True Nodes vs Mean Nodes

Some astrologers prefer to use the True Lunar Nodes, other prefer the Mean Lunar Nodes. What's the difference?

The Lunar Nodes ingeneral are the intersection points between the Moon's orbit around the Earth and the (apparent) path of the Sun around the Earth (the Ecliptic). (See Lunar Nodes in our dictionary section for more details.)

However, there are two ways to calculate the positions of the Nodes – as the True Node or the Mean Node. Both Nodes move in a retrograde direction overall, and they go full circle around the zodiac over a period of about 19 years.

The zodiacal position of the Mean Nodes moves at a steady, consistent rate and its direction is retrograde 100% of the time. It is calculated as an average position.

The True Node, on the other hand, wobbles somewhat to slight variations in the distance between the Moon and the Earth. Their shared centre of gravity fluctuates a bit and so the True Node's zodiacal position does a little dance of one-step-forward-two-steps-back. The True Nodes are retrograde most of the time, but they hiccup occasionally where they will go direct for a period of hours to days and then back to retrograde again.

The difference between the two nodal positions is less than 2 degrees at the most, so we're not usually talking about a major difference. However, if you're looking for the precise moment of a slow moving transit to the nodes, for example, it could make a difference whether you use the Mean or True Nodes.

Which one is better? It's largely a personal choice for each astrologer. The Evolving Door Astrology website always uses the True Lunar Nodes unless otherwise stated. Why? I figure why use an approximation when you can use the precise position of something? Blame it on my Virgo Moon. ;-)

For more detailed information about the differences, also check out astrologer Steven Forrest's excellent article about the subject.

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