My recent endeavour has been to identify stars which are so spaced apart as never to occupy the same house and so to give the houses an appearance. Appearance is hugely important to a star-gazer arguing against northern hemisphere interpretations of what is in our sky.

As you may know, the simplest house divisions are space-based. They may divide the ecliptic, but then either the orientation to the meridian is lost or the houses are of wildly unequal size.

Alternatively, they may project onto the ecliptic divisions of the prime vertical passing overhead from east to west, but these divisions are very difficult to see.

I use the meridian system, which divides the celestial equator evenly and projects the divisions onto the ecliptic by hour circles, or angles of right ascension. These are easy to see, and to relate to the constellations and the horizon, even if the cusps of the first and seventh houses are usually above or below the horizon.

Customary practice is to locate the planets in the houses according to their ecliptic longitude, so that if the cusp of the fourth house—remember that I number the houses in the order the rising sun passes through them, and the fourth cusp is due north in the visible sky—is at 4Libra say, then a planet at 5Libra is in the third house.

Unfortunately, lines of right ascension and ecliptic longitude are often so divergent in direction that a star or planet in one house appears unambiguously in another. Diphda, only about 21° above the ecliptic and 5Pisces in my zodiac, ‘passes’ the medium coeli when it is apparently 8° east of north. I have failed to identify bright marker stars that evade this problem, and the frequent problem of deciding in which house to place a planet some distance from the ecliptic is notorious.

The obvious solution is to position stars and planets in the houses according to right ascension, and this is what I propose to do. When a body is just east of north it is in the third house and when it passes west of north it is in the fourth. Stars some distance from the ecliptic can and must be visibly reconciled with planets and houses.Politics June 24