What's New in Astrocalc Version 6.3 - May 2015

(For a detailed list of changes done in each release please see the changelog.txt file available in the program folder or read it online)

Astrocalc version 6.3 builds on the very well received Astrocalc 6.2 which was originally released in July 2009. The last release of 6.2 (6.2.0.62) in August 2013 was very different to the original released 4 years earlier so the natural step forward was to make the next release as Version 6.3 (rather than 6.2.0.63) beginning a new release cycle of Astrocalc. The new Astrocalc 6.3 also comes with several major changes and improvements that should make it worthwhile to upgrade.

Astrocalc 6.3 now offers the Whole Signs House system added to the Advanced and Professional Editions. Some say this is the true and only house system to use, likely because it probably is the oldest and original one in use by ancient astrologers. We leave that up to you to judge, though.

Backup & Restore, once removed due to technical reasons, is now back again. Dealing with disc files from within the same program that uses said files can be tricky so you should be mindful when using Backup and Restore. However, the procedure is rather simple and strait forward and if you stick to it nothing can go wrong. Here is the procedure in short:

Backup: Select the Backup option, then the drive, and then the folder where you like to store your backup (or you may create a new folder if necessary). To create a new folder, first select its parent folder, then click the New folder button, type a name in the box below the folder list and execute by pressing the Enter key. Make sure your folder is selected and that you have selected what to backup - then click the Backup button. The Backup is always put in a folder named Backup_Astrocalc_Software and you never need to or should create this folder manually.

Restore: Select the Restore option, then the drive and then your Backup folder. You will always select the Backup_Astrocalc_Software folder, no matter what part of the backup you are restoring. Select what you want to restore and then click the Restore button.

You can choose to Backup and Restore between Settings, Chart files, Text files, Output data (like transit lists, notes etc.) and custom Atlas data. You can both Backup and Restore these selected items independently but notice the following; When you Backup an item, any previous backup of that item type at the same location is always deleted/overwritten. So even if a file exists in the old backup but not among the new ones, it’s deleted. This is to always ensure consistency of your data when you Restore. In plain language, never mix backup with other files. However, when you restore are all same files overwritten but any other files not present in the backup are not deleted. This is because your backup cannot know if other new files have been added-created since it was created.

Good thumb of rule, backup often, just in case and wish for never needing to restore it. You typically keep 1 Backup and just refresh it, having several different backups are usually not a good idea, but it is possible if you have a special need for it. But it’s not recommended.

You can also use the Backup & Restore function to transfer your user data files to another Astrocalc installation, e.g. when you replace your old Pc with a new one, or get yourself an extra Notebook.

New Colour system for symbols, graphs and text that makes up screens like Wheels, Lists etc. Gone is the old 16 colour system and instead you now have 65000+ colours at your disposal to give live to signs, planets etc. We have developed our own colour selection tool, replacing the old system that only supported 16 simultaneously available colours.

EXample of Astrocalc 6.3 Data Entry screen

The new system have 4 configurable screen profiles and 2 for print colours, which are easy to switch between. To make further development easier, all profiles have fixed descriptive names and no new profiles can be created, only the colour values can be changed. Later, as we develop this system further, addition options like edit of profile display names as well as the function to create new profiles may be added.

The Colour section tool comes with several palettes, selectable from a menu available in the tool itself. By default it’s set to a small palette of only 48 colours but there are several more with up to 256 directly selectable colour, or you can put together your own custom colour from the full range of 65000+ colours. Later, there will also be the option to load palettes from a disc file.

The use of the tool as such is rather intuitive and self-explanatory. However, there is one situation that some may get lost in - how to close the palette display without selection a colour or in other words, how to regret the initial action of clicking on the tool. To close the tool without selection a colour you currently have to press the Esc key (upper left on most keyboards).

