Why Use Astrology Software?
Astrology was once considered a scholarly practice. Centuries ago, different cultures studied the stars and planets alongside alchemy, medicine and other sciences. Astrological charts were created and used for insight into coming events for Earth and its occupants. Today, astrologers take information about their clients and study charts to give a person a look at themselves through a cosmic lens. Astrologers say these charts not only give insight into who they are but also provide guidance in life.
Astrological charts are complicated, though, and many factors must be considered, including time, date, time zone and calendar changes. To do this manually, you would have to study techniques developed by astrologers, which could take years to learn. Astrology software eliminates the protracted time involved in consulting multiple sources and the need for extensive education because in most cases, you simply type in the information each chart requires, and the software calculates everything for you.
Whether you use astrology software strictly for entertainment purposes, to help you write horoscopes, to supplement Tarot readings or just for yourself, it's a helpful tool. And the best astrology software is for beginners and experts alike, as it not only makes interpreting the star's messages easy, it's a timesaver as well.
Several astrology websites and report services exist, and these are good options if you're just dabbling in astrology and you're unsure whether you'll like it. It's also an option if you don't mind paying a monthly fee for the report-writing services. However, when you purchase software, you get unlimited access to the calculations, reports, charts and interpretations.
Charts, Grids & Calculations: Common Astrology Software Features
The best astrology software can conjure an astrological chart for any day or time that shows you the positions of the planets, moon and sun, and how they intersect with the stars. This is an easy way to determine whether Mercury is in retrograde, so you can take appropriate measures. And if you aren't sure what it means when Mercury is in retrograde, some astrology software guides and teaches you about the various events and what they mean for each zodiac sign.
Charts & Reports
To the untrained eye, an astrological chart may simply appear as a couple of circles amidst lines crisscrossing and intersecting with strange symbols with no apparent rhyme or reason. When you generate a report for a person or an event, you choose the exact time, date and location. What the software creates is a sort of map of the stars and planets to show you what is aligned. Interpreting what those lines and symbols mean, though, is more difficult, and this is where reports are vital.
For example, Solar Fire, one astrology application, gives you several report options, such as natal, transit, solar, lunar, progressed, synastry and more. These reports are important for helping you understand what the charts mean. So, a natal, or birth, report helps an astrologer understand the aspects of a person's character based on how the stars intersected or aligned when the subject was born.
A transit report explains how the planets' movements through the person's chart over a day, week, month or year can affect that person's life. This is important when you want to write horoscopes or if a client asks for an annual report.
The more charts and reports a software title includes, the more versatility you have in your astrological career or hobby. Software that includes interpretations are the most helpful for beginners. Even if you're an expert, though, you can rely on interpretations to save you time, and you can tweak the predictions based on your own knowledge.
Grids & Calculations
In addition to charts and reports, many top-rated astrology software titles include easy-to-read grids. A natal grid helps you locate the aspects, elements and more within a person's sign. These grids can help beginner astrologers become more well versed with the various symbols and colors and what each represents.
Some astrology software lets you create compatibility grids, which show how well one sign gets along with others. This is especially useful if you want to see if you and your partner have similar or opposite traits, or if you offer charts for couples in your astrology business. These compatibility grids are also known as synastry charts, and they can help you understand how to interact more effectively with people who are similar to you or very different.
Most astrology software includes the Swiss ephemeris calculations to determine where the planets are on any given day. These positions are calculated automatically for you so you don't have to pull out an actual ephemeris with the numbered astrological data.
Different Astrological Techniques
Traditional astrology doesn't exist in only one form or technique. The practice of reading celestial bodies has been around since the first century. Since then, many techniques have been developed with differing philosophies and principles. Several astrology software titles honor these methods by including more than one, so you can choose the one that speaks to you.
Medieval astrology developed somewhere around the 7th century B.C., and it differs from modern astrology in that it doesn't focus on the subject, or person, and how the planets affect one's personality or aspects, but rather their experiences. So, instead of a chart showing segments of a person's character, medieval astrology focuses on one's wealth, career, family or health.
Some software accommodates horary astrology, in which a person poses a question and the answer or guidance is based on astrological positions, especially as it relates to the moon. An astrologer attempts to answer the question using the exact time the question was asked, basing it on the house in which it would apply. So, for example, if a client asks, "Will I receive my aunt's full inheritance?" the response would be in the eighth house, the ruler of financial investments (among other aspects).
