The discovery of a new planet is always a major astrological event.
It only occurs when developments here on Earth are in a state of reception and readiness.
The planet’s influence is given a big boost.
Humanity becomes much more responsive to its vibrations.
But what happens is never smooth sailing especially when the planet is relegated to dwarf-planet status.
Pluto cannot be seen with the naked eye.
It’s a tiny planet – smaller than the Moon.
Its greatest distance from the Sun is 4,571,200 miles (7,356,000,000 km).
The search for Planet X started in 1906.
Percival Lowell, founder of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona got the show on the road.
By 1909 several possible celestial coordinates for Planet X had been suggested.
Lowell died in 1916 but unknown to him his surveys had captured two faint images of Pluto on March 19 and April 17, 1915.
Following his death the search for Planet X went into limbo due to legal problems.
It was eventually resumed in 1929.
That’s when Clyde Tombaugh was given the job of finding the unknown planet.
Tombaugh systematically imaged the night sky in pairs of photographs.
He then examined each pair to determine whether any objects had shifted position.
On February 18, 1930, after searching for nearly a year, Tombaugh discovered a possible moving object on photographic plates taken on January 23 and 29.
Further confirmatory photographs were then obtained and news of the discovery was telegraphed to the Harvard College Observatory on March 13, 1930.
Lowell Observatory had the right to name the new object and more than 1,000 suggestions were received from around the world.
Clyde Tombaugh suggested the name Slipher.
The name Pluto (after the god of the underworld) was proposed by an eleven-year-old schoolgirl, Venetia Burney.
A short list of thee names – Minerva, Cronus and Pluto – was then voted on by each member of the Lowell Observatory.
Pluto received all the votes.
The name was announced on May 1, 1930.
The first two letters of Pluto are the initials of Percival Lowell.
From planet to dwarf-planet
Right from the beginning Pluto’s status as a planet was in doubt.
It was all due to its mass.
Then after 1992 the discovery of several objects of similar size in the Kuiper belt set the cat amongst the pigeons.
(Pluto was the first object to be discovered in the Kuiper belt, a ring of bodies beyond Neptune. Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta are objects in the Kuiper belt.)
On July 29, 2005 astronomers announced the discovery of a new trans-Neptunian object – Eris – which was substantially more massive than Pluto.
So was Eris a planet?
The debate over Pluto came to a head in August 2006.
That’s when the International Astronomical Union created an official definition for the term ‘planet’.
For an object in the Solar System to be considered a planet it had to fulfill three conditions.
- The object must orbit around the Sun.
- The object must be massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity.
- It must have cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.
Pluto fails to meet the third condition.
In August 2006 Pluto was downgraded to a dwarf-planet.
Of course the decision ignited debate and controversy.
The downgrading of Pluto gets a mixed reception
When Pluto was discovered the Lowell Observatory and the press initially called it the tenth planet.
Children had grown up with planet Pluto.
So it was inevitable that its downgrading to dwarf-planet status would receive a mixed reception.
Resistance came from the astronomical community and the public.
Some sought to overturn the decision with online petitions urging the IAU to reinstate Pluto as a planet.
A resolution introduced by some members of the California State Assembly facetiously called the IAU decision a ‘scientific heresy’.
And the New Mexico House of Representatives passed a resolution in honor of Tombaugh that declared that Pluto will always be considered a planet while in New Mexican skies and that March 13, 2007, was Pluto Planet Day.
Pluto and astrology
Pluto’s discovery made headlines around the globe.
It was a major astrological event.
Its discovery on February 18, 1930 ushered in the Pluto period of the Age of Aquarius.
Since then Pluto has been playing the lead role in world affairs.
Within the astrological community the announcement that Pluto was not a planet fell on deaf ears.
And if you assess your own birth chart you can learn for yourself the role that Pluto has played and is continuing to play in your life and intelligence and ability development.
Astrology for Aquarius – sharing our knowledge