Traditionally, planets and sensitive points in an Astrocalc chart wheel inherit their colour from the sign they are located in, and this is still the default behaviour. But now it’s also possible to give each planet its own unique colour, if you like. Similarly, instead of sharing the same setting, it’s now possible to give individually different colours to Asc and Mc, if not set to take their colour from the sign they fall in.

Finally, we have saved the best of the new system at last. It’s now possible to give dedicated background colours to 5 different areas of the Chart Wheel, both on screen and when printing. Well, in the latter case only 4 really, because the 5th colour in this case is the paper. You can set this colour on the settings screen, simulating the paper, to get a visual hint of how the other colours would come out in contrast to it. When printing, the paper colour is never used.

The 5 areas you can set, apart from paper and screen background, are the Zodiac circle band, the Planets circle area, the House circle band and the Aspects circle. Also, as you set these and other colours labels back- and fore colours are updated to give a visual hint of how the various colours contrast with each other.

To set colours as well as the profile to use, both for screen and printing, you click the Colours button, now available as a part of the Quick View frame on the Data Entry screen. There you can also swiftly switch between the screen profiles automatically saving the changed setting. It’s also possible to switch between profiles on several other screen, but these changes are only temporary and automatically reset as you close the screen.

The colour changes also brings with it a change to the selection for printing. There is now only 1 print option, not one for colour and one for black & white as before. All printing will use colours (or B&W) from the active printing profile, and the menu item will indicate if that is Colour or Black & White. If you print to a none colour printer using the colour profile the printout will be grey scaled simply. If needed, all important screens like the Wheel has the option to temporary switch the printer profile.

Astrocalc 6.3 utilises new algorithms to calculate DeltaT, based on the latest astronomical observations and findings. In short, DeltaT is the difference in seconds between Terrestrial (TT) and Universal (UTC) Time, where the latter, in practice, equals GMT. How this works is as follows:  after adjusting the local time and applying the zone time difference, in order to arrive at the correct UTC/GMT time used for planetary calculation, a further adjustment is made applying the DeltaT value. This value is not seen in the displayed time, nor even the adjusted GMT time, as it technically doesn’t exist here on planet Earth, but has to be accounted for as it does exist out there where the planets are “wandering”.

Whilst awareness of its existence as a force of time goes as far back as Ptolemy around 150 AD, it wasn’t seriously researched as a factor of time-keeping until the middle of the 20th century. Still, while recognised as a fact of time by basically all astronomers, opinions of “whether it matters or not” and how to correctly calculate it have been divided   - and still are to some degree. In all, about 8-9 different algorithms have been published from research, competing for recognition in various works, and which today have matured into 2-3 algorithms in broader use. Out of these, the latest researched by astronomers close to NASA (and now used by Astrocalc) appear to be accepted as the most “correct” one.

This raises the question of whether older versions of Astrocalc have produced calculations that are wrong. The answer is probably yes, but it would mean all or most other astrology programs also do this because - as far as we know - no one else uses these new algorithms. The answer isn’t that black and white, though.

DeltaT for dates in modern times carries a very small footprint of just a few seconds a minute, so even with these new algorithms the differences are usually negligible. As we go back in time, this changes slightly. For example, a date for year 1600 is considered to have a standard error margin of 20 seconds stretching out to 260 seconds reaching year 0, then increasing as we go further back. However, any program that produces a result within these margins would still have to be considered to be “correct”. Hence, I would cap my claim that Astrocalc now calculates DeltaT with a higher probability of being more accurate than before.

Where you will notice clear differences is with historical events. In these cases it can’t be ruled out that charts produced by Astrocalc 6.3 will reveal new information as well as invalidate some old ones. However, there is one more change that you have to consider even in modern dates. Older versions of Astrocalc had a setting to decide if DeltaT would be calculated or not and if this was set to “not calculate” it can be concluded a faulty result would have been produced. But even in these cases (with my own chart, for example) it’s a matter of 32 sec. So for the modern era, it doesn’t make much difference.  As there’s no longer any doubt as to whether this should be included, the setting for DeltaT has been removed in Astrocalc 6.3 and the calculation is always done and the result displayed in the Quick Chart panel.

