Posted Under Astrology

Crash of Space Shuttle Columbia

On February 1, 2003, at approximately 8:00 a.m., CST, The space shuttle Columbia broke apart on re-entry and crashed. Pieces have been found over a wide area of Texas, Louisiana, and possibly other states.

Astrologers around the world have been examining this event, trying to understand what happened. They have used a number of different charts, including the time of the launch, the crash, the chart of the U.S., and the chart of the space shuttle program, to name a few.

This article hopes to put this disaster into a larger context of U.S. affairs. I have used the chart for the U.S., July 4, 1776, Philadelphia, PA. I have also used solar arc directions and transits, two methods of moving the planets forward in time. A number of Llewellyn's astrology authors have contributed to this article, and their names are mentioned throughout, and at the end of the article.

I will list the astrological indicators I have considered, and then I will discuss them. If you are not an astrologer, please skip the "astrologese," and go directly to the explanation below.

U.S. Birth Chart


Solar Arc Directions for the Day of the Columbia Shuttle Disaster


Astrological Considerations

This table lists the aspects from the solar arc of the U.S.chart to the birth chart. The Mars transit dates indicates times when the solar arc aspects are most likely to be activated (triggered).

Solar Arc Planet Aspect Birth Chart Planet Mars Transit Dates
All planets Sesqui-quadrate To their natal positions  
Moon Sextile Ascendant 2/5, 3/23, 4/17, 6/10
Sun Semi-sextile and contra-parallel Pluto 2/5, 3/25, 4/17
Mercury Square Uranus 4/11, 7/15, 8/10, 8/11
Mars Quincunx Jupiter 2/19, 3/14, 5/28
Jupiter Trine Mars 2/19, 3/14, 5/28
Uranus Opposition Mercury 4/11, 4/12, 7/15, 8/11
Neptune Square North Node 2/20, 5/4
Pluto Sextile Sun 2/5, 3/25, 4/17
Pluto Square Ascendant 2/5, 4/17
North Node Opposition Neptune 2/20, 5/4
Ascendant Quincunx Moon 2/5, 3/23, 4/17, 6/10
Ascendant Opposition Pluto 2/5, 4/17
Transiting Planet Aspect Natal Planet  
Moon Quincunx Sun  
Moon Trine Saturn  
Sun Quincunx Sun  
Sun Sextile Ascendant  
Venus Sextile Moon  
Venus Semi-sextile Pluto  
Mars Sesqui-quadrate Mercury  
Jupiter Trine Ascendant  
Saturn Square Neptune  
Uranus Conjunct Moon  
Uranus Semi-sextile Pluto  

All of these aspects (angular relationships) are within one degree of exact.

The Planet Mars
Astrologers often use the planet Mars to time events because it moves quickly through the zodiac. At the present time, Mars is in Sagittarius. As it moves forward, the Sun is also moving, at a faster rate. On August 28, 2003, the Sun and Mars will occupy opposite degrees in the sky, and Mars will be the closest to the earth since October 2001.

The dates of Mars aspects (conjunction, square and opposition) to the solar arc and birth charts of the U.S. are listed between February 1 and August 28, when Mars is closest to Earth in the sky. The dates in bold are for the birth chart, not bold for solar arc.

Analysis of the Principal Aspects
The first aspect in the list is a stunning array. As the planets move by solar arc, they retain their original relationships to each other, and move into new relationships to the birth chart. On March 4, 2003, all the planets in the U.S. chart will have moved 225 degrees from the positions they held on July 4, 1776. This is a very significant relationship for several reasons:

  • Our lifetimes are too short to ever experience this aspect by solar arc, but nations exist for much longer. Still, this is only the second time this aspect has occurred for the U.S. The earlier aspect occurred about 135 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. People only experience the 135 or 225 degree aspect on a "one at a time" basis. The U.S. is now experiencing it "times ten" or more. This is because the Sun, Moon, planets, Ascendant and Midheaven all make the same aspect to their original positions at the same time!
  • The nature of the sesqui-quadrate aspect is agitation. This certainly matches the general mood of the nation right now. The President has been preparing us for war in Iraq. Anti-war demonstrations are building in force daily. The stock market is skittish. Attempts at stabilization, such as reduction in interest rates, are not having the desired salutary effect. The list is endless.
  • Throughout U.S. history, other "all at once" aspects have marked major internal and international events. We can see that these dates mark turning points for the nation. (Astrologer readers in other countries may want to cast birth charts for their nations, and identify dates when major solar arc aspect patterns occurred.)

U.S History of Major Solar Arc Aspect Patterns
The following table lists the years in which the U.S. chart has had the "times ten" effect. The "solar arc" column indicates the number of degrees the chart has moved for each date.

