With the inclusion of the decans and the extra-zodiacal constellations corresponding to them, the whole celestial sphere is opened up as a field of research. Recent research reveals the significance of the most luminous stars (mega stars) in our cosmos. Here the word cosmos is used in the Greek sense of the word to encompass the entire visible universe. This includes all stars visible to the naked eye.
The famous Bayer catalog of stars was compiled in 1603 by Johann Bayer, who assigned Greek letters to the brightest stars visible in each constellation, usually in descending order of apparent brightness (but he was not always consistent in this). In the early 1700s John Flamsteed assigned numbers to the bright stars in each constellation, in order of right ascension. The Flamsteed numbers proved useful, because one eventually runs out of Greek letters, but there is no limit to the number of stars that can be assigned a number. The Flamsteed catalog (which includes the stars in the Bayer catalog) is more or less sufficient in terms of exploring the visible cosmos. Of course, with the development of more and more powerful telescopes, more and more stars in our galaxy have now been catalogued. But for the purpose of exploring the sidereal influences at work in our cosmos (our local region of the galaxy) the combined Bayer-Flamsteed catalog is more or less sufficient - "more or less" because there is an interesting group of stars, which can be referred to as mega stars, that also need to be taken into consideration. The mega stars are exceedingly bright stars and, as recent research indicates, they are of extraordinary importance.
In order to illustrate the notion of mega stars, let us consider the star Deneb, which marks the tail of the Swan (or the head of the Northern Cross) and which can be seen on high during summer nights in the middle of the Milky Way. Deneb is a first magnitude star (apparent magnitude 1.25), which appears less bright than its neighbor Vega in the constellation of the Lyre. Both the Swan and the Lyre were sacred to Apollo, and both Deneb and Vega are of great significance in relation to our solar system. Deneb and Vega mark two points of the summer triangle, whose third point is marked by Altair in the constellation of the Eagle. Whereas Vega is the fifth brightest star that we can see in our cosmos, Deneb is the nineteenth brightest in terms of apparent magnitude. Sirius, of course, is the brightest star we can see. However, neither Vega nor Sirius is a mega star, whereas Deneb is. How may this be understood?
Our grasp of the surrounding cosmos is changed immediately when we consider the distance of stars from our solar system. These distances are so vast that a special cosmic unit for measuring them has been devised: light years, where one light year is the distance travelled by light during the course of one year. To gain an understanding of the enormous distances involved, we need only consider that Sirius - 8½ light years away (amounting to some fifty trillion miles) - is a close neighbor. It is because Sirius is so close, in comparison with other stars, that it appears so bright. We can ask the question: How bright is Sirius objectively? In other words, if we were to place Sirius alongside our Sun, how bright would it appear in comparison with our Sun?
This leads us to the concept of luminosity, which measures a star's intrinsic brightness. If the luminosity of our Sun is set at the value one (L=1), then the luminosity of Sirius is 24 (L=24). In other words Sirius, if it were to be placed alongside our Sun, would appear 24 times brighter. From our perspective our Sun is an extremely bright star. However, if the Earth were revolving around Sirius - in other words, if Sirius were our Sun - it would be seen by us to be 24 times brighter. If we imagine a second Sun alongside our Sun, then a third Sun, a fourth Sun, a fifth Sun, up to a 23rd Sun, all bunched together as 24 Suns, we gain a conception of the luminosity of Sirius, which would blaze down upon us with the light of 24 of our Suns.
Vega at 25 light years is three times the distance of Sirius. If Vega would appear to us to be just as bright as Sirius then, because the intensity of light decreases proportionately to the square of the distance, it would follow that the intrinsic brightness (luminosity) of Vega would be nine times (3x3) that of Sirius. However, Vega - as the fifth brightest star - appears a lot less bright to us than Sirius. In fact, the luminosity of Vega (L=51) is a little more than twice that of Sirius. Vega's luminosity is 51, so that if the Earth were revolving around the star Vega as our Sun, Vega would blaze down upon us with a light over fifty times brighter than that of our Sun.
Having specified luminosity, we are now in a position to understand why Deneb is a mega star. Deneb is over 3200 light years distant from our solar system and its luminosity L=270,000. In other words, Deneb is shining with a light 270,000 times more powerful than our Sun. Thus, a mega star is a star that is many thousands of times more luminous than our Sun.
Deneb well illustrates the significance of mega stars. Looking up at Deneb, we see that it is 60° North of the zodiac - this is its latitude. If we trace an arc down from the ecliptic pole through Deneb, it intersects the sidereal zodiac at 10½° Aquarius - this is Deneb's longitude. According to the research presented in Robert Powell's book Chronicle of the Living Christ, at the feeding of the 5000 the Sun was at 10½° Aquarius.1 Let us consider this in the light of Rudolf Steiner's indication that, "It was always in accordance with the collective Being of the whole Universe with whom the Earth is in harmony, that all which Christ Jesus did took place."2
From these words it is clear that it was not mere coincidence that there was a conjunction between the Sun and the mega star Deneb at the feeding of the 5000, but that the cosmic forces streaming from Deneb were received by our Sun and transmitted to Christ at the time of the miracle of the multiplication of bread and fish. Here the word "conjunction" means a conjunction in longitude, both at 10½° Aquarius. Even though the Sun and Deneb were 60° apart in terms of latitude, there was still a conjunction in longitude, with the Sun crossing the Deneb meridian at the time of the miracle.
Just as there are meridians - lines of energy flow - in the human being, these meridians exist also in the greater cosmos of the macrocosm. As may be understood from the law of correspondences "as above, so below", if there are meridians in the human being, they must exist also "above" in the cosmos. Thus, we can picture an energy flow streaming from each star and intersecting the zodiac, the place of intersection indicating the point of influx of the energy flow from our cosmos into our solar system. For Deneb this point of influx is 10½° Aquarius, and so whenever the Sun or any planet in our solar system crosses the Deneb meridian at 10½° Aquarius, the Deneb energy flows in to unite with that planet or with our Sun. (Here energy is to be understood as the Divine Energy or Divine Love radiating from the stars.)
