The Masonic Astronomy of the Gateway Arch - Part 2
Mundane Astrology
The Knepf's Snake-eye
by Ed Kohout

Stellar Alignments of the Gateway Arch and
the Old Courthouse of St. Louis County

Arch and Courthouse
Photo courtesy of and Robert F. Arteaga, JNEM.

As can be seen in the above picture, the JNEM and Gateway Arch are aligned perpendicular to the Old Courthouse of St. Louis County.  The reasons for this lie mainly in the historical significance of this courthouse, which not only witnessed the growth of this region, but also the two court cases in which Dred Scott sued for, and received his freedom - only to have the Supreme Court reverse his fortunes.  It is from this point that the city's street grid and layout radiates in a semicircle. Today, this building houses the ......

In 1816, a citizen donated the land upon which this courthouse sits.  The current edifice was actually an addition to an older but much smaller building that was constructed from 1826 to 1828 when the city was in its infancy.  When the population of this city exploded, the need for a larger building was evident, and on October 21, 1839, the cornerstone of the building that we see today was placed in a Masonic ceremony.  And, here again we find this date to be astrologically significant for the geodetic location of St. Louis.

The next graphic is a SkyMap drawn for the day of the cornerstone ceremony, at 4:33:33 PM, CST, or what was the culmination of the fixed star Vega (also "Wega") over St. Louis:

Skymap for cornerstone of Old Courthouse
Closeup of Vega culmination

Figures 1 & 2  Luna rising as Vega culminates on the day that the Old Courthouse's cornerstone was laid.

21 Oct 1839 4:33:33 PM
(Julian day number 2393034.43997)
Vega's Altitude: +89 59' 00"
Luna's Altitude: + 0 00' 05"

Notice that the Moon is exactly on the horizon at the same time as Vega is culminating, forming a mundane square.  This would not be an exceptional occurrence, but for the fact that Vega's declination is nearly precisely the same as that of St. Louis' geographical latitude (within one minute of arc, or 3838'25" for Vega versus 3837'11" for the Arch); i.e., it passes directly overhead, and attains the highest possible altitude for that location.  Star declinations change slightly over time due to precession, and Vega's declination is drifting northward:

Vega's Declination --
1764: +38 34' 40"
1839: +38 38' 25"
1900: +38 41' 26"
2000: +38 47' 01"
Arch Latitude --
North: 38 37' 11"

What is so special about this Moon/Vega alignment?  The answer lies in geodescy.  Technically, every major city can boast of a star whose declination equals its latitude, given the abundance of stars in the sky, however, Vega is a special star for a number of reasons.  As one of the stars known as the "summer triad," Vega is one of the brightest stars visible in the night sky, with a magnitude that averages about 0.02, making it the fifth-brightest star in the heavens.

Vega holds another special distinction within the empyrean, as it is one of the seven pole stars in the northern hemisphere. The current pole star is Polaris, and Polaris will move closest to the Earth's polar axis in 2102. Vega, on the other hand, is the pole star furthest from the Earth's pole at this time. It is, though, the brightest pole star of the lot.

Also interesting about Vega is that it co-culminated with the Sun on or about December 27 in the 18th Century using the New Style calendar. This date is familiar to some as the "other St. John's Day," or the day that celebrates St. John the Evangelist, to whom the New Testament books bearing that name are attributed.

The brightest star in our sky is Sirius, which lies almost exactly opposite of Vega as measured in the ecliptic coordinate system, which is the coordinate system used in astrology charts. The following table shows them as they precess through the zodiac:

Year Sirius Vega
1600 8 35' CAN 9 42' CAP
1700 9 57' CAN 11 06' CAP
1800 11 20' CAN 12 30' CAP
1900 12 43' CAN 13 54' CAP
2000 14 05' CAN 15 18' CAP
2100 15 28' CAN 16 42' CAP

Vega lies somewhat close to the "Solar Apex," or the direction in space that the Sun and solar system is headed as it orbits the Galactic Center.  This point is currently at 2º10' Capricorn, and about 30º declination, and resides in the constellation Hercules:

Summer triad and the solar apex

Figure 3  The "summer triad" of Altair, Deneb, and Vega, and their relation to the Solar Apex.

