Apparent Sun Time

Zip Dobyns

When it is time for a new step or new knowledge, the universe generally hits you more than once, to make sure you get the message. In my first astrology class in the fall of 1956, I was taught to make an adjustment of 4 minutes of time for each degree of longitude by which the birthplace differed from the time zone meridian. The resulting figure was called “true local time” or “sun time” and said to be equivalent to the time one would have on a sun dial. Later, I was introduced to “local mean time” (LMT) which seemed to also be another name for the same thing. When we began acquiring computers, I happily left the mathematical calculations to them, and continued to use LMT for all charts dated earlier than the introduction of time zones in the U.S. in 1883. In the fall of 1986, I was notified of a complication which is revising most of my early charts.

The first notice from the cosmos completely missed me. I found out later that a discussion in our living room involving my son, Mark, and Lois Rodden had gone into the issue. The next two notices came in rapid succession. Richard Nolle’s third SAFAC newsletter presented a chart for the U.S. Constitution calculated for “local apparent time” (LAT), with a brief discussion of its variance from LMT. But the chart worried me, because it was set for one minute after midnight and the Sun was 7 degrees from the IC. I had just sent out my third interim newsletter, Asteroid-World, and included several horoscopes of events or people prior to the establishment of time zones, and, of course, they were calculated LMT. A letter came back immediately from John Van Zandt pointing out that Nostradamus’ chart should have been done for LAT rather than LMT. Nostradamus was born at noon, so the Sun and MC should have the same longitude to the minute.

Mark came to the rescue, with both the clarifying information (see his technical explanation in this issue) and with an addition to our computer program which now calculates LAT, standing for local apparent (sun) time.

I found that Richard Nolle had subtracted the “equation of time” when it should have been added in calculating the Constitution chart. With Mark’s addition to our program, the Sun is on the IC to the minute of longitude when the chart is run for midnight. If it is calculated for one minute after midnight (as is suggested by some astrologers as the time it would actually be legally in force), the difference between the Sun and the IC is only about a fourth of a degree. I was concerned about the erroneous Constitution chart because I had used it as an example in my booklet on the Horizon System (local space charts) which was published by ACS Publications in the summer of 1986. Fortunately, when the chart was properly calculated for LAT, the Washington, DC angles were very close to the natal (N.Y.) angles for the LMT chart, so the local chart gives almost the same results as the one I had been using. The LAT chart set in New York gives us 29 Scorpio rising. The universal time (UT) for the Constitution is 5:8:46.

Arthur Blackwell of Astrolabe provided more information on the issue. He said that England switched from LAT to LMT in 1792. The changeover in the U.S. was certainly later than that, and probably it was done piecemeal throughout the country during the 1800s. So we have another king-sized challenge if we want to do accurate historical charts for the last century. In view of the dubious accuracy of clocks in past centuries, and the uncertainty of noting exact time, we may be splitting hairs. But the difference between LAT and LMT can amount to over 3 degrees on the angles, and I have already seen several dramatic examples which have alerted me to the potential importance of the matter.

Another of the charts I had included in Asteroid-World 3 was of Columbus’ first sighting of the Americas, using the data in the National Geographic. LAT moved the angles back from mutable to fixed signs, putting Mars at 28 Leo within a one-degree-orb conjunction to the Ascendant in 29 Leo, and putting the progressed Ascendant at 27 Sagittarius, conjunct Neptune for Irangate this fall. When I ran a chart for the time Columbus sailed from Spain, the progressed Sun was in the same degree, conjunct Neptune at 27 Sagittarius through 1985-6 and quincunx the twelfth house Jupiter. We live in a fascinating world. The data for Columbus’ sailing comes from a subscriber, Diana Rosenberg, thanks to James Burke’s TV show.

Of course, there are many more aspects in the two Columbus charts, and current events in the Americas include a lot more than Reagan’s Teflon wearing off. For those who have computers and who want to go farther with the Columbus charts, the sailing was on August 3, 1492 (Julian calendar) at 5:15 A.M. (LAT), from Cape Palos, Spain; 37 N 37, 0 W 52. The UT was 5:22:37. The first sighting of land was said to be at 2 A.M. (LAT) on October 12, 1492 (Julian calendar) at Samana Cay; 23 N 9, 73 W 29.2. The UT was 6:38:56. One of the jokes of the Roosevelt era discussed putting a statue of FDR near the one of Columbus because the latter didn’t know where he was going when he started out, didn’t know where he was when he got there, and did it all on borrowed money. Maybe there are some parallels to the Reagan reign?

Copyright © 1986 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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