Stargazer – astrology for Dec 2023
Image: Prague Central Square & Astronomical Clock by Howard Ignatius, Flickr, Creative Commons.Stargazer – astrology for Dec 2023 – Prague’s astronomical history | Mercury retrograde's gifts | 7 solstice celebrations | Ringing in the new year, and more!
by Stella Woods
"New moons are all about fresh energy and new beginnings. December's new moon is in fire sign Sagittarius, with feisty Mars sitting right next to the sun and moon. The confident atmosphere generated by this planetary combination will help you set new goals and boost your courage and sense of adventure."Starry starry PragueIn October, I was lucky enough to visit Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, often referred to as ‘The Golden City’.

Prague’s starry reputation and connection with astronomy and astrology goes right back to the Middle Ages, a time when the two disciplines were almost interchangeable. And during the Renaissance, under the artistic and scientific patronage of the rich and powerful Emperor Rudolf II (1552-1612), Prague became a beacon for astronomers, alchemists, and philosophers.
Image: Prague's astronomical clock face by Andrew Shiva | Wikimedia CommonsAstronomical clockOne of the most famous sights of Prague is the astronomical clock (Orloj) at the Old Town Hall in the main square. The timepiece was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world, and the oldest clock of its kind still in operation.

Gazing up at its fascinating overlay of rotating disks, medieval numerals, and cosmic symbols, it is clear this feat of engineering is as much a map of the heavens as a timepiece.

The hands of the clock trace the movements of sun and moon, throughout the day and across the zodiac – useful for Medieval and Renaissance townspeople who wanted to find out the best day to marry, receive medical treatment, or buy a new home.
Image: Prague's astronomical clock zodiac figures | Martin Frouz – Wikimedia CommonsJohannes Kepler – astronomer, astrologer, musician, philosopher and mathematicianOne famous Prague resident, Johannes Kepler, was a talented mathematician and polymath. He came to Prague as an apprentice to fellow astronomer and stargazer Tycho Brahe and carried out extensive research that later formed the basis of his scientific theories. In his spare time, Kepler wrote horoscopes for the mystically inclined Emperor Rudolf.

Kepler published his seminal text, Harmonices Mundi (Harmony or Music of the Spheres), 400 years ago, in 1619. The book was an expansion of his studies on planetary motion, in which he proved that the planets move in an ellipse—not a circle—around the sun. 
Image: Johannes Kepler – Music of the SpheresAstronomical tower and celestial globesIn the centre of Prague is an old, sprawling Jesuit university known as the Klementinum, dating back to the 16th century. It is close to the Charles Bridge, and just round the corner from Kepler’s former home.

The Klementinum has a 68-metre-high astronomical tower, which, between 1751 and 1938, was used as an observatory. On top of the tower is a statue of Atlas holding the heavens on his shoulders.

On the first floor of the tower is Prague’s famous Baroque National Library, with its spiralling wooden columns and collection of celestial globes. The hall looks exactly as it did back in 1722 – time standing still.

On the upper floor is the Meridian Hall, an operational meteorological station, where Kepler’s contemporaries once measured the positions of planets with enormous sextants. You can still see the astronomical tools they used hundreds of years ago.

Right up to 1928, this room was used to mark official time in Prague. High on the wall is a small opening, which turns the room into a camera obscura. At high noon, a ray of sunlight shone through the opening onto a string stretched along the floor. As the string lit up, timekeepers would wave a flag from the tower, telling the citizens of Prague it was midday.

To enjoy spectacular views of the Prague night skies in the 21st century, head to Prague’s Štefánik Observatory in Petřín Park. There is an astronomy exhibition with guided tours of the observatory.
Image: Klementinum Baroque Library | Prague City TourismMercury retrograde in Capricorn and SagittariusOn 13th December, at the December new moon, communication planet Mercury will slow to a halt and switch direction for the next few weeks. This cosmic phenomenon is, of course, the infamous Mercury retrograde.

Mercury retrograde is actually an optical illusion – the planet doesn’t really travel backwards, it just looks that way, from our earthly viewpoint. Mercury will begin his journey in practical earth sign Capricorn and continue travelling in reverse through fire sign Sagittarius right through the festive season until 2nd January.

Mercury retrograde is a time to deal with unfinished business and tie up loose ends. When Mercury is retrograde it’s best to go with the flow and remain flexible and open, but this is not always easy, and frustration can easily build.
Gifts of Mercury retrogradeThe gift of Mercury retrograde in Capricorn is the capacity for level-headed thinking, while the gifts of Mercury in Sagittarius are wisdom and perspective. If you’ve been trying to make some big decisions, the second half of December is a good time to gather information, talk things over, and weigh up the pros and cons of whatever project or idea you might have.

Mercury retrograde in Capricorn is also great for making sensible financial decisions and focusing on what is real and feasible, rather than indulging your fantasies.

