If you are an intermediate to advanced student of astrology, you’ve probably considered purchasing software to cast charts for yourself and others. With so many options, how do you know which astrology software is the right one for you? Here are a few factors to consider when choosing an astrology program:
Do you have a Mac or a PC? There are fewer programs available for Mac OS X than for Windows-based computers. In many cases, you would need to have Virtual PC or another program that will allow you to run Windows in order to use the software. However, there are a hand programs that do run on Mac: Kairon, Time Cycles and Time Passages.
Do you want a basic program that only casts the chart wheel or do you want an interactive program that helps you learn? Some programs will allow you to click on aspects in the chart and see a description. This is good for beginners who want a handy reference as they are reading the chart. Other programs are simple and just cast the chart wheel and leave the interpretation up to you.
Do you want just the natal chart or do you want to see advanced charts as well? Do you want to look at transits, compatibility, solar returns, lunar returns, astro-cartography or progressed charts? If you are just starting out, you may only want to work with the natal chart. If you are interested in predictive astrology, you need software that includes progressed charts and transits.
Do you want built-in interpretation reports? If so, do you want reports to sell or are they for your own study or to give out to family and friends? Most software programs have the ability to add reports, but the reports usually cost $50-$250 each (above the cost of the astrology software). In some cases, there is also a commercial license fee to resell these reports. Several companies do offer bundles, where you can get the software with a few reports. Others, have natal reports built in, but require you to purchase transit, solar return, compatibility, or composite relationship reports.
There is also the option of software that doesn’t involve casting charts, but only generates specific interpretation reports. Matrix Software offers Report Writers and Llewellyn Publications had the Astrology Made Easy book series that came with CD software that allowed readers to print reports based on their own birth data.
Try to get a sample of the reports before you buy the software, particularly if you plan to sell them. Some reports are very simple and straightforward, but others are written with astrological jargon which would confuse most readers.
Do you want bi-wheel and tri-wheel capability? Many programs do allow bi-wheel charts, but only advanced programs offer tri-wheel charts. Bi-wheel charts allow you to compare two charts side by side, whether it is two individuals’ charts or one person’s natal chart with transits. Tri-wheel charts are great for comparing the natal chart to the progressed chart and the current transits.
Do you want to search for specific transits or advance the chart by a specific number of days or months? A few programs let you search for specific transits over thousands of years and others allow you to see an animation of the transits moving around the natal chart.
Do you want to see the asteroids, custom points, midpoints or other features? Many advanced astrologers study various asteroids and others use custom points or midpoints. Generally, only professional astrology software will show these, though some may include Chiron and The Part of Fortune.
How much are you willing to pay? Astrology Software can cost anywhere from $0-$1000, depending on what you are looking for. Halloran offers a really basic program for $29 and Time Passages has a Basic Edition for $49. There are also a couple of free programs, like AstroWin, and some programs offer a free trial version. The more features and reports you need, the more expensive the astrology program is likely to be.
There are also websites which will cast a basic natal chart for free. Astro.com offers a free chart, but if you pay the $10 membership, you can store 1,000 charts and get access to solar return charts, progressed charts with transits, compatibility charts, and other advanced charts.
How do the charts look? See if you can find screen shots or a trial version. Every astrology program is different. Some will have a black background and a colored chart wheel, while some will have a white background and a black chart wheel. Other programs are interactive, allowing you to click in and out of different features. Some charts have small print and others have large, clear print.
No matter your experience or budget, there is an astrology program or service for you. Astrology is so deep and multi-layered that even after years of study, there is always something new to discover. Good luck!