The planet Pluto – named after the God of the underworld - was discovered on February 18, 1930 by Clyde W. Tombaugh, then 24 years old, an astronomer's assistant at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. "Life on Earth needs warmth and sunshine, water and oxygen. Certainly Pluto has not enough of these basics for most of our plants and animals. They could not survive there," students were told.
The distance between Pluto and the Sun was said to be 3.67 billion miles. As a result, sunlight reaching Pluto would be 900 times less intense than sunlight reaching Earth. However the sunlight would provide 250 times the illumination Earth would receive from a full moon. In 1978 astronomer James W. Christy found Pluto's moon Charon (pronounced Sharon).
The distance between Pluto and Charon was 12,250 miles apart (with Charon measuring at 800 miles across). Isaac Asimov explained in 1988, "James W. Christy named Charon, after the boatman in the Greek myths who ferried dead souls across the river Styx to Pluto’s underground domain. Every 124 years, Charon enters a 5-year period during which, as seen from Earth, it passes directly in front of Pluto, then behind it, making a complete circuit every 6.4 days. It goes through this period of regular eclipses when Pluto is farthest from the Sun and again when it is nearest."
Until that historic vote back in August 2006 when 2,500 astronomers from 75 countries attended the International Astronomical Union (formed in 1919) conference held in Prague, the Czech Republic, elected to demote Pluto from "classical" planet to "dwarf planet" (or minor planet), there were actually 9 planets in the solar system. Percival Lowell had predicted around the turn of the (21st) century that a huge planet with a mass 7 times great than Earth existed beyond Uranus and Neptune.
Back in 1999, Mark Marley, an assistant astronomy professor at New Mexico State University told the Associated Press, "The controversy (of listing Pluto as a minor planet) was that if you give Pluto a minor planet number, it would be viewed by the public as a whole that it would be delisted as a planet even though it had not been delisted as a planet."
Measuring at 1,491 miles across, Pluto was "the smallest known planet in our solar system." Back in 1988, astronomer William McKinnon told 'Nature' magazine, "Pluto is not an asteroid (the largest being Ceres about 600 miles across). It has a lot of ice which the asteroids do not have. It also has a satellite which asteroids do not have and because it never was part of the asteroid belt it couldn't have formed there. It is usually the most distant planet. For 20 years out of every 248 it is inside the orbit of Neptune (discovered in 1846). That now makes Neptune the farthest planet (from the Sun) and it will remain so until 1999."
Pluto was said to be about 3.5 billion miles from Earth. On Earth telescopes would be needed to see Pluto, Neptune and Uranus (discovered on March 13, 1781). The planets which said could be seen without a telescope were Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Pluto took 248 Earth years and another 5 months to complete one orbit around the Sun. At the same time, Earth required only 1 year or 12 months to complete one orbit around the Sun.
As such, a person on Pluto would be an old man or woman before passing half the time of a "Pluto year". As mentioned, one "Pluto year" equalled 248 years and 5 months on Earth. One month or one day on Pluto both equalled 6.4 Earth days (or nearly a week), the time Pluto took to spin on its axis while Charon circled Pluto in the same time. It was understood no other planet had equivalent months and days. A "Neptune year" equalled 164 years and 9 months of Earth's time.
Scientists believed Pluto comprised 3 parts rock and one part frozen gases (97% frozen nitrogen; 3% frozen carbon monoxide and methane, or natural gas). Charon's surface contained water ice. Pluto's surface temperature was around 387 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. As Pluto moved away from the Sun, its atmosphere froze and dropped to the planet's surface.
It was reported back in 1993, "By the year 2020, most of the atmosphere will be frozen and stay that way for about 2 centuries (or 200 years) until Pluto again approaches the Sun." A 200-pound man on Earth would weigh 2 pounds to 4 pounds on Pluto because of gravity. To elaborate, "Gravity is a built-in force. It is present in every object from a grain of sand to the mighty stars. The strength of an object's gravity depends upon the amount of matter in the object."
The August 2006 decision to demote Pluto from "classical" planet to minor planet reportedly rocked the astrology world. The American Federation of Astrologers and the Astrological Association of Great Britain made known they had stood firm and would continue to recognize the quality of Pluto in all horoscopes when analysing the 12 signs of the Zodiac.
U Tiun Lin of the Myanmar Astrologers Association told the 'Myanmar Times', "Pluto has been traditionally defined as a planet in astrology, and it will retain that status. Those scientists can decide what they like, but we will continue to recognize Pluto's important role in the solar system and we will continue to consider it in our calculations as we always have."
Than Htay of Burma Astrology Research Bureau added, "Pluto plays an important role in predicting the future of nations, so it has a powerful status. We can't erase the traditional ways, just as we can't change the essence of religious teachings whenever we like." Back in 2006, astrologers urged all Scorpios – people born between October 23 and November 21 – to be "especially cautious in the coming days because the sign is closely associated with Pluto." Australian astrologer Milton Black pointed out, "Scorpios can be extremely explosive, and very direct, and this (changing the planet category of Pluto) could be the trigger that makes them explode."
As astronomers sent shock waves through the astrology world, it was reported in the Indian tradition of Vedic astrology, astrologers generally used the first 5 planets and classical astrologers in the West used the first 7 planets. Only modern astrologers, the 90% American practitioners, relied on a 9-planet system. At the time the companies producing chart-reading software for astrologers advised the press they were adjusting their products to include more information on dwarf (or minor) planets. Some horoscope columnists were said to be wrestling with whether to incorporate the new crop of dwarf (or minor) planets into their chart readings.
Back in January 1970, the 'Afro-American Features' informed readers, "A person born on June 5, 1942 have different horoscope reading than a person born June 5, 1941 because the planets were in different signs during the 2 years despite the fact that the sun was in Gemini both years. In addition to the Sun in Gemini, an individual born on June 5, 1942 would have had a moon in Pisces, Mercury in Gemini, Venus in Taurus, Mars in Cancer, Jupiter in Gemini, Uranus in Gemini, Neptune in Virgo, and Pluto in Leo.
"Now an individual born a year earlier, on June 5, 1941, had a moon in Libra, Mercury in Cancer, Venus in Gemini, Mars in Pisces, Jupiter in Gemini, Saturn in Taurus, Uranus in Taurus, Neptune in Virgo, and Pluto in Leo. We can readily see that the moon, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Saturn, and Uranus form different patterns in the sky on the 2 birthdates. And this is one of the reasons why people born the same day but another year are not exactly alike."