The Astrology of Polar Latitudes
Andrew. J. Bevan, QHP, DMS Astrol. (c) 2009
Practicing Astrology North of the Arctic Circle
Towards the North

People who visit Oslo at 60°N during summer are impressed by the fact that it never gets dark. The same is of course valid for all other locations of the same latitude. At Summer solstice the Sun in Oslo sets at 22.44 CEST, only to rise 5 hours later at 03.53 CEST. For similar reasons the length of Daylight hours during the months of winter are greatly reduced. On December 21. the Sun will rise at 09.18 CT before it sets at 15.12 CEST.

Beyond Daylight lies twilight. Astronomers say that twilight lasts as long as the slightest indication of day can be detected in the horizon above the Sun, which is as long as the Sun is less than 18 degrees below the horizon. Civil twilight is when the center of the solar disc is less than 6 degrees below the horizon. We can that these orbs are closely related to the orbs of ‘combustion’ and ‘being under the Sun’s beams’, and at the equator it may observed how they actually effect the visibility of the planets. At Oslo 60°N the inclination of the celestial equator in the sky is 90-60=30 degrees. With the inclination between the celestial equator and the ecliptic being 23°27’, this means that at midsummer the Sun will never be more than 6°33’ of arc below the horizon, so it never gets really dark. Astronomical observation is greatly impaired by twilight, unless observing bright objects like Mercury and Venus. 

What happens in the Arctic?

Moving beyond the Arctic Circle, there is the phenomenon of the Midnight Sun and Midwinter night. During the height of Summer the Sun will never set. During winter the Sun does not rise and may be gone for several months. At high latitudes beyond the Arctic Circle the celestial sphere of circumpolar stars extends south to include areas of the zodiac that cease to fall below the horizon in the manner we are accustomed to. The periods of Midnight Sun and Midwinter Darkness are of equal duration* as the Sun moves through passages of equal length on either side of its solstice points. As the Sun reappears after being gone for several months during of Arctic winter, the local inhabitants celebrate its return with a festivity. * Due to refraction and the bending of light, the intervals of daylight are actually longer than the intervals of darkness. This also effects the intervals of the Midnight Sun and Midwinter night.

Through the years of 1987 and 1988 I was living in Sortland, Norway at 68N40, 15E20. This is 2 degrees north of the Polar Circle at 66N33. Assuming that the Sun is in its Summer Solstice at 0° Cancer, at midnight in Sortland the Sun will still be visible 2 degrees above the horizon in the north. Due to refraction, the bending of light caused by the Earth’s atmosphere and that is roughly 1 degree along the horizon, the Midnight Sun ‘appears’ to be 3° above the horizon. Due to an optical illusion that causes celestial objects to appear larger than they actually are when they move along the horizon, you would be subject to believe that the height and altitude of the Sun was even greater still. Due to the bending of light the midnight Sun can actually be seen South of the Arctic Circle, but for all practical purposes in astrology calculations are made in reference to the rational horizon and not the ‘apparent’.


The celestial equator and tropical circles at they appear at various latitudes

Fig 1.  0°North at Equator

Fig 2.  45° North

Fig 3.  60° North

Fig 4. 66N33 Arctic Circle

Fig 5. 75° North

Fig 6. 90° North Pole

Commentary to the above figures:

O - is the location of the observer
P - is the Celestial North Pole
A - is the Celestial Equator
B – is the Tropic of Cancer
C- is the Tropic of Capricorn

By following the figures is easy to work at the apparent height and path of the Sun at various latitudes when located on - a) the Celestial Equator b) the Tropic of Cancer c) the Tropic of Capricorn. In fig 3 – at 60°N notice how the Sun in Oslo barely sets during midsummer and only just creeps above the horizon in the midst of winter. In fig 6 - at 75°N it is easy to see how north of the Arctic Circle portions of the ecliptic do not intersect the horizon. Some degrees never rise and never set.

