Synodic Cycle of the Superior Planets

Published Categorized as Fundamentals
Synodic cycle of the superior planets - Saturn, Jupiter and Mars

The synodic cycle of the superior planets (Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) starts at the conjunction of the planet with the Sun and being Cazimi.

Jupiter is Cazimi

Cazimi makes a planet very strong but it will soon move to being combust. The combust zone extends to around eight degrees and 30 minutes from the Sun. Here the planet is moving very fast but is burned up by the Sun, making it weak and very excited. The planet may act irrationally.

Jupiter is combust

When the planet leaves the combustion zone, it will be under the beams until around 15 degrees. It is still weak but recovering its strength. As it comes out of being under the beams, the planet will make its heliacal rising on the eastern horizon.

Jupiter is under the sun’s beams

The heliacal rising marks the transition of the superior planet from invisibility to visibility. This is as if the planet were born again and it is very strong. Note that the exact day — and hence the number of longitudinal degrees of separation from the Sun — when the planet makes its heliacal rising is difficult to determine and varies based on the inclination of the ecliptic, the planet’s latitude, and its brightness. Some astrology software can help calculate a planet’s heliacal rising.

[When a planet is coming out of the rays and is direct], it is said to be stronger than it could be in every matter, like someone is who has left a battle, all of his enemies having been completely overcome, and he is resting, and rejoices in his victory; nor does he fear anyone else who will rise up against him, or who will resist him in anything; for he is then cheerful, of good spirit, of a good disposition, blessed in every way.

Guido Bonatti, Book of Astronomy V. 56, trans. Benjamin Dykes

Following its helical rising, the planet is in the morning star phase, also known as its eastern or oriental phase. It is direct and moving quickly. At around the 60 degree mark (sextile), the planet is very strong. The oriental planet continues to be strong until around 120 degrees ahead of the Sun, when it starts slowing down and makes its first retrograde station. It is known as a retrograde station because the planet will soon turn retrograde.

Jupiter is in his first retrograde station

If a planet is within seven days of a station then it is considered strong. The planet’s qualities are intensified as if it were rushing to complete matters. The planet will soon turn retrograde and is said to be eastern retrograde until it reaches the opposition. This phase is weakening for the planet and the qualities of being retrograde — repeated affairs, rebelliousness, delays, and reversals — all apply.

Jupiter has turned retrograde

The planet speeds up in retrograde motion, and at the opposition the superior planet will be the closest to the Earth. At around eight degrees and 30 minutes prior to the opposition, varying based on the ecliptic, the planet’s latitude, and its brightness, the planet is seen to rise for the last time in the eastern horizon after sunset, an event known as its acronycal rising. This was an important event in Babylonian astronomy. The planet at this position is at a special juncture and close to the Earth, so its effects are pronounced.

Once the planet passes within eight degrees and 30 minutes of the opposition point it enters a stage known as curtailed passage. In the curtailed passage, the planet is not seen rising or setting near the horizon at either sunset or sunrise. This lack of visibility adds additional confusion to the retrograde planet, making it weaker and more disoriented.

Moving on from the curtailed passage the planet will transition to being western retrograde. The planet is slowing down in its retrograde motion and is still weak. At around 120 degrees behind the Sun the planet will make its second direct station. It is known as a direct station because the planet will soon turn direct.

If a planet is within seven days of its second direct station then it is very strong. It is as if the planet has recovered from an illness, has regained its health and is very determined and focused on its objectives.

During the western direct phase, the planet is no longer retrograde. It gains speed in direct motion and at around 90 degrees (square) behind the Sun it is strong. From there on, it progressively gets weaker. Once the planet enters the beams of the Sun, it is very weak and is at its weakest when combust.


From Lesson 8 – Solar Phase – The ‘Beginning Traditional Natal Astrology’ Course

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