Astro Basics

How to use an Ephemeris- & why you’d want to…


So, anyways, us astrologers like to use technical words. Sometimes it’s just so that we sound smart and mysterious, but sometimes it’s also because there is no other real life word that describes what we’re talking about.

Take ephemeris for example. It sounds a little like ephemeral, a word that sounds light and fleeting and refers to something lasting just a short time.

So too the ephemeris. It’s essential a book of tables containing the short lived and fleeting positions of the Sun, Moon and planets:

Ephemeris (ih-fem-er-is)

-n, pl ephemerides

  1. A table giving the future positions of a planet, comet or satellite
  2. An annual publication giving the positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets during the course of a year, information concerning eclipses, astronomical constants etc
  3. Obsolete a diary or almanac

What do we need an ephemeris for?

To track the movement of planets, to see ingress dates- a fancy schmancy word for when planets change signs- to track when transits will begin to impact your chart.

I use a book, but you can access the same information on

Here’s what you do:

1. Find your way to I’d put the link up, but for some reason (even when I’ve logged out) it attaches the links to all of my charts…not a good look.


2. Select Ephemeris from the menu on the left hand side. While on this page, if you’re not sure what the symbols mean, hover your cursor over one of them (see where my purple arrow is pointing?) and it will tell you.


3. If you’re interested in next year, go straight to Ephemeris 2014. Otherwise go to 6000 years ephemeris and find the year you’re after.

4.You’ll see the symbols for the planets across the top row, and dates down the left hand column.

In the example below, I want to see where each of the planets are on Sunday 5 January.

  • First look to the top of the column to see the symbol for the sign the planet is in at the start of the month. eg Mars is in Libra (see the red circle in the pic below). The Sun is at 14 Capricorn, Mercury at 18 Capricorn etc.


  • Because there is a R in the top of the column for Jupiter (see the green circle in the pic above), we know that Jupiter was already retrograde at the start of this month. Note that there’s also a R in Venus’s column.
  • If the status of that planet changes during the month, it will be indicated in the column. Eg a D would indicate the planet has stationed to turn direct, a R would indicate the planet has stationed to turn retrograde.
  • If the planet changes sign during the month, it’s indicated by the symbol of the sign the planet is moving into. See the purple circles in the pic above showing Mercury and then the Sun moving into Aquarius.

5. Now, I want to know what aspects Neptune will be making to my chart this year.

I know from my Neptune page that Neptune will travel between 3-7 degrees of Pisces in 2014. From the ephemeris I can see that it is at 3 Pisces 13′ on 1 January, will reach a hight point of 7 Pisces 35′ before stationing retrograde at in June, will come back to 4 Pisces 48′ in November, and end the year at 5 Pisces 22′.

Looking at my chart, I have Mars at 3 Scorpio 8′. Neptune is currently trine this position, and will continue to influence it until about a degree past it, i.e. until Neptune reaches 4 Pisces 08’….or thereabouts (I usually allow 1- 1.5 degrees of orb…once you start to track it, you’ll get to know what suits you).

I also have Mercury at 6 Pisces 18′. Given that I know that Neptune passes this point twice this year- once before June, and once after, I need to know when to expect this.

Looking at my ephemeris (see pic below) I can see that at March 1, Neptune is within 1 degree of applying i.e. coming towards a conjunction with my Mercury. By the end of March the conjunction is exact. I will continue to feel the transit as it separates i.e. as Neptune moves further away from the conjunction…up to about a degree. This will, according to my ephemeris, take me into early May.

ephemeris 4

Given that Neptune is stationing retrograde at 7 Pisces 35′, this path will be re-traced between June and the end of August as Neptune again applies to conjunct my Mercury. The influence will continue to be felt as the aspect separates– still in retrograde motion- until early October.

At this point, still retrograde, Neptune will be separating from the conjunction with Mercury, but again be applying to trine Mars. Given that we know Neptune turns direct at 4 Pisces 48′ he won’t quite get back to make the trine exact.

Once direct, the orb of influence is again applying to a conjunction with Mercury. This will be exact for the third time at the end of January 2015. And so it goes. Whilst there won’t be a 4th or 5th pass exact to Mercury, the influence will still be in orb on and off during 2015 as well.

What will I do with this information?

I’ll try not to schedule anything that requires seriously clear thinking or brain drain around the hot spots. If possible, I’ll kick back, or concentrate on fiction writing, anything where enhanced creativity is a plus.

What else will I do with this?

I’ll plot it in my yearly transit planner…more on that next time…