New Orleans - The votes are in and it is unanimous: Barack Obama will win re-election to the US presidency in November, according to five astrologers who offered predictions at their convention on Tuesday.
Each of the five astrologers on the presidential panel explained how they came to their assessments, with most relying on studies of celestial charts pertinent to both Obama and presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney for the date of either the election itself or the next presidential inauguration.
For Chicago astrologist and corporate lawyer Nina Gryphon, it was her study of the Aries ingress - the exact time when the Sun enters the sign of Aries - that clinched the decision. "It's obvious," she said. "Obama stays where he is without a change in status."
Billed as a meeting of the world's top astrologers, the conference in New Orleans drew about 1 500 people who participated in workshops and panel discussions.
Not to be confused with astronomy, the scientific study of the physical universe, astrology uses non-scientific methods to predict how the relative positions of celestial bodies may influence human behaviour and future events.
Denver astrologer Chris Brennan said his chart study focused on public profiles of the two presidential candidates, both of whom "are entering into peak periods of eminence in the next few months".
Difficulties after re-election
But he said there was a key difference: "Obama's peak period stays consistent throughout the election, whereas Romney's seems to falter a few weeks before the election," he said.
Most of the panelists placed a high degree of certainty on their forecast, but a few pointed to potential difficulties Obama may face after his predicted re-election.
"The ingress of Saturn into Scorpio may trouble him," Brennan said. "It won't cost him the election, but it may indicate difficulties in the first half of his second term."
Brennan could not specify the potential problem, but "it pertains to his career and his reputation", he said.
As to the election itself, Brennan raised the possibility of the contested 2000 election being revisited.
"We should all be aware of the Mercury retrograde that will occur on election day," he said, referring to an optical illusion that can make a planet appear to reverse direction temporarily.
Similar session 4 years ago
"Most astrologers are pretty certain that this could cause problems similar to what happened in the 2000 election," Brennan said, referring to the contested Florida vote that was settled only when the Supreme Court ruled that George W Bush should be president rather than Al Gore.
The retrograde, Brennan said, "seems to imply that there's something up in the air about the election until sometime later in the month".
"It's possible it won't be finished for Romney until the last week of November," he said.
Two of the panelists participated in a similar session four years ago when the panel also gave a unanimous thumbs-up to Obama.