A significant change with Fixed Stars,
a routine implemented many years ago by the previous development team - so we thought it was about time to give it a review. It now has a new calculation algorithm based on epoch 2000 (J2000) relying on fresher observations to determine positions with higher accuracy. We have also made an inventory of the stars names used in old Astrocalc which has led to the following revision:

Old name New Name
Sirrah Alpheratz
Batan Kaitos Baten Kaitos
El-Scheratin Sheratan
Alamak Almach
Zanrak Zaurak
Alcyone-Pleiades Alcyone
Hyades Prima Hyadum
Northern Bulls Eye Ain
Menkalinam Menkalinan
Praseepe Praesaepe
N Aselli Asellus Borealis
S Aselli Asellus Australis
Sertan Acubens
Alphard Alfard
Phacht Phecda
Betenash Alkaid
Southern Cross Acrux
Gemma Alphecca
Southern Scales Zuben Elgenubi
Northern Scales Zubenelschemali
Unuk Unukalhai
Beta Centauri Agena
Bungala Toliman
Akrab Acrab
Ettanin Etamin
Bow of the Archer Kaus Borealis
Head of the Archer Facies
Deneb - Cygni Deneb Adige

 

The Data En

try screen has been cleaned up considerably and its automatic scaling of size has been removed. This scaling was implemented at a time when 15 inch and later 17 inch monitors was standard with screen resolutions slowly starting to increase as the manufacturing techniques improved. However, today it hardly make sense blow up screens for input on e.g. a 24 inch monitor with high resolution. It simply looks awkward, the screen wheel is another matter

though as you can never have a too big wheel showing the zodiac with planets etc.

The Data Entry screen now have the settings that make most sense immediately available as Quick settings, which comprise Aspects and Search settings as well at the ones for the Now wheel. We also dug out the somewhat hidden setting for Flat charts, a layout often favoured on the American continent and common there, and put it easily accessible below the Wheel button.

Instant Now Chart
Originally when clicking on the Now button it only made predefined changes to the Natal input details. To display the associated wheel, the Wheel button had to be clicked as a second step. You can now tick a checkbox “Display Wheel Instantly” in the Quick Settings for Now Wheel to show the wheel directly using the computer’s current time.

To Clock a chart means that you animate a chart back and forth in time and see the changes as they happen directly in the screen wheel. It can be used as a simple rectification tool. The animation is done in steps by manually interacting with buttons directly on screen. When done you can choose to save the chart with the new time values or discard the changes (abort) and go back to the original chart. The changes are always made on a copy of the original, which stays intact as long as you don’t explicitly save any changes. This function was previously initiated from the Data Entry screen but has now completely been moved to the Wheel screen.

The Now and Clock wheels can now be animated as part of a Bi- or Tri-Wheel.
You start from the Moving wheel in Manual mode (always true for Clock) and then select the additional wheels from the Multi-Wheels menu. Then use the button tool at lower right of screen, as with a single moving wheel, and you can save or abort when done.

It doesn’t end there, though, because the previous change allows the Natal Quick View pane to stretch out all the way down the screen. As a result, it now has room to display positions for all planets and points, including the Transneptunians. It now also displays a few other small pieces of information that may be useful to you. Among those is the Zodiac in use. Please note that with the Sidereal Zodiac, only the Ayanamsa is now displayed on this screen. The functionality to edit and change this value has moved to the Chart Design screen.

But we are not done yet because when, as an older version user, you launch Astrocalc 6.3 for the first time you’ll notice that the help box is gone. While it was helpful to have this for new users, in most cases it soon became something that simply took up space without any real functional value. Of course, it doesn’t mean that help is gone. In fact it’s closer than ever: if you move the mouse pointer over the screen objects you now see a short and concise message in the statusbar, which may be enough in most cases. But if you need more, press the F1 key to open a window with more extensive help. Not all items have extended help though as the short message covers it.

