seen through the prism of planetary cycles

This section is about remarkable correlations between planetary cycles, world history and the history of modern artefacts. It includes articles about the history of maritime empires, about the United States and Japan on the threshold of World War II, and about the history of computers and the rise of IBM and Apple.

Planetary cycles as a key to understand history

Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions were used by traditional astrology to understand history. To learn more about this topic we recommend Benjamin Dykes' Astrology of the World second volume. Modern astrology has added Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, which leads it to consider a much more complex approach to history through multiple cycles such as Jupiter-Uranus, Saturn-Pluto, Uranus-Neptune, Uranus-Pluto etc... André Barbault was one of the pioneers of this approach in the second half of the 20th century, see his book Planetary Cycles Mundane Astrology. In the past decade, the most significant book based on that approach is probably Cosmos and Psyche by Richard Tarnas. And Nick Anthony Fiorenza's astronomical approach is based on a much wider set of bodies, such as dwarf planets Eris, Haumea, Makemake; centaurs Chiron, Pholus, Nessus and Chariklo; and asteroids Ceres, Juno, Vesta and Pallas. See his article The 2020 ”Societal Reset” & “The Great Transformation“ 2020-2030.

Our approach is to focus on the giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. We look both at their synodic cycles and at their stellia as they provide insights about the cyclic patterns of history:

  • Across centuries, the rythm of long-term history is set by the Uranus-Neptune 170-years cycle and the periodicity of 179 years for the stellia of the giant planets (see our page about planetary cycles).

  • Within each century, from one decade to another, historical, cultural and social developments follows the rythm of shorter synodic cycles such as the 20-year Jupiter-Saturn cycle, the 44-year Saturn-Uranus cycle or the 12-year Jupiter-Uranus cycle.

  • Within a decade, the zeitgeist of each year resonates with the planetary alignments between the giant planets, such as a Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus T-square , opposition patterns, square patterns and Grand Trines. See the zeitgeist of 1976 presented below.

The timeline of Uranus-Neptune conjunctions

It's important to keep in mind the timeline of the Uranus-Neptune cycles as it's always in the background of any historical development. Since the 12th century, Uranus-Neptune conjunctions have occurred in the following years:

  • 1136,

  • 1307,

  • 1478-1479,

  • 1650,

  • 1821 and

  • 1993.

  • The next conjunction will occur in 2165.

World History

Continental wars and global conflicts

The history of Europe is correlated to Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus alignments:

  • The 1762 Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus conjunction coincided with the beginning of the Anglo-Spanish War when Britain entered the war against Spain and Naples in the context of the Seven Years' War (1756-1763).

  • The 1796 Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus T-square was an important milestone in the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) during the French Revolutionary Wars. It also coincided with the start of Napoleon Bonaparte's rise: he gained his first victory as an army commander at the Battle of Montenotte and successfully invaded Italy.

  • The 1802-03 Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus conjunction coincided with the end of the War of the Second Coalition and marks the transition between the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.

  • The 1941-1942 Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus conjunction coincided with the climax and turning point of World War II, when the United States and Japan entered the war in the Pacific and the Germans invaded Russia,. Remarkably, it also coincided with an exact waning trine between Uranus and Neptune, marking an important step in the Uranus-Neptune cycle, after the opposition of 1906-1910.

Also, the American Civil War started during the 1861-62 Saturn-Uranus square and lasted until the trine (André Barbault, Planetary Cycles Mundane Astrology).

World War II

Our post about the United States and Japan on the threshold of World War II explores the zeitgeist of the 6-month period of the triple Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of August 1940 to February 1941, when both the United States and Japan were preparing for entry into World War II. See also our post about the 1901 and 1921 Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions in the lives of F.D. Roosevelt and Emperor Hirohito.


  • The French Revolution of 1789 coincided very precisely with the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction of June 1989 that was making a trine to Saturn. Remarkably, three years later, the Convention abolished the monarchy on September 21, 1792, a month after the third Jupiter-Neptune conjunction of that year, which was making an opposition to Saturn in sidereal Aries, the sign of Saturn's fall. This is one of many interesting examples that suggest that Neptune is also strongly correlated to political revolutions, and that this archetypal topic is not exclusively associated to Uranus or Pluto.

  • The 1848 Revolutions coincided with a specific alignment of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus: a series of Jupiter-Uranus waxing squares and of Jupiter-Saturn waxing trines from Sep 1847 to June 1848. At that time Saturn was within 14 degrees of Neptune, following their conjunction of Apr-Dec 1846. Remarkably, Jupiter was within 1 degree of the star Sirius in February 1848, when the revolution started in Paris.

  • In October 1851, the opposition of Jupiter highlighted the stellium of Saturn, Uranus and Pluto that lasted the whole year 1851 and coincided with a number of revolutions: both the Taiping Rebellion and the Nian Rebellion started in China in 1851. There was also the 1851 Chilean Revolution and the French coup of 1851 in December.

