The mission: Maggie O'Farrell tries to find out what the future holds - shame no one warned her about Kevin Kline

rophecies and predictions, I've always believed, are the territory of the mad and/or pathologically bored. And why would I want to know what's going to happen to me next week? I don't, after all, have to wait very long to find out. I also suspect it's a slippery slope: it may start as a harmless peek at your horoscope, but before you know it you're a crystal- carrying nutter frightening everybody with your talk about auras. But I decide - for one week only - to throw trepidation and scepticism to the heavenly spheres. I will believe the predictions and live accordingly.

Cross Words: Stars in their eyes

Head to head Credible or credulous? Astrology is a useful tool, says Nicholas Campion, president of the Astrological Association. It's just a game, says novelist Fay Weldon

Poppy Folly: horoscope

YOUR STARS: IT COULD HAPPEN

American Times: Los Angeles - Rabbi of Venice Beach puts his faith in the stars

MOST SUNDAYS, you can find Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz among the tarot- card readers, fortune-tellers and incense-sellers on the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles with a booth of his own: "Jewish Astrology".

Thoughts that go bump in the night

WOKE UP the other morning, suddenly, at 4.30, absolutely frantic with worry about the Universe. You know the sort of thing, bottom sheet rucked up, inexplicable sand in the bed, tubercular glow of the street- lamps, cold sweat, palpitations.

Starry, starry nights astrology in art

It's all in the stars if Derek Peters's "The Astrology of William Shakespeare" at The Globe Theatre (left), tomorrow, is anything to go by. Peters's project explores the intriguing influence of astrology on both Shakespeare and his characters, illuminated by extracts from the Bard, strolling players and a madrigal choir.

Britain on the couch: Head for therapy?

Every so often I get a call asking if I "know the name of a good therapist". As it happens, I usually do - it would be worrying if I did not, given that I had years of being therapised myself, had two psychoanalysts for parents and knocked about in that world for a fair old time (working for six years in a mental hospital).

the stars in june

HERCULES can hardly be described as a striking constellation but it is still fascinating. Many of its stars, like its brightest, Rasalgethi (the lowest in the constellation), are double. Rasalgethi is also one of the biggest stars known, with a diameter 600 times greater than the Sun - if placed in our solar system, it would stretch to Jupiter. This huge red giant, with its blue companion, is a beautiful sight in a small telescope.

HOW WE MET: POISON IVY AND LUX INTERIOR

Poison Ivy and Lux Interior (far right) are the guitarist and singer of the Cramps, the seminal "psychobilly" group. Ivy was originally Kristy Marlana Wallis, and grew up near Sacramento, California. Erick Lee Purkhiser was born near Akron, Ohio, and tried out the names Vip Vop and Raven Beauty before arriving at his true identity. The Cramps played their first concert in 1976 in New York City. Their outrageous showmanship, and their obsession with obscure rockabilly records and horror B-movies made them an overnight sensation. However, despite making 10 albums they have had only one hit single, "Bikini Girls With Machine Guns". They live in Los Angeles, in a house next to a cemetery

Where agony aunts turn when it all gets too much for them

WHEN YOU have an emotional problem, you can always write to an agony aunt - but who do agony aunts turn to with THEIR problems? To Auntie Agony, that's who! The only agony aunt who deals exclusively with the problems and troubles peculiar to agony aunts! And she's back again today with another postbag of problems sent in by the country's agony aunts! Right, that's enough exclamation marks, so on to the emotional minefield with Auntie Agony, and the first problem please...

School for the starry-eyed

It is a dark and stormy night in West London. A crescent moon bobs between the clouds and a diverse group of men and women gathers to discuss the alignment of the planets. Sally Staples joins them.

The sky at night

Gemini, the Twins, belongs to the magnificent assemblage of brilliant constellations that spangle our winter sky. It lies just to the north- east of Orion and can easily be located by following the Hunter's raised arm. Its two principal stars, Castor and Pollux, are both first magnitude. Pollux, marginally the brighter, is an orange giant, contrasting with the bluish white appearance of Pollux. Scientific scrutiny of Pollux reveals that it is in reality a system of six stars. Small telescopes can distinguish three, all of which turn out to be close doubles. Where Orion's uplifted arm almost touches the more northerly twin's foot lies a glorious star cluster. At fifth magnitude, it is in principle visible to the naked eye, though a very dark sky would be necessary. This is an object best viewed with binoculars. Surprisingly, it has acquired no name, either classical or fancifully descriptive. It is simply M35.

Science: All I want for Christmas is a telescope

Given clear nights, January will provide an impressive planetary line-up, the glorious constellation Orion, and a shower of meteors.

Net Gains: Fortune cookies

It is easy to ridicule those who hang on the every word of astrologers such as Russell Grant and Mystic Meg (above). But when our own lives enter a period of crisis, doubt or deep reflection, you might find yourself lingering over the newspaper horoscope column.
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