Astronomical peculiarities

At the Artic Circle the inclination between the celestial equator and the local horizon is 23°27‘ and equal to the angular inclination between the celestial equator and the ecliptic. This means that once every day there will occur a moment when the ecliptic lies in parallel with the Great Circle of the local horizon. North of the Arctic Circle degrees of the zodiac that are equal distant of the tropical solstices 0° Cancer and 0° Capricorn will not intersect the local horizon according to the latitude of the location. Some degrees will never set and will ever be raised above the Earth (circumpolar), while others will never appear above the Earth and leaves what remains to be a broken circle.

When practicing astrology in the Arctic I made a habit of marking those degrees that didn’t cut the horizon in red in the outer rim of the chart. At Sortland the degrees between 6SG07 – 23CP53 would never rise but always be located below the rational horizon. The degrees between 6GE07 – 23CN53 would never set. Notice that Sortland is only 2° north of the Arctic Circle and yet it takes 48 days for the Sun to travel the distance down to the Capricorn solstice and up again. You have to imagine the tilting of the circle. The length of day and night changes most dramatically close to the Vernal and Autumn equinoxes. Most often the irregularities of the Arctic do not interfere our general experience of the Earth’s rotation upon it’s own axis. In the main, all celestial objects tend to behave just as we are used to in more hospitable climates, because the ‘Midnight Sun’ in the South during day is not a problem. It’s when the darn thing doesn’t go down in the evening that you are finding cardboard sheets to blackout the bedroom windows, and even then you can’t get off to sleep because the neighbor has decided to mow the lawn at 11 pm… Of nature, the people of the North are more likely to sleep less during the summer and then catch up during winter with some sort of semi-hibernation.

From both an astronomical and astrological perspective the challenge of the Arctic is not due to the habits of the locals but due to a daily phenomenon that occurs when the Midheaven passes through the broken passage of the zodiac - those degrees that never rise above the horizon. The reason that the Sun can be seen at midnight north of that Arctic Circle is because it is accidentally located at the opposite side of the sky at the same point in time, i.e. the phenomenon of the Midnight Sun will only occur then the Midheaven is passing through its dark degrees at the same time as the Sun is moving through the equally sized passage on the opposite side of the zodiac.

As the Midheaven moves through those degrees that never rise, the natural order of the signs of the zodiac collapses. I used to imagine the behavior of a twirling dish as it topples and collapses on the floor. It is a good image, not entirely correct, but it will serve its purpose. You have to get into your mind a picture of the remarkable nature of Arctic latitudes. North of the Arctic Circle the inclination between the ecliptic and the celestial equator is greater than the inclination between the celestial equator and apparent horizon - and at a point the signs of short ascension will topple ahead of themselves and backwards out of the eastern horizon. The crunch occurs as the Midheaven sets. At this point the MC and Asc come to a conjunction but since the prospects of a rising degree is void in this point, the Ascendant jumps 180° from its position in a sign of long ascension to the opposite point in a sign of short ascension where it will retrograde with great pace backwards through the zodiac until it again joins with the MC as it emerges from hibernation. Then the Ascendant will jump back 180° again to a sign of long ascension and resume normal passage. The time it takes the Ascendant to retrograde through the signs of short ascension is equal to the number of degrees it takes the Midheaven to move through its sub-terrestrial passage in the south, with 1° of the ecliptic being converted into 4 minutes of time. At my location at 68N40 at Sortland the Midheaven is sub-terrestrial for a little short of 48°, which, multiplied by 4 minutes, equals 3 hours and 12 minutes.


Midheaven South

DO NOT discard the Midheaven South. I say this explicitly. The celestial meridian is the Great Circle that surround the Earth and that intersects MC (south), IC (north), Zenith (above) and Nadir (below). The Midheaven is ever the culminating degree in on the celestial meridian and in the northern hemisphere this will always be towards the South. At the North Pole it is different. The North Pole is like another planet. Anyone traveling to the North Pole is due to have both their sense of direction and sense of belonging distorted, and they are probably attempting to live out a hard aspect between Saturn and natal Moon. If you are at the North Pole then you are on an expedition and not supposed to live there. At the North Pole everything is south, as the world revolves beneath your very feet. At the Pole point you may dance through the World’s time zones in rejoice over a cup of hot chocolate. You are likely to feel Super-human but running in rings at great speed around the Pole point ahead of the Sun does not allow you to travel backwards through time. The Superman trick does not work. Astronomically and astrologically, the Polar problem may be compared with the headaches to be provided by astronauts during space travel. They have all traveled beyond the rational world. As soon as babies are born in space capsules, astrologers will depart from charts with a terrestrial ascendant but move on to adopt another a different kind nodal axis that can be applied to prove the radicality and direction of the chart.

