The Repeating Story of Europe - Neptune's voyage through the stars of Aquarius.
Neon: New Writing in The Sky - a celebration of 100 years of neon lighting. 

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The Repeating Story of Europe
Neptune's voyage through the stars of Aquarius

by Bernadette Brady M.A.

The world waits and wonders as the Europe Union appears to go into a spiral of melt down with a never-ending series of summits which proclaim 'problem solved' only to find all the leaders of the EU back within a month or so, once again trying to save the union. But this is just the beginning. Neptune is moving through the stars of Aquarius and as this newsletter has pointed out on several occasions, this is the great benefic entity of the ancient Water Bearer, known simply as 'The Great One' by the Mesopotamian sky watchers. The flow of water has much to do with the flow of life and thus for the modern world the flow of money (see newsletter March 2008). However, with Europe looking as if it will break apart, it is interesting to note Neptune's cycle.  

Neptune has a 165 years (164.79) period to its orbit. Currently it is just entering into the lap of 'The Great One' and in 2012 will move across his thighs. The very last time this occurred was in 1848 and the year become known as 'The European Revolutions of 1848' as well as the 'Springtime of the Peoples'.

These sweeping revolutions engulfed Italy, France, the German States, Denmark, Switzerland, Poland, Belgium and Ireland. They were largely defeated.

There were five factors which lead to the wave of uprisings in Europe: people dissatisfied with the political leadership, the demand for greater democracy, the demand for better conditions for the working classes, a desire for individual nations, and an uprising against the disproportional wealth and power of the ruling classes.

Not much has changed. Here again in 2012 the 'people' have another chance at changing the imbalance of power and wealth, and if it is not worked out this time round then we will have another chance in 2177. (Also see: the notes on Venus' movement in January in the side bar).

Skymap showing the position of Neptune for the
current EU crises as well as the position of
Neptune in 1848 for the year of European Revolutions.



Neon: New writing in the sky
Gases and Neptune

by Darrelyn Gunzburg

This is the season of lights and advertising ....  In 1911 a patent for a new form of advertising — listed as ‘Improvements in or relating to Vacuum Discharge Tubes for Lighting Purposes’ — was ratified by the European Patent Offices in France and Great Britain [1]. As this year is the 100th anniversary of neon lighting where we learnt to turn the skies into Christmas lights, I thought it might be apt to look at how neon helped gave us 'Christmas lights in the sky'.


Neon lighting began with the discovery of the concept of gases in the 1640s by Johannes Baptista van Helmont (12 January 1579, Brussels  – 30 December 1644), an early modern period Flemish chemist, physiologist and physician and a contemporary of the English philosopher Francis Bacon and the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei [2].  

Johnannes Baptista
van Helmont
Born 12 January 1579, Brussels.

If anything was going to describe gas in a chart it would have to be Neptune, yet Neptune in Van Helmont’s horoscope does not connect with the rest of the planets in any way that is remarkable. However, when we look at his skymap we see that Neptune sits with Wasat in the constellation Gemini.

Ptolemy described Wasat as ‘The star in the left testicle of the eastern twin, Pollux’, and it is the point on the ecliptic where Pluto crosses from a southern declination to a northern one, where it has 0 celestial latitude and sits directly on the ecliptic. This is one of Pluto's 'tipping points', so to speak and hence this apparently minor star in Gemini is a point of crossover, a point of impregnation, of new seeds being sewn, and 'tipping points' where all things can change. 

In a skymap it might describe someone  who stood at the threshold, crossing from one way of being to another, or new concept emerging into the collective consciousness.

Part of Johannes Baptista Van Helmont's skymap showing
 Neptune close to Wasat
12 January 1579, Brussels.
Wasat marks the place where
Pluto crosses the ecliptic.

