Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806), a self-taught triple Scorpio mathematician and astronomer, made vital contributions to astrology by mapping out the motions of the planets, moon and stars.
We astrologers owe much of our work to Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806), a self-educated African American with his Sun, moon and Mercury in mystical Scorpio, who was born free and taught himself astronomy and mathematics. From 1792-97, Banneker wrote and published his own yearly almanac and ephemeris (map of the stars), an annual guide that modern astrologers (including us!) use to track the planets and zodiac transits each year.
Banneker’s ephemerides, which he constructed by hand using a telescope, were uncannily accurate. (They are currently preserved by The Smithsonian and can be viewed here.) In 1788, using books and a tools borrowed from a friend, Banneker correctly predicted a total eclipse of the Sun. He began publishing his almanacs, which contained his own political and humanitarian writings.
This outspoken astro-hero even called out Aries Thomas Jefferson for hypocrisy. Banneker sent a copy of his almanac to Jefferson, along with a letter chiding him: If, as the Declaration of Independence claimed, all men are created equal, then why couldn’t Jefferson abolish slavery? Slaves, at the time, were only considered “3/5 of a person.”
Jefferson wrote back directly, praising the almanac and letting Banneker know that he’d submitted it to the French Academy of Sciences. Although the Founding Father did not come through beyond that, gutsy, unapologetic Banneker published Jefferson’s response in his 1793 almanac, along with his original correspondence. (We credit his outspoken Jupiter in mighty Leo, and fearless Mars in blunt Sagittarius.)
Banneker was born while Saturn (a.k.a. Chronos, the ruler of time) was transiting its home sign of Capricorn. No surprise he’s most famous for hand-carving a striking wooden clock, which he made after only seeing two timepieces in his life. The clock ran for 40 years and eerily, burned to the ground along with Banneker’s cabin, on the day of his funeral. (Scorpio magic, perhaps?)
Banneker’s contributions to astrology may not be well known—yet—but we are forever grateful to this smart, fearless double Scorpio.