As someone with almost literally a life-long love of astronomy (my first word was “star”), I’ve always been vaguely intrigued by astrology. I’m fascinated by that which endures through many ages and cultures of humanity. At the very least, such things reflect an aspect of human consciousness. They’re also a shared idea, so they form community in the like-minded.
Is there magic in the stars? No, not in the astrological sense. Any “magic” is in us, in our consciousness, not in the stars. (Worldwide, on average, almost 12 million babies are born each month. That an astrological sign applies to them all is a bit of a stretch.)
And the thing is, most of us aren’t the sign we think we are!
If you keep an eye on the night sky you may have noticed two bright “stars” to the south just around midnight. (To be precise: Jupiter is dead south at 11:02 pm; Saturn is dead south at 11:37 pm. By midnight they’ve moved slightly to the west.)
If you’re the type to keep an eye on the night sky, you likely already know those “stars” are Saturn (on the left) and Jupiter (on the right). What you may not know — and certainly can’t see — is that almost right smack dab between them is the former planet Pluto. All three just happen to be lined up nicely right now.
The New Horizons spacecraft is also out there, well beyond Pluto.
The New Horizons spacecraft on its lonely way to the planet Pluto.
As far as I’m concerned, Pluto is — and will always be — a planet. I don’t at all dispute the 2006 decision of the IAU (International Astronomical Union) to classify planets in a way that excludes Pluto (and a lot of other rocks out there). Clearly without that classification, we’d end up with hundreds of new planets. I’m just saying that Pluto gets honorary planet status; it gets “grandfathered in” as one of the original nine.
Why am I writing about this now? Well, it came up in a (real world) discussion recently, so it’s on my mind. The reason it came up was due to a discussion about the New Horizons space mission, which will visit Pluto (the planet) in July of next year — a mere 190 days away. We’ve been waiting since January of 2006 — over eight years!
And I’m not alone in insisting on Pluto’s planetary status; far from it!