Take the orbit of Earth around the Sun, imagine it as a flat plane, and project it outward against the backdrop of the stars. This projection is the ecliptic. Although all the principal planets in the solar system orbit the Sun in approximately the same plane, none of their orbital paths lies in exactly the same plane. The geocentric (earth-centered) nodes are the points at which the planets cross the ecliptic. The point at which a planet moves northward—with respect to our terrestrial perspective—as it crosses the ecliptic is its north node; correspondingly, the point at which it moves southward is the south node. Traditionally, the only nodes regarded as important were the lunar nodes because these were the points where eclipses occurred.
In heliocentric (Sun-centered) astrology, the nodes are located where the orbits of any two planets cross. While only the lunar nodes are significant in traditional, geocentric astrology, the planetary nodes are major points of reference in heliocentric systems. Some astrologers have also tried to develop interpretations of the geocentric planetary nodes, but these have not caught on, partly because the basic astrological tool required to place these points in a chart—an adequate ephemeris (table of positions)—has not generally been available. However, some of the new computer programs include ephemerides for the nodes. The Solar Fire program produced by Esoteric Technologies, for example, will locate the nodes and even place them in a second ring outside of the primary chart.
Fitzwalter, Bernard, and Raymond Henry. Dark Stars: Invisible Focal Points in Astrology. Welling-
borough, Northamptonshire, UK: Aquarian Press, 1988. Gettings, Fred. Dictionary of Astrology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985.
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