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.

James Strom said...

If you would like to see a stellium that had a lot of planets, dwarf or otherwise, in it, look at what we had on July 20, 1944.

1944/07/20-05:43 Annular solar eclipse and great syzygy width 61º 09'(110º 10') from N 19º 00', E 95º 42', magnitude 0.9704, duration 3:42

(Uranus 71º 41')
Saturn 93º 50'
Makemake 105º 25'
Pallas 111º 51'
Sol 117º 22'
Luna 117º 22'
Vesta 122º 05'
Venus 123º 45'
Pluto 128º 01'
Ceres 133º 47'
Mercury 136º 21'
Haumea 135º 43'
Jupiter 148º 50'
Mars 154º 59'
(Neptune 181º 51')

Exactly 25 years later we landed a man on the Moon.

The ultimate, in my opinion, is this. It has everything, and by that I mean everything.

1846/02/24-14:57 Grand syzygy width 104º 47'

Luna 319º 10'
Makemake 319º 10'
Saturn 323º 07'
Neptune 326º 00'
Mercury 327º 48'
Eris 330º 07'
Sol 335º 40'
Pallas 339º 17'
Venus 345º 44'
Hygiea 349º 36'
Haumea 351º 10'
Ceres 353º 47'
Uranus 8º 18'
Pluto 23º 44'
Jupiter 36º 30'
Mars 41º 12'
Vesta 63º 57'

The odds of the above are truly astronomical. We're not going to see that again for awhile.

James Strom said...

You stated above:

"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."

I'm not so sure of that. I would think there would occur about every 45 years or so, around the time of a conjunction of Saturn and Uranus. Here are the dates and times for Saturn/ Uranus conjunctions, past and future.

1761/10/28-16:34 6º 03' Aries Cardinal Positive
1805/11/17-19:51 203º 22' Libra Cardinal Positive
1852/03/15-07:24 32º 11' Taurus Fixed Negative
1897/06/01-09:22 236º 25' Scorpio Fixed Negative
1942/05/03-13:20 59º 20' Taurus Fixed Negative
1988/06/26-17:03 268º 47' Sagittarius Mutable Positive
2032/06/28-11:54 88º 01' Gemini Mutable Positive
2079/08/31-05:24 298º 13' Capricorn Cardinal Negative

Looking around these times I found a conjunction of all classical planets with Uranus and Vesta that is fairly tightly grouped.

1803/09/18-05:43:36 Great syzygy width 31º 02'

Venus 167º 23'
Saturn 174º 00'
Sol 174º 20'
Vesta 184º 54'
Uranus 190º 44'
Jupiter 191º 27'
Mercury 197º 30'
Mars 198º 25'
Luna 198º 25'

In the next couple of months Neptune joins in.

1803/10/18-08:11:03 Grand syzygy width 54º 47'

Saturn 177º 40'
Uranus 192º 37'
Jupiter 197º 57'
Vesta 200º 24'
Sol 204º 00'
Venus 204º 58'
Mercury 216º 56'
Mars 218º 50'
Neptune 232º 26'
Luna 232º 26'

1803/11/10-04:55:36 Grand syzygy width 54º 46'

Luna 180º 08'
Saturn 180º 08'
Uranus 193º 59'
Jupiter 202º 49'
Mercury 207º 54'
Vesta 212º 21'
Sol 226º 53'
Neptune 233º 16'
Venus 233º 38'
Mars 234º 54'

Every 1,500 years or so Ceres and Pallas have a series of conjunctions that last for quite some time. This is because their orbital periods are nearly identical. So an alignment of all the major asteroids has been happening frequently over the last couple of centuries. The last time we had that was at the end of Antiquity and the start of the Dark Ages.

1804/02/11-17:15 Ceres conjuncts Pallas apart 23º 08' at 318º 11'

Just for fun, there was a 'perfect' solar eclipse about this time. That is, at its maximum, the Moon was almost exactly the same size as the Sun.

1804/02/11-11:38:36 Total solar eclipse from N 32º 20', E 1º 36', magnitude 1.000154, duration 0:01

While the other planets may have triple conjunctions, Ceres and Pallas have dozens before they finally move on.

1805/10/16-14:48 Ceres conjuncts Pallas apart 42º 56' at 99º 46'

This is the closest stellium of all the classical planets plus Uranus and Neptune around this time.

1805/10/23-11:29 Grand syzygy width 47º 13'

Mercury 200º 25'
Saturn 200º 25'
Uranus 201º 51'
Sol 209º 38'
Luna 220º 17'
Mars 236º 37'
Neptune 236º 51'
Hygeia 244º 06'
Jupiter 247º 01'
Venus 247º 38'

There is no solar eclipse to go with this one. However, there will be another grand syzygy coming soon. And it will have a total solar eclipse to go with it!

2024/04/08-19:01 Total solar eclipse and grand syzygy width 68º 06' from Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Mars 343º 05'
Saturn 344º 28'
Neptune 358º 12'
Venus 4º 29'
Hygiea 4º 37'
Luna 19º 26'
Sol 19º 26'
Eris 24º 44'
Mercury 24º 47'
Jupiter 49º 03'
Uranus 51º 11'

James Strom said...

Okay, one final note.
While the February 24, 1846 stellium was the closest that all 16 of the most significant astrological planets have been together, it unfortunately did not have an eclipse. But if we wait a couple of months there is one, and the planets are still close. The maximum of the eclipse was by the Bahamas, very near the spot where Columbus discovered the New World.

1846/04/25-16:50:30 Total solar eclipse and grand syzygy width 112º 07' (122º 47') from N 24º 30', W 76º 30', magnitude 1.0093, duration 0:53

(Makemake 320º 30')
Neptune 327º 49'
Saturn 329º 07'
Eris 330º 58'
Venus 350º 11'
Haumea 353º 09'
Pallas 359º 12'
Hygiea 10º 30'
Uranus 11º 37'
Ceres 17º 31'
Mercury 24º 51'
Pluto 25º 01'
Sol 35º 04'
Luna 35º 04'
Jupiter 49º 05'
Mars 79º 56'
(Vesta 83º 18')

I think that this could possibly qualify as the rarest of all planetary alignments, and it happened around our times. To give you an idea of how rare, I checked back to when the last time anything like this occurred. Bear in mind that not only do Ceres and Pallas have to be in one of their once every 1,500 years conjunction cycle, the four plutoids must also be close to each other at the same time. So it might come as no surprise that the last time we had such a grouping was at the very beginnings of civilization.

BC 9345/09/01-09:50:12 Partial solar eclipse and grand syzygy width 123º 55' (128º 29') from N 90º 00', E 0º 00', magnitude 0.1536, duration ~1:14:00

(Juno 85º 09')
Sol 89º 38'
Luna 89º 38'
Vesta 95º 02'
Mercury 96º 36'
Makemake 101º 32'
Haumea 109º 33'
Ceres 112º 55'
Jupiter 125º 48'
Eris 130º 30'
Venus 136º 34'
Uranus 155º 06'
Hygiea 172º 12'
Mars 182º 11'
Pallas 197º 53'
Neptune 199º 19'
Snow White 201º 32'
Saturn 213º 33'
(Pluto 213º 38')