Andrew J. Bevan, QHP, DMS Astrol. (c) 1989

The discovery of Neptune

The discovery of Neptune was made on the evening of Sept. 23, 1846 at the Berlin observatory in Germany. The French astronomer Urbain J.J.Leverrier is credited with the discovery. On the basis of disturbances in the orbit of Uranus, Leverrier calculated the position of undiscovered Neptune to one degree of it's exact location!! His concluding paper was presented to the French Academy on Aug. 31st, 1846. On Sept.18th Leverrier wrote to John G. Galle, chief assistant at the Berlin Observatory, suggesting a search be made for the planet's disc. It seems likely Galle received the letter on the morning of Sept.23rd. the director at the observatory, J.F.Encke, immediately approved the project and Galle could commence his search the very same evening.

A student living at the observatory, H.L.d'Arrest, had offered to help Galle with the observations. the two med had not been able to detect any new planet by its disc when d'Arrest suggested the area be covered by comparing the stars with those shown on a star map that was under preparation. The found a star of the eight magnitude that was not shown on the map. The object was observed till past midnight, but they could not detect any characteristic movement. The following evening a new observation was made. The unregistered star from the previous evening had moved, and thus the existence of the planet became established.

I have calculated the discovery chart for 23.30 hrs, local time at Berlin. This is having considered that Galle and d'Arrest already had performed a strenuous search of the heavens. When the unknown star came to sigh on second attempt, it had already become so late into the night that the planetary motion cold not be detected during the remaining period that the observation was to last.

The planet Mercury had recently crossed the lower meridian, suggesting the students part in examining the heavens by conferring with a star map. Pisces is on the upper meridian, showing the sign to which Neptune received co-rulership. Some astrologers have forwarded the idea that Neptune may be exalted in Cancer. Cancer is on the ascendant of the chart. In his excellent book "The Cosmic Loom" Dennis Elwell makes some interesting observations connecting 20-23 degrees of Cancer with cases of sadism (ref. Cosmic Loom pg.18-19). The 22 degree of Cancer on the ascendant of the discovery chart gives us something to chew on which has a similar flavour. The Neptune influence may among other things confuse an unbalanced person's perception of reality.

Neither the fixed star Markab on the midheaven or Pollux on the ascendant seem to be particularly neptunian at first sight. Both stars appear to have a violent, brutal and cruel nature, but then we can detect that Markab, when fortunately connected, will bestow intellectual alertness, mental powers and a spiritual nature. Pollux suggests the misuse of energy through other peoples mistakes or misguidance. That does remind us of Neptune, and we can reason that the more malicious tributes of the stars would certainly be more apt to surface if the subject were under the influence of alcohol. Hence, the planet has expressed both its sensitivity and vulnerability.

In the chart we find Neptune in conjunct with Saturn. This underlines the need for spiritual responsibility. If you get lost in the realm of Neptune, the manifestion of the planet is likely to be rather depressing. In traditional astrology Saturn represented the danger of drowning. Fog - is an obvious manifestion of the Saturn/Neptune conjunction, as is also forgetfulness. The inconjunct from Neptune to Mars shows a difficulty in balancing actions. This manifests either in a way where we have difficulty in explaining of method or reason for doing something, or that people find it hard to understand our taste or style of approach. The aspect may give distorted impulses. The sextile between Neptune and Pluto does give a spark of ecstasy and profound imagination, does it not?

But where do we find that mild Neptunian qualities. By allowing a slightly larger orb, Venus casts her antiscia to the Midheaven. The real crunch, however, is that the yet undiscovered (and therefore only hypothetical planet) Bacchus' casts its antiscia to the ascendant. The significance of this is that Bacchus went under the name of "Wine bibber" and was the god that possessed the gift of forgiveness. (This is extract is included as a matter of curiosity. I am surprised that Bacchus has not yet been confirmed by modern astronomy).

There was not as much disagreement concerning the name of this new planet as had been in the case of Uranus. Aargo suggested that it be named after its discoverer, Leverrier, but this suggestion was not much in favour outside France, so he soon withdrew it and suggested that of Neptune instead. In Greek mythology Neptune was the brother of Jupiter and one of the senior Olympians. Surely this entitled him to a planet of his own !? The proposition was warmly accepted and soon became adopted.

The brains behind the discovery, Urbain J.J.Leverrier, was born at St.Lo in Normandy on March 11th, 1811. The boy was a genius and thanks to the support from his father, Urbain succeeded studies in Paris and was accepted to the Ecole Polytechnique. In 1837 Leverrier accepted a post as a teacher of astronomy at the same institution. Leverrier was a man with many achievements credited his name, within chemistry, astronomy and meteorology. In 184 he made great improvements to current tables of the planet Mercury. The non Jan. 30th, 1854 he became director of the Paris Observatory. The same year, 1854, he demonstrated how the path of storms may be traced by the means of collecting telegraphic weather reports from stations scattered over a large are. This was the beginning of modern meteorology.

Although Leverriers name has become immortalised through the discovery of Neptune, it must not go without mentioning how the calculations were remarkably paralleled by John Couch Adams in England. This does show how when the time is right several minds are linking up to the same ideas. Adams' calculations did not, though, lead to the discovery of Neptune. This is because the Adams suggested a search in 1845, the director of the Greenwich observatory, G.Airy, did not believe in the prediction and the observations were not made.

Neptunes symbol is the characteristic sea-gods tripod.

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