Under What Star Was I Born?
The "fixed stars" of ancient astronomy / astrology are the subjects of many legends.

This simple program tells which one of the brightest popularly-named stars was closest to being directly overhead at the time and place of your birth.

Despite the widespread use of the expression "born under" such-and-such a star, this is the first free online program to let ordinary people know which one among the list of well-known stars.

I have used the traditional list of fixed stars from ancient and medieval astronomy, slightly modified to include unnamed stars of magnitude 2.5 or brighter, and a few faint galaxies discovered in modern times and used by some "practitioners of the mantic arts." Some stars dimmer than 2.5 but brighter than many on this list never got popular names or supposed meanings. I chose not to include these. This is, after all, supposed to be fun.

Please enter your true local time of birth. Click on the link if you need to review how to do this.

Enter Your Birth Data:

Latitude:    Longitude:    Is your city listed?

Latitudes and Longitudes of Major Cities -- USA
Latitudes and Longitudes of Major Cities -- Other Countries
Latitude and Longitude of Major Cities

Time Zone:

Listed Birth Time:  at : AM
    Daylight Savings Time?

True Local Birth Time:
 at : AM

Calculating Your True Local Birth Time:

To obtain the true local time of your birth, follow these steps.

    1. Find the meridian of longitude that marks the normal beginning for the time zone in which you were born. For the United States and Canada, these are:

      Newfoundland53.5 WestUTC -3:30, P
      Atlantic60 WestUTC -4, Q
      Eastern75 WestUTC -5, R
      Central90 WestUTC -6, S
      Mountain105 WestUTC -7, T
      Pacific120 WestUTC -8, U
      Alaska-Yukon135 WestUTC -9, V
      Aleutian-Hawaii150 WestUTC -10, W
      Samoa165 WestUTC -11, X

    For the rest of the world, see the List of Time Zones, find your birthplace and its UTC, and follow the same procedure.

      UTC +12, M180 East
      UTC +11, L165 East
      UTC +10, K150 East
      UTC +9, I135 East
      UTC +8, H120 East
      UTC +7, G105 East
      UTC +6, F90 East
      UTC +5, E75 East
      UTC +4, D60 East
      UTC +3, C15 East
      UTC +2, B30 East
      UTC +1, A15 East
      UTC Z0 E/W
      UTC -1, N15 West
      UTC -2, O30 West
      UTC -3, P45 West
      UTC -4, Q60 West
      UTC -5, R75 West
      UTC -6, S90 West
      UTC -7, T105 West
      UTC -8, U120 West
      UTC -9, V135 West
      UTC -10, W150 West
      UTC -11, X165 West

    2. More likely than not, you were born some distance to the west of the normal beginning meridian. If so, subtract one minute from your birth time for every quarter-degree (15') of longitude west, or four minutes for every full degree.

    If you were born to the east of the normal beginning meridian, add one minutes to your birth time for every quarter-degree (15'), or four minutes for every full degree.

    3. If daylight saving time was in effect at the time of your birth, subtract one hour from your birth time.


The popular expression "I was born under..." usually refers to the classic division of the zodiac that the sun occupied for the period of approximately thirty days since you were born. I think that in current practice of the divinatory arts, a "culminating" fixed star means one that occupies the same degree of the zodiac as does the midheaven. Please let me know if I am wrong.

Instead, this little program gives the name of the fixed star that a person was literally "born under." So far as I know, there is nothing similar available online. I chose to ignore the effects of precession, and to set the vernal equinox on March 21. Star positions are Epoch 2000. None of these simplifications should really matter much.

Whatever other predictive value it may have (if any), "reading the stars" is an important system of lay counselling thruoghout most (maybe all) of the world. As a youngster, I was very interested in astronomy and math, and the study of the use of the stars in divination helped me learn analytic geometry, trigonometry, and popular psychology and counselling. "Reading the stars" also enhances the general public's knowledge of, and appreciation for, scientific astronomy.

At least on this page, I am not addressing the question of whether the stars really exert an influence by occult means. Actually, I hope the little program will prove useful to those interested in doing fair and honest research. I will not describe my own informal studies here, beyond reaffirming that when I applied simple controls, all results supported the null hypothesis.

As an adult, my own sense is that "the stars" serve the counsellor primarily as props, and that the system (which is enormously complex) is set up to enable support for any ideas that will be helpful. If you have reached a different conclusion about reading the stars as a "science" with actual predictive value, I must ask you to forgive me. Most people in the mainstream sciences believe that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Whatever you decide, the pretense of the supernatural may make good counsel that much more palatable. And the advice in such magazines as Horoscope and "American Astrology" seems generally sound. For example, a counsellor may tell a wife in a failing marriage, "You have Mercury trine Mars, so you can take the initiative and continue your education in order to become eligible for a job to support yourself if you do become single again." The wider the range of choices, the easier the counsellor's job in giving wise and good advice to those in need. Hence this program.