Date Solar Arc Events
1807 30 degrees Abolishment of slave trade in the British Empire; U.S. Embargo Act; Robert Fulton builds Clermont
1823 45 degrees Monroe Doctrine
1839 60 degrees ?
1869 90 degrees Transcontinental Railroad completed
1899 120 degrees Hawaii annexed; end of Spanish American War and emergence of U.S. as a major world power
1914 135 degrees Panama Canal opens
1929 150 degrees Stock Market Crash
1958 180 degrees Khrushchev visits the U.S., Fidel Castro overthrows Batista (Jan. 1, 1959); China's "Great Leap Forward"
1988 210 degrees Berlin Wall comes down (Nov. 9, 1989); U.S. invades Panama to capture Noriega; Tiananmen Square Incident (1989)
03/04/2003 225 degrees Shuttle Columbia disaster; war in Iraq?

From this list of major historical events, I draw the conclusion that major solar arc aspects to the U.S. chart are significant. Now I hope to indicate how the shuttle disaster fits into the pattern of recent events, and what we can expect in the near future.

So What's a Sesqui-Quadrate, Anyway?
The sesqui-quadrate is an angular relationship of 135 or 225 degrees from the original point. The nature of the aspect is agitation. For the U.S. right now, everything is agitated in relation to its basic nature. We could say the entire nation is "unsettled," to one degree or another.

To put it in more personal terms, at around age forty-five, each of us experiences a solar arc semi-square—the Sun and all the planets have moved forty-five degrees from their birth positions. We know that the mid-life crisis for people in their mid-forties is a dynamic time. Many people change jobs, move, get divorced, get married, and undergo tremendous changes of every kind. The tension and stress are huge, and we experience deep emotional and psychological pain. Many of us experience a spiritual awakening as a result.

The U.S. is facing a similar "trial by fire" now. This time, though, the tension is accompanied by great agitation, which can be likened to the rumblings of a volcano before it explodes. In fact we have had two such explosions. The first was September 11, 2001. Now, over a year after that tragedy, another tragic event has occurred. And we are not finished, as the aspect is not yet complete. The tension, as indicated by the massive aspect pattern in the U.S. chart, has been building or some time.

So far I have talked about the internal pressures we are currently experiencing. Now I will turn to other aspects, to consider how the pressure is likely to manifest.

New Moon, February 1, 2003, 5:48 a.m. EST
Hours before the shuttle crash, the Sun and Moon were together in the sky, creating a relationship of adjustment to the Sun in the U.S. chart. Based on traditional astrological rules, we can say that the nation faces a major adjustment due to the deaths of seven astronauts. This adjustment calls for rethinking of NASA safety measures, and attention to the fact that three space program disasters have occurred when the Sun is in Aquarius (during deep winter). The three events include the Apollo 204 accident on January 27, 1967, the Challenger shuttle accident on January28, 1986, and the current Columbia disaster, February 1, 2003.

To underscore this conclusion, I considered the charts for all three disasters, and concluded that all three had a preponderance of planets in "fixed" and "air" signs (Aquarius is both a fixed and an air sign). We know from previous news reports that these accidents have been related to cold temperatures that could have made parts of the shuttle assembly brittle. We know that this year the south has experienced abnormally cold temperatures. Certainly we can guess that cold temperatures may have had something to do with the recent disaster. Only the engineers can make this kind of determination, but the astrological indication, taken by itself, suggests that shuttles should not go up or come down when the Sun is in Aquarius, and when there is a preponderance of planets are in fixed and air signs. This means no more flights in January and early February.

We know that the Twin Towers tragedy was no accident. Those plane crashes were intentional. Kris Riske, coauthor of Civilization Under Attack, states that where the shuttle is concerned, astrological indicators suggest that the crash was indeed an accident, although some indicators suggest flaws in the safety inspection methodology. There may have been internal mechanical weaknesses that went unnoticed, in addition to problems with the tiles on the outer skin of the shuttle.

Anthony Louis, author of Horary Astrology Plain & Simple, states that indications in the U.S. chart at the time of the solar eclipse in December probably portend our impending war with Iraq as well as the unexpected shuttle disaster.

Margaret Koolman, author of Soul Purpose Astrology, states, "This event is a gift, writing on the wall, so that we are forewarned, reminded that the warlike actions that we are contemplating will have devastating consequences. Any nation, any person, contemplating the virtues of war needs to realize that every human life is as important as each of those seven astronauts."

September 11, 2001
Just a note about the chart for the destruction of the Twin Towers: It is worth looking back to the astrological configurations at that time because that event was the pivotal point in the war on terrorism. There were five planets in air signs, as well as the Ascendant. One of the main aspect configurations at that time was the relationship of Pluto to Saturn in the chart—180 degrees apart. Saturn exactly aspected Saturn in the U.S. chart, and Pluto was exactly in the Ascendant (rising point). In looking at the table of aspects in this article, we can see that Pluto remains a very big factor today. The transiting Pluto aspect to the U.S. Ascendant has been replaced by the solar arc square, maintaining the pressure. Thus we have been in a prolonged period of pressure and agitation.

