Degree Structures

by Robin Armstrong

In this issue I will continue in my efforts to develop a proper sense of proportion concerning the nature and size of a degree. A clear understanding of degrees will open the way to new levels of astrological literacy. It will also increase competency in astrological research and subsequent statistical assessments. In astrology it is very easy to exaggerate or enhance a viewpoint. Proper perspective takes years to develop. Research without a healthy perspective is a hazardous occupation at best.

Astrologers tend to conceive of the Sun and Moon as enormous beings in the sky. We also put great accentuation and relevance on them. In terms of the light that these celestial bodies send to earth, they are indeed the main event.  In terms of measurable size a very different picture emerges.

The Sun occupies a maximum of 32 minutes and 35 seconds of one degree. It’s minimum size is 31 minutes and 35 seconds of one degree. (See V.2 #1 for diagrams.)  This is just slightly larger than one half of one degree!

Astrologers are familiar with the rotational speed of the earth. It rotates 360 degrees in close to 24 hours. It rotates 30 degrees in two hours, and 15 degrees in one hour. Each major time zone is set 15 degrees away from each other.  This means  that it will take 4 minutes of time for the earth to rotate one degree.

An interesting phenomena arises here. Think of the sunsets and sunrises that you have watched. In your estimation how long does it take for the most romantic of sunsets (or glamorous sunrises) to happen. I should say how long does it take for the Sun to rise or set?

The Sun only occupies about half of one degree when viewed from earth. It takes only two minutes for the actual globe of the sun to rise or set. Sometimes it seems like ten or fifteen minutes, but no it is always around two minutes! It never takes even three minutes to rise or set. It is impossible. ….. just two minutes!

The Moon only occupies 33 minutes and 31 seconds of a degree at its largest. So moonrise or moonset also takes close to two minutes of time.

Its not the Sun or Moon that is moving up across the sky, It is us turning on the surface of the earth. Talk about living in the fast lane!