Putting A Spin on Pluto

Sunday June 10th 2012
Charon Gustav Dore

Pluto’s moon is named after Charon, who ferries the dead to the Underworld. This is by Gustave Doré from his illustrations of Dante’s Inferno.

My good friend Isy pointed out in a recent comment that  we should not think of Pluto as a simple lump of rock spinning through space, but as a group of objects with a great big hole in the middle. So I asked her to write about it. Understanding the astronomy of Pluto can help us to understand how the astrology really works. Here’s what she has to say.

There’s nothing in the Solar System quite like Pluto. But it’s not about whether a 12,500,000,000,000,000,000 kilo object matters at a distance of 4,300,000,000-7,500,000,000 km. It’s about the strange nexus of energy dominated by that body of rock.

It’s much more than a question of distance and weights, and relates to more than just the planet itself. Here are some facts.

  • Pluto’s relationship with its largest moon, Charon, is so intense that their gazes are locked (in love, distrust, or both) and the center of their mutual orbit is not in either body, but in the space between them.
  • The diameter of this binary system is roughly 5,836 km (almost half the Earth’s diameter of 12,740 km) and it’s spinning around its more than 18,000 km circumference every 6.3 Earth days.

    That’s not just an orbit, that’s a vortex!

  • Like Venus and Uranus, both Pluto and Charon rotate counterclockwise on their axes. Personally, I think this has something to do with why these planets’ energies can be so disruptive; in the case of the Plutonic dyad, that disruption can go very deep and wide.
  • The tilted trajectory of Pluto’s Solar orbit echoes Persephone’s split life, sometimes above ground and sometimes beneath it. (I still haven’t heard a convincing reason why Charon wasn’t named for her.)
  • Pluto and Charon don’t stand upright on their ecliptic, as most other planets do; they lie on their ecliptic at the angle of a lounge chair. This nearly-horizontal posture means that there are times when the spinning vortex of Plutonic energy is pointed towards us, right around the time that it’s moving through the solar ecliptic.

Does the nature of the Plutonic energy we get change with the angle of the vortex? Does each end of the vortex have a different type of energy signature?

I couldn’t find those answers, but I found enough hints that we can start putting things together. Here is a picture of the Plutonic system’s orbit within the solar system (left). (For 20 years of every Plutonic year, it’s inside the orbit of Neptune, represented by the blue line. Don’t let that throw you.)

The Plutonic system rose above the level of the solar ecliptic in 1927. Pluto’s South Pole first came into view in 1987 (which means that the equator was facing us in the 1980s!) and has been rotating towards us as the system continues on its orbit around the sun.

Each pole is fully exposed to us for about 90° of Pluto’s orbit, but exactly which 90° is hard to say because I can’t find a firm date on when either pole is pointing at us. Using online orreries that let me set a date and see where that puts things, I’ve created a thumbnail sketch (with very approximate dates) of when the vortex is pointing at us most directly:

This image (left) assumes that Pluto takes half of its orbital year to show us its north pole again, but that’s approximate. The Plutonic system’s speed varies depending on how close it is to the sun.

What would these energies be like when the North Pole is facing us from above the ecliptic, and when the South Pole is facing us below? How would they differ from each other? Do they differ from when the Plutonic equator is facing us, as it was in the 1980’s? Here’s what those ranges would look like, in time and space:

The last “Heads Up” period lasted from 1927 to about 1968. The last equatorial period was from the late 1970s through the 1980s. The next Tails Down period will be from about 2018 to 2057.

I also calculated the previous cycle of Heads Up (1679-1720) and Tails Down (1770-1809.) Between the perturbations in Pluto’s orbit, and the uncertainty of these numbers, I couldn’t go far in either direction without becoming wildly inaccurate.


As the inquiry expands, so will the data available to us. Someone here will be able to find those exact dates and get them to the rest of us.
Meanwhile … dig in. With Pluto and Uranus drumming on each others’ heads for the next few years, there’s no better time to revolutionize our understanding of Pluto.