  • In September 1989, the Jupiter opposition to Saturn and Uranus marked a climax during the stellium of Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The year 1989 was a turning point in modern history with the Revolutions of 1989 across Eastern Europe that culminated in November with the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. It was also the year of the Tiananmen Square protests. All those events that marked a turning point in the 20th century must be seen from the wider perspective of the stellium of Saturn, Uranus and Neptune in 1989, before the Uranus-Neptune conjunction of 1993. However, it would be interesting to clarify the role played by Jupiter in that context, and to differentiate the topics correlated to Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus from the topics correlated to Saturn-Uranus-Neptune.

The chart for the beginning of the 1848 revolution in France: Feb 22, 1848.

Maritime empires

Our post about The Rise and Fall of Maritime Empires shows how their histories correlate to Uranus-Neptune cycles:

  • the Genoese and the Venetian maritime republics in the Mediterranean, from the middle ages to the late 18th century.

  • the Portuguese Empire in the Indian Ocean, followed by the Dutch and the British Empires.

  • the Spanish Empire in the Caribbean and the Philippines, followed by American imperialism in the same regions, and expanding into the Pacific.

The history of modern artefacts

The birth and evolution of modern artefacts such as the printing press, the bicycle, the computer, nuclear technology and the internet correlate with Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus alignments.

The birth of Gutenberg's moveable type printing press

The Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of July 1444 was exceptional for two reasons:

  • it occurred at the end of a stellium of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, which can be correlated to the birth of Gutenberg's moveable type printing press, as described in our post about the history of computers.

  • it was exactly conjunct Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, described as "the impetuous and blazing Great World Teacher, knowledge-holder of ancient hermetic wisdom" (Nick Anthony Fiorenza, An Introduction to Astronomical Astrology, page 32). This astronomical event is extremely rare, and may occur approximately every 800 years.

The history of the bicycle

Remarkably, the "bike booms" that marked periods of fast growth in the history of the bicycle precisely correlate with Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus alignments:

  • Baron Karl von Drais' first ride of his newly invented draisienne took place in the summer of 1817, a few months before the Jupiter-Uranus-Neptune conjunction of Nov-Dec 1817, and a year before the first Saturn-Uranus square of 1818-20. Two years later, the draisienne, vélocipède or "dandy horse" craze of the summer of 1819 coincided with the Saturn-Uranus square of 1818-20 and the Uranus-Neptune conjunction of 1820.

  • The first bicycle craze started in 1867, during a Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus Grand Trine. By 1868 the first mass-production of bicycles had started in Europe and the United States.

  • In 1885 John Kemp Starley released the first commercially successful safety bicycle in England, and a year later they were being produced in the United States. This coincided with the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction of August 1886, during the Saturn-Uranus waning square of 1885-86. The year 1885 was also the birth year of the motorcycle and the motor car.

  • "In the year 1896, there was simultaneously an increase in bicycle popularity and a severe economic depression." (Wikipedia) This coincided with Jupiter making a square, in 1896, to the Saturn-Uranus conjunction that would become exact in 1897.

  • U.S. bike boom of 1965–1975 started with the Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus T-square of 1965 and ended with the next T-square of 1976. "At the height of the boom, in 1972, 1973, and 1974, more bicycles than automobiles were sold in the U.S" (Wikipedia). This height coincided with the Grand Trine formed by Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus in 1973-74.

  • In the 2010s, the rise of bicycle-sharing systems, and the increased popularity of electric bicycles may be correlated to the 2010 Jupiter-Uranus opposition to Saturn, and the Grand Trine of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus in 2015.

  • In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a dramatic increase in bicycle usage and a boom in bike sales around the world, already referred to as a "cycling explosion". This coincides with the approaching Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of December 2020 which will be making a square to Uranus.

The history of computers

Our post about The rhythm of innovation in the history of computers describes in detail how the evolution of the computer correlates to the alignments of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, from the 17th century mechanical calculator to the modern computer. It also includes notes about the rise of computer giants IBM and Apple. See also our post about the planetary transits in Steve Jobs' life.

The atomic age and nuclear plant accidents

Martin Heinrich Klaproth discovered Uranium in 1789, the year of a Jupiter-Uranus conjunction trine Saturn.

The first Nuclear power and nuclear weapons coincided with the Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus conjunction of Feb-May 1941, marking the birth of the Atomic Age:

  • Plutonium was first produced and isolated on December 14, 1940, and chemically identified on February 23, 1941 at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory.

  • The S-1 Committee on Uranium held its first meeting December 1941, and the Manhattan Project started in 1942.

  • The first nuclear reactor, the Chicago Pile-1, started in December 1942, six months after the Saturn-Uranus conjunction of May 1942.

The most critical nuclear plant accidents have coincided with Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus alignments:

  • the Kyshtym disaster of September 1957 and the Windscale fire of October 1957 coincided with a rare alignment: during the Saturn-Uranus trine of 1957, Jupiter reached the mid-point between Saturn and Uranus, making two exact sextiles to Saturn and Uranus. And Saturn was exactly conjunct the star Antares.

