Helios,Herschel, the Sunspot Cycle

After several years of relative inactivity our mother star the Sun has burst back into life this last week, producing three spectacular solar flares. The ever considerate BBC  kindly released the following data: “The flare recorded at 0156 GMT on 15 February was the strongest such event in four years, according to the US space agency (Nasa), which has been monitoring activity on the Sun. The horoscope – which we will be looking at later – is a heliocentric horoscope i.e. the planets viewed from the perspective of the Sun as opposed to the Earth.

Sun spot activity has its own cycle. Herschel – who you might remember discovered the outer planet Uranus – was one of the first astronomers to pay serious attention to the Solar cycle – suggesting that it bore some relation to the price of wheat. When Sun spot activity was low – Herschel noted that the wheat harvest was poor and that wheat prices were high – on the other hand when there was a lot of Sunspot activity, wheat crops flourished and wheat prices fell. If we consider what has happened during the last four years of very low Sunspot activity – then we have seen a rise in wheat prices – and on the very day of the largest solar flare, this story about the  measures the Chinese are taking to stave off a wheat crisis was in the news. In view of the close relationship between wheat, the price of bread and revolutions, I find it fascinating that Herschel of all people attached this particular meaning to Sunspot activity, and was the first to draw a connection between commodities and the sunspot cycle.

The Sunspot cycle is approximately 11 years – but does vary. Sometimes the cycle can be as short at 8 years sometimes as long as 16 years. It always starts off however with a relatively low level of activity,  building up to a maximum of activity roughly half way into the cycle, and then activity dies down again. There is however a lot of mystery involved here. Why for example was there virtually no sunspot activity at all between 1645 and 1715, in what is now called the Maunder Minimum? At the other end of the spectrum an enormous sunburst in 1859  “the Carrington Event“  which took place in 1859 – caused the largest recorded geo-magnetic storm, which led to a massive breakdown in telegraph communications across America and Europe. It is probably the memory of this event that has led to such enormous coverage of the current sunspot activity.

Heliocentric Horoscope of the Largest Solar Flare:

Viewed from the heliocentric perspective – the Earth is in Leo – the sign traditionally ruled by the Sun. And clearly which ever way you want to look at it -our earth is governed by conditions on our central star. Heliocentric Saturn and Pluto – planets associated with nuclear fission and eruptive power in general – are in square aspect, suggesting a bombardment of matter. In this horoscope the earth is moving into opposition with Neptune –  indicative of  light or somewhat unusual disturbances here on earth – however this particular opposition could equally simply indicate an unnecessary level of paranoia. Neptune does have a reputation for not seeing things clearly. With the earth in a hot dry sign – and in view of the link that has been made between sunspot activity and the weather – this could be an indication that the summer of 2011 will be hot!!

Over Liz Hathway

Liz Hathway is a British born astrologer currently based in Amsterdam. Liz studied astrology at the Kosmos in Amsterdam, at the Faculty of Astrological Studies in London and with well known horary astrology John Frawley. Liz also holds an MA (with distinction) in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, from the University of Wales, in Lampeter, and was short-listed for the 2016 Alumni Association MA CAA Dissertation Prize.
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