Our whole nation shared the shock of watching the explosion of the Challenger, just 73 seconds after it blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Probably most of our readers did the explosion chart, and noted Pluto on the Descendant, closely square Mercury and Sun and octile Uranus, as well as in a wide conjunction with the south node of the Moon. As additional keys to the tragic fate of the shuttle, Juno was conjunct Saturn on the eighth house cusp (Placidus), quincunx the Ascendant and more widely opposite Chiron. Uranus in the eighth house was trioctile the Ascendant and octile Mercury and Sun. The fifth house Moon at 11 Virgo was trioctile the MC and quincunx Sun and Venus in the tenth house. The Aquarius stellium of Vesta, Mercury, Sun, and Venus formed a series of squares to Ascendant, Pluto, nodes. Jupiter was quincunx the IC. Mars in Scorpio seemed less involved, with only a wide square to Jupiter at first glance. But it was also exactly quincunx Atlantis in Aries in the twelfth house and conjunct three midpoints, including Uranus/south node of the Moon, and it squared the Uranus/north node midpoint. Midpoint aspects are only considered when they are accurate within one degree.
Three of our new “sun” asteroids were also involved, symbolizing the attention of the world on the event. Aten was square Mars within one degree. Helio was within a two degree conjunction of Mars. Apollo was within a one degree conjunction with Venus. America was opposite Aten and square Helio, just coming to the one degree square to Mars. Washingtonia was square the Antivertex axis and Soyuz-Apollo, with the latter conjunct the Vertex. Soyuz-Apollo was named for the successful cooperative space effort by the U.S. and Russia. Its position on an angle in the shuttle explosion chart suggests that this event will have an important influence on future space activities by the two countries, but only time will tell whether it will lead to more cooperation or more competition. Oceana was conjunct Uranus, and of course the shuttle fragments landed in the ocean. The network of interacting aspects just listed involved fixed and cardinal signs, houses, and planets for the most part, showing the potential for intense power struggles. I find the quincunx the most common aspect in charts where death is involved, and Jupiter (and Chiron) are often involved, along with the water letters (especially planets in or ruling the houses, 4-8-12, and the natural rulers, Moon-Pluto-Neptune.)
There were many more asteroids and midpoints involved, but enough has been said to show the stress in the chart. For those who want to go more deeply into the issues, the horoscope for the first shuttle flight (of the Columbia) and the chart for the first flight of the Challenger offer additional evidence of danger which would have called for caution if the authorities had known any astrology. One can draw a horoscope for the beginning of anything, so both of these charts are valid keys; the first Columbia flight as a key to the whole shuttle endeavor, and the first Challenger flight to the specific potentials of that shuttle. For those who want to do more work on the event, the first Columbia flight occurred on April 12, 1981, at 7:00:03 A.M., EST, at Cape Canaveral. Progressing the chart to the destruction of the Challenger, we see that the progressed Moon was conjunct Saturn in the sixth house. Progressed Antivertex was conjunct natal Mars; progressed Mars was opposite Pluto while progressed Pluto stays for years opposite the Sun, all of the preceding factors across Aries-Libra, sixth-twelfth houses. Progressed Venus in the last degree of Aries was opposite progressed Juno in zero Scorpio, and quincunx Uranus in 29 Scorpio. I have increasingly found Juno more Scorpio than Libra in its emotional intensity, and have often found it active in death charts. The Columbia chart also had a grand trine in air including progressed MC, progressed Pallas, and progressed Jupiter. Even when there are tragic events, there will be mixed aspects in a chart, some stress and some harmonious. Progressed Ascendant was on Chiron, trioctile Jupiter. Perhaps the frequent Jupiter and Chiron aspects when death occurs can be thought of as symbolizing a long trip to “another country,” and they also emphasize the key role played by faith which determines the way we handle the experience.
The horoscope for the first Challenger flight also had warning aspects, including progressed Saturn on the IC opposite progressed Mars on the MC. The combination could not be more appropriate for an event connecting fire (Mars) to cold (Saturn). Authorities seem agreed that it was the cold which impaired the rubber seals on the booster, permitting the fire to reach the fuel tanks. Progressed Mercury was also on natal Mars, and progressed Pluto had remained in an opposition to Mars since the first flight. Progressed Neptune had remained conjunct the south node of the Moon, while progressed East Point was quincunx them. There were, of course, the usual collection of asteroids, including progressed Atlantis staying in orb of an octile to natal Venus; progressed America staying opposite natal Sun; progressed Anubis (named for the Egyptian god of the dead) staying opposite natal Mars; and progressed Washingtonia staying conjunct natal Uranus.
[Note: this chart was run for a slightly different place based on later data.]
I did not really intend to write so much on the shuttle flights, since the main interest of our readers is in people. I only decided to include an article on the shuttle disaster because we acquired the birth data for Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who was killed in the explosion, and for her husband, Steven McAuliffe. Christa’s Virgo stellium in the Leo house fits her reputation as a dedicated teacher with the sign of work (plus Saturn and Vesta, planet and asteroid of work) in the house of procreation and children (among many other possible meanings for the fifth house). Her Venus-Ceres conjunction in Cancer in the third house also fits communication with young people, whether as a teacher or as a warm, caring devoted mother. Her Neptune, Mars, node and Chiron in the Virgo house of work (6th) further support an attraction to idealistic (Neptune) but active (Mars) work, involving nurturing (node carrying the same theme as the Moon) and knowledge (Chiron). Pallas rising, Juno in Aries, and Mars in Libra suggest an identification with partnership, while Venus (ruling the Taurus rising) in Cancer conjunct Ceres, and Mercury (ruling the Gemini in the first house) placed in the fifth house show the identification with home, family, and children. Jupiter in its own sign also emphasizes the importance of partnership, the tendency to idealize the relationship or the mate.
