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Retrograde Planets
Retrograde Planetary Cycles: 2016

This article explains retrograde motion and outlines the retrograde periods for the planets as they dance through our cosmos in 2016. There are links to our main retrograde motion articles, which cover the actual meanings of the retrograde phases of the personal planets, as well as the effects of the annual movement of the two Great Chronocrators, Jupiter and Saturn.

A planet is described as retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards through the zodiac. This traditional concept arises in the illusory planetary motion created by the orbital rotation of the earth, with relation to other planets in our solar system. It's a bit like travelling on the road watching another car beside you: when the other car slows down, or you speed up, it looks as though the other car is moving backwards. So planets are never actually retrograde or stationary, they just seem that way, due to this optical illusion. Click here for more on the science of retrograde planetary motion.

Retrograde periods, although often problematic for us earthlings, are not particularly uncommon. Each planet retrogrades, except the Sun and Moon. As a rule, retrograde planets presage a period of seemingly inevitable or fated events, which relate to their sphere of influence. In particular, issues from the past that have not been resolved tend to reappear in order to demand resolution, so we can move on. Retro phases also present us with a series of events over which we seem to have little or no control, relating especially to the sign in which the retrogradation occurs. For example, transiting Jupiter retrograde in Aries presents quite different sets of circumstances from those generated when it retrogrades into Pisces.

Go to Top Planetary Stations
Ancient Astrologers at Work

A retrograde period is best seen as a cycle, which begins when the planet begins to slow to a halt before travelling backwards through the zodiac and ends when the planet returns to the point where it first paused. However, during the cycle, the planet's energy is most powerful (and more likely to generate critical events of universal importance) when the planet makes a station, appearing motionless in the sky. These stationary periods occur at the beginning of the cycle (when the planet first halts as it prepares to move backwards) and midway through the cycle when the retrograde planet slows to a stop before moving forward again.

The planetary direct station (when the retrograde planet seems to halt before moving forward through the zodiac again) is a time of significant power when matters to do with the energies of the planet, house and sign can be favourably activated. The few days either side of this time are ideal for making or implementing decisions in the nature of the planet, sign and house concerned. In particular, the stations of Jupiter and Saturn are important with regard to longer term intentions.

Remember that the outer planets turn retrograde every year for quite some months, so it is not at all unusual to have one or more of them retrograde in one's own personal chart. This is not necessarily unfortunate and the key issues of destiny in such a case depend largely upon the aspects to the retrograde outer planets from the inner personal planets and points.

Thoth, Egyptian Mercury
Go to Top Current Retrograde Movements

Mercury Mercury usually turns retrograde three times a year, but in 2016 there are four Mercury retrograde phases. Mercury's first phase begins on January 5, 2016 and lasts until January 25t. Click for more.

Venus Venus retrogrades every eighteen months, so in 2016 we have no Venus retrograde phase. The next phase is due between March 4, 2017 and April 15, 2017. The previous Transit of Venus occurred on June 5, 2012 and subsequent Transits of Venus are not due until December 2117 and December 2125. Click for more.

Mars Mars turns retrograde every two years and two months, so this year there is a Mars retro phase between April 17, 2016 and June 29, 2016. Click for more.

Ceres Ceres from August 31, 2016 until December 10, 2016.

Jupiter Jupiter from January 8, 2016 to May 9, 2016.

Saturn Saturn from March 25, 2016 until August 13, 2016.

Chiron Chiron from June 27, 2016 until December 1, 2016.

Uranus Uranus from July 29, 2016 until December 29, 2016. Uranus in Aries

Neptune Neptune from June 13, 2016 until November 20, 2016. Neptune in Pisces

Pluto Pluto from April 18, 2016 until September 26, 2016. Pluto in Capricorn

The Moon's North and South Nodes (the Dragon's Head and Tail) are normally retrograde in their movement through the zodiac. The Nodes are not actual planets, but rather sensitive points, or "shadow planets" that have a powerful influence comparable with planetary strength. The True Node from time to time turns direct in motion for a few days, due to the phenomenon known as the Moon Wobble; such direct periods are generally considered unfortunate. The Mean Node is always retrograde, as the "Wobble" is averaged out for convenience. Read more about the Moon's Nodes.

Retrograde Planetary Cycles


  • Mercury
    Retrograde
    24 days
    Stationary approx. 5 days

  • Venus
    Retrograde
    42 days
    Stationary approx. 12 days

  • Mars
    Retrograde
    80 days
    Stationary approx. 20 days

  • Ceres
    Retrograde
    104 days
    Stationary approx. 21 days

  • Jupiter
    Retrograde
    120 days
    Stationary approx. 10 days

  • Saturn
    Retrograde
    140 days
    Stationary approx. 10 days

  • Chiron
    Retrograde
    156 days
    Stationary approx. 14 days

  • Uranus
    Retrograde
    150 days
    Stationary approx. 16 days

  • Neptune
    Retrograde
    160 days
    Stationary approx. 16 days

  • Pluto
    Retrograde
    160 days
    Stationary approx. 16 days

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This page was last modified on Tuesday, 29 December 2015