Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of Sept 29th - Oct 5th, 2006

Judgement

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  With a nod of their Olympian heads, the International Astronomical Union has decreed that Pluto is no longer the ninth planet. Discovered in 1930, Pluto has always been the eccentric, its orbital extremes differentiating it from its celestial brethren.
Pluto

Pluto

When first discovered, it was thought to be much larger than it is, but we now know it to be smaller than the Earth's moon. With any new discovery, there's often a tendency to exaggerate importance. It's not unusual to run into someone who thinks that the North Star is a bright star, or that the Star of Bethlehem commanded the night skies.

  Mythologically, all of creation was divided among brothers into three. To Zeus went the skies, as Rain God and Cloud Gatherer.
Zeus

Zeus

He was supreme among them. To Poseidon went the seas and all who dwell there; but to Hades went the Underworld and the Land of Shadow. Olympus was to be shared equally by all.

  Astronomically, Pluto has suffered with the population explosion. With so many new neighbors, property values decreased.

Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth

  In 1992 astronomers discovered a large ring consisting of thousands of icy bodies in the outer expanses of our solar system. This ring, now known as the Kuiper Belt, has been classified into three different categories: classical, resonant and scattered objects. Over the years, identification of objects within this belt has been increasing significantly.

  The classical objects travel in almost circular bands and have orbital periods around the Sun of between 200 and 400 years.

  The resonant objects have been pushed by Neptune into a repeating pattern with Neptune. For instance, Pluto and others like him orbit the Sun twice for every three Neptunian orbits. It would seem Neptune has choreographed his own celestial chorus of heavenly bodies, with all singing in harmony. The early mathematical models of the solar system focused on the proportional relationships, in distance from the Sun. This was thought by Kepler and others to be part of the 'Music of the Spheres' as each of the planets vibrated at a different cosmic note.

  The scattered objects are those whose elliptical orbits carry them far outside the classical Kuiper Belt, in much the same way Halley's comet sweeps far out of our solar system but then returns at regular intervals.

  There have been significant numbers of newcomers recently, among them Sedna and Xena. Sedna was discovered in 2003, and has a 10,500 year orbital period, while Xena was discovered in 2005, and has a 560 year period. Xena's companion satellite was named Gabrielle, both inspired from the TV show.

  Astrologically speaking, Pluto's vibration is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, of our solar system. As Pluto travels through our charts and conjuncts, opposes, squares or inconjuncts principle planets, we sit up and take notice. Stories of those who have ventured into the Underworld, and have come out again to talk about it, are legendary and receive divine status, from Hercules to Jesus. As far as demoting Pluto from a planet to a classification of a 'dwarf planet'?

  You think it's not nice to fool Mother Nature?

  Well, watch this.

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