The Discovery of Pluto

by Robin Armstrong

PLUTO: The Planet

Pluto was first observed by Clyde Tombaugh on February 18, 1930 at 4:00 PM MST, in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA. It was discovered a very short distance from where Percival Lowell had predicted “Planet X” would be. It was very small and its orbit was much more eccentric than that of any other planet. The orbital inclination is 17°. It was not until 1978 the James Christy at the US Naval Observatory noticed that photos of Pluto were irregular. This led to his conclusion that Pluto had a moon!. This was quickly confirmed and Pluto’s moon was called Charon.


Pluto is about 2280 kilometres in diameter, while Charon is fully half the size of Pluto. They are no more than 19000 kilometres apart. Charon orbits Pluto every 6.39 days. Like the moons of other planets Charon always faces Pluto and does not rotate. Unlike the other planets Pluto always shows the same face to Charon. The two bodies rotate together as one. From one side of Pluto observers would always see Charon in the sky, while from the other side of Pluto Charon would never be visible. The tilt of Pluto’s axis is 65° and it is 5,914 million kilometres from the Sun (39.53 A.U.). Pluto has bright white polar caps and is a darker reddish colour around the equator. Because of the mutual rotation of Pluto and Charon the brightness of Pluto fluctuates by 20% over a 6.39 day period.

Pluto orbits the sun in 248 earth years. It is closest to the Sun at the very same point where Neptune would be furthest from the Sun, leading to the supposition that it is really an escaped moon of Neptune. This point occurs in the middle of the Tropical Zodiac Sign of Scorpio. For twenty years out of 248, Pluto is inside Neptune’s orbit and is closer to the Sun than Neptune. Pluto reached its closest point to the Sun in 1989 and Neptune was/is the outermost planet in the solar system from 1979 to 1999.

Another interesting phenomena of Pluto is that for every one orbit of Pluto there is almost exactly one and one half orbits of Neptune. For every two orbits of Pluto there will be three orbits of Neptune. This means that every conjunction of Pluto and Neptune for over 10,000 years will occur in the tropical sign of Gemini, and every opposition will occur with Pluto in Gemini and Neptune in Sagittarius. So not only does Pluto have its captivating relationship to Charon, but it (or they) have a special interpenetrating relationship to Neptune. …..perhaps from a Plutonian perspective this is a cosmic game of truth and consequences?

PLUTO: The Myth

Pluto is the Greek name for the King of Hell, and for Hell itself. Other Greek names for Pluto are: Ades, Aides, Aidoneus, and Hades. Roman names include Dis, and Orcus.

Pluto was the third Olympian brother. He drew the underworld as his domain. He became the ruler of the dead. He was the God of Wealth, who had dominion over the precious metals hidden within the earth. Pluto was given a special helmet which made the wearer invisible.

He was feared by many and as a consequence was rarely invited to visit neither Earth nor Olympus. He usually stayed within his own dark realms. He was judgmental, showed no pity or compassion, relentless, and severe. Pluto was not an evil god. He was however extremely JUST….. and naked truth is rarely welcome. Pluto was considered King of the Dead, but he was not Death himself.

He abducted Persophone and married her. She spent six months in the underworld with him and was allowed to return to the surface to visit her mother for six months. In the Odyssey, the Kingdom of Pluto or Hades as he was also referred to, lay over the edge of the world across the ocean. (This could be interpreted as refering to what would today be America!)

The path to the underworld, as mentioned by the Roman poet Virgil, leads to where the river Acheron (the River of Woe) runs into Cocytus (the River of Lamentation). Charon, an ancient boatman, takes the souls of the dead to the other side. Charon would only give passage to those souls who were buried with money on the lips of their bodies. Payment was required for passage. Once on the other bank they come to the adamantine gate to Tartarus. Guarding the gate is Cerberus, the three-headed dog of Hell who allows souls to enter, but none can return. It is here that the soul is judged and those who have lived good and just lives can enter the blessed Elysian Fields. The wicked, however, are condemned to everlasting torment.

            Pluto’s world of the dead can be considered as the place where the wicked are punished and the good rewarded.

PLUTO, in Astrology

            On further consideration, the nature of Pluto as it is considered in Astrology has not wandered too far from the original myths. Pluto does represent Truth and Consequences, or more to the point naked honesty. Pluto stands as the Auditor of the Gods, making certain that no soul has even tried to rip him off, or anyone else for that matter! His reputation is filled with references to fear, confrontation and retribution. If God is in your heart, there is no need to fear! If God is not in your heart, then you deserve what you get! It’s the truth, isn’t it?

PLUTO By Degrees

            Pluto was discovered at 17°46’ of Cancer. Let us witness what truth there might be within this 18th Zodiac degree of Cancer. What implications lie within these meanings. What challenges did Pluto’s original impulse bring to bear upon these meanings?

