Did You Plan-et?

It always cracks me up when people ask astrologers, “Did you plan it?” It sounds so much like planet. No astrologer planned for what happened in the past two days. Every astrologer’s world has been officially upended. For a few years, a very few astrologers, myself one of them contended that there are now several more planets in the solar system. None of these are the made up variety; these are real. The Trans-Neptunian bodies Varuna, Quaoar and most recently, Sedna, are likely to be planets. Using the criteria some propose for such definition the asteroid Ceres arguably becomes a planet as well. These claims get shunted because none of these objects exceed Pluto in size. And some astronomers over the past few years attempted to revoke Pluto’s planet status. They should know better.

Today, July 29th, 2005 even the cable network MSNBC broadcast the stunning news of the discovery of the size of the minor planet 2003 EL61. At about 75% the size of Pluto, this bright object with a 286.31 year orbit could be a planet. It maintains a relatively high inclination as does Pluto seems inclined to send strong shock waves through the astronomical community as it appears larger, according to brightness, than Varuna, Quaoar and Sedna. Initial claims urge the acceptance of this body as a possible planet. Wow!

Wait, there’s more. Chad Trujillo (of Sedna and Quaoar fame) and colleagues announced today a TNO that appears to be 1.5 times the size of Pluto. There’s another planet! Orbiting the Sun in a 557.15 year orbit (based upon unrefined orbital data), 2003 UB313 presents itself as the next planet. Today, this body passes through 21 Aries 00. On August 8th, look for it at 20 Aries 58. Trujillo, as he did with Quaoar and Sedna already picked a name, but is keeping it secret until Mercury goes direct. I’m kidding. The name stays secret for the time being, but it has nothing to do with Mercury retrograde.

The process will be as follows. Astronomers need to get comfy with the certainty of the orbital movement of both these objects. Then each can receive a minor planet number. An example would be the object, Aphohis, with the number 99942, which has a 1 in 15,000 chance of hitting Earth some decades from now - maybe - more than likely not. Anyway, the number 99942 means there exist nearly 100K minor objects in our solar system for which they’ve gotten the orbit correct. There stand many hundred more in line waiting with about the same degree of patience as tourists in line at immigration. After a body gets a minor planet number, it can be named. If recent history bears out, Chad and his buds will get the secret name through the International Astronomical Union since they already know the secret handshake.

Oh by the way, I cannot, nor can anyone, generate an accurate ephemeris for UB313, until it receives a number. After that, I’ll do so as swiftly as possible. Any stated position other than for the current time contains potential errors. I’ll let you know when I have one ready to go.

Now astrologers, despite their self-appointed attitude of being evolutionary and progressive have not proved themselves to be so of late. In astronomy, the size of any object bears direct impact on its importance. While many astrologers embraced Chiron, few welcome the other named centaurs including Chiron’s wife, Chariklo, even though she’s notably larger. Makes you wonder. Though the TNO’s Sedna, Varuna and Quaoar could be deemed planets over night, most astrologers ignore them. My experience when I bring these facts up it that astrologers dig in their heels with such ferocity that they end up standing knee deep in Pluto’s underworld. This time there’s no ducking.

Right now we need to wait to form our opinions of what these world changing discoveries mean. The mythology will help and as soon as the orbits stabilize, we can make some determination based upon the accurate positions of the North Node and the perihelion (closest contact to the Sun) of these bodies. Given Mercury retrograde and my need to step outside and celebrate the night sky, this will have to do for now. I am so excited!

Astrology, as of today, as it did in February of 1930, changed forever. That’s the way it is. Not one of us was able to plan-et.