Pluto is a planet of extremely powerful forces. On the physical level it is the energy of volcanoes and earthquakes—energy that is pent up and finally released with explosive force. It also represents the urge or desire for power, the manifestation of unconscious power in the environment. Plutonian characters are ruthless, fanatical, and tend to incite or agitate others.

March 4, 2003
As I write this article, I am looking ahead to March 4, 2003, the date when the solar arc of the U.S. chart to itself reaches 225 degrees is in the future. What can we say about coming events, based upon what we know about previous events, including September 11, 2001, and February 1, 2003? Carl Weschcke of Llewellyn Publications states, "Every major event of this sort offers insight into the interpretation of forthcoming major transits. It may not be easy to sort out all the implications of this current event, or even to know of them all at this time, but I must believe they help forecast the nature and implications of the next major event. This incident (the shuttle disaster) has to be part of the entire spectrum of the U.S. chart during this period."

Looking at the U.S. Chart, we know first that Pluto and all the planets have produced a state of extreme agitation for our nation. This agitation is like the energy in a rubber band when you both twist and stretch it. As long as the tension is held in place, nothing happens. But when you release the rubber band, it spins to release the twisted energy and it flies away from the point of release. If you neglect to let go, you get "snapped." The shuttle snapped when the re-entry speed caused heat to build up. The Twin Towers snapped when the upper floors collapsed.

So. We are in a state of extreme tension, hoping that nothing snaps. In addition to that energy, the aspect list shows Pluto in contact with the Sun, Ascendant, and Uranus. This means that there are other pressures on the U.S. from outside, aggravating an already tense situation. This is not news, as world affairs are in our awareness every moment.

The "snap" of release may have been the Columbia disaster. We do feel different about ourselves today, in light of the shuttle crash. But has that event released enough energy to produce caution on our part in other directions? Will it delay a rush to war, and slow down what seems like our country's movement away from privacy and toward so-called safety?

The key questions are: how will we use all this energy? Will we explode? Will we engage in a war in Iraq? Something has to happen to release the energy.

Dates to Watch
The dates with the most contacts from Mars, the trigger planet, are February 5 and April 17. On these dates, both solar arc Pluto and Ascendant are involved. The most basic descriptions for the Ascendant are personality, environment, and one's reaction to the environment. Definitions for Pluto include desire for power, ruthlessness, agitation. The highest pitch of energy is likely on or near these two dates.

February 5 is the day after the memorial services for the seven astronauts, and the day of a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the Iraq crisis. The U.S. will show itself and its intentions to the world at this meeting. Rhetoric is likely to be highly emotional, with demands for action. Numerous meetings are planned between U.S. officials and representatives from Security council member countries. Iraq plans to speak at the Security Council meeting as well.

The April 17 date is followed on the 18th by a Full Moon. On these dates there is an opportunity to resolve much of the agitation, and to improve the response of the U.S. to forces in the world environment. At this time the strength of the U.S. will be very visible. This does not mean that war is inevitable, but war is certainly one of the primary possibilities.

After this date, the stressful energy of the sesqui-quadrate pattern ebbs gradually, as the Mars aspects unfold.

All our actions, individual or as nations, are based on a combination of what we think is best and how we feel. Astrology provides indications of the direction we are going, based on the energies of the planets and their interactions. We evaluate the correctness of our actions by examining the results we obtain.

The astrological indicators for the rest of the year suggest a gradual release of the energy pictured in the U.S. chart. Therefore, pushing ahead recklessly is not in our best interest. The massive alignment of explosive aspects suggests that we must use as much care as we can muster. Considering the potential power involved, we—and here I mean the U.S.—need to have a plan that is comprehensive and ongoing. If we intend to continue sending shuttles into space, an inherently dangerous activity, we need to make use of every source of information—even astrology—if it has the potential to save lives.

Concerning the potential for war in Iraq, I believe we will make the best use of our potential energy by planning for the long haul. As kindergartners we learned that if we make a mess with our toys, we have to pick them up. As adults, and as a nation, if we go into Iraq to resolve the current situation, we must be prepared to rebuild the infrastructure, improve the conditions of all Iraqi people, and look forward to future needs of the region.

The energy in the U.S. chart peaks on March 4, 2003, but it doesn't all dissipate that day. We face many difficult decisions in the following months. When I look to the future, I see many questions. Here are three:

  • What is the potential effect of an Iraq war on the economy?
  • What will it be like to occupy Iraq if we win the war?
  • What are the implications for other hot spots in the world, like Korea?

I hope that our leaders have a long-term plan, backed by significant personnel and material, to make positive changes in Iraq, the Middle East, and around the world.

The following individuals contributed ideas and writing to this article:

Stephanie Jean Clement
Kris Brandt Riske
Donald Michael Kraig
David Pond
Margaret Koolman
Carl Llewellyn Weschcke

About Stephanie Clement

A professional astrologer for over twenty-five years, Stephanie Jean Clement, Ph.D., was a board member of the American Federation of Astrologers and a faculty member of Kepler College and NORWAC. Her Ph.D. in Transpersonal ...

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