Introduction to Celestial Bodies – 2:
Measures of Theoretical Significance; Conclusion

– written by Philip Graves Feb 05 2003
-updated to include Sedna and 2004 DW, early 2004
-reformatted for WordPress, June 3rd-4th, 2016


How significant is each celestial body?

In crude terms, a reasonable approximation to the gross level of impact upon life on earth of each celestial body as an astrological agent can be found in the expression of its mass as a fraction of the square of its average distance from Earth, as shown in the custom table below for a selection of the most popular celestial bodies within the solar system accorded significance by astrologers, including the largest asteroids for which an estimate of the mass has been scientifically established by astronomers.

The intensity of the radiation received at a specified distance from any radiating body declines in proportion to the square of the distance. Thus, a person standing three meters from a single light source would receive from it 4/9ths as much radiation as one standing two meters from it. Therefore the significance of a massive radiation source such as a celestial body at a distance from earth, while increasing in some kind of proportion to its mass, declines in proportion to the square of its distance from Earth.

(*1018 kg)
 Mass (kg) Dist
(km)Ratio (*1)
Sun 1990000000000  149.6000    22380.1600 88918041694000.00
Moon         60830    0.3844        0.1477   411848341232.00
Mercury        330200  149.6000    22380.1600       14754000.00
Venus       4868500  149.6000    22380.1600      217536000.00
Mars       1631800  227.9000    51938.4100       31418000.00
Ceres           870  413.9000   171313.2100           5078.00
Pallas           318  414.5000   171810.2500           1851.00
Vesta           300  353.4000   124891.5600           2402.00
Hygiea            94  470.3000   221182.9000            425.00
Interamnia            74  451.8000   204123.2400            363.00
Juno            20  399.4000   159520.3600            125.00
Psyche            17  437.1000   191056.4100             89.00
Jupiter    1898600000  778.3000   605750.8900     3134291721.00
Saturn     586460000 1425.6000  2032335.3600      288564580.00
Chiron             4 2051.9000  4210293.6100              0.95
Uranus      86832000 2867.0000  8219689.0000       10563903.00
Neptune     102430000 4497.0000 20223309.0000        5064947.00
Pluto         12500 5890.0000 34692100.0000            360.31

Note: Dist.Earth denotes the mean distance of the celestial body from the Earth during the course of its cycle, in both the table above and the one below.

NB: In order for the tables on this page to display properly in WordPress, it was necessary to add zeros to some figures after the decimal points. These are not significant figures.

It is hoped that it will be clear from this table that there is a huge variation in the relative significances of the different celestial bodies as conveyers of radiation across the vast distances of space that separate them from the Earth. The last column on the right shows the measure of this. While the much-heralded planetoid (or comet) Chiron scores just 0.95, the widely astrologically unrecognised substantial asteroid Interamnia manages 363, which fractionally exceeds Pluto’s figure.

However, the table is only a starting point for further adjustments. Notably, the Sun and stars in general are of greater significance than a planet of the same mass : distance ratio would be, because of the intense concentration of its outward radiation. And the Moon and other planets vary widely in their importance according to their albedo (the efficiency with which they reflect solar radiation) as well as their material (chemical) composition.

Besides, slower-moving planets are believed to be more influential in proportion to a given mass to distance squared ratio than faster-moving ones, especially where predictive astrology is concerned. And astrologers would contend that, although the smaller and more distant celestial bodies such as the asteroids and Pluto would seem by virtue of the low intensity of their radiation reaching and interacting with the Earth to be less significant by an order of magnitude than the larger and closer ones, life on Earth has evolved with such subtle inbuilt biological and physical sensitivity to the peculiar radiation blueprints of even these much more minor extraterrestrial radiating bodies that they nonetheless exert a very real impact upon us. Whereas the clear leaders Sun, Moon and Jupiter may (to widely different degrees, the Sun appearing to be over 200 times as powerful as the Moon, while the Moon registers as over 100 times as powerful as Jupiter in turn) affect the human constitution at very basic, definite and obvious levels, by means of their sheer quantity of intense radiation reaching us on Earth, the more distant and minor celestial bodies will affect the human constitution in much finer and often deeper ways, flavoring the bulk substance of the luminaries and Jupiter with delicate and subtle psychological complements and undercurrents.

These concessions to astrological convention notwithstanding, to some extent the astronomical facts speak loudly for themselves, reaffirming the overwhelming primacy of the Sun as an astrological factor, casting huge doubts on the generally perceived importance of Pluto by comparison with a large number of the run-of-the-mill larger asteroids, and leaving the phenomenal present-day obsession with Chiron as an astrological factor looking faintly ridiculous and delusional.

If a less sharply divisive measure of radiating power at source such as surface area is used in the calculations above, in place of mass, then the results indicating the relative significance of the different celestial bodies are spaced out on a shallower slope which might more truly correspond, although not to the amount of radiation received at the Earth from each body concerned, to the practical astrological significance of the celestial bodies in relation to each other. The custom table below shows the the area of each luminary and planet in the solar system, together with those of the largest twenty asteroids and Chiron, as a fraction of the squared mean distance of each celestial body concerned from the Earth. The final column indicates in effect the mean apparent magnitude of each celestial body relative to each other as viewed from Earth. The Sun and Moon are, as we have all noticed with our own eyes, almost identical in size as viewed from Earth.  