Azimuth of the Rising Sun

Getting back to the layout of the JNEM and St. Louis, all of this suggests that certain people were aware of the stellar connections to St. Louis, and that the Masonic brotherhood kept a keen eye on the sky in their planning of the Louisiana Territory.  This is most evident in the offset angle at which the JNEM, Arch, and Old Courthouse (and thus the street grid of downtown St. Louis) are set.

The master plans of the Gateway Arch call for the monument to sit on a specific angle in relation to the north/south longitudinal meridian.  This angle is precisely 1747'14".

Offset angle of the Gateway Arch

Figure 4  Arch offset angle to north/south longitude is 1747'14".

On the surface this angle seems to be rather benign, but instead this angle is astronomically and astrologically significant.  Firstly, if we round this figure to 18, and subtract if from the right angle of 90, we get 72.  72 is one-fifth of a circle's degrees, and implies the pentagram:

Pentagram of the Gateway Arch

Figures 5, 6, & 7  Pentacle and pentagram shapes, and then aligned with the Old Courthouse.  Notice that the pentacle points to the west.

Pentacles and pentagrams are prolific Masonic symbols, and are found among the earliest Scottish Masonic symbolry, from where they were adopted from other secret societies before them.  At the same latitude of St. Louis lies a building with a similar motif -- the Pentagon near Washington D.C.  The layout of this building will be discussed at a later date.

If we add 90 to the offset of 1747'14", we get 10747'14"; this just happens to be the exact value of the azimuth of the rising Sun on October 31, 1965 (three days after the last section of the Arch was installed), and thus for every subsequent October 31 or November 1:

Sunrise at the Arch on Halloween, 1965

Figure 8  Sky map graphic representation of the rising Sun's azimuth on Halloween, 1965, three days after the final of 142 Arch sections was placed.

Information about Sun for 31 Oct 1965 6:28:04 AM
(Julian day number 2439065.01949)
Local Information; Apparent topocentric coordinates for the epoch of date:

   Right ascension: 14h 22m 3.17s
   Declination: -14 8' 26.0"
   Constellation: Libra

   Altitude:   0 02' 51"
   Azimuth:  107 47' 14"

If we relocate this particular sunrise-chart for 1965 to the pyramids of Giza, we find Saturn rising in mundo exactly:

October 31 sunrise relocated to Giza shows Saturn rising

Figure 8a  The sunrise chart above relocated to Giza boasts Saturn rising.

October 31 is important in the history of St. Louis for another reason.  In 1803, the US Congress granted President Jefferson legal authority to take possession of the Louisiana Territory on this date.  This came 6 months after the Louisiana Purchase Treaty was signed.  Again, for those who have been paying attention, we know these days to be the old Pagan festival dates of Samhain and Beltane, and we know these dates were connected to the star cluster Pleiades and the Masonic square of Regulus, Graffias, iota Aquarii, and the Pleiades.

In fact, the Pleiades were occulted by the Moon on October 31, 1803, as it crossed the local nadir of the future site of the Gateway Arch:

Figure 9  Luna occulted the Pleiades on the day that Congress authorized Thomas Jefferson to take possession of the Louisiana Terrirory.

This nearly-full moon occultation of the Pleiades would have been visible over Europe and the Pyramids after moonrise.

To summarize, we can see that the JNEM celebrates history's events with structures designed around the myriad of stars and planets that define the unique astrological techniques of the Masonic brotherhood.  When if finally came time to make St. Louis the capital of the northern half of the newly annexed Louisiana Territory, Meriwether Lewis personally presided over the ceremonial transfer from French possession to the US on March 10, 1804; on that day, Luna co-rose with Mars and iota Aquarii:

Figure 10  Luna, Mars, and iota Aquarii co-rise at 5:30 AM on the morning that the French passed possession of St. Louis to the USA.

Part 3 will discuss the first settler of what is now St. Louis, a man named Pierre Leclade, and the connection to the Cahokia Mounds.  Part 4 will discuss construction of the Arch, and how that process incorporated more of the fascinating elements of Masonic astrology.

Part 1
Part 3
Back to Mundane Astrology
Home Page

Copyright 2002 Edward Kohout.