Not much happening in the sky today, so let’s talk about “planets out of bounds.” In terms of astrological energy, you can think of a planet out of bounds as a little dog digging under the fence and running around shouting “FREEEEE!”
But what does it mean physically? What is the astronomy of “out of bounds?” Where are these “bounds” and who decided on them?
There are two ways of looking at the solar system and the planetary movements. (Well, more than that, of course, but let’s keep it as simple as possible.)
The ancient astronomers, of course, saw the sky, the stars, and the “wandering stars” (“planetes” in Greek) from the surface of the Earth.
They saw that the planets all moved in roughly the same line across the sky, night after night. Sometimes they were above the line, sometimes below, but almost always they stayed within a band that covered about one-quarter of the visible sky.
In imagination, they took the Earth’s equator and projected it outwards onto the dome of the sky, calling this the “celestial equator.”
Then they observed the furthest north and south points that the Sun reaches at the two solstices, and projected those lines onto the sky dome as well. (We know these lines as the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.)
The image at right shows these lines on the surface of the Earth. The image also shows that the Earth is tilted to the plane of the ecliptic, which is the plane in which the planets move around the Sun.
Now let’s look at the solar system as a whole from outside, as an astronomer would view it.
This image, from NASA, is a diagram that shows that the planets don’t all move in exactly the same plane. The solar system is not like the rings of Saturn, where all its moons and the rings are in one plane like a sheet of paper.
The “plane” in which the planets move is kind of an average. Some are tilted up, some are tilted down, and some are truly wacky. So you can see that the tilted ones sometimes appear to be north of the celestial equator and sometimes south.
Now the third image… a view of the night sky from mid-northern latitude on today’s date. I’ve added the approximate locations of the celestial equator and the tropics of Cancer (+23) and Capricorn (-23) as dashed lines.
As you see, all the planets in this view are currently in bounds, although Mars and Pluto are close to the southern boundary. Right now only Mercury is out of bounds to the south. It will remain south of the Tropic of Capricorn until June 24, when its orbital tilt, as seen from Earth, brings it back within the safe confines of the zodiacal zone.
Summary: When a planet is “out of bounds,” the astronomy is simply that the combination of its tilted orbit and our tilted planet make it appear to be north or south of the Tropics in the sky. Astrologically, its energy behaves as though it has slipped the leash and is for a time free of constraints, both good and bad.