Sun 6157521603800   149.6000     22380.1600 275133047.600
Moon      37932328     0.3844         0.1477 256820095.560
Mercury      74753832   149.6000     22380.1600      3340.200
Venus     460264748   149.6000     22380.1600     20565.750
Mars     145011004   227.9000     51938.4100      2791.980
Ceres       2624472   413.9000    171313.2100        15.320
Pallas        856032   414.5000    171810.2500         4.000
Vesta        865900   353.4000    124891.5600         6.920
Hygiea        578180   470.3000    221182.9000         2.600
Interamnia        350464   451.8000    204123.2400         1.720
Davida        333876   475.4000    226005.1600         1.480
Europa        305816   463.3000    214646.8900         1.440
Eunomia        232428   395.5000    156420.2500         1.480
Sylvia        232428   521.5000    271962.2500         0.840
Psyche        218956   437.1000    191056.4100         1.160
Euphrosyne        193220   472.1000    222878.4100         0.880
Cybele        190116   513.0000    263169.0000         0.720
Juno        187036   399.4000    159520.3600         1.160
Bamberga        183984   401.4000    161121.9600         1.080
Amphitrite        180956   382.1000    166000.4100         1.080
Diotima        177952   459.0000    210681.0000         0.840
Camilla        174972   521.8000    272275.2400         0.640
Herculina        169092   414.7000    171976.0900         1.000
Patientia        166192   458.2000    209947.2400         0.800
Doris        160460   465.5000    216690.2500         0.760
Jupiter   65039153240   778.3000    605750.8900    107369.480
Saturn   45643971280  1425.6000   2032335.3600     22458.880
Chiron        101788  2051.9000   4210293.6100         0.024
Uranus    8209138448  2867.0000   8219689.0000       998.720
Neptune    8023988636  4497.0000  20223309.0000       396.760
Ixion       2717163  5896.5000  34736281.0000         0.078
DW       4486273  5905.2300  34871741.3500         0.130
Pluto      16909308  5910.0000  34928100.0000         0.480
Varuna       3017186  6453.3500  41645726.2200         0.072
Quaoar       4908736  6505.5000  43636320.8500         0.110
Sedna       9079202 13000.000* 169000000.0000         0.054

*: estimated current distance in 2004 – Sedna’s cycle is so slow that this will hardly vary for millennia

It can be seen here that the asteroids and small bodies such as the Moon in general fare much better than the larger ones when their surface area to mean distance from the Earth ratio is considered in place of their mass to mean distance from the Earth ratio, since their surface area to mass ratios are higher than those of the more massive celestial objects. Pluto lags far behind all the twenty largest asteroids by this measure, but closes in a little on Uranus and Neptune, appearing more than one thousandth as significant as Neptune where by mass it was less than one ten thousandth as much so. Venus appears to be less than one ten-thousandth as significant as the Moon, whereas when its mass was considered it appeared to be about one two-thousandth as significant. In the most extreme instance, the largest body, the Sun, which by mass to distance ratio appeared to be over 200 times as important as the Moon, now appears almost its equal; and this corresponds closely to the similarity in their apparent diameters.

Whether or not the ratio of celestial bodies’ surface area to distance squared is a reliable indicator of their relative influence is however somewhat questionable, although I have no doubt that a greater surface area increases the scope for the release of whatever radiation is being produced within and / or reflected off the celestial body concerned. In the absence of any more clear-cut scientific evidence, my inclination at the present time is to presume that the surface area and mass of celestial bodies are both of some importance in determining their output of significant radiation, and therefore that a compromise between the relative significances indicated by the two measures used above would be as good as any solution for making a reliable assessment to keep in mind when considering critically the relative importance of the different celestial bodies as astrological casual agents.



Whichever of the above measures is used, it is very apparent that the significance of the Sun and Moon should be an order of magnitude greater than that of any of the planets, with the Sun having the upper hand on account of its far greater ratio of mass to mean distance from the Earth. Looking at these figures makes a lot of sense of the past efforts of astrologers such as Grant Lewi to describe human personality in 144 basic types corresponding with the possible combinations of Sun and Moon sign. The third strongest influence upon us should be that of Jupiter; while Saturn pips Venus to the post in a close run for fourth place. Roughly one tenth as significant as this unlikely pairing are Mars, Mercury and Uranus, in approximately that order, as sixth, seventh and eighth strongest radiating influences. Neptune, ninth, manages about one half to a third of the impact of Uranus. At this point there is at least a twenty-five-fold gap before the largest asteroid, Ceres, tenth, which in turn is at least about three times as significant as Vesta and Pallas, eleventh and twelfth, and five times as significant as Hygiea, thirteenth. Interamnia comes home in fourteenth place. Then if mass is used as the standard Pluto finally arrives fifteenth, trailing disconsolately behind the six largest asteroids; but if surface area is used it fails to figure anywhere close to the top twenty asteroids in significance, which is a telling reminder that astrologers have grossly over-stressed its significance or otherwise under-stressed that of a large number of asteroids. Finally, depending on the measure used, that favorite Centaur of contemporary astrologers, Chiron, is seen to be no more than one twentieth as important as Pluto, and possibly closer to one four-hundreth; and less than one quarter as important as the Kuiper belt objects Quaoar and Ixion.; while Quaoar is just under one tenth as important as Psyche and Juno, the joint ninth most important asteroids.

However fascinating the mythology and gossip that has sprouted and propagated like wildfire surrounding Pluto and Chiron may be, keep in mind that there are many unsung asteroids which in theory should dwarf them in importance as astrological agents. And don’t forget that the Sun and Moon are much more powerful on a crude level than any of the planets.


Return to Astrology Article Menu…

Share to: