Most people would agree that the Moon is fairly important in our horoscope. Indeed, it has been said that eighty per cent of the time, we are working with our Moons, and if we were to present a chart interpretation which took no account of the Moon whatsoever, we would probably be chastised for not having done a proper job.

It is perhaps surprising, therefore, that since no other moon is given any account in our astrological work, that ours is by no means the only moon in the Solar System, a moon being a satellite which revolves around its parent planet. In fact with the exception of the two planets closer to the Sun than us, Mercury and Venus, every planet has at least one moon. Even a few asteroids, such as Pallas Athene and Victoria, have a moon.

One reason for this moonist state of affairs must be the vast distances of the planets from us, and the difficulty of differentiating between a planet's influence and that of its moons, since we tend to regard a planet as a single pinpoint, or minute of a degree. Nevertheless, the moons surely form a part of the whole and make a fascinating and subtle addition to our astrological realm.

The Moon is the only body in the Solar System which in any sense orbits the Earth, although its true motion is of a path weaving in and out of Earth's orbit, lagging behind and racing ahead each month, as its gravitational control passes between Earth and the Sun. The Sun's pull on the Moon is more than twice as strong as the pull of the Earth; viewed from outside the Solar system the Moon would be seen to revolve around the Sun, with an orbit that is always concave to the Sun. The Earth/Moon system is therefore that of a double planet, each gravitating around a barycentre. This barycentre actually falls within the body of the Earth, but quite near its surface.

Surprisingly, a similar system occurs at the very outer reaches of the Solar System, where Pluto and its moon Charon are locked in eternal dance. Charon, discovered in 1978, has been described as the "biggest known hailstone in the universe". It orbits Pluto at approximately a twentieth of the distance between Earth and the Moon, but whereas the Moon is one eightieth the weight of Earth, Pluto is only ten times the weight of Charon. During Pluto's 248 year orbit, Charon and Pluto loop around each other, showing the same face to each other, 14,000 times. Charon's orbit is almost exactly circular and takes exactly the rotation period of Pluto itself. Pluto and Charon therefore comprise a "fixed" pair which is unique in the Solar System, and since Charon has such a large size relative to that of Pluto they could be regarded as a binary planet or asteroid system, where each planet orbits the other. Pluto and Charon could both be escaped moons of Neptune, but it is now thought that Charon is a giant comet, gravitationally captured from far outside the Solar System. Chiron, with which it has some similarities, may have been captured in the same way.

If Melanie Reinhart and others are right about the potent and profound effects of Chiron in the horoscope this poses the question, what if Chiron had become captured by an outer planet, such as Pluto, and become one of its moons? Would it have been prevented from having any influence by virtue of not being in orbit around the Sun? If so, we would have to discount the Moon on the same grounds. If it continued to have an effect, that effect would be perceived by us as a part of the Pluto effect, and our reading of Pluto would perhaps resemble that of a Pluto/Chiron conjunction. This is what has happened in the case of Pluto and Charon.

Charon is the ancient ferryman who ushers the souls of the dead across the Styx to Hades, Pluto's underworld. If he is not paid his coin the soul of the dead person will be left to wander eternally on the far bank. This links Pluto with Mercury since it is Hermes the Trickster (Mercury) who lures the unsuspecting souls, through deceit and intrigue, down into the depths and delivers them to Charon. When Pluto is interpreted in a horoscope we should remember that is the Pluto/Charon combination that is being assessed.

Until Voyager's flypast in 1989, Neptune, currently our outermost planet, was only known to have two moons: Nereid has a highly eccentric one-year orbit which takes it far away from the planet making it impossible for Voyager's cameras to get a decent view. Two of the six new satellites discovered by Voyager are actually larger than Nereid, but all are too close to Neptune's surface to be seen from Earth, and none has yet been named.