CA 18° (Charubel): A bull tossing a man with his horns. This denotes a wilful person, one who will be always on the defensive, and too often on the aggressive. Personal property will have but little sacredness with him, his motto being, ” What I can get is my own.”

(Editors note: At least Pluto would be very much at home with this symbol. When one takes the bull by the horns, their is the risk of being tossed or skewered. Strength through adversity … could be considered a Plutonian philosophy.)

CA 18°(Sepharial): A cluster of faded exotics, very sweet and sickly to the smell. It indicates a person of extreme frailty of character, unable to hold his own in the broad fields of life, and very timorous of exposure to the keen winds of criticism One who will live in luxury even when of small means; a person with very little mettle, fond of pleasures and of fictitious stimulants. The native will eventually fall on evil days. It is a degree of SATIETY.

(Editors note: Once again Pluto could impose his rule here. For every indulgence there is a price.)

CA 18°(A. Leo): Fond of the sea, a rover: companionable and jovial: hampered by uncles.

(Editors note: His kingdom was said to be off the end of the earth over the ocean, but the general implication here is a direct contradiction to the natuire of Pluto… one might think of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.)

CA 18°(Muir): One who travels in search of material wealth. In earlier life friends are valued to the extent that they contribute to his suc-cess.

(Editors note: Well, the financial implications here would be quite welcome to Pluto.)

Cancer 18 (Chandra): A BLACK CHILD PLAYING WITH A TIGER. Innocence in the face of danger.- Foolhardy toying with the negativi-ty of others.

(Editors note: Only black animals were sacrificed to Pluto. This suggests Pluto’s marital relations. He abducted Persephone who in the end had to spend six months in the dark underworld. The concept of innocence in darkness holds strog here. Pluto could turn other peole’s negativity back on themselves. He is a fearful god but not an unjust one!)

CA 18° (Sabian/Jones) A hen scratching for her chicks This is a symbol of the maximum protection which life at large will provide for the individual in general, here given emphasis on the personal side. There are always high rewards for any effort which is self-consistent or industrious at base, and by the reverse implication of the symbolism it is always possible for human creativity to endow its own manifestations with a gift of self-continuousness. Normality is exalted in the simple business of selfbeing. The keyword is PROVISION. When positive, the degree is a marked capacity for meeting every demand of existence advantageously and with a persisting self-fulfillment, and when negative, idle bustle and unprofitable labor.

(Editors note: Certainly Pluto could challenge the truth of one’s security. There is a difference between the comforts of luxury and the demands of necessity.)


KEYNOTE: The practical concern with everyday nourishment necessary to sustain one’s outreaching activities.

  Every mother is originally responsible for the feeding of her progeny, and all the activities into which a person has poured his energy are his symbolic children. He has to feed them with social substance gathered from “the ground” of his community, and to watch with concern over their unfoldment. The tender stem consolidates into the tree trunk, the chicken into the hen, the infant into the theoretically self-reliant and socially wise adult.

This third stage of the twenty-second five-fold sequence shows the results of the two previous stages. Seed, germ and the growing plant requiring the chemicals of the soil for its daily growth form a clear sequence. What is at stake here is the FULFILLING OF LIFE’S RESPONSIBILITIES.

(Editors note: Perhaps Pluto’s presence here has marked the real beginning of feminine rage and distemper over the responsibilities of motherhood? Perhaps this marks the radical edge of modern feminism……. Pro-Choice or Pro-Life? What is the naked truth of your life?)

CAN 18°: (Sabian/Klimczak) A Hen Scratching The Ground For Her Chicks

Providing nourishment. Taking something under your wing. Concern. Getting beneath the surface. Repetitive actions. Bequethal of life vs digging up dirt. Spiritual offspring vs being in the mother’s shadow.

(Editors note: Certainly the reference to digging up dirt or getting beneath the surface points to Pluto. Even the suggestion of living in the mother’s shadow rather than in her light brings echos of Persephone. “Who knows what evil lies within the hearts of men?…….the Shadow knows!”

CA 17°-18° (I Ching): THE CALDRON: Hx.50, Line 6: Active.

“Wind and wood below with fire above. This fans the flames and brings up the idea of cooking. The wood serves as nourishment for the fire, or the spirit. All that is visible must grow beyond itself and extend into the realm of the invisible. Thereby it receives its true consecration and clarity and takes firm root in the cosmic order. It further suggests that the caldron is to be used in giving sacrifices to the gods.

The superior person consolidates his or her fate by making his or her position correct. The fate of fire depends upon wood. As long as there is wood the fire will burn. In human life there is a fate that lends power to life. If the superior person can assign the right place to life and to fate he develops a firm foundation.”

