Are the celestial bodies aligned in favor of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?
The answer may emerge during a meeting this week of astrologists from around the globe, who are vowing to study charts and planetary positions to predict who will be the next U.S. president.
About 500 members of the International Society for Astrological Research will gather in Costa Mesa from Thursday to Sunday for a symposium tackling a wide variety of topics, including the financial markets, relationships and roller-coaster politics.
International and American experts promised to penetrate the haze of punditry and ever-changing polls to divine whether Trump or Clinton will emerge triumphant Nov. 8.
Participants from Serbia, Croatia, India, Turkey and other international locales will be represented and take the first turn at predictions.
"Then the folks in the states will take a turn and everyone will have looked at enough charts to be brave enough to speak their minds," said Shelley Ackerman, a professional astrologist and columnist from Manhattan who runs KarmicRelief.com. "I've always said astrology is celestial geometry — it's myth and math. We look at planetary correspondence and historical patterns. We can make predictions using pattern recognition, but there's always a wild card."
Others agreed that making the right call can be tricky.
"There are many, many moving parts that affect the outcome. It's like a wave that collapses into a particle," said Glenn Perry, founder and director of the Academy of AstroPsychology, adding that the answer "exists in a state of potentiality."
Perry and Ackerman joined Raymond Merriman, the society's president, and a group of top astrologists Tuesday afternoon to preview what to watch in the days leading to the election.
What makes their work extra challenging is there's no reliable time of birth reported for Clinton — or for Mike Pence, Trump's running mate, according to Ackerman, whose claim to fame is getting Bill Clinton's birth time from his mother.
On different occasions, Hillary Clinton has said she was born both at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Oct. 26, 1947, in Chicago, confounding observers. Court records show it's 2:18 a.m. — but even that hasn't been confirmed, according to the group.
Beyond the presidential election, Ackerman and Gloria Star, an astrologist from Connecticut, warned of a threat to U.S. national security Oct. 18 to 30, when Mars and Pluto come together, and while Venus and Saturn are also aligned.
"Something explosive with a capital E could happen," said astrologist Kat Powell of Scottsdale, Ariz. She described Mars as a planet that indicates extreme activity, while Pluto is often linked to debt and taxation. "You could see acts of war and it may be a shock on a larger scale, going beyond the election."
Critics may question the scientific basis of astrology, which most academics consider pseudoscience. But to Sam Reynolds, a practitioner from Brooklyn, "it helps us make sense of our lives because we look at patterns and meaning based on what we observe in the sky. The great thing is everyone can have access to the sky. That's the enduring power of our art."
Antonia Langsdorf, based in Cologne, Germany, said: "I would say that astrology is much more accurate than polls."
Langsdorf said that celebrity endorsements in this presidential season "didn't prove to be a big deal because there's so much anger in this country now."
As an example of heightening friction, she and Powell pointed to some influential Republicans who are considering write-in campaigns for Mike Pence, Trump's running mate, and Ben Carson, the former Republican presidential candidate.
"There are so many twists, but for those who think we say things for the sake of saying things, they don't know the vast amount of research we do. We really pay attention to data," Powell added.
Aleksandar Imsiragic, the council's education director and founder of the "Johannes Kepler" Astrological Institute in Belgrade, Serbia, said he predicted as early as August 2015 that Trump would win the Republican nomination.
"He fits very well in the mythology of the U.S. He has Orion in his constellation and that's a giant," Imsiragic said.
No prediction is needed to know that whoever emerges victorious will have "a hard, hard time governing," Star said. "Leaders represent iconic qualities in our lives."