Thursday, 10 September 2009

The forgotten (undiscussed) 1899 “Great Sagittarius conjunction”

On astrological websites, there is a great deal of information on the 1962 “Great Aquarius Conjunction” that is often seen by people in the astrological community as marking the transition into the “Age of Aquarius”. There is also information about the conjunction in Taurus in 2000, which is however not regarded as nearly so significant by astrologers.

However, when one looks through ephemerides before the 1962 Aquarius conjunction, one notices that in the last month of 1899 there was an alignment in Sagittarius (and late Scorpio) that was even tighter than the 1962 conjunction in Aquarius.

That this “Great Sagittarius Conjunction” was denser than the 1962 Aquarius alignment can be seen from the fact that
  • not only the classical planets were aligned within its 35 degree span, but also
  • Uranus
  • the dwarf planet Ceres
  • and Pallas, the third-largest asteroid.
Uranus is particularly significant because, though not identified as a planet until well after telescopes were discovered, it is bright enough that it was almost certainly seen by ancient people. Ceres and Pallas are never visible unaided but are normally brighter than Neptune when at opposition and Ceres is within binocular visibility at all elongations. In contrast, during the 1962 Aquarius conjunction:
  • Uranus was in Leo opposite the stellium
  • Ceres and Vesta were in Taurus square the stellium
  • Pallas was in Pisces semisquare the stellium
During the 2000 Taurus conjunction :
  • Uranus was square the stellium in Aquarius
  • Ceres was trine the stellium in Virgo
  • Pallas was square the stellium in Leo
  • Vesta was in late Capricorn making a dissociate square to the stellium
The only thing that prevented this 1899 “Great Sagittarius Conjunction” from being a perfect jackpot is that 4 Vesta, the brightest asteroid and capable of being brighter than Uranus ever gets on occasions, was well out from the conjunction. I am sure that no conjunction of all classical planets with Uranus and Vesta (in other words, every Solar System body potentially brighter than magnitude 6.0) has occurred for many thousands of years.

The charts shown for the 1899 “Great Sagittarius Conjunction” are strangely or not, with the exception of criminal Bruno Hauptmann of almost entirely unknown people. Even a search through Wikipedia does not reveal any other person of fame.

The concentrated energy in Sagittarius and late Scorpio (I date the conjunction as beginning when Venus entered Sagittarius), however, can be seen as symbolic of the “culture wars” that were beginning to dominate Europe due to the decimation of its religious peasant class and its replacement by a highly secular (ultimately socialistic) industrial working class. Scorpio and Sagittarius are signs that prefer truth to tact or compromise, and they can become exceedingly passionate about belief systems. The war between traditional Christianity and Marxian/Nietzschean secularism fits with this perfectly. With Neptune, planet of spirituality, opposing the conjunction in worldly, sceptical Gemini, it is easy to see why most ordinary Europeans were beginning to reject Christianity even if their ruling classes did not do so until the 1980s and even today are much more religious than the majority.


mike said...

The great conjunction of 1899 is interesting for several reasons. The penultimate conjunction in Scorpio on November 2nd ( had six classical planets, then the ultimate stellium in Sagittarius on December 2nd ( has seven classical planets plus the lunar node, so there was an eclipse during this stellium. The USA Sibley natal chart has 12*21' Sagittarius ascendant and the solar eclipse was at 11*. The USA went through a major transformation coincidental to those conjunctions and became a major player in global affairs, soon to usurp the European countries, primarily Britain. America went from rural to urban during this time and applied science technology became new American industries.

The May, 2000, stellium in Taurus had seven classical planets, too (, but did not contain the lunar nodes, therefore no reinforcing eclipse during this conjunction. However, it does coincide with major global changes afterward, usually attributed to the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction and 20 year cycle.

The Feb 4-5, 1962, stellium also had seven of the classical planets in Aquarius with the lunar node (, and a total solar eclipse. And as you noted, Uranus (modern ruler of Aquarius) was in Leo, but in mutual reception with the Sun in Aquarius. From an astrological perspective, this would impart our consciousness (Sun) with Aquarius and draw Uranus into the stellium, though in opposite signs. I don't know if this indicates we've entered the Age of Aquarius...debatable. The radical 1960s is usually attributed to the Uranus-Pluto conjunction in Virgo of 1966, but maybe it required the stellium in Aquarius as a precursor.

It's obvious that the turn of the 19th into the 20th century was a great divestiture from the old into the new. It correlates with the double stelliums, from the six in Scorpio into seven in Sagittarius, of 1899.

jpbenney said...

Thanks for the information! I never expected people would know about the 1899 Sagittarius conjunction, which because it included six of the seven ancient planets, the lunar node, Uranus, and asteroids Ceres (brighter than Neptune at opposition) and Pallas, could count as the largest conjunction in modern times.

If one looks at other seven-planet stellia, the 1915 Cancer stellium at 20:31 US Eastern Standard Time on 12 July (which I hope to discuss with its centenary this year) had Vesta just outside in Leo (dissociate conjunction), but Ceres in Taurus and Pallas in Pisces. The 1968 Virgo conjunction (21:02 US Eastern Daylight Time) had Ceres in Scorpio, Pallas in Libra and Vesta near stationary in Taurus.

The 1881 Taurus stellium had Ceres and Pallas in Sagittarius (near the Ascendant in London at 22:56 GMT) and Vesta in early Aries. The 1857 Taurus stellium (00:30 GMT on 25 April) had Ceres and Pallas in Leo and Vesta in Cancer – though it did have the smaller Juno near perihelion in Taurus. The 1853 Taurus stellium (17 May, 18:36 GMT) had Ceres in Scorpio, Pallas in Libra and Vesta in Gemini. The coming 2051 Virgo conjunction (06:02 AWST, 6 September) will have Ceres in Scorpio, Pallas in Libra and Vesta conjunct Saturn in Aquarius. The 2080 Aquarius conjunction (11:27 AWST, 18 February) comes close with Ceres part of the stellium, but Pallas and Vesta are in Capricorn.

I was not aware that there was a stellium in Scorpio of six planets – more than at any time in the twentieth century – earlier in 1899! It would add further to the effects I have discussed of the “Great Sagittarius Conjunction”.

mike (again) said...

I can tell that you're a stellium kinda guy! You certainly know your great conjunctions. You have researched individuals born during these conjunctions, too, which is how I came to know your site, through "Learning Curve" (Twilight). Simple curiosity on my part: why do the great conjunctions attract your attention?

Most of the modern astrologers are accepting of the asteroids in their calculations and interpretations. I've not been that accepting...LOL. I utilize Pluto primarily because it was part of my astrological education years ago. If I'm accepting of Pluto, I should acknowledge the other dwarf planets, Ceres, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris, but I'm reluctant. There are so many variables in astrology that adding additional becomes nonproductive (a standard deck of 52 playing cards has 8 X 10^67 possible combinations). My personal preference, but if others can interpret the dwarf planets and asteroids, I'm all for it! There are currently 390 possible candidates for dwarf planet status (

jpbenney said...


I understand very well the problem of too many dwarf planets, and I try to take a pragmatic approach. It is owing to their relative brightness – although Vesta is known not to be in hydrostatic equilibrium, it is actually more planet-like than Ceres – that I consider the three largest asteroids comprising about 50% of the belt’s mass should be as important as Pluto.

I did find, interestingly, that the previous seven-planet stellium, in Sagittarius in December 1651 did encompass Vesta – which was certainly seen before that but not known to orbit the Sun until 1807! It’s notable that the perihelia of Ceres and Vesta along with those of Mercury and Mars form a near mutable grand cross.