(Editors note: It is fascinating that Pluto was given a helmet that would make the wearer become invisible. Pluto also has a fateful presence wherever he is. This hexagram goes on to talk about the secret teachings of Chinese yoga.)

Hx. 50, Line 6: The Ting or caldron has rings of jade. Great good fortune. Nothing that would not further.”

(Editors note: Pluto loves to collect a fortune. In fact he rules over the metals of the earth. A jade caldron would be a fitting instrument of offering for Pluto.

  17° 40’-17° 50’CA [Pentan=Capricorn] (IC-lvl2): DIFFICULTY AT THE BEGINNING: Hx.3,

“This hexagrams pictures a blade of grass pushing against an obstacle as it sprouts out of the earth.

Hence the name Difficulty at the Beginning. It represents the way heaven and earth bring forth individuals. The image is thunder beneath the dangerous abyss. The situation points to teeming chaotic confusion. Thunder and rain prevail, but the thunderstorm brings release from tension and lets things breathe freely again. The abyss moves downward while thunder ascends. The upward movement eventually passes beyond the danger.”

(Editors note: This is remarkable . It seems to give meaning to Persephone’s ascent from the dangerous dark underworld to the light above where she can stay for six months. For six months there is more light in the world and for six months darkness prevails when the Sun stays below the earth (in the Southern hemisphere) Movement out of chaos into the light.)

“Times of growth, like giving birth, are filled with difficulties and dangers. These arise from the profusion of all that is trying to take form. Everything is in motion. For great success one must pass through the dangers. Clouds and thunder. The superior person brings order out of confusion. To find one’s place in the infinity of being, one must be able both to separate and to unite.”

(Editors note:  The conquest of fear certainly represents the nobility of Pluto. The conflicts between unity an d separation could be seen as the two prong fork of Pluto.

Hx.3, Line 5: Firm. “A little perseverence brings good fortune. Great perseverence brings misfortune.”

(Editors note: Caution and perspective are needed here. These are two of Pluto’s most positive attributes. Truth and clarity in the face of danger. Silence your doubts and your mind.)

CA 17°-18° (Paulus Alexandrinus):  Mars

(Editors note: What other realm could Pluto make a stronger entrance in?)

CA 18° (Carelli): The subject is weak with himself, has unhealthy tastes and an unbalanced will; he is cowardly and overbearing, shy and foolhardy, intrusive and lazy. His whole life is aimed at pleasure; he loves gambling most. When his money and vigour is run low or when he is sated and disappointed with life and has exhausted all other ways to enjoy himself, he will seal his own ruin by taking to booze and to dope. Should other factors concur, sharping, misuse of trust, embezzlement, theft, rape, corruption of minors and homosexuality are likely pitfalls. Should the stars portend mental deficiency as well, the native could even stoop to murder. (Criminology teaches that stupid thieves kill and cleaver ones steal without attempting to take their victims’ lives.)

(Editors note: Pluto would have plenty of scope in bringing truth and its consequences home to these types.)

18°CA (Ebertin) Opening of pancreas into common duct

(Editors note: A lot of dark energies and toxins are found in this organ that sees no light, buried beneath the surface. Many a doctor has brought fear to a patient over a diseased pancreas.

CA 18°(Kozminsky). UNDER THE. INFLUENCE OF THE PLANET SATURN. A hand grasping gold pieces, some of which are falling through the fingers. Denotes one who is disposed to place too much value on material things, esteeming them as philosophy and learning, one who will make his days ” pay ” him, and who seeks to gain the wealth of the world by all legitimate means. His nature is somewhat hard; he regards ” his best friends, the friends of his pocket,” hence does not know his truest friends at all. He will continue thus to the end of his earth days, when, as the Talmud has it, ” all that he has gained slips through his fingers.” It is a symbol of Materialism.

(Editors note: This is truly a comfortable home for Pluto, the god of wealth. Even in Hades only those souls buried with money on their lips were allowed to ferry across the rivers of woe and lamentation to be judged worthy or not of reaching the Elysian Fields. No one could return but the unworthy were tortured endlessly.)

18°Cancer (Bardon) Sikesti -instructs the magician in re-spect of the most subtle analogies and secrets of the evolution of the microcosm and the macrocosm. From Sikesti the magi-cian learns to know, at least from this intelligence’s point of view, about the act of creation of everything as Divine Provi-dence purposes it.

(Editors note: Perhaps this could refer to the letter of the genetic code, DNA, experiments in cloning, and cross breeding. This could even include an understanding of nature, the reasons for pollution, and the deterioration of the Ozone layer.

