Astrology Quick Facts:
Ruler of: Power, Transformation, & Rebirth
Named for: Pluto, The Roman God of the Underworld
Sign of Dignity: Scorpio
Sign of Detriment: Taurus
Sign of Exaltation: Leo
Sign of Fall: Aquarius
Physical Body: Pancreas, metabolism, elimination
Changes Sign: Every 13-32 years (due to highly erratic orbit)
Astronomy Quick Facts:
Type: Dwarf Planet, Terrestrial
Length of Day: 153 Earth hours (~6 Earth days)
Length of Year: 248 Earth years
Moons: 5 (Charon, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos, and Styx)
Temperature: -228 to -238°C (-378 to -396°F)
Colour: Reddish-Brown & White
Size: 49,244 km in diameter (5.5x smaller than Earth)
Year Discovered: 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh
For those of us who grew up learning about 9 planets, 2006 was a sad year. In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) officially stripped Pluto of its status as our solar system’s 9th planet. Pluto is now technically classified as a “dwarf planet” because it does not meet all 3 of the IAU’s criteria for planet status:
- It is in orbit around the Sun,
- It has enough mass to assume hydrostatic equilibrium, meaning a rounded shape, and
- It has “cleared the neighborhood” around its orbit; meaning Pluto’s gravitational influence is not enough to clear away space objects and debris from its orbit.
Despite this, Pluto’s influence over us on Earth has not “dwarfed” at all. As the planetary ruler of transformation and rebirth, Pluto made his own transformation to dwarf planet seamlessly and with great dignity. If you consider, as Joanna Martine Woolfolk explains, that Pluto is the planet of “destruction and annihilation, and then complete transformation,” Pluto’s relegation to dwarf planet status looks less like a demotion and more like a reclassification; a transformation and a rebirth. Call him what you like, Pluto and his pull on us humans remains just as potent as ever.
Plus, if Pluto’s Texas-sized glacier in the shape of a heart is any indication, Pluto never appeared to be particularly upset about his new title.
Tiny Pluto gets a particularly unique view of the solar system from its orbital path through the Kuiper Belt (pronounced kai-per), a doughnut-shaped ring of icy space objects and debris that extends out beyond Neptune’s orbit. He’s also followed around by 5 moons; Charon, the largest of which, is about half Pluto’s size and the reason why the pair are often referred to as the “double planet.” Pluto’s orbit is, of all the planets, the most erratic, and it takes him 248 Earth years to complete one rotation around the Sun. Pluto too is considered a generational planet, like Uranus and Neptune. These 3 planets are often called the modern planets or the Trans-Saturnians. Because these 3 planets move slower and are much further from the Sun, their influence impacts individuals and entire generations.
Since his comparatively recent discovery in 1930, astrologers do not understand Pluto’s influence to the same extent as they do the personal planets, the planets that come before Saturn in the solar system. But, since we can calculate where Pluto has been over time, astrologers can attribute certain characteristics to Pluto by examining it from a generational perspective. In the natal chart, Pluto’s placement is indicative of, in Woolfolk’s words, “the highest and lowest of which mankind is capable.”
For example, Pluto was in Sagittarius, the sign of truth, knowledge, and foreign places, during the Information Age, which the rise of the Internet and social media. Here, we saw an almost total annihilation of traditional, slower means of communication in favour of revolutionary new tools. Woolfolk points out that Pluto not only transformed how information is transmitted, but it transformed the “concept of distance” itself as it enabled humans to connect to one another instantaneously despite geographical space.