Astrosophically speaking, there was a conjunction of the Sun with Deneb at Christ's feeding of the 5000. In this and other examples, seen in the light of astrosophy, stellar latitude is disregarded, although of course latitude is important in order to physically locate a star. Focussing upon the meridians as energy lines flowing through every star, the entire celestial sphere becomes astrosophically significant.
Astrosophy signifies a broadening - in relation to the original Babylonian and Egyptian astronomy/astrology based on the ancient sidereal zodiac - to include the entire celestial sphere. For the Egyptians and the Babylonians the sidereal zodiac provided the natural frame of reference for observing the passage of the planets (meaning "wandering stars") against the background of the fixed stars. It is thanks to the clairvoyance of the Babylonian astronomer/priests, through the guidance in the sixth century BC of the great Persian initiate Zaratas (Greek: Zoroaster), that the background of the fixed stars was divided into twelve equal constellations/signs of the zodiac, each 30° long, with Aldebaran at 15° Taurus and Antares at 15° Scorpio - this being the original definition of the zodiac. Each of the fixed stars in the twelve signs was assigned a degree in longitude in the zodiac - Spica, for example, near the end of Virgo, was found to have a zodiacal longitude of 29° Virgo.
Thanks to the star-gazing Babylonians the exaltations of the planets were discovered, these being generally identified with stars or star clusters in the zodiac.3 For example, the Babylonians found that the Moon's most powerful location (exaltation) in the entire zodiac was when the Moon was in conjunction with the star cluster of the Pleiades in the neck of the Bull (5° Taurus). However, the Babylonian tradition which located the positions of the planetary exaltations was not so exact, and so in modern astrology the Moon's exaltation is said to be 3° Taurus when in fact, it is 5° Taurus, in conjunction with the Pleiades (the Seven Sisters). Cuneiform tablet VAT 7851 shows the Moon at exaltation in conjunction with the Pleiades in Taurus. Likewise, the Babylonians discovered Jupiter's exaltation to be in conjunction with the star cluster of Praesepe in Cancer (12½° Cancer). Again, the astrological tradition that Jupiter's exaltation is 15° Cancer is erroneous, because Jupiter's exaltation point is 12½° Cancer, in conjunction with Praesepe (the Beehive).
The clairvoyance of the Babylonians, focussed upon the passage of the planets against the background of the fixed stars, led to the discovery of the exaltations as the most potent stellar locations of the planets in the zodiac. The teaching of the exaltations has been fundamental in the history of astrology. Now, with the development toward a new star wisdom or astrosophy, our consciousness is expanded to see the Sun, Moon and planets not just in relation to the constellational background of the signs of the sidereal zodiac, but to include all the stars in the heavens, the entire celestial sphere.
Research into the planetary configurations during the life of Christ - inspired by the words from Rudolf Steiner quoted earlier that, "It was always in accordance with the collective Being of the whole Universe with whom the Earth is in harmony, that all which Christ Jesus did took place" - reveals that the most important heavenly meridians are those running through the mega stars. Mega stars thus represent an extension from the exaltations discovered by the Babylonians. Whereas the exaltations were discovered to be stars or stellar clusters lying within the zodiacal belt, the meridians which run through the mega stars circle around the entire celestial globe. For astrosophy all that needs to be known, essentially, is the mega stars' longitudes in the sidereal zodiac. These are known thanks to the star catalog included in Peter Treadgold's new program Astrofire, which lists the longitude, latitude, apparent magnitude, absolute magnitude, type, class, distance and luminosity of more than 4000 stars. Thus, information about the mega stars can be derived from Astrofire - click here if you are interested in learning more about Astrofire.
At the moment of the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan, when Christ descended into incarnation in Jesus, the Sun at 0°50' Libra was located on the meridian of 1 Mega.4 Thus, there was a conjunction of the Sun with 1 Mega at the baptism in the Jordan, where the Divine Energy flowing from the extraordinarily luminous star 1 Mega was transmitted to our Sun and from our Sun to Christ - remembering Rudolf Steiner's words quoted above. From this and other examples, the significance of the mega stars becomes evident. There are numerous other examples of conjunctions of the Sun with mega stars at the Christ events indicating the remarkable significance of mega stars. Of course, there still remains much research to be done to investigate the individual nature and influence of these most luminous stars.
The research that has been carried out thus far indicates that the mega stars are even more significant than the stars or star clusters marking the zodiacal locations of the astrological exaltations. The mega stars could be thought of as indicating astrosophical exaltation points. For this reason, with Robert Powell's discovery of the mega stars in the year 2003, the Christian Star Calendar now refers to mega stars, drawing attention to their significance in relation to the Christ events. To read more about mega stars, click here
1 Robert Powell, Chronicle of the Living Christ, (Anthroposophic Press: Gt. Barrington / MA, 1996), page 170.
2 Rudolf Steiner, Spiritual Guidance of the Individual and Humanity (Anthroposophic Press: Gt. Barrington / MA, 1992), page 28.
3 Robert Powell, Hermetic Astrology, volume I, pp. 225-230 discusses the astrological tradition of planetary exaltations originally called qaqqar nisirti ("places of secret revelation") by the Babylonians.
4 This is the designation of this star in the Astrofire program. 1 Mega is located in the southern hemisphere constellation of Centaurus the Centaur. It is 56° South of the zodiac and has a longitude in the sidereal zodiac of 0°24' Libra. It is just under 6000 light years away and has a luminosity of over 77,000.