As Shakespeare put it, "For my part, if a lie will do thee grace, I'll gild it with the happiest terms I have."

Whatever your beliefs, I hope your intentions are good. And I hope that you find this little program helpful and fun.

USC Oklahoma I was born under a wand'rin' star...
              -- "Paint Your Wagon"

Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branaugh A star danced, and under that was I born.
              -- Shakespeare's Beatrice

Culver City All's Well That Ends Well Monsieur Parolles, you were born under a charitable star.
              -- Shakespeare's Helena

Ursa Major My nativity was under Ursa Major, so it follows that I am rough... Tut, I [w]ould have been [who] I am, [even if] the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my [birth].
              -- Shakespeare's Edmund



For true-believers:

    Natal Chart Generator -- this is really good
    Natal Chart Generator -- Astrolabe, gives free chart and offers more interpretation for a fee
    Brady's Fixed Stars: Book
    Aquamoonlight -- traditional divinatory meanings for a few stars, plus links
    Behenian fixed stars -- those considered very powerful, with correspondences and magical signs
    Beheniah fixed stars -- another table, with magic powers
    The Fixed Stars -- Bernadette Brady explains and illustrates her system
    Fixed Star Meanings.
    Zyntara -- software for practitioners. Explains the concept of "paran". If a particular fixed star rises, reaches its highest point, sets, or reaches its lowest point at the same time as a particular planet for a particular place, it is said to be in "paran". My link is now down. This is yet one more complication, and I looked in vain for what it means. Note that all "predictions" on the entry page are after-the-fact.
    The Fixed Stars Yahoo! group.
    Constellations of Words -- lots of star lore, from Anne Wright. Enjoyable.
    A Few Suggestions on Using the Fixed Stars: Link is now down. Some notes here from practitioner Anne Wright. Note the importance of personal impressions and the use of the imagination rather than controlled study. You'll need to decide for yourself whether this is an intuitive gift, the result of deep study of a tradition, or merely seeing faces in the clouds.
    The Fixed Stars in Mundane [i.e., political] Astrology. Anne Wright. Link is now down. Very little is known as to the effect of the fixed stars in mundane astrology although there is no doubt that their influence is of supreme importance in this branch of the subject.
    The Fixed Stars in Mundane Astrology. Same quotation -- it turns out the source is Vivian E. Robson (1890-1942), "the fixed stars and constellations in astrology".
    Galactic Center -- Yet another system, this one from India. Again, someone might conclude that adding the fixed stars simply adds another level of complexity enabling the practitioner to obtain the divination of choice. Typical is "Markab is a star of honors and success with great sorrows." The material on the fixed stars has been removed (Nov. 2007).
    Special and Malefic Degrees and Fixed Stars -- a tabulation of data, with the author making no attempt to conceal that the system is elaborate and not internally consistent. Yet again, someone might conclude that the purpose is to allow the practitioner to choose the result.
    Old Algol -- a star traditionally linked to disasters, especially decapitations. The practitioner's method is obvious. The practitioner chooses a disaster, then finds one of the very large number of possible points that are within an unspecified distance from Algol. There are of course no controls, and Jayne Mansfield's decapitation, cited here as fact, is an urban legend. Interestingly, the practitioner states that one can do "an entire reading based only on star (and black hole) positions", i.e., there are a sufficient number of props to get the desired result without even including the planets or zodiac.
    The National Council for Geocosmic Research special-interest group concerned with the fixed stars seems to be inactive.

For skeptics:

    Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos introduced by Ed
    Fixed Stars and Astrology. By a true-believer, but the introductory remarks are most telling.The reason there isn't more written about fixed stars in astrology is because astrologers never go out and actually look at the night sky.... The night sky is awesomely beautiful. Few of us get to see it in all its glory.
    Skeptical Studies, with a focus on physicist Shawn Carlson's famous paper in Nature (December 5, 1985) in which double-blinded controls were applied to astrologers' claims. The results did not support belief in the system's predictive value. Like pseudoscientists usually do, the astrologers responded primarily with personal attacks instead of substantive criticism. However, the link also showcases another truth... people go to astrologers primarily for advice on personal problems, i.e., they are seeking help from a lay counsellor who may simply be using "the stars" as window-dressing.

    The Carlson Paper from Nature. Click on the miniatures to read the entire article as jpg scans.

    The beautiful illustration at the top of the page comes from a professor at U. of Otago, NZ, whose skeptical page unfortunately no longer appears online.

For those who love scientific astronomy:

Largest Cities in the World
Largest Cities in the World

By Ed Friedlander
Hallowe'en, 2006

This page is dedicated to my friend, colleague, and fellow-skeptic Doug Rushing PhD, and to all who love the beauty of the night sky as it really is.

The free images of constellations come from a site that it now down. I appreciate the permission granted to use them.

New visitors to www.pathguy.com
reset Jan. 30, 2005:

Back to Ed's notes on Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos.

The reality is far more interesting than the make-believe.

Special thanks to Mark Tabacco for helping me with the debugging.