Astrodienst Acquires AstroDatabank, Posts Database Online For Free
Late last summer there were rumors swirling that the company AstroDatabank had gone under and was sold to the Swiss company Astrodienst, known for their incredibly useful and important astrology website at www.astro.com. Among other things, the guys at Astrodienst are known for providing free online chart calculation services, free online ephemerides in PDF format, and more recently an excellent astrology wiki.
This time they have really outdone themselves though, and it turns out that not only were the rumors true about their acquisition of AstroDatabank, but they have actually decided to post the entire database online for free for anyone to access. All you have to do is stop by the Astro-Databank Wiki Project, and there you will find over 30,000 individual pages which contain accurate birth data and charts for just about anyone that you want to research.
What is AstroDatabank?
AstroDatabank was originally a software and data collection company that was founded in 1995 in order to create an accurate research database of birth information for astrologers to use. It was largely based on the work of the late Lois Rodden, who had been collecting and indexing birth data for several decades, and then publishing it in book form.
Rodden’s work was important because not only was the data that she recorded accurate and sourced, but she also created a system for classifying the validity and provenance of the data, which became known as the Rodden Rating system, or RR for short. So, for example, if a birth time comes directly from a birth certificate then it is listed in the database with a Rodden Rating of ‘AA’. If it is from a biography then it is rated as ‘B’. If there are conflicting unverified sources then it is listed as ‘DD’, or Dirty Data. And so on.
The Rodden Rating system is important because it was actually the first time that someone established a standard set of criteria for rating birth data in collections, and it has since been adopted by the astrological community almost universally as a way to qualify the birth data used for any chart studies.
The Astrological Database
In 1995 Rodden teamed up with the programmer Mark McDonough and they made a software program out of her database, called AstroDatabank, making it fully searchable at the click of a button, which is immensely useful for astrologers who are conducting research studies. They continued to collect data and expand the program over the course of the past decade, although because the database was only available as a commercial software program that cost a few hundred dollars to buy, it was not used as widely as it could have been.
Now that Astrodienst has acquired the company and posted the database online, it has a chance to become even more widely known and used than it was previously, and I can hardly express what a boon this will be for astrological research in our field.
I’m rather impressed with the way that the guys at AstroDienst have found a way to integrate the database into the software that Wikipedia uses called MediaWiki, and the potential for this new project is rather astounding given the increased level of community support and interaction that it allows for.
My hat goes off to Alois Treindl and all of the programmers at Astrodienst for once again finding a way to provide useful services to the astrological community that will not only benfit their company, but that will serve to advance and improve the state of astrological research around the world. Well done guys!