. I make this particular eclipse window to be June 11-18, kicking in a little early in advance of the lunar perigee on the 12th. The June 15 eclipse belongs to Saros Cycle 130, which began on June 10, 1416 – the year that the Chinese fleet commanded by Zheng He reached Aden, and after looking around decided that the Middle East (and Europe, for that matter) is so backward as to be of no interest to China. If that’s not an omen for our times, I don’t know what is. If there’s a difference today, it’s that China needs resources and markets.

Of course the storm and seismic upsurge associated with this eclipse will be worldwide. However it may be more intense in the regions where the entire eclipse will be visible from beginning to end: east Africa, the Middle East, central Asia and western Australia. Other zones of vulnerability appear to track the longitudinal zone on the exact opposite side of the world: from western North America on out into the Pacific Ocean. Also suspicious looking is a horizon arc that stretches from the northwest coast of Africa across western and northern Europe and Russia, coming down through eastern China, the Korean Peninsula and Japan, out into the Pacific Ocean to cross Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. These are the likeliest zones for severe storms with damaging winds and heavy precipitation (and subsequent flooding), extreme tidal surges, and moderate-to-severe seismic activity (magnitude 5+ earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions) in the June 11-18 time frame – especially on or about the 12th and 15th.

JUL 1, 2011  New Moon Partial Solar EclipseThe July 1 partial solar eclipse at 9° 12’ Cancer falls in the middle of the Antarctic Ocean, and so will be seen only by more or less fanatical eclipse-chasers. It’s the first in the Saros 156 series, which runs to the year 3237. Making a Grand Cross in the heavens, the eclipse opposes Pluto, and is squared by the Saturn-Uranus opposition. Being a solar eclipse, it has a shock window that runs from June 25 to July 8, with critical peaks around June 29 (the Moon reaching maximum declination north of the celestial equator), as well as July 1 and 6 (the day the Moon crosses the celestial equator headed south). In terms of mass psychology, this is a time when the fear of loss is amplified. Another debt crisis is likely under the aegis of the July 1 eclipse, and that’s a fairly solid indicator of a certain level of panic in the equity markets. People look for safe harbors at times like this, financially speaking: toward precious metals, away from vulnerable currencies.

The July 1 partial solar eclipse at 9° 12’ Cancer falls in the middle of the Antarctic Ocean, and so will be seen only by more or less fanatical eclipse-chasers. It’s the first in the Saros 156 series, which runs to the year 3237. Making a Grand Cross in the heavens, the eclipse opposes Pluto, and is squared by the Saturn-Uranus opposition. Being a solar eclipse, it has a shock window that runs from June 25 to July 8, with critical peaks around June 29 (the Moon reaching maximum declination north of the celestial equator), as well as July 1 and 6 (the day the Moon crosses the celestial equator headed south). In terms of mass psychology, this is a time when the fear of loss is amplified. Another debt crisis is likely under the aegis of the July 1 eclipse, and that’s a fairly solid indicator of a certain level of panic in the equity markets. People look for safe harbors at times like this, financially speaking: toward precious metals, away from vulnerable currencies.

NOV 25, 2011  New Moon Partial Solar EclipseAs for its storm and seismic potential, expect the usual during the June 25-July 8 geocosmic shock window: powerful storms with damaging winds and heavy precipitation, moderate-to-severe seismic activity (magnitude 5 and up earthquakes, plus the occasional tsunami and an up-tick in volcanic eruptions), and high tidal surges. Where? Nowhere is beyond the reach of these stirrings in Earth’s crust, seas and atmosphere. But astro-locality mapping suggests that western Russia, the Middle East and east Africa are among the riskier zones, along with a longitudinal arc from Alaska due south through the Pacific Ocean. There’s also a suspicious-looking horizon arc sweeping across western Australia, New Guinea and Indonesia, through the Pacific to traverse Kamchatka, the Bering Strait and Alaska, crossing from there through northern Canada and the US Northeast, crossing the Atlantic southeasterly to touch eastern Brazil.

The final solar eclipse of 2011 is another partial, at 2° 36’ Sagittarius on November 25; visible from the tip of South Africa, Antarctica, Tasmania and most of New Zealand. This eclipse belongs to Saros Series 123, which began in 1074 – the year that Roman Catholic priests were forbidden to marry. Might one expect that such an inhumane policy would come up for review under this latest apparition in the Saros 123 series? Possibly – but no change in policy. Jupiter opposes Saturn as this eclipse lines up, and Mars opposes Saturn. A tense time, a governmental crackdown . . . This eclipse, by the way, is also a SuperMoon – also the last of its type this year. Being both an eclipse and a SuperMoon, it’s reasonable to expect that this is very likely the riskiest storm and seismic shock window of the fourth quarter. Add in the Mercury Max cycle, which is already underway as this geocosmic shock window opens, and this shapes up to be one of the more disruptive storm and seismic events of the year.

