Monday, August 14, 2006

Bad Astronomer makes bad assumption ...

On the August 15, 2006 “Coast to Coast” radio show, “Bad Astronomer” Phil Plait smugly suggested (paraphrasing) that the current dispute over Pluto’s status as a planet should make astrologer sweat, and he was looking forward to a chuckle as we try to explain away our use of it.

Some folks don’t let their ignorance of a topic get in the way of voicing their opinions, even when the answer is obvious in their own writing. This has ever been true of skeptics who pontificate about astrology without seeking out what we really think first. He says on his blog “My opinion: who cares? It is what it is, and calling it a planet won’t change that. The real question is, what’s a planet?”

Most astrologers have a similar reaction, and have felt that way for years. Pluto’s planetary status has in fact been in dispute between astronomers virtually since its discovery. This is often acknowledged in astrological literature on Pluto. Who cares? It is what it is, and what it is called is as irrelevant to astrology as it is to astronomy. Most astrologers already track a handful of asteroids and comets, mathematical points in space (like the North Node), and some of us even track hypothetical planets which astrologers (not astronomers) predicted years ago would eventually be located “trans-Pluto” or beyond Pluto. In 1972 an ephemeris was published for "Transpluto". The asteroids have a well-established use in astrological analysis, Pluto’s effect has been well-documented in astrological literature, and it is on this basis we will continue to use it without concern over its astromonical status.

Furthermore, it's really irrelevant to us what astronomers decide they will call "planets", or if they decide to call them something else. Astrologers call the Sun and Moon “planets” all the time, knowing full well astronomers do not define them this way, knowing they are not in fact "planets" in the astronomical sense of the term. Mirriam Webster in fact allows for the astrological definition of "planets" as "a celestial body held to influence the fate of human beings." That works for me.

Sorry to deprive you of a chuckle, Mr. Plait.

I do not use Transpluto mainly because I have enough of a challenge analyzing a chart without adding a hypothetical position, but also because it is so far out that it likely has a primarily generational effect. It has not yet been proven that there is in fact a literal heavently body at that position, but if some astrologers are noticing a trackable effect, it may be there is some other cause for the effect, similar to the effects of the North and South Nodes.


Brad said...

So what is the ephemeris for this Transpluto? If it was published in 1972, why do you still call it Transpluto? Surely telescopes are powerful enough to spot it now, especially since it should be large enough. I mean, if it wasn't large it wouldn't have any bearing on astrology, right?

Bruno Domingues said...

Hi Brandi,

You say "I do not use Transpluto mainly because I have enough of a challenge analysing a chart without adding a hypothetical position, but also because it is so far out that it likely has a primarily generational effect."
So, some people use charts with hypothetical positions? ... and by saying "likely has a primarily generational effect.", you mean it can also not have only a "generational effect", but other effects?

That "transpluto" component may well have a combined mass far superior to all "inner Pluto" bodies. Do they not matter because they are far away? Even if there are billions of them?

By your title "Bad Astronomer makes bad assumption ...", you assume Mr. Phil Plait assumed you would struggle to explain something about Pluto, that he would have a chuckle at your expense or both?

Best regards
Bruno Domingues

Brian said...


By Transpluto, do you mean any body that has influence that is outside the orbit of Pluto? How does a transplutonian object affect an analysis. Would you say an object, say Neptune, has more influence that a transplutonian object?

Just curious...