Once Mercury moves back into Sagittarius on the 22nd December, use the wisdom, intuition, and creative thinking that Sagittarius is famous for, to come up with practical solutions to any roadblocks or challenges. The sheer scope of your goals may require more effort than you think, so break large tasks into segments and work on them one at a time.

23rd December marks the midpoint of the Mercury retrograde cycle, when there is often an ‘aha’ moment or epiphany, and things start to become clearer. New truths and valuable insights emerge, along with missing pieces of information and new perspectives.

As always with Mercury retrograde, pay particular attention when driving, travelling, signing contracts, negotiating agreements, and in all types of personal and business communication. If in doubt, wait until early January before making major decisions.
Celebrating the summer solsticeThis year our Australian summer solstice falls on the 22nd December as the sun moves from Sagittarius to Capricorn – a time to relish the fullness of life and raise our energy to create abundance and manifest dreams.

For thousands of years, people all over the world have celebrated the summer solstice, also known as Midsummer Day, Litha, or St. John‘s Day. Many ancient monuments were built in alignment with the summer solstice sun, such as Mexico’s Chichen Itza pyramid, Hagar Qim Temple in Malta, and Stonehenge in the UK.

Sol + stice derives from two Latin words meaning "sun" + "to stand still”. As the days grow longer, the sun rises higher in the sky until it seems to stand still for three days, marking the longest day and shortest night of the year.

Here are some ideas for celebrating the solstice and midsummer with a focus on life, lightness, brightness, fertility, joy, and the power of nature!
Seven summer solstice celebrations• Host a bonfire party with dancing, music, singing, and drumming. Throw fresh herbs into the fire and make your wishes for the future.

• Rise early and meditate as you watch the sun rise. Drink a toast to the sun.

• Visit a farmer’s market and fill your basket with summer produce.

• Light some brightly coloured candles and create your own altar surrounded by luscious summer fruits and flowers. Meditate on all you have to be grateful for at this special time of year.

• Head to the beach, lake, or river with friends to swim and celebrate the great outdoors on the longest day of the year.

• Pick fresh flowers, place in a jar of water then cover and leave in the sun to make a magical potion.

• Host a midsummer picnic or BBQ. Create a large wreath with flowers, twigs, and moss. Take some strips of paper and get your friends and family to write out their wishes and blessings, then tie them to the wreath.

Venus in Sagittarius – ringing in the new yearVenus, planet of love, beauty and pleasure, will be transiting fire sign Sagittarius from 30th December right through to 23rd January. Sagittarius is the sign of travel, the outdoors, adventure, and foreign countries and cultures, so why not broaden your horizons and explore some new places and activities over the summer break?

Jupiter, the ruler of Sagittarius, completes his retrograde phase on New Year’s Eve increasing feelings of optimism and positivity throughout January.
Themes for Venus in Sagittarius • Expand your social circle

• Learn something new

• Embrace your independence and love of freedom

• Explore different cultural experiences

• Try different cuisines

• Spend time outdoors enjoying the natural world

• Travel anywhere and everywhere

• Enjoy intellectual debate

• Wear something fun or bright-coloured
New moon in Sagittarius – seize the dayNew moons are all about fresh energy and new beginnings. The December new moon falls on the 13th in fire sign Sagittarius with feisty Mars sitting right next to the sun and moon. The confident atmosphere generated by this planetary combination will help you set new goals and boost your courage and sense of adventure.

Sagittarius is a pleasure and freedom-loving energy with boundless optimism and zest for life, so wherever you find yourself emotionally, mentally, or physically, take time out to enjoy fresh air and nature; move your body and make plans with friends and family. December is an excellent time to book a trip, sign up for a New Year course, or make a bucket list.
Christmas and full moon in Cancer – share the love 🧡Christmas can be a stressful time of year, but on Christmas Day, Venus in Scorpio trines Neptune in Pisces promoting feelings of love, compassion, and kindness.

And what better gift to end 2023 than a beautiful full moon in Cancer on 27th December, with the sun trine bountiful Jupiter? Cancer is the sign of nurturing, love, warmth, kindness, mothering, care, family, community, and tribe. Life is not worth living without these things. Cancer is not concerned with wealth, productivity, efficiency, and goals – she's all about looking after others and making sure they're OK.

This Christmas, tell those you love how much you care about them. Show them they are important and that you have their back. Extend that kindness to the wider world. And make sure when someone is kind to you that you embrace and accept their love.

Finally…when Mercury and Mars in Sagittarius raise their opinionated heads on the 27th and 28th, promise yourself you’re not going to argue with your mother, son in law, best friend, or brother. It’s simply not worth it!

Wishing you a wonderful festive season and blessings for 2024! 🧡
About the author:
Stella Woods is an astrology teacher, writer, and consultant. Contact Stella at or or

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