In traditional astrology the fixed star Algol, head of the ghoul or demon, is considered the most baleful of stars. In modern astrological practice he is generally ignored, he has been replaced by Pluto. Astronomically both have something in common. Let us have a closer look.
Algol, is an eclipsing binary (actually there are three) star, Beta Persei α, β and γ. The brighter star, Beta Persei α is regularly eclipsed by Beta Persei β so that every few days its magnitude dips from a magnitude of 2.1 to 3.4. The following animation demonstrates this quite well.
Now any form of eclipse with a diminution of light is considered a form of debilitation and so with a little imagination it is not hard to see this constant eclipse, it occurs roughly every 2 days, as the baleful winking of the ghoul’s eyes.
Now, most are aware of Pluto having been degraded to a ‘dwarf’ planet. You might understand why if you compare the size of Pluto to the Earth. Relative to the Earth, Pluto has a radius of 0.18 and a mass of 0.0022 (the Earth having the value 1). It is tiny!
Not as widely known is the discussion whether Pluto and Charon form a binary dwarf planet! Unique in our planetary system. This reasoning has some factual basis:
- Pluto and Charon rotate around one another
- The centre of mass is outside of both bodies, each can so to speak be viewed as being the others moon!
- They are gravitationally locked so like the Moon with the Earth they always show the same ‘face ‘ to one another. This is because Charon is half the size of Pluto. Its gravitational field has an enormous influence on Pluto.
So like Algol, where Beta Persei β constantly eclipses Beta Persei α, we have ‘Pluton’ where Charon constantly eclipses Pluto roughly every 6 days. This at a magnitude of 13.65 (compared with Algol’s 2.1). Most of Pluto(n)’s bugbear qualities have been associated with his name (Lord of the Underworld) but seen from the above standpoint, this may in fact be grounded in Pluto’s continually eclipsing nature.
So both Algol and Pluton are binary systems that constantly eclipse. They are the hobgoblins or bugbears in astrology ready to grab you and pull you into the dark closet where they hide. The only difference is the quality of light that is eclipsed. Algol at its weakest magnitude is 4 times brighter than Pluton. Compared to Pluton it glows. Just to give you an idea of the quality of light:
- Sun – magnitude ; -26.73
- Full Moon – magnitude; -12.6
- Sirius, the brightest star in the sky – magnitude; -1.4
- Saturn – magnitude; 0.24
- Algol – magnitude; 2.1 to 3.4
- faintest stars visible with the naked eye under optimal conditions – magnitude; 6.5
- Neptune – magnitude; 7.7
- Pluto – magnitude; 13.65
This is where the traditional astrologer and the modern astrologer have their differences. The traditional astrologer considers light, only where there is light can there be an influence. The modern astrologer likes to speak of ‘energy’, but what exactly this ‘energy’ is is often unclear. It is certainly not in the form of light. Maybe in the form of ‘ecliption’ (for lack of a better word)?