In effect from November 18 into December 4, this SuperMoon eclipse looks to be most potent around November 20, 23, 25 and 26, plus December 3. As for its storm and seismic implications, expect the usual: severe storms, moderate-to-severe earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, etc. Of course these can happen just about anywhere on Earth, but the places where the eclipse is visible rank high on the suspect list. In addition, astro-locality points to central Asia as one danger zone (along a meridian from Russia down through Kazakhstan, western China, Nepal and eastern India). Another longitudinal danger zone lies halfway ‘round the world, through the center of North America (roughly along a line from Winnipeg south to Mexico City). There’s also a horizon arc running northeasterly across west Africa into Italy and across eastern Europe, crossing northern Russia before dipping down over Japan and out into the South Pacific (running right through Fiji). Wherever you’ll be during the November 25 SuperMoon eclipse shock window, be prepared for infrastructure damage due to Mother Nature: power outages, travel delays, communication and network disruption, etc. But if you happen to be in one of the above indicated zones – well then, you might want to double up on your preparations.

DEC 10, 2011  Full Moon Total Lunar EclipseDecember 10 brings the second (total) lunar eclipse of 2011, and the last eclipse of the year. The full moon at 18d 10’ Gemini anchors this eclipse, which includes a T-Square with the addition of Mars; and also features yet another appearance of the Jupiter-Saturn opposition. These are signs of social and economic problems coming into strong focus again: debt defaults, government austerity programs and tax hikes cloud the picture once more. The geocosmic shock window for this eclipse runs from December 7 to the 13th, but the political problems run much deeper and longer than just these few days. Public expression of outrage runs high for a short time, but the underlying discontent is a much deeper situation. Street demonstrations can quickly turn violent under this kind of celestial signature.

There’s always a geophysical dimension to an eclipse: the usual enhanced probability of newsworthy storms and seismic activity (including moderate to severe earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, with an attendant risk of tsunami. Mercury Max being in full swing at the time, it’s reasonable to expect weather-related disruptions to all kinds of transportation and communication networks, and power outages for the same reason. It’s probably not the best time to travel, unless you’ve got an extra supply of patience and other essentials to see you through an unexpected layover. This applies planet-wide of course, given the astronomical scale of the eclipse. Iceland is a major nexus for all the horizon arcs at the time of the eclipse. One of these arcs sweeps northeasterly from southern California and northern Mexico across the northern Plains and Canada (passing near Winnipeg), crossing Greenland and Iceland to come down through eastern Europe and the Middle East as well as northeast Africa. Japan, the Korean Peninsula, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand come under the eclipse Mars horizon (which cuts across eastern Brazil in the New World), while the Jupiter-Saturn meridian runs north south right through the US Midwest in the western hemisphere and western China/east India and Nepal in the east. If you’ll be in one of these zones during the December 7-13 shock window, don’t just assume that it will be business as normal. For most people, it will be – but we can’t all be that lucky which time and space conspire to stir things up and shake things down.

In Summary . . .

It’s a better year than 2010 in many respects, but 2011 still has its issues. Weak and erratic economic improvement coupled with ongoing periodic debt crises (governments, central banks, commercial banks and other corporations, as well as individuals and families of course) ensure that we’ll be more or less bouncing along the bottom for months – indeed, years. But that’s better than not bouncing off the bottom at all. The careful and prudent will do better than the profligate, but we’re all still a long way from the salad days. Buy precious metals on the dips when you can, but don’t go "gold bug" on me: the yellow metal is far from the only asset worth having, although you should definitely have some. (Diversify, diversify: never put all your eggs in one basket, even if it’s a wonderful basket.) As I’ve said many times before, the salad days don’t return until after the 2020 Great Chronocrator – and it’ll be a very different salad then. So take care, stay alert, and carpe diem!

Customary Reminder

Never make a fetish of exact dates. There’s enough quantum flux in the Universe, and enough silliness and vanity in the human ego, to make exact anything a fiction. For example, decades of practical experience have taught me to allow three days either way of a full moon or a regular new moon, to see its manifestation – and this can be extended if there’s a solar eclipse or additional factors in the picture. Likewise, it’s only realistic to allow a degree or two at least coming into and leaving a major planetary alignment – which can be a day or two with faster-moving planets like Mercury and Venus, to as much as a month with slower moving planets like Neptune and Pluto. And there are often “trigger factors” that advance or delay timing. That’s not to say that these things can’t be precise. For example, the US Government announced on September 19, 2010 that BP had succeeded in permanently killing the Macondo oil well that blew out in the Gulf of Mexico last April 20. Sound familiar? It would have, had you read it (three months in advance) in my Monster in the Gulf Facebook note, published back in early June 2010; where I wrote about "the relief well being the final solution, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes until the September Jupiter-Uranus retrograde alignment for that to happen." Said alignment was exact on September 19; the very day that National Incident Commander Thad Allen pronounced the Macondo well dead. I always tell my readers and clients not to make a fetish about forecast events corresponding to exact aspect dates, but it does happen. (This issue was also addressed in my September 2010 forecast.)