The space made available by removing Help is now occupied by the “Chart List (of calculated charts)”. This functionality, initially implemented as a diminished drop list selector prior to versions 6.0 (where it was converted to a hidden context menu), is now back in the visual space. However, by default it’s now displayed as an enlarged list box of (up to 12) charts which the program retains for instant access. The usage is simple: click once to load the chart details and update of Quick View, for editing, or for further use as base chart in other routines like Progressions and Synastry. Or double click to directly display the graphical wheel (the same result is gained by clicking the Wheel button).  Clear the list with a simple right mouse click on it. The list is a so called ‘fifo’ (first in first out) list that gets filled from the top, and when full of (12) charts they are ‘pushed out’ at the bottom.

Perhaps you still prefer the older style with the diminished list, or maybe when sitting in a public place you need some privacy? No problem, just press the F6 key on your keyboard and you will have it, ready to use. If you prefer using the mouse there is a small +/- (expand/collapse) button in the frame’s upper left corner.

There are still a few small but not insignificant changes that have taken place; you will no longer find the drop list button for Quick Places anywhere, because it has moved in to the drop list for places itself. When you type into the Place field (located to the right of the Place... button) and press the Enter key a search is made in the Atlas, which may return more than one place. When this happens they are loaded into the fields list which then automatically opens so you can take your pick. Alternatively, the list can be opened by clicking the arrow – you will now see your quick places ready to use. You can set up your quick places in the Atlas Manager, which opens with the Place... button.

The Name field works in a similar way. Just as with the Place field you can make a search by typing and pressing Enter. If a result of more than one hit fills the list it will then drop. Formerly, these charts remained there as a temporary group to work with until you performed an action that reset the list. This no longer applies. It introduced too much complexity and was removed.  However, you can now search for saved charts even when you are in ‘enter details mode’. To do this, hold down the Ctrl key when yo

u press Enter. This, if one or more charts are found, will break out from the New Chart mode and load the first found chart.

Colour-wise, the ‘greyness factor’ has also been diminished; it simply reminded me too much of the weather these days. But this program is pretty much about the sky after all, at least what you look at!

New features and changes implemented in version 6.2 and earlier
(but updated to include changes made in 6.3 where it applies, the significant ones marked as bold text)

Windows 8/8.1 compatibility
Astrocalc is compatible with Windows 8/8.1 (starting with version 6.2) and will run on both 32 and 64 bit Windows systems. At the same time,  Astrogeography 6.2, Starword 6.2 and Transits Forecaster 6.2 have been updated for Windows 8/8.1 compatibility.

New tool to (re)size circles directly from the Screen Wheel

Accessible from the menu ‘Wheel Options’ on the screen wheel, the option ‘Adjust circle sizes’ makes an Adjust Tool visible which let you size all 4 circles (Outer, Zodiac, House and Aspects) that may appear in the wheel. This replaces the previous option in the same menu and the menu’s aspects related items have been slightly reorganised. There are still 3 different base sizes to choose from for the aspects circle, but the adjustment tool allows you to change their default size to suit your personal taste.

The value you change with this tool is a multiplier set to 1 as default. You do this by first selecting the circle you want to change and then clicking any of the 2 Arrow buttons (Up/Down). There is 1 button and 1 value field each for the Screen and Printed Wheel, identified with the labels S and P. Incrementing the value makes the circle larger, and decrementing it makes it smaller. All changes are visible immediately (but temporary until saved) and each type of wheel (e.g. Bi-Wheel) has its own saved values. When satisfied, click the Apply button to save and close the tool.

The Increment/Decrement value for each click can be set on the Chart Design screen and by default it’s 0.010 for the screen and 0.005 for printing.