Uranian astrology is far less common, but it is supported by a handful of astrology software applications. This technique uses dials and focuses on the symmetry of planets and midpoints on a chart for more precise predictions, argue many astrologers.
Which Zodiac Do You Need?
To add even more versatility, many astrological software companies recognize more than the tropical zodiac, which is the most commonly known. The classic tropical zodiac interprets signs as Earth relates to the sun and the planets of the solar system. This is how many view the seasons of time: spring, summer, fall and winter, and the two solstices and two equinoxes. Within each are the signs, such as Leo, Virgo, Libra and so on. Your birth and where the sun was from the Earth's perspective determines your sign.
Many astrologers prefer to use the draconic zodiac, which plots birth signs starting at a different point than the tropical zodiac. So, instead of Aries beginning at the vernal equinox, it starts at the moon's north mode. Although the signs stay the same, the interpretations of each sign vary based on this method, which can be eked out in the various reports that astrology software generates.
The sidereal zodiac is used by astronomers and analyzes the position of the sun in relation to the star background, or the constellations the sun passes over. The interpretations of signs, which are the same as those of the tropical zodiac, are based on the constellations that fall into a particular portion of the chart for that sign.
Regardless of which zodiac you prefer to use, many of the available astrology software titles let you choose one or more. This variety can help you learn the basics of each zodiac and choose which one works best for whichever astrology technique you want to practice.
Astrological Chart Tools
All astrology software includes a single wheel birth chart, or natal chart. Most applications let you view two or three wheels at once, which lets you compare the charts of couples, friends or business partners. This is helpful when a group of people need to know how they will fare in a relationship, whether personal or business-related.
Transit reports are like astrological forecasts, and this is a common tool in astrology software. It's important to choose an application that allows you to create these reports so you can see how the planets have moved in relation to your sign and what it holds for your future. You can also look at dates from the past to gain further insight.
A progression report is similar to a transit report in that it helps you forecast the future based on patterns and trends of a particular time that has passed. For example, you can compare a chart on a particular day one year and the same day a year later. You can then study the charts to predict the best time for a person to move to a new city, start a new job or end a relationship. Some astrological software includes specific reports for these events, such as relocation reports.
Best Astrology Software for Beginners
When you're just learning how to read natal charts and progression reports, you want software that color-codes elements, labels symbols and even includes pop-up definitions when you hover over an unfamiliar word. Astrology software that caters to beginners focuses on educating the user rather than spitting out a chart that's impossible to read without years of knowledge and training.
Solar Fire is one of the best series of astrology software available. It includes several astrology techniques and zodiacs so you can explore and find one that fits your philosophy. You can even animate charts to see how the planets and stars move in relation to your sign. Through point-and-click interpretations, you can quickly learn astrology terms and how they relate to each other.
Keplar is another astrology software series that offers an organized interface that's easy for beginners. You don't have to know how to read a chart – Keplar includes interpretations of each event.
Another software series that makes education one of its biggest features is TimePassages. In addition to having many of the same grids and charts as more expensive astrology software, TimePassages includes educational material. You can hover over any of the chart features to reveal an explanation of what it is. Also, you can click on those same chart features for the interpretation.
Best Astrology Software for Professionals
Although Solar Fire, Keplar and TimePassages are great choices for beginners, they are also suited for the professional astrologer because they include many advanced features for those who know what they're doing.
For those who are well versed in the various astrology techniques, you may find more to learn from the Intrepid series of astrology software. The creator uses new astrological symbols and different methods of progression in what he calls self-evident astrology. This software doesn't focus on teaching a newcomer the basics of astrology, so it's definitely for more advanced users.
AstrolDeluxe offers a variety of reports and calculations for experienced astrologers. The astro-mapping feature lets you calculate through the software where in the world a subject may find the most success in life based on their sign.
Any of the astrology software series in our buying guide is an excellent choice for budding and experienced astrologers alike who want an easier and quicker way to study the stars and planets and how they relate to the people on Earth. You can read through our articles to determine which application is best for your level of expertise and the techniques you prefer to use.
For more information on interpreting what the celestial bodies have to say, read our articles on astrology software.