Triton, the strangest known body in the Solar System, was discovered by William Lassell only 17 days after the discovery of Neptune iself in 1846. It has a retrograde orbit at an extreme inclination of 160° and gets round Neptune in just 6 days. Colder than anywhere else in the Solar System, it is covered in the southern hemisphere by rippled light and dark pinkish snow, with some frozen lakes from gas and ice geysers. If there were crater impacts on the surface, something inexplicable has since smoothed them away. "Triton is incredible, incredible," a Nasa spokesman said, "It's out of this world in every sense. It has things we have never seen on another satellite." Triton is probably not a true satellite of Neptune, but could be another asteroid or comet captured by its gravity over 1,000 million years ago, devouring other moons in its molten state. Its eccentric orbit would gradually have been forced into its present entirely circular form.

Triton was the son of Poseidon (Neptune) and Amphitrite, the goddess of the sea, and is represented as a fish with a human head, who makes the oceans roar by blowing through his shell. Amphitrite was a Nereid or sea-nymph. Philip Sedgwick, who has included the moons of the planets in his book The Astrology Of Deep Space suggests that both Triton and Nereid would influence our emotional nature, alongside Neptune, accentuating our emotional stability or otherwise, and utilising the unconscious in our emotional mastery.

Five moons of Uranus were known to exist prior to the Voyager 2 mission. Ten new small satellites were then found, all closer-in than those previously known: Cordelia is the nearest to the planet, and is the smallest with a diameter of 16 miles. Cordelia and Ophelia, the next in the series, are the shepherd satellites of Uranus's ring. Bianca, Cressida, Desdemona, Juliet, Portia, Rosalind and Belinda are the next, with Puck completing the ten as the largest.

Of the five, Miranda is the smallest of the larger satellites, with a diameter of 293 miles. Umbriel is fainter than Ariel but slightly larger. Titania and Oberon were both discovered by William Herschel himself in 1787, six years after his historic discovery of Uranus. Titania is the largest, with a diameter of 981 miles, and Oberon, marginally smaller, is the furthest away (its craters include Hamlet, Othello and Falstaff).

Clearly, the moons of Uranus are Shakespearian: Cordelia from King Lear; Ophelia, the fated heroine of Hamlet; Bianca, the mistress of Cassio in Othello; Cressida from Troilus and Cressida; Desdemona, the heroine of Othello; Juliet, the star-crossed lover in Romeo and Juliet; Portia, who dispensed justice in The Merchant Of Venice; Rosalind, the heroine of As You Like It; Miranda, the heroine of The Tempest; and Ariel, the airy spirit in The Tempest who employs magic and sings 'Full fathom five'. Puck was originally a malicious spirit but in A Midsummer Night's Dream he was identified as Hobgoblin or Robin Goodfellow, and in the same play Titania and Oberon are Queen and King of the Fairies. Astrologically, this allusion to fairies in Uranus' first five moons contains the implication that all of us bear the ability to perform magic and intuitive functions if we can tap the innocence with which we were born. All the characters seem to represent higher truth, ideals beyond their time, or intuition in some form.

Saturn is known to have more than twenty satellites and there are undoubtedly more. The 17 so-far confirmed and named moons in order of distance from Saturn are Atlas, Prometheus, Pandora (all discovered from Voyager, 1980), Janus and Epimetheus (1978), Mimas (1789), Enceladus (1789), Tethys (1684), Telesto and Calypso (1980), Dione (1684), Helene (1980 - not discovered from the Voyager results but by telescope), Rhea (1672), Titan (1655), Hyperion (1848), Iapetus (1671) and Phoebe (1898). An 18th moon was confirmed in 1991.

Titan dominates Saturn's satellite system and is larger than any other known moon apart from Ganymede and possibly Neptune's Triton, with a diameter of 3,200 miles. Titan is unique among moons in the Solar System in having a dense atmosphere. It was the first to be discovered, by Christiaan Huygens on 25 March 1655. A torus of hydrogen atoms surrounds Saturn extending between Rhea and Titan, and Titan is believed to be the source of the hydrogen supply.

The second discovery was Iapetus, found by GD Cassini in 1671. He observed that "one part of his surface is not so capable of reflecting to us the light of the Sun which maketh it visible, as another part is". From this it was deduced that the rotation period was captured or synchronous, keeping the same hemisphere turned permanently towards Saturn, as the Moon does to Earth. Tidal friction is responsible for this and all the major planetary moons behave in the same way.