A great many years ago, there was a time when I thought that precisely timed prediction was something to strive for. Now I'm more inclined to think that this kind of precision is neither possible nor desirable . . . may in fact be a conceit of human intellect. Individuals, like subatomic particles, are in a state of quantum flux. Statistics works, as mundane astrology works, because large samples DO lend themselves to a kind of Newtonian certainty. But at the individual level, statistics breaks down just as Newtonian physics breaks down at the subatomic level: the Uncertainty Principle arises, prediction nebulizes, grace and freedom arise. "All men are mortal" is essentially a statistical statement that applies to each of us as individuals. It's what we do with that span above ground that differentiates us. Yes, there are "channels of destiny" within which each of us operates; but within those channels, there's a certain amount of freedom and unpredictability. Certainty? I'm not so sure . . . it’s more likely achievable at the collective level than the individual: mass psychology is easier to forecast than individual psychology, in my experience, because collective behavior has more inertia than individual behavior. Seriously, if you can’t live without a little quantum flux here and there, the Universe will drive you crazy. Think of the old trader’s adage about trying to time the exact bottom in a market cycle: "it’s like trying to catch a falling knife."

Secuutus Caveo

DEC 20, 2010 AT&TSpeaking of markets, please be advised that although I do describe market and economic developments in my forecasts, I cannot nor will I be responsible for anyone's trades or investments but my own. I'm not a CFP (Certified Financial Planner), RIA (Registered Investment Adviser), or anything of the sort. I'm not even a financial astrologer per se, although many people seem to think I am. Technically speaking, financial astrology is a subset of what's called mundane astrology. I've been a full-time professional astrologer and astrology writer since 1973, and I've been writing on the subject of mundane astrology for over 30 years now - including the world forecasts for Dell Publishing Company's HOROSCOPE Yearbook for many years, and the annual as well as monthly forecasts at my website, astropro.com.

In lay terms, I'm just an astrologer with a particular interest in planetary cycles, history and the markets. I'm happy to share what I can see of economic cycles, market trends and the like through my forecasts, and I do act on these things myself. But I do not advise anyone else to do so. Anyone who's considering doing as I do, does so at his or her own risk, and should consult a trusted and qualified financial advisor before acting on anything I write. Just try not to get one of the bozos who let everybody's 401(k) tank back in the day . . .

I do post notice of trades and investments I make (on Facebook and Twitter), not as recommendations but simply as information; a kind of `this is what I'm doing now' thing, for what it's worth. Take, for example, my mention at the time of having bought AT&T on July 2, 2010 near a 52-week low (viz. $24.16). Back then, there were people who said something along the lines of "who'd buy that dog?" Well, at that price, the dividend worked out to be around 7%, which beats the bank by a long shot. And the appreciation (so far) has been OK too, as you can see by the iPhone screenshot from the CNBC R-T app for AT&T year to date. T will drop back at some point - and when it does, I'll buy more. But I'm not recommending that anyone else do that.

An Invitation

If you're not following me on Facebook and Twitter, as well as my website, then you're not fully up to speed with what I'm doing and forecasting. Apart from the regular annual and monthly forecasts, my website gets updated at least weekly, and sometimes several times a week. Sending updates to Facebook and Twitter takes a lot less of my time - no HTML coding to worry about - so I can do it far more frequently there. If you'd like a quick take on what's happening - including what I'm doing in the markets - and it doesn't require a personal consultation, you can always find out what's on my mind (astrological and otherwise) via those two free social networks.


All astrological charts as well as eclipse and astro-locality maps were calculated and produced using Esoteric Technologies’ Solar Fire Gold Version 7.0.8; except for some legacy charts generated by Matrix Software's WinStar Plus 2.05. Additional astronomical diagrams were produced with John Walker's HomePlanet 3.1 and Maris Technologies' RedShift 5 software. Market and seismic activity images are screen captures from the CNBC Real-Time and QuakeZones (by AppDudes) iPhone apps in the case of the online version of this forecast, and from the Google Finance website and the AppDudes QuakeZones app for iPhone in the print and PDF versions. Fred Espenak's NASA Eclipse Web Site is an indispensable online reference. Thanks to Alan Brown for many hours of discussion on historical details mentioned in this forecast.

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Richard Nolle, Certified Professional Astrologer
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