  • the Chernobyl disaster of April 1986 coincided with a Jupiter-Saturn square and Saturn approaching to its conjunction with Uranus within 14 degrees. Again, Saturn was exactly conjunct the star Antares: the accident occurred exactly one Saturn cycle after the Kyshtym disaster of September 1957.

  • the Tokaimura nuclear accident of September 1999 occurred during a Saturn-Uranus square, and a Jupiter-Neptune square, when Jupiter was approaching to its conjunction with Saturn within 13 degrees. At the time Uranus was within 12 degrees of Neptune following the conjunction of 1993.

  • the Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 2011 occurred 8 months after the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction of June 2010, and after the 2008-2010 Saturn-Uranus opposition. Remarkably, Chiron was within 3 degrees of Neptune, following the conjunction of February 2010. The previous Chiron-Neptune conjunction occurred in September 1945, within a month of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

New maritime routes and new networks of communication

Uranus-Neptune cycles seem to correlate to the phenomena of weaving new networks that connect people in unprecedented ways. The conjunction of 1478 marked the beginning of an entirely new maritime network around the globe. Starting from the conjunction of 1820, new technologies such as the steamship dramatically increased the speed of sea travel, while the telegraph enabled a transoceanic telecommunications network. And the conjunction of 1993 coincided with the beginning of the internet and the invention of the World Wide Web.

More specifically, the opening of new maritime routes in the context of spice trade can be correlated to Uranus-Neptune cycles:

    • 1478-1479 conjunction

    • 1525-1526 opening square

        • 1520: Magellan's expedition crossed the strait that bears his name in the southern tip of South America, opening the Pacific to European exploration.

      • 1521: Magellan's ships reached the Philippines and soon after the Spice Islands, ultimately resulting in the Manila Galleon trade, the first westward spice trade route to Asia.

      • 1522: Juan Sebastian Elcano takes Magellan's last remaining ship across the Indian Ocean and back to Spain, completing the first circumnavigation of the globe.

    • 1563-1566 opposition

    • 1820 conjunction

      • the steamship dramatically increased the speed of sea travel

      • the telegraph enabled a transoceanic telecommunications network

      • 1815: end of the Manila Galleons route due to the Mexican War of Independence.

    • 1868-1870 Uranus-Neptune opening square

    • 1906-1910 opposition

      • 1903: Roald Amundsen led the first expedition to successfully traverse Canada's Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

      • 1904-1914: construction of the Panama Canal, connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean through the Isthmus of Suez. The southwest passage to Asia around South America, through the strait of Magellan, becomes obsolete.

    • 1993 conjunction

      • 1980s and 1990s: rapid development of the infrastructures and technologies that enabled a global system interconnected networks known as the internet.

      • 1989: invention of the World Wide Web.

An example of a Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus year: the zeitgeist of 1976

There was a Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus T-square in 1976. How did this alignment resonate with the zeitgeist - the "spirit of the age" - of that year?

In the field of politics, 1976 can be remembered as the end of an era and the beginning of a new one:

  • In China the Cultural Revolution ended, and its leader and founding father, Mao Zedong, died, marking the end of an era that had started in 1949.

  • The Vietnam war had ended with the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975 and Vietnam was reunited in 1976.

  • Started in 1969, the so-called Détente between the Soviet Union and the United States, continued, as symbolised by the Apollo-Soyuz handshake in space in July 1975.

  • In November 1976, democrat Jimmy Carter was elected president, with a radically different program from its republican predecessors Nixon and Ford.

The following new and unique cultural phenomenon are worth mentioning:

  • Punk rock and New Wave, which emerged between 1974 and 1976 as a reaction against mainstream 1970s rock, and became major in 1977.

  • Irish rock band U2 was formed. The transits on Bono's birth chart for the day of the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction of 1976 are impressive: Uranus was transiting his natal Moon-Neptune conjunction and Jupiter was reaching his Venus-Mercury conjunction. It's interesting to note that Steve Jobs and Bono (U2's lead singer) were friends, and that U2 has partnered with Apple numerous times since 2003.

  • The first Star Wars was filmed in 1976, and would be released in 1977.

  • Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins published his book The Selfish Gene which popularised the gene-centred view of evolution and introduced the term meme.

It was also an important year in terms of technology breakthroughs, particularly in aerospace:

  • the Concorde supersonic passenger airliner made its first commercial flight (its very first flight was in 1969).

  • the Viking 1 and Viking 2 spacecrafts successfully landed on Mars, and the Voyager program was preparing the famous Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 for a grand tour to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune (launched in 1977).

  • the space shuttle Enterprise was rolled out.

1976 was a milestone in the history of personal computers: Apple Computer was founded in April 1976 and introduced the Apple I, one of the first personal computers targeting the consumer market. One year later, in 1977, the first commercially successful personal computers were launched.

Additional ressources about planetary cycles and world history