Mimas is the innermost of Saturn's classic satellites, and normally given credit for holding Saturn's rings in place. Mimas's surface is heavily cratered, representing heavy bombardment early in its history some 4 billion years ago. Most of the craters have Arthurian names: Arthur, Balin, Ban, Bedivere, Bors, Dynas, Elaine, Gaheris, Galahad, Gareth, Gwynevere, Igraine, Iseult, Kay, Launcelot, Lot, Mark, Merlin, Modred, Morgan, Pellinore, Percivale, Tristram, Uther.

Phoebe, which is 8 million miles from Saturn, has an orbital inclination of 150°, and has a retrogade orbit, indicating that it may be a captured asteroid. If so, it could have been ejected from the inner Solar System by the gravitational field of the growing planet Jupiter. Another theory is that Phoebe represents the encrusted nucleus of a gigantic comet, in which case it may be a sister to Chiron. Phoebe is similar to a class of asteroids believed to be common in the Solar System beyond Pluto, six of which have so far been discovered.

Janus and Epimetheus are probably fragments of a former single body, and the distance between their orbits is less than the sum of their diameters - a kind of game of cosmic musical chairs, as the two satellites interchange orbits at an interval of four years.

According to Creation myth, Earth, or Gaia and her son Uranus (Heaven) bore the seven planetary powers on Mount Olympus, setting a Titaness and a Titan over each. Cronus (crow) was one of the first twelve Titans, the first race, and had rulership of Saturn, together with Rhea (Earth). Theia (divine) and Hyperion (dweller on high) ruled the Sun; Phoebe (bright moon) and Atlas (he who dares) ruled the Moon; Dione (divine queen) and Crius ruled Mars; Metis (counsel) and Coeus (intelligence) ruled Mercury; Themis (order) and Eurymedon (wide rule) ruled Jupiter; and Tethys (disposer) and Oceanus (of the swift queen) ruled Venus. Other Titans include Iapetus (hurrier), who was the father of Prometheus, creator of mankind and brother of Epimetheus. Pandora married Epimetheus. Calypso was daughter to Oceanus, by Thetis.

The majority of Saturn's moons, clearly, are named after Titans and Titanesses, though Janus, the porter of heaven, was a deity from ancient Roman times and earlier, and Enceladus was a giant, who was defeated by Jupiter. The moons seem, astrologically, to be concerned with the struggle of integrating the physical world with the spiritual realm, through synchronising inner time and space. Themes of discipline, growth and heirarchy are discerned.

Four of Jupiter's sixteen known moons were discovered by Galileo in Padua, after half an hour's observation of Jupiter. He "became aware of 3 little stars...lying near it", an hour and a half after sunset, and soon found a fourth, on 7 January 1610: these were Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto (in order of increasing distance from Jupiter). This showed that, contrary to the old beliefs, there were at least two centres of movement in the Universe (one being considered to be Earth) and was crucial in establishing that the Earth was not the centre of the solar system. These four satellites are known as the Galilean or Jovian Moons (he called them the Medicean Planets) and are visible through a small telescope. All four satellites are larger than the Moon apart from Europa, making them more like small planets than moons. Ganymede, the largest and heaviest known satellite, is slightly larger than Mercury, and twice as heavy as our Moon.

Io is subject to the gravitational pull of the other Galileans as well as Jupiter. It is most notable for its active sulphuric volcanos, a feature it shares only with Earth, Venus, and possibly Neptune's moon Triton. A doughnut shaped torus surrounds Jupiter along the orbit of Io, consisting of charged plasma particles. Io is linked to Jupiter by a flux tube carrying a current of 5 million amps. Jupiter's radio signals fluctuate and correspond to the 42 hour orbital period of Io.

The innermost four moons are Metis (discovered 1980), Adrastea (1979), Amalthea (1892) and Thebe (1980), and are all extremely small. Of these, all apart from Amalthea were found on the Voyager images, making Amalthea the last satellite to be discovered by direct visual means. Amalthea orbits close to the Roche limit, the point beyond which a planet would be disrupted by gravitational pull, and it is in fact elongated into an ellipsoidal shape, its long axis pointing towards Jupiter.