Improved Now Chart function with Restore and Resume
It’s now possible to stop working with a Now chart, load any saved ones or create new charts, then later return to the same Now chart instead of triggering a new time for the  start of calculations. There are 2 points in time to which you can return and this is accomplished by 2 new buttons inside the “Moving Wheels” frame. The first, Restore, restores the original time for when Now last was clicked. The second, Resume, let you pick up and continue with the Now chart using the time where you left it. The buttons also show the used date and time as a tooltip when hovering with the mouse pointer. Note that these buttons often may show as disabled, because there may be nothing to restore or resume.

Please note that while you can resume a Now chart an unlimited amount of times, if you restore it the resume data will be reset. If you click Now, this will also reset all old data for both Restore and Resume as you will be starting a new fresh cycle.

It’s now also possible to start a fresh Now chart directly from the Wheel screen, available as an option in the Chart list menu. When applicable the same menu also allows you to Restore and Resume the Now chart.

The Restore and Resume functions are not available for the Clock chart function.

Choose start-up mode for the Moving Wheel
In the Moving Wheels frame, you can now choose one of three different modes in which the wheel for Now and Clock charts will start up. The first, Automatic recalculation, is basically the same as how   this tool worked in older versions. It will trigger a timer to automatically recalculate and display the wheel continuously, according to the intervals set in the frame’s value fields. You can then Hold/Continue the calculations or Alter intervals, as before, from the wheel screen. The second option, Manually/Hold, displays the wheel without starting the timer for automatic recalculations, as if you had clicked on Hold in Automatic mode. In this mode you can now move the wheel manually back and forth in time with 2 arrow buttons, using the same intervals as in automatic for each click. Alternatively, the other control buttons are also available allowing you to click Alter to change intervals. Or you can click Continue (starting the timer) to switch over to Automatic. On starting the timer the arrow buttons becomes disabled.

The last start up option, Stop, simply loads the wheel without starting the timer, but it also doesn’t show the buttons that let you control the wheel calculations. This is equivalent to clicking the Stop button on the wheel when any of the other two options are used. However, It’s still treated as a Now chart, which means it’s kept in its special memory slot where it can be used in Multi-wheels etc. and is not pushed out of the list no matter how many saved charts you load. The Stop option disabled the Clock function as it doesn’t make sense to start a Clock chart in Stop mode.

There is now also a “Display Now Wheel Instantly” option (“Display Wheel Instantly” in 6.2), which together with the Stop start up option is very useful e.g. when working with Horary. Note that in 6.3 this option has, together with the Now button, moved to the lower part of the “Natal Chart Details” frame, grouped together with the Wheel button.

Graphic Transits and Progressions
Included in the Advanced and Professional Editions, or if you previously had the older standalone program, Astrocalc now lets you project your transits or Progressions in 2 different types of graphs.

The curve graph will show you planets moving against a scale of degrees, crossing each other’s paths as well as horizontal lines marking Natal planet positions. The scale can be set to any harmonic between 1 and 60 which is a divider of the 360 degree circle, thus with harmonic 12 you will get a standard scale of 30 degrees.

The graphic bar chart will stack aspects shown as blocks on a time line, one aspect per line. The block may vary in height showing increasing or fading exactness of the orb. This gives a very visual experience of how several transits may operate together over time and truly lives up to the proverb “a picture paints a thousand words”.

Natal Quick View
While you usually want to enlarge a wheel on the screen to study a chart, sometimes you just need a quick splash of basic data like planet positions etc. The new quick view gives you just that: whenever you load a chart it displays that information right on the data entry screen. Quick View has been extended in 6.3 so it can now list positions for all available planets and points, including Transneptunians. Furthermore, it now also displays more data like Sidereal time, DeltaT, Calendar, Zodiac etc.

Input and selections for Non Natal routines got a visual facelift.

Whenever you select a non natal routine, all input and selections are now done in a dedicated area on the right side of the screen, temporarily replacing the Natal Quick View, to give a clear distinction of what belongs to Natal and what doesn’t. However in some cases, e.g.  when you would like to relocate a Solar Return chart, you still must use the Country and Place field from Natal details. These changes will be temporary as long as you don’t save the natal chart.