CA 18° (Leinbach): This degree is indicative of a great amount of unstable nervous energy, coupled with considerable mental ability. If Uranus is strong in the chart we might expect much lightening-like insight piercing through propaganda. This insight however, would not be likely to be steady and sure. There is a desire for travel in this degree, which is inconsistent with Cancer generally. This desire would be furthered if it were stimulated as a third or ninth house influence. The native is sometimes limited either by his desire to travel or by his love of home. Whether weak or strong, he is not gullible or superstitious. He has clear bits of insight. The problem occurs when he puts them together and he may draw wrong conclusions still based on fact.

(Editors note: Once again the concept of truth and consequences surfaces. Over the century we have purchased and brought much electrical equipment into our homes. Have we become more secure or happier? Witness the debates over whether smoking is hazardous to one’s health or not. Are any wrong decisions made? Are there any Plutonian consequences to such ignorance?)

CA 18° (Leek): There is a capability to make the best of things. He may not have the money to be a millionaire, but will always give the appear-ance of being in better financial circumstances than he actually is.

(Editors note: “Money makes the world go around!” Doesn’t it?

17-18° CA (Weber): Early-rising or late-night reveller, this Sagittarius/Cancer degree will be forever active forceful dynamic, and pleasure seeking. Similar to other fire-water combinations, it experiences fewer successes in career and romance, or is caught by limiting circumstances or the wrong associations, or personal mistakes and misconceptions, or other errors brought on by the rush of the moment, the insistence of others or the wrong reasons. Fixed star Wasat suggests destruction, perhaps criminal or perverted acts. Morals should be remembered and practiced.

(Editors note: Pluto is at home here. Untruths deserve destruction. Banish the perpetrators to the underworld for basic primal re-education.)

CA 17°-18° (Matthews) “LIMITATION” Opportunities or accomplish-ments are sometimes limited, for women. This degree may denote either asceticism or lack of chastity. Alan Leo and Annie Besant, Jupiter; Harry Truman, Mars; John Dillinger, Moon; Horoscope of Germany, Moon; Chart #3 Famous Nativ-ities. Evening of Dec. 10, 1870.

(Editors note: Once again Pluto’s abduction of Persephone really did raise issues of chastity and its loss. Her life as Queen of the Underworld was indeed a limited accomplishment, and even her opportunity to visit her mother on the surface was limited to six months a year.)

CANCER 18° (Manthri) – July 8, 9 or 10

Creative words: (1st half) Nordou Laisyah-;(2nd half) Lortua Neidkya. Thou livest in a house that hath few windows; many of thy rooms look not out upon the world of greed and cruelty. Yet thou art the true friend of thy times and of all who breathe, human and animal. Thy mind and thy hand are the aid of many; thy outer rooms are ever full of welcome guests; thy wealth fluctuateth. If of the first half, thy words instruct or amuse; thy mate or partner requireth thy aid in illness; gaming and misdirected affections are thy temptations; thy child is apt at learning; thou must take great care with money received in trust. If of the second half, guard well thine own health and pro-tect that of the many; thy foot toucheth foreign lands; thy mind inquireth into the mysteries; thy secrets are of import – let them not destroy thee; study thy future.

(Editors note: Pluto’s kingdom was a place in which no light would shine. His house had no windows! Pluto was discovered in the second half of this degree and certainly he would add wait to the guarding of his kingdom (Cerberus the three-headed dog) where many dark and dangerous secrets dwell. Basically mind your own business, or else!)

18° CA (Henson): Opportunities or accomplishments are sometimes limited; may denote for women asceticism or lack of chastity; the common duct.

(Editors note: Same comments as Matthews. See above.)

17°30’-18° CANCER (AQU-8, PIS-9)/(Cochrane): Intuitive, philosophical view of life. High spiritual ideals. Original and inventive imagination. Generous and helpful to others.

(Editors note: Perhaps we do learn more from our enemies than our friends? Maybe adversity does in the end help us, but it is not the kind of help Cancer energy would expect.)

18th CAN (Koparkar) This degree has some conflict in the area of marriage. They are very stubborn about their desires, which their spouse does not care too much about. They drift into too many career areas and finally settle down on something insignificant. However, no matter what career they are in, money does not seem to frighten them. Their hopeful attitude about letting the things work for the best is amazing. Their romances may not be many and the few ones will still be secret to many of their friends. Their marriage relations are strongly based on intellectual interaction and strong emotional exchange. In this marriage one has to play a “mother figure” role to compensate some subconscious desires. Their communication with their spouse is very loving type but they use frequent sarcasm in it. In financial matters they start with a lot of lavish investments or expenditures but as they get older they become more possessive and practical with their resources. Their work habits are very innovative and unusual. Their intellectual resources are keen, sharp and brilliant. Their early life has a lot of hyperactivity and difficulties from being too stubborn and fixed in nature.

(Editors note: Pluto’s relationship is well expressed here. More power to you!)