Oh My Stars

beliefnet astrology matthew currie planet xFacebook — where we all get our news from since the collapse of real-world society somewhere around 2010 — is abuzz with the news that our Solar System is probably home to an undiscovered planet roughly the size of Neptune. As a long time fan of astronomy, I am both delighted and unmoved by this news story, but as an astrologer I am actively annoyed… not by the planet, but by the reaction of many astrologers and astrology enthusiasts I’ve seen out there.

First, I’ll tell you why I’m not convinced by the science (yet), and then I’ll get on with the business of alienating many of the fine people in my line of work. Sorry folks, love and light and all that, but y’all gotta calm down.

There have been many searches for a Ninth Planet in our Solar System (or a Tenth Planet, before Pluto was demoted — but you all know in your hearts Pluto is a planet). Once every few years someone sits down and does some hard math and comes to the conclusion that the orbits of the planets (or other bodies) can’t be completely explained by the mass of the known planets, therefore there must be another one out there, far in the Cheap Seats of our Solar System. This method has worked before: studying the orbit of Uranus lead to the discovery of Neptune, and studies of Neptune’s orbit lead to the discovery of Pluto. Ironically, that was essentially a miscalculation — a mistake in the calculations lead to the belief that something much more massive was out there.

The “big news” of the “discovery” of Planet X is one of those things that resurfaces every few years: someone releases a paper indicating there may be something like that out there, and then a month or two later someone else crunches the numbers or makes other observations and Planet X goes back to non-existence. Even though the evidence looks good this time, it has looked good previously and nothing came of it. I’m going to play the odds and wait for more data, and so should you.


Now, what does all this have to do with astrology? Nothing really… except that an awful lot of astrologers I know are already speculating about what “Planet X” “rules.” Okay, first of all, I’ve given you my Grumpy Old Man rant about why I don’t use asteroids and other such bits of cosmic gravel in my readings previously. Here it is: click and have a look. 

To all my dear friends and colleagues I say, from the bottom of my heart and with nothing but Pure Love for all of you: cut that crap out right now.

I say this for two reasons. First of all, there are all my objection to fetishizing asteroids that I wrote about in my previous entry on the matter. But beyond that, there’s one reason specific to this Planet X that also applies: the planet in question (if it exists at all) only goes around the Sun something like once every 10 to 20 thousand years. Imagine for a moment that Planet X is real, and that it is now somewhere around 15 degrees Taurus. This means that you have more or less exactly the same Planet X placement as your parents, and your grandparents, and their grandparents, and theirs, and Abraham Lincoln. You might have to go back past Julius Caesar to find someone who didn’t have Planet X in Taurus.

This doesn’t mean that a mostly-immobile point has no use in a birth chart. The Fixed Stars, as they are called, are incredibly useful and informative… but still aren’t nearly as useful as the actual planets to an astrological interpretation. They are the garnish that can pull a dish together, but no one in their right mind would serve a dish made primarily of parsley.

So come on, Astro-People… enough of the wild speculation. We still have Saturn to deal with.

(This has been an installment in the “Cranky Astrologer” Series. Installments will be presented as annoyances arise.)

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