Main pic: 


Online Orreries:
NASA fact sheet: http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/plutofact.html
Wikipedia on Pluto: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluto
… and on Charon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charon_%28moon%29
Homepage of NASA’s lead Pluto researcher: http://www.boulder.swri.edu/~buie/pluto/pluto.html

Images are based on the Wikimedia Commons images used on the Pluto page, with thanks to NASA’s hubblesite, Eurocommuter and Lanthanum-138.

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  1. Christina says:

    Isy – I think the fact that the energy vortex out there is actually a void is a fascinating. I’m having a Dr Who moment of imagining flying between Charon and Pluto into another dimension.
    Charon is the biggest moon out there and Pluto the littlest planet , so it’s nearly a dance of equals.

    The next question is those historical periods. I think it’s pretty hard to generalise really, but off the top of my head here are some thoughts…
    Clearly 1770-1809 (Tails Down) is revolutionary (America and France and Industrial plus the British in India & I’m sure more), ending with Napoleon. Arguably,that period was taking Enlightenment thinking to it’s natural conclusions. In other words, during the in-between phase there was a lot of thinking, then when the Tail goes Down, there’s action.
    Heads Up 1679-1720) – I think was rather peaceful, but I need to check.
    Heads Up 1927-1968 – war, war, war and upheaval across the globe. But also fantastic creativity and innovation in the arts. If you look at the painting from that period as a whole, it is remarkably dark.

    On a personal level, I would like to know when Charon is closer to the earth and when Pluto is. Is either more benign I wonder….

    • Isy Aweigh says:

      That Dr. Who idea is marvelous 🙂 I would love to see those episodes, because it would have to be at least a 2-parter, eh?

    • Isy Aweigh says:

      I had overlooked the fact that Charon is the biggest moon. That does make the dyad even more interesting, in terms of dynamics.

      Think how a vortex works over the plug-hole: it needs the void in the middle to create the swirl. That void in the middle is the heart of the vortex. Blows my mind, too.

      I love your historical notes. You have a much better historical sense than I do, or than pretty much anyone I know for that matter.

      It takes just over 3 days for Charon and Pluto to change position in relation to us. I was thinking this over today and remembered that, during the civil war against Ghadaffi, it seemed like the drama shifted every 2.5-4 days. That does look like a Plutonic/Charonic switcheroo cycle, and even at the time I thought that was an intensely Plutonian struggle.

  2. P says:

    This article is awesome. So awesome, that my brain has exploded.

    And they say astrologers are fuzzy-brained….

    • Isy Aweigh says:

      Yes, I first spotted it late last year, and my brain hasn’t stopped making fwizzy popping noises since 🙂 I’m delighted that Christina gave me a reason to focus on it and tease out what facts I could, because it really does hold up on closer examination. It makes the energetics more and more clear.

    • Christina says:

      I’m just putting my head back together now

  3. Sabrina says:

    Thanks for this…I need to re-read it, but is pretty wild that relationship between Pluto and Charon! On a personal level, the 2nd image that marks the south edge of vortex period calls my attention. There were drastic changes for me in the late ’90s. But I have more ‘power’ on my own actions and decisions than before.

  4. isabellium says:

    I found this unsurprising tidbit on NASA: “In the late 1980s, Pluto and Charon passed in front of each other repeatedly for several years..” So, yes, we were looking at them sideways. Somehow, it’s no surprise, as we head into the armpits of so many massive revolutions, to find we’re heading into the action of Tails Down.


  5. […] with Charon and showing that in fact this minor planet is really part of a dyad. To read that click here. I was reminded of this because she sent me this note about the most recent Plutonian […]

  6. anna says:

    what do you think of 14 july 2015 when the space probe first looks at pluto.
    I could say a lot here, but everything has a blackhole at its centre ,vortex/wormhole to another part of the metaphysical/metaphoicle body,to other die- mentions/states of consciousness, those who have had NDE ,know a little about this ,its all trans-parent empty state of consciousness, concentrated on, that give the illusion of “REALITY”,what concepts do we bear out?