E011. Exaltation and debilitation of planets – Testing astronomically – Part 1 of 2

Geocentric view of planetary movements. Watch out retrograde movements!

Exaltation and debilitation of planets – This article is an attempt to look at some of the astrological constructs from an astronomical perspective, in the hope that we will be able to find out some interesting scientific reasoning behind them.

One of the basic tenets of astrology is the exaltation and debilitation of planets. We tend to take this construct granted without understanding the astronomy behind or based on wrong astronomical explanations. The purpose of this article is to investigate this astrological building block more scientifically and to ascertain the veracity of some of the explanations that have been given to us.

It is said that when Sun enters to 10 degree of Aries it is Exalted. This is the beginning of peak summer for countries near the equator, such as India. The explanation for Sun’s exaltation given is that Sun comes closer to Earth at this point of time and hence Sun is exalted. This explanation is widely accepted in Astrologer’s circles and serves as one of the basis for deciding exaltation of a planet.

If this explanation is acceptable, then we can also assume that the other planets at their exaltation will also come closer to Earth. Astronomically speaking, for a planet in outer circle (i.e. beyond earth) to come closer to earth, the sun should take a 180 degree position with the planet in question keeping Earth in between. For e.g. in case of Jupiter, Jupiter-Earth-Sun should align on a straight line.

In this case Jupiter and Sun would assume positions 7 Rasi’s apart at same degree in their respective Rasi. For example, when Jupiter/Guru exalts at 5 degrees in Cancer, then the Sun will need to be in 5 degree of Capricorn. Interestingly, in such a planetary positioning, the Jupiter will be in the middle of its retrograde motion as well!

In the image below, you can see the orbit of Jupiter from a geocentric perspective, shown as a dotted line. For simplicity, the full path is shown as an elliptical circle, with a portion of the ellipse corresponding to one year shown on the left. Please assume that the elliptical circle will consist of 12 such segments, each representing 1 year (Jupiter takes 12 years to complete one orbit around Sun).

In this image, on the left, Jupiter’s movement within the constellation of Cancer is shown (marked as Rasi No 1), while the movement of sun is shown on the right. Note that from a geocentric perspective, Sun crosses one constellation in 1 month (its actually the earth that moves). You can notice that in this movement when Sun reaches 7th house from Cancer in the constellation of Capricorn earth would align on a straight line between Jupiter and Sun.


From geocentric perspective, Jupiter will get into retrograde motion when Sun gets 115 to 245 degrees apart from it. The orange colored arrows indicate the retrograde motion (backward motion) and green arrows indicate the direct motion. Two green dots 1 and 2 in the inner loop show the retrograde phase of Jupiter. Between these two points (i.e. when the Sun travels through this 130+ degree distance), Jupiter travels on its path at two different speeds.

Jupiter’s retrograde motion (backward movement) begins at green dot 1 and rate of its retrogradation increases till it aligns on a straight line with Earth and Sun. After that its speed of retrogradation reduces till it reaches green dot 2, ending its retrograde motion. At this point, Jupiter assumes its direct motion again. During this time, Sun would have traveled through 5 constellations, from Scorpio to Pisces (marked through different lines).

For more visual explanation of planets’ retrograde motion, watch videos of Mr. Ujjwal Suryakant Rane (https://www.youtube.com/user/UjjwalRane/featured ).

His other astronomy related videos may be of good use to you and your children.  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL892raMWF395GROyA2B1_KfXml-vw3ncf  

For a more theoretical explanation of retrograde motion and revolution, you can also refer to the following article of Prof. Seligman: https://cseligman.com/text/sky/retrograde.htm

Having seen this background information, let us get to the main part of this article now.

Objective of this study:

Assess and validate whether the linear distance between Earth and a planet has any connection with its exaltation or debilitation point.

Hypotheses for testing:

The Following two hypotheses were considered in my analysis.

  1. When a planet is at its exaltation, it comes close to the earth.
  • This is the general explanation provided for Sun and accepted widely. If its correct for Sun, then it should hold good for other planets as well.
  1. When a planet reaches its point of debilitation, it comes very close to the earth.

The above two are the astronomy-based explanations I have come across for exaltation and debilitation. These hypotheses consider position of Sun, along with a planet involved. These hypotheses contradict each other and provide an interesting case to delve into. Through my research, I have sought to determine, which of these two claims is more reasonable from an astronomical perspective.

Research Methodology

  1. This article considers exaltation and debilitation of Jupiter as a case in example. If this hypothesis holds good, it can be extended to test other planets as well.
  2. This hypothesis necessitates positioning of Jupiter at 5 deg of Cancer and that of Sun at 5 deg of Capricorn, when Jupiter exalts. For Jupiter’s debilitation, it should be at 5 deg of Capricorn while Sun would be at 5 deg of Cancer. Such planetary positions don’t occur very often! For this analysis, I have considered planetary positions spanning across 2300 years starting from the 1st Century BC to 21st Century AD.
  1. The linear distance between Jupiter and Earth have been calculated on specific dates and times, when a certain planetary positioning happened. Distance was calculated in terms of Astronomical Units (AU).
  2. In addition, I have also considered data points pertaining to Sun and Jupiter being positioned in same constellation (Cancer and Capricorn at 5 degrees), to provide some contrast. These two combinations would also denote that Jupiter gets Combusted being very close to Sun.
  1. The linear distance between these two planets have been statistically examined for different combinations in my study.

Some additional information:

  1. The distance between planets is typically measured in Astronomical Units (AU).
  2. AU is based on the distance between the earth and the sun. An astronomical unit (AU) is exactly 14,95,97,870.7 km.

For more information on AU, refer to this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astronomical_unit

This methodology provides a potential 12 x 12 combinations for a very detailed study. However, I have considered only the following 4 key combinations for this analysis.

  1. Jupiter exalting at Cancer – 5 Deg + Sun at 5 deg of Capricorn (Jupiter Retrogrades)
  2. Jupiter debilitation at 5 deg of Capricorn + Sun at 5 deg of Cancer (Jupiter Retrogrades here as well)
  3. Jupiter and Sun at 5 deg of Cancer (Jupiter Exalts + Combustion)
  4. Jupiter and Sun at 5 deg of Capricorn (Jupiter Debilitation + Combustion)

In combinations 1 and 2, the difference between the two planets is assumed to be 180 ± 1 deg and in case of 3 and 4, a deviation of 0 ± 1 deg has been allowed between Jupiter and Sun.

The outcomes of this analysis are very interesting. Stay tuned for the second part or this article. 😊

Feel welcome to share your comments, if any!

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Harish

    Very interesting hypothesis. Looking forward to the next part