Plus, the checkbox to activate Huber Mode has been relocated to just above the Wheel, which highlights another small change. This button which previously had a “Go!” caption will now instead show “Wheel”, otherwise it will say “Display”, and in some cases “Print” when that’s where the output will go.

New powerful chart management
The way  to search for and load a chart  has changed where the input field for Name now serves as a hub integrating several other functional objects. This field now has a multi-purpose function: it displays the Name of the currently loaded chart and offers a drop down list of selectable charts belonging to the currently active group. At the same time it's also used for data input, either to name a new chart or to search for already saved charts. This gives the new Name field very powerful functionality; still simple to use, but to utilize it fully one needs to understand how it all interacts.

One of these objects is the ‘Chart Search’ sub menu of the Settings menu, others are 3 buttons located immediately above the Name field ([Delete] [Save] [New]) and the Chart Groups selector yet above them, all inside the Natal Chart Details frame. The following describes the most important functions it provides.

How to start a New chart
To start a new chart simply click the [New] button. The button will become disabled and stay that way until you load a saved chart or save the new one by clicking [Save]. This will also reset/clear all input fields, with some optional exceptions, and change the way the Name fields search function works ( more of which,  later). Next, enter a name for the chart and fill in all other details. For values with a fixed length, like Day, if a filling format (e.g. 07) is used the program will automatically move to the next field, otherwise use the Tab key or Shift+Tab to move backwards. With other values like Place you may end the input by pressing the Enter key, which will look up what you typed in the Atlas and return zero or more hits. The specifics of this are described in greater detail elsewhere but if a hit is returned it will also fill in the values for Country, Latitude, Longitude and Zone time (including possible DST/Summer time correction). If you want to handle this manually, use Tab instead of Enter after typing the place’s name.

Click [Save] to permanently store the chart in your database. There is no obligation to save a new chart, unless you want to come back to it later. It can still be used in most operations, with some exceptions. Once you save it or load an already saved chart the [New] button will be enabled again.

There is also an option to [Abort] a [New] chart which will bring back the previous one.

How to load a saved Chart
A saved chart can be loaded in 3 different ways. The most common way is to click the arrow at the end of the Name field to drop the list and then select the chart you want to load. This can always be done and the content of the list is defined by the currently active group (except for directly after a search that returns more than 1 chart). If you change to another group it will also change which charts, if any, you can access in the list.

The second way is to select it from the "Chart List (of calculated charts)" by simply click on an item. If you double click it will also display the Wheel instantly. Whenever a saved chart is loaded it's appended to a FiFo (First in First Out) list that can contain a maximum 12 charts. When it's full the oldest is pushed out as a new one is added. These are also the charts available in Synastry and Multi-wheels etc.

The third way is to search for a chart directly from the Name field. This is very convenient but also a bit trickier, so we'll cover it separately.

If, for any reason, you need to change any of the input data in a saved chart, after loading it just make the change and click [Save] and that’s it. This is also how you move a chart from one group to another. After loading a saved chart into Natal Chart Details, change the active group (or create a new group) and then click the [Save] button.

How to search for a saved chart
This works whenever a Saved chart is loaded. Type into the Name field and then press the Enter key to execute the search OR when the program is in input mode for a new chart, follow the same procedure BUT also hold down the Ctrl key when you press Enter. How that search is carried out depends on options set in the Settings menu's sub menu 'Chart Search'. If needed, you have to study its specific help for a greater understanding, but we will add here that the Autocomplete option works quite differently and not as described in the following paragraphs.

Type into the field as much as is relevant and then complete the action by pressing the Enter key (or Ctrl+Enter if current chart is unsaved). If only one chart is found it will be loaded directly as if you had selected it from a list. However, if more than one chart is found the list will drop automatically and display all charts found together with some basic data. This will temporarily replace the Active Group list. Select from the list the chart you want to load.