I had expected more indications in Christa’s horoscope of the willingness to take risks, the urge to adventure, to break new ground as the first teacher in space. She does have Jupiter in its own sign pointing to faith, perhaps too much faith in others when in the seventh or eighth house. Uranus remained octile her fourth house Pluto all her life as one possible key to an accidental death, and it had also moved back into the one-degree-orb square to natal Mars. Uranus-Mars aspects are among the strongest indications of potential daring. Natally, Mars was also square the MC and Uranus was quincunx the MC, though neither aspect was exact by progression. Saturn and Moon were also widely quincunx the MC, with their midpoint forming the aspect within 12 minutes of arc. Natal Chiron close to the Descendant could also be interpreted as both an emphasis on knowledge and on faith, the latter permitting risk-taking. Progressed Chiron was on the Descendant within the one degree orb allowed for secondary progressions.
The most striking of the secondary progressions for the January 28 tragedy was Mars opposite the Ascendant, fitting the violent and fiery end of Christa’s life, and, of course, of her marriage. Neptune held a long opposition to Juno, another possible indication of a separation from a mate with the aspect falling across Aries-Libra. Progressed Moon and the progressed eighth house cusp (a possible key to the end of life) were both conjunct the local MC in Cape Canaveral, showing the importance of local houses. The cusps of the water houses, natal or progressed, often indicate closure, when we end a chapter. Progressed Mercury was conjunct the progressed south node of the Moon and opposite the north node and local Ascendant, repeating the importance of local houses. It was also quincunx natal Pallas and progressed Juno, forming a yod appropriate for the separation from her husband, while Mercury’s octile to natal Jupiter was another indication of possible stress involving close peer relationships. I almost always find Jupiter involved in death, and of course in this chart, its natal position on the eighth house cusp adds more emphasis. The local progressed eighth house cusp was quincunx the progressed Ascendant from Christa’s birthplace. Though the progressed Ascendant was two degrees past Uranus, the midpoint of Ascendant-Uranus was exactly quincunx the natal MC as well as conjunct the progressed Part of Death. The local progressed MC was past the opposition to Saturn, but would have had the aspect when Christa was chosen for the flight. The progressed MC from her birthplace was octile progressed Moon and local natal MC and quincunx progressed Vesta which is so often involved in health issues. Progressed Saturn also held a long quincunx to natal MC and was in a two-year octile to progressed Sun. Over and over, we see the repeated theme of possible separation from close relationships with the oppositions and quincunxes involving the interpersonal planets, asteroids, signs and houses.
Turning to Steven McAuliffe’s horoscope, we see the grand cross in fixed signs but in mutable houses. The fixed conflict is associated with power, possessions, pleasure, etc., usually involving close relationships. It has a freedom-closeness dimension, and, especially when letter eight is emphasized, we may be learning how to love and let go, or the limits of our own power in some form. Since the pattern falls in mutable houses, it includes issues around realism and faith-goals-ethics. Often, the mutable people learn vicariously, through observing the experiences of others. The risk-taking potential in this chart is certainly as strong as in Christa’s chart, but with Uranus in the seventh house, Venus (ruler of Libra) in Aries, Juno (natural key to mate) and Mercury (ruling the seventh house Gemini) both in Aquarius, and Moon (ruling the Cancer in the seventh and eighth houses), in Sagittarius in the Aries house, Steven’s risk-taking factors were connected to his partner and projected to her. She took the action and suffered the consequences.
Steven’s current patterns included a long-term yod of Pluto quincunx Sun and sextile Neptune. Though progressions are limited to a one-degree orb and Neptune had moved out of the exact quincunx to the Sun, the yod is held in effect by Pluto’s aspect to both Sun and Neptune. The pattern was accentuated by progressed Ascendant and local Ascendant both conjunct progressed Jupiter, trioctile natal Pluto and conjunct the Cape Canaveral second house cusp (Placidus). Planets or angles crossing the house cusps of any of the earth-water axes (2-8, 4-10, and 6-12) point to changes in the handling of earth matters and a possible end of affairs. Water is the element of closure, finishing the chapter. The Jupiter-Ascendant combination on the local second house cusp symbolizes both the death of Steven’s wife and his inheritance of a million dollar insurance policy. Other aspects pointing to stress in the interpersonal part of life include progressed Moon octile natal Sun, progressed Sun octile progressed Juno and progressed Venus (at their midpoint) and square both progressed East Point and progressed Vesta, progressed Ceres (parental potentials) opposite Chiron, progressed Mars opposite Juno, progressed Saturn square the progressed mean nodes of the Moon and trioctile progressed Mercury, and progressed MC opposite Venus. The local progressed MC was still just within orb of the conjunction to Neptune as well as remaining sextile Pluto and quincunx natal Sun, re-emphasizing the yod already described, in addition to forming a T-square to natal Antivertex-Vesta. Progressed Pallas had also reached an opposition to Neptune, and progressed Juno was on the Cape Canaveral IC. The combination of stress aspects is amazing. We hardly need to add any asteroids, but for those who are following Atlantis, its progressed position opposed natal Saturn, square the mean nodes of the Moon. Progressed Uranus holds a long-term quincunx to natal Atlantis.
Needless to say, there is much more that could be added, but time and space run out. Steven is clearly an idealistic and strong person. We trust that he will be able to handle the challenge and to continue to grow.