Van Helmont was an alchemist and astrologer and accepted the existence of the philosopher's stone - the elixir of life. He is understood to have performed the first scientific experiments in chemistry and by so doing, moved science from alchemy towards modern chemistry. He is often credited with introducing the word ‘gas’ into the vocabulary of scientists, (said to be derived from the Greek word chaos or from the German word gaesen - ghosts). However, this is debatable point as Paracelcus (1493-1541) whom he studied and admired, described these concepts. Nevertheless the discovery of the concept of gases is a powerful and original contribution to modern sciences [3].

The Noble Gases  - in the face of the Great Cosmic Bull

In van Helmont's time world was thought to consist of four basic elements – air, fire, earth, and water. In was not until the 1770s that nitrogen and oxygen were found to be the elements that formed 99% of air. In 1895 as Neptune crossed the face of the Great Bull, argon and helium were isolated. Then in 1898, as Neptune balanced on the tip of the right horn, the place where new concepts are created by bold action, came krypton, xenon and neon.

Unlike hydrogen and oxygen, this group of gases would not enter into combinations with other elements, which led to their being called noble gases. All of these noble gases were given Greek names. Helium refers to the sun, in whose chromosphere it was traced; xenon means strange (as in xenophobia, which warns against foreigners); and krypton implies that the gas is cryptic, in need of decoding. Neon simply identifies something new, enigmatic and unclassifiable.

Neptune balanced on the tip of the horn of the Great Bull.

When Neptune crossed Wasat, a new and different idea emerged into consciousness, the birth of the concept of gases. Now as Neptune balanced on the tip of the horn of the Great Bull, spectroscopy, this finely-focused analysis of the spectrum of light allowed the gang of noble gases, neon amongst them, to become apparent. 

Then, once again as Neptune drew close to Wasat, gas took another leap forward.

Neon lights - 'colour and fire'

In 1902 French engineer, chemist, and inventor Georges Claude (1870 –1960) devised the Claude system for liquefying air. In the process he discovered when passing an electric current through a glass tube filled with neon gas, the neon atoms broke apart, and when they recombined they gave off light. [4]. Thus was born neon tube lighting. Claude filed a patent for it on 7 March 1910 ahead of its public display at the Paris Motor Show in December 1910 [5]. There is no clear date for when Claude presented his first neon light display. Some references give 3 December, 1910, as this was the starting date for the show. Others give 11 December [6]. However, its patent was ratified in 1911, making 2011 its 100th anniversary.

The skymap for this time reveals an extraordinary phenomenon: Neptune was once more with Wasat. From the emergence of the concept of gases through Van Helmont in the 1640s to Claude using that gas to light up the sky in 1910 and that patent being ratified in 1911, Wasat with Neptune reveals how the idea of gas (Neptune) crossed a barrier and was midwifed into manifestation (Wasat).

By the 1920s, through Claude’s French company Claude Neon, neon lighting had become popular in many parts of the world. Neon lights were inexpensive, lasted a long time, and were attractive. Hotels, night clubs and restaurants effloresced with the bright lights. Despite being one of the noble gases, across America neon lighting penetrated the darkness and scrawled slogans into the night. In his essay ‘Meditation on Broadway’ written in the 1920s, English writer G.K. Chesterton inwardly moaned and outwardly decried to his friends the constantly changing patterns of colours above Broadway that advertised ‘everything, from pork to pianos, through the agency of the two most vivid and most mystical of the gifts of God; colour and fire.’ He offered to his friends: 'What a glorious garden of wonders this would be, to any one who was lucky enough to be unable to read.' Remembering the prophetic writing on the wall in the Bible, Chesterton found this writing on the sky a violation [7]. As Peter Conrad in The Observer notes:

            Neon is the gas that has happily leant itself to the most ignoble uses.
            All across America, it announces LIQUORS or EATS or GIRLS or yells XXXX!!!
            in the flushed red window of an adult video store that has PREVIEW BOOTHS
            for its patrons. It is seldom used to mark a museum or a library, although it is  
            capable of using its palette of scorching, infernal colours to reprimand the vices
            that it otherwise encourages [8].


