AsterPro Library of Credible Astrology
5. Beware of The International Atlas

Page as of Oct. 14, 2001

Beware of "The International Atlas"

My experience with the editors of American Astrology about the accuracy of
the information contained in the International Atlas, the most widely used
source of time changes in foreign countries, is included next to provide
another glimpse to the world of astrology and astrology magazines.

The International Atlas is published by ACS and is available as a book
($29.95) and as a software ($200).  It is a source that outlines time changes
in foreign countries.  As it was explained earlier, time of birth, along with
date and place of birth, is a most crucial input to an astrologic chart.  For
example, a birth in Istanbul, Turkey on July 15, 1942, at 6pm must be
adjusted for daylight savings time (DST) or war time (WT), if one or the
other was observed in Istanbul in 1942.  If so, the time input would be 5pm,
not 6pm.  All chart services must have on hand a source that supplies this
type of data.  On the surface, the Atlas is the most comprehensive, thus, the
most popular (and profitable), such source available.  ASC advertises it as
"most accurate".

The Atlas is organized by country.  Almost all of the recognized countries
are included.  For each country, an exhaustive list of localities, including
small villages in some instances, are tabulated.  For a given locality, the
accompanying data includes its longitude and latitude and the time zone table
to which the locality belongs.  The time zone table, there are more than 100
of them for some countries, list the time meridian observed in that zone,
changes, if any, in time meridian over the years, and the dates, if any, each
year on which the DST or WT were active.  All in all, this is a wonderful
piece of work, even for non-astrologic interest, if the data in the Atlas is
correct and reliable.

The general public may not realize it, but data on time changes in various
countries, tabulated neatly year by year going back to 1878, is not something
that is readily available, even if one travels to a particular country and
tries to obtain such information through official channels.  After all, this
type of data is useful only to astrologers.  I traveled in official capacity
to most parts of the world and know first hand that in many countries there
is not even up-to-date census data.  The publications by the United Nations,
World Bank, and others do not contain such data.  Even the Astronomical
Almanac published by the US Naval Observatory, in conjunction with sources in
England, is incomplete and in some instances (eg, Turkey) partly in error.

As soon as the Atlas reached my hands and I examined its contents, I knew
this was too good to be true.  Theoretically this source would be used by
astrologers for 5 billion births outside the USA.  I decided to investigate
the reliability of the information pertaining to Turkey, my native country.
I pursued my efforts with the staff of Kandilli observatory in Istanbul and
separately with officials of the Ministry of Internal Resources in Ankara.
As I had suspected, the data was not readily available.  Time data for the
1940s to 1960s had to be extracted and collated from historical documents in
the archives.  The activity continued for a month, but finally I had the
information on hand on an official letterhead.  It is summarized below.

Turkey observes time at 30E (Zone: +2).  The DST was first initiated in 1947
following the International meeting in Montreaux on October 10, 1946.

* 1947-1951 inclusive from 3rd Sat-Sun in April to 1st Sunday in
  October (see a perpetual calendar).
  Start: Set 0 hr Saturday-Sunday to 1 a.m.; End: Set 2 a.m. to 1
* No DST from October 1952 to 1961 inclusive.
* DST from July 14/15, 1962 to October 30, 1963
* DST in 1964: May 14/15 to September 30
* No DST: October 1964 to June 1973
* DST in 1973: June 2/3 to November 4
* DST in 1974: March 30/31 to November 3
* DST in 1975: March 22/23 to November 2
* DST in 1976: March 20/21 to October 31
* DST in 1977: April 2/3 to October 16
* DST in 1978: April 1/2 to June 29
  On June 29, 1978 DST was canceled.
  The Time-zone moved from 30-East (Zone:+2) to 45-East (Zone:+3).
  This continued until July 30/31, 1983.
  On midnight July 30/31, 1983 DST started (Zone:+4).
  It continued to November 1, 1984.
  On November 1, 1984 DST ended,
  AND time-zone moved back to 30-East (Zone:+2).
* DST in 1985: April 20/21 to September 28
* DST after 1986 (inclusive):
  Start on last Saturday/Sunday in March at 0-hour (adjust to 1
  End on last Sunday in September (adjust 2 a.m. to 1 a.m.).
* DST after 1992 (inclusive): the dates are as in 1986, but
  Start on Sunday (adjust 1 a.m. to 2 a.m.).

I compared it to the tables for Turkey in the Atlas.  Nothing matched.  The
errors in the Atlas were not just a matter of some of the dates being off.
They were wrong.  The Atlas postulates three time zones for Turkey, when the
Turks assured me that Turkey observes time only at 30E longitude.  The Atlas
shows WT and/or DST in years when Turkey did not observe them, and vice
versa.  In years when Turkey did observe DST, and the Atlas shows them as
effective, the dates, never mind the times, are completely off.  It appears
that when in doubt, the author, Thomas G. Shanks, and ACS simply substituted
for Turkey the effective dates in USA.  I concluded that if the information
for Turkey, a westernized country, is this shaky, the data for the other
countries had to be suspect too.

The Atlas is not only useless, it is a misleading source.  Had the Atlas not
existed, astrologers would have been forced to erect two charts: one assuming
DST, one without.  The interpretations provided with the two reports would
have assisted the native in deciding the one to use.  Moreover, people would
have researched time changes at least for their locality.  Gradually a
reliable source would have emerged.  As it is, everyone assumes this work is
already done and relies on the Atlas.  Since the Atlas is also popular as
software and is used widely abroad, one can conclude that 50 percent of
charts erected for foreign-born persons are in error; 50 percent of mothers
who also rely on astrologic charts to raise their children are raising them
based on the wrong chart.  For people who do not believe in astrology this
may be a minor joke.  For people who do, it is a crime.

I wanted to share my findings with fellow astrologers and submitted a one-
page outline to American Astrology.  The editors rejected it.  I offered to
pay for it $625, the fee for a one-page ad.  It was rejected again.
Suspicious of collaboration between the editors and ACS, I decided to submit
a detailed letter of appeal to the owners of American Astrology.  The letter
is included next.  I did not receive a response.  (This denial by an editor
and a publisher of a magazine occurred on December 19, 1991, a time when
America was celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights.)