Sunday, March 13, 2011


                                 Photo of Uranus taken by Voyager 2
230 years ago today the German-born British astronomer Sir William Herschel observed a new planet. (March 13, 1781). Herschel’s discovery expanded the known boundaries of the solar system. At first the new planet was named after its discoverer, but was later named after a Greek god as other planets of the solar system. The name of the new planet was chosen  from mythology as the logical progression in genealogical sequence; for Mars was believed to be the son of Jupiter, who in turn was the son of Saturn, who was born from Uranus.

In Greek mythology Uranus (from Greek Ouranous, sky) personifies the heavens and the night sky. Believed to have been born from chaos, Uranus was the primogenitor  of all Greek gods. He was castrated by Cronos or Saturn with a sickle because of his  fathering of monstrous progeny.

Astronomically, Uranus is the seventh planet in orbit from the sun and the third largest of all planets. It was detected as having a ring-system similar, if less spectacular than Saturn on March 10, 1977 by an American astronomical  team led by James L. Elliot (b. 1943 – d. March 3, 2011). Only a little more than 200 years since its discovery, the American space-probe Voyager 2 reached Uranus in 1986, its closest approach occurring on January 24, 1986.  Voyager 2  which was launched in 1977 encountered  the Jupiter system  in 1979, Saturn in 1980 and finally Neptune in 1989. It was the first space probe to provide detailed images of the  ice-giant  planets Uranus and Neptune.

 Astrologically, Uranus is associated with individuality and eccentricity, new and unconventional ideas, discoveries such as electricity, television and invention in general. When Uranus was discovered the events of the French and American revolutions along with the Western Industrial revolution  were shaping the modern world of today. Uranus is also believed to govern societies and any group dedicated to humanitarian or progressive ideals. It  is also the planet associated most with sudden and unexpected change, ruling freedom and originality. Above all planets Uranus rules genius and the characteristics of the zodiac sign of Aquarius. Astrologers noted that the slow-moving  planet of Uranus which takes 84 years to orbit the Sun, entered the zodiac sign of Aries on March 12, 2011. The orbit of the planet Neptune is even slower;  first observed in 1846 it will have completed just one full circuit of the Sun since its discovery on July 12,  2011.

The Mutiliation of Uranus by Saturn by Vasari circa 1560
 Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.

 Book  -   Uranus by John Townley  pub. Aquarian Press 1978
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