Stationary Phase

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Stationary period, direct and retrograde motion of Mars

The transit phase that occurs when a planet moves from direct motion to retrograde motion and vice versa. Ephemerides and some computer programmes indicate the stationary phase by putting an "S" next to the planetary symbol. When a planet is about to change direction (from the earth's perspective), it slows down until it appears to come to a standstill before it changes direction.

The duration of the stationary phase depends on a planet's orbital period - and the definition of what one considers a "standstill". With the slower moving planets (Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) the stationary phase can last up to four weeks if one allows for an orb of several minutes of arc.


A direct planet in a natal horoscope and personality expresses its energy more outwardly or extrovertly; whereas a retrograde planet is more inward-looking or introverted. During the stationary phase, the planet's energy becomes concentrated or focused. Similarly, when a transiting planet forms an aspect to a natal planet during its stationary phase, the effect is particularly powerful.

Definition and Duration of the Stationary Phase

Astrodienst Values
Planet v ≤
Mercury 5' or 300"/ day
Venus 3' or 180"/ day
Mars 90"/ day
Jupiter 60"/ day
Saturn 60"/ day
Chiron 20"/ day
Uranus 20"/ day
Neptune 10"/ day
Pluto 10"/ day

It is not possible to specify an exact duration of the stationary phases, since the velocity (v) of a planet continuously changes from the geocentric point of view, and every indication of the duration of station corresponds to a more or less arbitrary definition. Astrodienst uses a simple pragmatic definition, see table on the left.

One possibility is to derive the definition of a station from the speed of the celestial body concerned, for example if it is below 5% or 2% of its maximum speed. For example, with Mercury, which moves a maximum of about 100 arc minutes per day, the speed at which one can speak of its station is 5 or 2 arc minutes per day.

At what point one regards a planet as resting, however, lies in the experience and discretion of the individual astrologer.

Planet vmax 5 % vmax Duration
≤ 5 % vmax
2 % vmax Duration
≤ 2 % vmax
1 % vmax Duration
≤ 1 % vmax
Mercury 100'/ d 5'/ d 24 h 2'/ d 10 h 1'/ d 4 h 45 m
Venus 75'/ d 3'45"/ d 3 d 4 h 1'30"/ d 1 d 6 h 45"/ d 15 h
Mars 47'/ d 2'21"/ d 6 d 12 h 56"/ d 2 d 13 h 23"/ d 25 h
Jupiter 14'/ d 42"/ d 7 d 17"/ d 2 d 20 h 8,5"/ d 36 h
Saturn 7'29"/ d 22,5"/ d 7 d 9"/ d 2 d 22 h 4,5"/ d 35 h
Uranus 3'26"/ d 10,3"/ d 6 d 12 h 4,12"/ d 2 d 12 h 2,06"/ d 31 h
Neptune 2'17"/ d 6,85"/ d 2,74"/ d 1,37"/ d
Pluto[1] 2'11"/ d 6,55"/ d 2,62"/ d 1,31"/ d

vmax = maximum speed
units of orbital movement: ' = arc minute, " = arc second
time units: d = day, h = hour, m = minute


Notes and References

  1. Value for 2010