But moving back to Earth, unless you behaved really bad in a previous like you are not likely to belong at the extremes of either Pole. This is not home. I watched people on TV as they reached the North Pole on skies. They stood there crying and hugging each other and it was crazy. As soon as you get anywhere close to civilization again you are likely to forget all the dizzy emotions. You will find your head again and begin to relate normally to both south – and north!

The Midheaven South marks the place of culmination for any degree when observed from the northern hemisphere. The sub-terrestrial passage of the Midheaven South traveling below the horizon may for the sake understanding the basic concept be compared with Via Combust although it behaves more in a fashion similar to like an intercepted sign. Here the angle is buried into the Earth. It is like a secret, a wish or a distant country, something not yet seen the light or been born into the world.

The highest point of the zodiac above the horizon has never been the Midheaven (unless by coincidence). Astrologers tend to get this wrong. The highest point of the zodiac above the horizon is called the nonagesimal. The nonagesimal is the point of the zodiac that is 90° distant from the radical ascendant in the direction in opposite to the ascension of the signs. No degree of the zodiac culminates twice during a day. When 0° Cancer appears in the North at midnight this is when this degree appears at it’s lowest point, which is much contrary to it’s culmination in the South. However, every degree will pass the Great Circle of the Meridian twice a day, as these intersections are defined by the MC and IC.

As the Midheaven moves through the sub-terrestrial path of the zodiac that takes it below the local horizon of the observer, the ascendant will move swiftly, and with retrograde motion, through the signs of short ascension. The nonagesimal will display a similar horrendous motion and move with great speed as it is constantly at a right angle and inseparably linked to the ascendant, but this motion is nothing else than a demonstration of all those degrees that lie in almost equal parallel to the horizon at that moment upon the toppling and clatter of the zodiacal dish. The ascendant is retrograde. So what? Are we supposed to run into hiding? No - Interpret it! Stars do not fall down from the Sky and the Sun and the Moon do not reverse their motion. The zodiac is still the Great Circle that the planets follow in their passage around the Sun. Anything going on in the ascendant is nothing but a local side effect. Houses ‘appear’ to get crammed together as house systems ‘appear’ to collapse, but what have we been telling people through all times? - Houses appear to be of different size but are all actually equally large and that it all is a matter of how the apple is divided into slices.

Astrology is a language and a matter of dialects. If one approach doesn’t work, we can always adopt and approach the problem from a different angle. If the chart doesn’t show houses, then maybe you didn’t need them for the chart, or the question wasn’t radical. One of the problems in astrology occurs when the querent wants to know everything at once. This is one of the challenges of natal astrology, and it also pops up when journalists call me and ask me what is going to happen in the next year. Their question and approach lacks focus and is void. The moment does not lack focus when it comes to mapping specific mundane phenomena. I must add the from the perspective of the North Pole 90°N the planet Pluto has through 2008-2009 transited the Winter solstice and lowest heaven at the same time at Saturn in 2009 has been in the Autumn equinox and descending degree. Look at what has been happening to the ice-masses. Nor is the Arctic void when applying the technique of horary astrology to answer specific questions. The moral is that no matter your art, sport or science – stay focused if you have any ambitions of success.


Horary example 1.

Will our New Baby be Christened?

  This question was asked on July 24. 1988 at 22.03 CEST, Sortland, Norway, 68N40 15E20, and prior to the birth of my second child. The question occurs because the local priest had stalled on his heels with second thoughts regarding whether he wished to baptise our child and accept it as a member of his congregation. His reluctance and fear was due to my practice as an astrologer, which was in a sharp contrast and conflict with his personal convictions.

