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and other heavenly bodies

Last modified: 2015-03-21 by rob raeside
Keywords: astronomy | astrology | alchemy | planet |
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Astronomical symbols

symbol“planet”alchem. ass. symb. origin/mnem.
Moon silver (Ag)crescent
Mercury mercury (Hg)Hermes’ staff
Venus copper (Cu)handheld mirror
Sun gold (Au)Sun disc
Mars iron (Fe)shield and spear
Jupiter tin (Sn)
Saturn lead (Pb)sickle
Neptune trident
Pluto "P"+"L" monogram
(combined from contributions below)

The traditional astrological symbol for Mars is also used as the scientific symbol for male, in the same way that the astrological symbol for Venus, a circle with a cross below it, is used scientifically for female. All the planets (plus the sun and moon) have similar representations.
James Dignan, 19 Jul 2004

The Mars symbol is basically a shield and spear (Mars/Ares was the god of war.) Each of the “planets” (that included the sun and moon in those days) was also associated with a metal in medieval alchemy
Albert Kirsch, 19 Jul 2004


The symbol used for Pluto is a combination of the letters "P" and "L", representing both the planet and Percival Lowell, the Astronomer who predicted its discovery and spent much of his career searching for it in the early years of the 20th century (it was discovered 14 years after his death).
James Dignan, 14 Jul 2005

The symbol of Pluto is monogram "PL". These are not only the first two letters of the planet’s name, but also the initials of Percival Lowell (1855-1916), the U.S. astronomer whose calculations of 1905 had predicted the discovery of Pluto, which took place in 1930 at the Flagstaff observatory, Arizona, USA, whose founder was Lowell himself. (These connections of Lowell and Pluto had originally produced the suggestions that the planet should be named Lowell, but eventually a name was chosen which gets along with other planets’ names, but also contains a hidden reminder of the man who predicted the planet’s existence.)

There is also an alternative symbol of Pluto "Pluto sign", used much more in astrology than in astronomy, consisting of a big semi-circle, set on the top of a vertical line with a cross at its bottom end, which partly surrounds a small circle set above it. I was not able to find any explanations of that symbol. All I can say about it is that it vaguely resembles the human figure and is composed of the same elements as the earliest planets’ symbols: circle, semi-circle and cross. These elements and their combinations are the subject of various esoteric teachings, what explains why such a combination was created for Pluto as well.

Tomislav Todorovic and Mladen Mijatov, 11 Jan 2006