The search can be limited in various ways:
It can be limited to the Active Group or span across the full database of charts. This choice can be found in the Settings menu’s sub menu ‘Chart Search’. If you tick the “Search All Groups” option all searches will be done across all chart groups, otherwise it will be limited to the currently Active Group. The latter is the same charts available in the Name drop list.

You can also limit the scope for how many charts will be found by setting match criteria for the search term (what you type in). These are Match Exact, Match Start and Match Any which can be set from the same menu as above. They are all self-explanatory, but a more detailed description is available in the program’s help text. The program comes with Match Start as the default selection, which means that if you type john and press Enter, it will return any chart whose name starts with these 4 letters. So it will match “John Lennon” and “Johnston Davies” but not “Jonny B Good”. A search is not case sensitive and just as described above, if more than 1 chart is found they will all be presented in the list which will drop automatically. Once you pick a chart the list is reset to contain the charts from the currently Active Group.

If no chart is found you are given the option to start a new chart based on the search term you typed or to make a new search. You can always select a saved chart from the drop list, however.

Autocomplete: This choice is also available from the Settings menu’s sub menu ‘Chart Search’ and is grouped with the Match alternatives. It means only one of them can be active at any time. When this is on, as you type into the field it makes an “on the fly” lookup in the active group list of charts and preloads a header of the first match so far. However, a chart isn’t loaded until you press Enter, which will fully load all details of the preloaded chart into Natal Chart Details. It’s something of a keyboard short cut - dropping and selecting from the list with your mouse – which still is possible.

The unsaved chart
It may seem strange to talk about the unsaved chart but it’s slightly different than a saved one - you don’t need to save it for it to become usable. It can be used in most operations like Transits, Progressions etc. and also in Multi-Wheels. However, there are a few situations where it currently can’t be used. Synastry is one of these, the same is true for the Clock function (a workaround is to use a Now chart, change the date and time and finally save it – if you want to). Also, it needs to be calculated before it can be used and some options may be unavailable until that has been done. The obvious way to calculate it (apart from save) is to click the Wheel button to display graphics. However, there is a short cut. If you press and hold down the Ctrl key and click the Wheel button it will do the calculation without displaying the wheel and you can then use it in other routines. It will also update the Natal Quick View described above.

The easiest way to determine if a loaded chart is saved or not is to look at the status of the [New] button. If saved it’s enabled; if not, it’s disabled.

New improved Atlas and Time Zone Module

All Editions of Astrocalc now come with a vastly improved, fully integrated, World Atlas and Time Zone module. The new Atlas is editable so that you can add your own custom places with geographic coordinates, as well as adjust these values for existing places. Your custom places can also be assigned a time zone and will use the time zone functionality automatically just like the original ones. Any change you make will be persistent and even survive an update/upgrade of both program and atlas. The zone data included in the atlas is kept updated several times a year.

Another improvement that comes with the new atlas is the ability to optionally search for places across the whole world, and not be limited to individual countries. This is optional:  a country wide search is obviously faster, but a worldwide search is still fast enough. To search you simply type into the field next to the [Place...] button and execute by pressing the Enter key. When your search results in more than one hit, all found places are presented to you with full details in a drop down list, otherwise it’s automatically selected. The data of the place you select will load in to the Natal Chart Details fields.

There are two parameters you can work with to limit the range of the search, the 'Search World' and the 'Exact Match’ option available in the Setting sub menu Atlas. The first determines if the search should be limited to the Country currently selected (unchecked) or if it should span across the whole world (checked). The second option determines if what you input matches exactly (though not case sensitively) and which applies when checked, otherwise a partial match from the beginning of the Place name is used. The less you type the more hits will be returned. It’s pretty simple and straightforward.

If the search function doesn’t fit your needs you can always look up a place manually with a click on the [Place...] button, which will open the Atlas Manager where you can browse for, edit and add new places, then load them to be used in your chart.