Fig. A – the chart looks wrong when drawn by a computer


I am presenting two different drawings of this chart. The first one is drawn by a computer but shows it all wrong. The second is my hand-drawn chart that puts the MC in the south, as it should be, and the ascendant is located towards the north, as this the area along the local horizon where the ecliptic actually does rise. In the outer ring of the hand-drawn chart I have indicated those degrees that do not cross the horizon at that latitude in either south or north. There is no Midnight Sun in October, but it can be seen that the culminating degrees on the Midheaven are sub-terrestrial level and bellow the Earth. Hence, the celestial dish is performing its daily phase of topple.


Fig. B – When the chart is draw by hand, the astronomy of the moment appears in its actual fashion.



The ascendant is retrograde in the late degrees of Taurus, but these now become early due to the motion of ascension. The question is in fact early, since the child is not born at the time of asking. I took the ascendant conjunct the cluster of the Pleiades to be my significator, together with the Venus, ruler of the ascendant, who I found in Gemini on the cusp of the 4th.

I am a home father at the time of the question. Still practicing astrology, but on the main I am at home looking after our first child while the mother was at work. Venus, ruler of the 1st house is in the 4th house in the sign of Gemini. Our first child is a daughter born in the sign of Gemini. Regarding the Pleiades I believe this represents the Lamp of Aladdin that has a Genie with hidden treasures bottled up inside. I feel this deals with astrology that is a forgotten treasure that is having difficulty in getting out and being shared and appreciated in the everyday world. I am also represented by Jupiter in the 1st house who is in detriment, yet holds his own face in the beginning of Gemini. Much of my time in North Norway was spent writing astrological manuscript that never was published, yet in parts. Note that Jupiter is Lord of the Midheaven that is hidden beneath the Earth. By moving to the north, I had chosen to postpone my own commercial interests and give priority to the professional opportunities of my spouse and my interest in our family.

  Our unborn child is represented by the cusp of the 5th house at 22GE50 and its lord, Mercury at 21CN38. Mercury is in the sign of Cancer, as the mother is carrying the child within her. Later, on September 6, a health boy born in the sign of Virgo, ruled by Mercury.  He did suffer from trouble with the eyes at birth (a bacteria and infection), later from close-sightedness and especially the left as indicated by the sign of Cancer. Pleiades on the ascendant does also have a reputation of disturbances to the sight. Lastly, there is the Moon, who is the dispositor of Mercury and co-significator in the question. She is at 4SG38 and square the degree of the next Lunar eclipse at 4PI23. This is also an indication of obstacle and impediment.

The Moon has several meanings in this chart. She is in an exact trine to Mars who is both in his own sign and own face at 4AR38. The ascendant needed 6 degrees to reach the opposition of the Moon and the sextile of Mars and the baby boy was born exactly 6 weeks later on September 6. 1988. The child was healthy and sound, but of my children – this was the most challenging of births. The mother was pushed to her limits and had to work hard. As for myself I almost fainted. The perfection of any aspect between the Moon and Mars, who are natural enemies, this will not occur without some trouble and labor but I hope the degree of the lunar eclipse had something to do with it, or else we are in trouble.

I gave the cusp of the 7th house at 28SC34 to signify the clergyman of the church, since his function in the respect of this question, is nothing different than that of a physician or doctor. He is represented by the lord of the 7th, Mars in Aries, and the Moon in Sagittarius in the 7th house. Scorpio on the 7th shows him predisposed and suspicious, although with Mars in Aries – I am sure he also would have been considered a good Shepard. The Moon in Sagittarius indicates him to be an agent for the church, and although the Moon and Mars were in an amicable trine, the Moon was wearied by square the degree of her eclipse in Pisces. The priest was in the situation of a conflict in faith. The Moon is located at 4SG38 and needs no more than 1°30 to move into the dark degrees, but consider also that she has 5° of latitude south of the ecliptic. Her declination is 26S03 and her placement already 2°30 beneath the horizon. From this condition I judged the priest’s reluctance and his wish to wane from the opportunity of introducing an astrologer to his church.

The cusp of the 9th house, of the church, is also in the in sub-terrestrial degrees at 17SG19, as it is true that various authorities of the church have abandoned the teaching of astrology from the face of Earth. However, Jupiter, Lord of the 9th, 10th and dispositor of the Moon, is in my first house and in it’s own face. This is a condition that Lilly says with keep a person in dignity and out of trouble, so that he neither looses his pose nor gets thrown out of his place of residing.