Yet even though nowadays neon lighting has been taken over by LED lighting for outdoor signage, it is used for many other purposes, such as in instruments which detect electric currents, and in the manufacture of lasers, a device for producing extremely bright light of a single color, and with their efficiency at cutting metal and plastic, lasers have multiple uses in industry and medicine, in particular precision surgery.


Like art deco, the dazzling signs are now viewed as historic and there is even a Museum of Neon Art (MONA) in Glendale, CA.

Nevertheless neon, the new writing in the sky continues to enchant us,  not only lighting up Christmas but giving us iconic images of streets full of the Neptunian promise of wonderland and enchantment.



FR patent 424190, Georges Claude, "Perfectionnements dans l'eclairage par tubes luminescents", initially filed in Paris on 7 March 1910 and issued in France 6 May 1911 and Great Britain on 16 November 1911. http://worldwide.espacenet.com/inpadoc?DB=EPODOC&locale=en_EP&FT=D&CC=FR&NR=424190A&KC=A - accessed 21 August 2011.
 ‘Jan Baptista Van Helmont’. J.R. Partington Annals of Science, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 359-384, 1936. http://people.mech.kuleuven.be/~erik/local_heroes.html - accessed 29 August 2011.
 http://www.chemistryexplained.com/elements/L-P/Neon.html - accessed 29 August 2011.

4. Greenwood, Harold Cecil (1919). Industrial Gases. D. Van Nostrand. p. 87.
Robertson, Patrick (1974). The book of firsts. C. N. Potter.

6. Bloom, Ken (2004). Broadway: its history, people, and places: an encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis.

7. Chesterton, G.K. (1922) What I Saw in America, London: Hodder and Stoughton. Online at:

8. Peter Conrad, ‘Neon: 100 years of the greatest light show on earth’, in The Guardian and the Observer (Guardian News and Media), Sunday 28 August 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/aug/28/100-years-of-neon - accessed 28 August 2011.

Issue No. 81
December 2011

On related topics


March 2008
The Urn of the Great One  Looking at Aquarius in visual astrology via the charts of billon dollar people. 

May 2009
Saviours need not apply ... A wild card,  Nibiru Jupiter, combines with Neptune in the stars of Aquarius, as it did in 1843, to produce dreams, hopes, fears and failure.




In this issue we look at Neptune. Firstly as it moves through the stars of Aquarius and its historical links to European revolutions and secondly in its association with the noble gases - Neon.

Restoring the Heavens to Astrology

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January 2011

Saturn is now with Spica and can be seen in the early predawn light. On the 16th the 3rd quarter moon will pass underneath Saturn - a good day for the 'king'.

Jupiter stands high in the sky at sunset just by the beautiful star Al Rescha, too faint to see from a city view. It is meet by the 1st quarter moon on the 2nd January and this should be a lovely sight in the evening sky.

Mars is rising before Saturn in the late evening and Mars and Saturn will have the night sky to themselves  for the whole of January. Although the Iraq  war is  not officially over the media will be full of war stories. 

Venus is a bright evening star at -4 magnitude. At the moment she radiates the stars of Capricorn but on the middle of January she radiates Neptune,  which will thus emphasis the financial problems of Europe.

The crescent of the New Moon on 25 Dec is in the cap of the Archer (Sagittarius) suggesting that the whole lunar month is about sudden changes. 

Calendar of
forthcoming Events

21st April 2012
The Bolton Astrological Society Spring Conference.
Two half days by Darrelyn Gunzburg and Bernadette Brady. Visual Astrology and AstroGraphology. more

22nd April 2012
The LSA Conference. London.
Bernadette Brady speaking on Visual Astrology. more

24-29 May, 2012
New Orleans, USA
UAC 2012
Bernadette Brady on Fate and Free Will in Astrology and Darrelyn Gunzburg on visual astrology. visit the UAC web site.

Early June, 2012
San Diego, USA
Details to be announced
Bernadette Brady and Darrelyn Gunzburg 

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