The way you set the time zone for a custom added place is different, but there is a special reason for this. Time zones have history, although it’s actually the place, of course. So while assigning it to a zone like CET seems like the simple and obvious choice, it’s actually wrong. Sure, it will work in many cases but if you implement that as a method in a program then you either don’t know  what you are doing or simply don’t care about the user concluding “it’s good enough”. That’s why Astrocalc does it differently than what we see in any other program. The procedure is actually quite simple. When you add a new place, to set the zone you click on another place in the list already present. This way the new place will inherit the zone from the place you clicked on. Of course, it’s your task as a user to find a place in a near enough proximity and know they share the same history. The closest one is usually the best choice, but not always.

If you want to manually add a place and its coordinates, but not save it or search, then it’s important you don't press Enter after typing in the name but rather move forward by pressing Tab, an Arrow key or simply click with the mouse. This signals to the program you want to create a manual input of data, but be aware that no calculation of zone time is carried out in these cases.

Quick Places
You can keep up to 10 places in the drop list of the Place field to quickly load into the Natal Chart Details. One of these places is defined as your 'Default Place', which the program may use automatically when needed, as when you make a Now chart or start a New one. To add a quick place you have to open the Atlas Manager which is performed with a click on the [Place...] button.

New Text Editor and Interpretation text structure
The text editor and the way in which interpretation text is used in the program have changed dramatically, starting with version 6.2 of Astrocalc. As a part of the editor redesign we also took a look at the logic behind usage and implementation of the text and found that simplicity made it possible to remove some limitations, and leave it to the judgement of the text creator.

As a result, Interpretation text is no longer tied to a specific technique or a technique's subroutine the way it used to be, with exception of text used in some structurally specific routines like Transits, Midpoints and Synastry Direct Comparison (none of which produces a wheel). All other types of text are associated with a wheel of some kind, having the same universal structure of elements on which to base an interpretation. In other words, a chart wheel is always a chart wheel no matter if it contains a Natal Chart or a Lunar Return. This is the basis on which the new text format builds and we simply call it Wheel Text. This text is created by you, or if it’s the Natal text included with the program, it is open ended to be accessible for use in any wheel. You can exclusively tie it to the Natal chart if you wish.

Another part of this new approach is that the interpretation text selection now shows up in a wheel menu with a name you have assigned it. This is achieved through what is called a ‘Named Configuration’, a type of profile that applies for each text set. It means the borders are a bit more fluid and you can deliberately write text that applies to more than one type of wheel, or you can stick to your old regime, name your wheel text accordingly and prudently mark it only to be available where it astrologically makes sense – it’s all up to you.

OTHER CHANGES

Many other small changes have been done and the most important are presented below.

To reassure you that files haven’t been tampered with (by any Darth Vader wannabe from the Evil Empire) since leaving us, the program executables as well as Setup packages are now signed with the developer’s digital certificate.

By popular request, the button to restore the natal charts from none natal subroutines have been reintroduced. It now has a caption ‘Back to Natal’ and will show up at the top left inside the Natal Chart Details frame.

What was previously called “East Point” has correctly been renamed to “Equatorial Ascendant”.

Support for many more and larger screen resolutions have been added, as well as improvements for the older ones.

Many internal changes to code have been made to improve stability and resource usage on later versions of Windows, together with many improvements to the Graphic User Interface (GUI). This not only makes the program run with increased stability, but it’s also faster and easier to use.

Finally, if you only have experience of Astrocalc before version 6, it’s worth mentioning here that the license and protection system has changed. There is no longer any need to request and obtain a new code if you need to reinstall the program. Likewise, when using the program to do other things than Natal charts, there is no longer any need to first calculate or display the Natal wheel before moving on with other things like Progressions, Returns etc. Just jump right on to it - Astrocalc takes care of the basics in the background as long as it has the obligatory basic input data for the chart.

For a more detailed listing of all the changes please see the changelog.

Joakim Schramm,
Astrocalc Software