The priest consulted his colleagues and finally it was decided in advantage of the baptism, as we had wished. The Christening of Jonathan, our newborn Son, occurred on October 9. 1988, 11 weeks after the moment of the question. Mercury, lord of the 5th and significator of the new baby, was directed 11° forward to the body of the Sun in Leo at the time of the event. Mars, lord of the 7th, who was in a perfect trine to the Moon at the time of the question, had on October 9. by transit retrograded to 2AR07 and moved into perfect trine to the Sun in the horary and closed the gap of a grand trine involving the luminaries.


Horary example 2

Are we moving towards a New Ice Age?

Now by casting this chart I am not trying to claim I have all the answers to question that concern the ultimate and destiny of Mankind and the Universe. It is simply me trying to pick up on the on the drift of things from the point of my personal interest and perspective as an astrologer. The chart is included because it demonstrates the technical variations of Arctic latitudes. For that it serves its purpose and the question can be regarded as a curiosity. It’s interesting to pull old charts out of the filing cabinet because it says something about how much our perspective of the world has changed over so relatively few years.


Fig C – Drawn by a computer - doesn't look right.


Fig. D – The chart places the MC in south and shows the ascendant diverting towards the south, as it does in reality.



As in the previous example I have chosen a chart that shows the Midheaven in sub-terrestrial degrees, but in his one the ascendant is leaning towards the extreme south. I am the querent, represented by the Aquarian ascendant and its lord, Saturn, who is retrograde and within one degree of Uranus in Sagittarius in the 8th house. This makes sense as much of my efforts at the time were put into researching classical texts of astrology. Retrograde Neptune has recently culminated in the south in sub-terrestrial degrees. The question does very much address the fragile balance in nature and, noting that Neptune is kept out of sight, it shows how we tended to bury these issues and ignore our responsibility as a part of the Whole.

The question of whether we are approaching an Ice Age is a climatic question, as if asking for a long-term weather forecast. These questions are judged according to the 4th house. In the north of this chart is the sign Cancer, which describes our eco-system as it is vital to organic life. Mercury is on the cusp of the 6th house according to Regiomontanus house cusps, but he is only 5 degree off the IC and is due north in the matter of 20 minutes. He his significations as a weather barometer are interesting since he is located in circumpolar degrees and does not set below the horizon. Venus is also in circumpolar degrees of the zodiac, but since her latitude takes her 4° south of the ecliptic she is actually below the horizon. There is surely a lot of interesting astrology and astronomy in Arctic regions. Mercury is in the exaltation degree of Jupiter and thermally, the planet Earth is a pretty good place to live. Mercury is disposed by exaltation by Jupiter, which brings us to another interesting feature of the chart – that Jupiter is in the very last minute of Taurus; something is on the change. With Jupiter moving into Gemini there is a mixed reception between Jupiter and Mercury. Could this have something to do with an alteration of weather patterns.

The Moon is lady of the 4th house and significator of the question. She is located at 27LI12 and is in the latter degrees of an air sign. This is convenient for a description of atmospheric changes. She moves from her sinister sextile to retrograde Saturn through signs of long ascension, to the sextile of retrograde Uranus. She is besieged by Saturn and Uranus, restless and out of balance as regards to what lies ahead of her. Uranus is in a fire sign and next follows her dexter square to the angular Sun through signs of long ascension. Neither of these applications indicate cold, on the contrary, the Moon’s application to the Sun setting in the north is an indication of warming.

That is where we are today, two decades later, fighting global heating. The Moon needed two degrees to reach the Sun, and probably that can be converted into decades. The dexter square being cast through signs of long ascension could represent an opportunity to get hold of the situation and regulate it. There Sun is peregrine and unreliable, yet he receives the Moon in both her domicile and face. If the Moon is directed ahead yet another degree she enters Scorpio at about 2016. If the problem concerning global heating isn’t addressed and solved with pace then the consequences may get unpleasant as the Moon is directed to the degree of her fall at 3° Scorpio.