Jupiter's system of rings and eight of its moons fall within Jupiter's magnetosphere. Bursts of trapped particles are sometimes released from the magnetosphere in the form of cosmic rays, which travel near the speed of light and have been detected near Mercury, more than 435 million miles from Jupiter. They can cause mutations in living organisms by altering or destroying genes, and although Earth is protected from these, it has been shown that some computer systems have been affected by extremely random changes within their micro-circuits, so it is not impossible that life is indirectly influenced by the presence of Jupiter's unfriendly cosmic rays.

The second group of moons, all discovered in the twentieth century, were known by number only for many years, although unofficial names were used. Himalia, for example, was known as Hestia, and Sinope was called Hades. Official names were finally ratified: Leda, Himalia, Lysithea, and Elara. Leda is one of the faintest known objects in the Solar System and may be less than 6˙5 miles in diameter, smaller even than Mars' two moons. The outermost satellites, Ananke, Carme, Pasiphaë and Sinope are thought to be asteroidal in origin, and move in retrograde orbit, inclined steeply to the first group. Sinope is the greatest distance from its parent of any known moon, at 14˙5 million miles.

Io was one of Zeus' loves, one of Juno's priestesses, to whom he came in the form of a cloud. Europa was seduced by Zeus when he took the form of a bull. Ganymede was distinguished among mortals for his good looks and was abducted by Zeus to Olympus where he became cup-bearer of the gods. Callisto was a nymph sworn to chastity by Artemis, but who succombed to Zeus after he came to her disguised as Artemis. Metis was his first wife. Adrastea was one of the nymphs who mothered the young Zeus, and the nymph Amalthea also suckled him. Thebe married Zethus, a son of Zeus. Leda was a conquest of Zeus, who approached her in the form of a dazzling swan while she was married to Tyndareus, and Carme was another mistress.

Astrologically, the mythology of the moons augments the association with Jupiter of abundance, indulgence and excess. Several of the moons were lovers of Jupiter, suffering for their desires, and producing startling children. Hermes (Mercury) figures in several of these myths, suggesting mental utilisations of the intellect and intuitive faculties. The Jovian associations with religion and dogma, infidelity, double standards and decadence are exposed. According to Philip Sedgwick the violation of the principles purported reflects the "do as I say and not as I do" syndrome.

Where we to be on Jupiter, somehow, the individual qualities of these moons would presumably be as manifest to us as the Moon is to us here. Indeed, we might be so dominated by its moons that other planets would be hard put to have any effect! We would also surely be affected by the proximity of the asteroid belt, including Jupiter's Trojan asteroids, which share its orbital path, 60° ahead and 60° behind, forming a natural grand trine with Jupiter, and making an equatorial triangle with the Sun.

Mars, finally, has two moons, discovered 18 August 1877 by Asaph Hall. Phobos, the inner satellite, has an almost circular orbit 5,760 miles from Mars, closer than any other known satellite to its parent. Deimos also has a near circular orbit. Both are ellipsoidal, Phobos being 17.4 miles, and Deimos 9.9 miles across. They have small craters, the two most prominent being Swift and Voltaire on Deimos. Phobos and Deimos were probably formed within the asteroid belt and perturbed by Jupiter into orbits that led to their capture by Mars.

Phobos (fear) and Deimos (terror, panic) were named by Asaph Hall after the mythical characters who drove Mars' chariot. Astrologically, the impetuousness in the urge to project ourselves associated with Mars may be motivated by these qualities of fear and panic. Sedgwick suggests that Martian moon energies may manifest when a sense of confinement, entrapment or hopelessness overwhelm us. Sensations of urgency, isolation or un-fulfillment will release subconscious Phobos and Deimos motivations for activity, happening faster than the mind's logical processes, resulting in action without thought or reason. It might be reasonable to consider, for example, whether a different level of influence may occur when the moons of a planet such as Mars occult it, for example, as compared to when they group to its sides.

These fifty-three named moons and their so-far unnamed or undiscovered sisters must have a part to play in the cosmic whole, and though their influence may be small, I hope I have suggested that like the asteroids they too must have a contribution to make in our astrology.


Copyright ę 2002 [Laurence Upton]. All rights reserved.
Last updated: January 21, 2002