Chiron

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Chiron's eccentric orbit (grey)

Symbol: Chi.gif
The first centaur among the minor planets to be discovered.

Astronomy

Parameter Size[1][2]
Semi-major axis 13.637 AU (2.0401 Tm) (a)
Perihelion 8.4181 AU (1.25933 Tm) (q) … 9°Lib.gif
Aphelion 18.856 AU (2.8208 Tm) (Q) … 9°Ari.gif
Eccentricity 0.38271 (e)
Inclination 6.9447° (i)
Orbital period 50.36 yr (18394 d)
Diameter 218 ± 20 km (estimated)
Rotation period 5.918 h (0.2466 d)
Geometric albedo 0.16±0.03

Astronomers classify Chiron as both a comet and an asteroid, as it exhibits properties of both. In February 1988, at 12 AU from the Sun, Chiron brightened by 75 percent. This is behavior typical of comets but not asteroids. Further observations in April 1989 showed that Chiron had developed a cometary coma. A tail was detected in 1993. On the other hand, Chiron is suspected to have two rings, similar to the better-established rings of Chariklo. Chiron's rings are proposed to be 324 (± 10) km in radius and sharply defined.

Anyway, Chiron's elliptical orbit extends between that of Saturn and Uranus. It is probably a refugee from the Kuiper Belt and will probably become a short-period comet in about a million years.

Chiron was discovered by Charles T. Kowal on October 18th, 1977 in Palomar in the United States. It has a diameter of 218 km and orbits the Sun at an average distance of 2036 million km. Its strongly elliptic orbit around the Sun takes on average 50.3 years and due to its eccentric orbit, it spends a varying amount of time in each sign of the zodiac.[3] For example, Chiron spends seven to eight years in the sign of Pisces as opposed to one and a half to two years in Virgo and Aries.

Chiron's chart of discovery

Mythology

In ancient narrations, Chiron is the leader, wise man and healer among the centaurs – creatures with the upper-body of a human and the lower of a horse. Like Pholus, he has overcome his animal urges, and his lineage is different to those of the other centaurs. He was the son of Kronos Saturn and the nymph Philyra. Chiron's bodily form came about because Kronos transformed into a stallion while trying to mate with Philyra who had taken on the form of a mare to escape him. When he was born, Philyra was so revolted that she rejected him. Chiron was educated by the Sun god Apollo and the Moon goddess Artemis. He proved to be wise and to possess healing capabilities. So the disfigured Chiron came to teach many gods and heroes not only the arts of healing and warfare, but also those of prophecy, hunting and music.

When Heracles fought the centaurs, he unintentionally wounded Chiron with one of his poisoned arrows. The wound caused Chiron to suffer terribly. The poison caused agony without leading to death because of Chiron's divine ancestry. But although he continued to heal others, he was unable to heal himself, and so became the wounded healer. He found salvation when Heracles told him of the fate of Prometheus who, because of his defiance of Zeus' will, was chained to a rock in the Caucasus. During the day Zeus sent an eagle which tore at his liver, but he too did not die because every night the wounds healed again. The only way he could be released from this fate was if one of the immortals was prepared to sacrifice himself and take his place in the Underworld. Chiron agreed, and by sacrificing his immortality, he released Prometheus from his suffering. Zeus was so moved that he adopted Chiron who was allowed to leave Hades and return to the gods in heaven where he can be seen as the star constellation Sagittarius.

Interpretation

The themes associated with Chiron are the ambivalent relationship between spiritual strength and bodily imperfection, being able to heal others coupled with the inability to heal oneself, and the dichotomy of being both victim and saviour. In addition, Chiron's location in the solar system and place in mythology suggests a role as mediator between the material (body of a horse, the planet Saturn) and spiritual (human wisdom, the planet Uranus) worlds. Barbara Hand Clow called it a Bridge between the inner and outer planets. He knows both poles while at the same time being unable to escape from being caught between them. If he attempts to ignore the material and physical side of his nature, his agony reminds him of this fact, and although Chiron is a great healer, he is powerless to prevent this. Salvation can only be experienced when he is able to accept the material side of his nature and willing to give up his divine origins.

The German astrologer Eva Stangenberg makes the following summary of these various themes: "Chiron's position in the natal chart shows us where we experience this division, this wound. However, it also represents our greatest chance to overcome it and become whole. And with the spiritual insight of Uranus we can recognise the unity of body and soul not only in ourselves but in everything that exists... Chiron is not about achieving mastery through diligence and hard work as is the case with Saturn, or by releasing the energy bound to traumatic experiences as is the case with Pluto, but simply by accepting the deficit of not being "whole"... Only through our experiences with this feeling and the acceptance of not being "whole" can we begin to understand this problem in others... We share with others our compassion, our understanding, our experiences, and by doing this we can help them. This doesn't entail sacrificing something which makes us "poorer", on the contrary, we "achieve" a connection, create a wholeness where before there was division."[4]

There is no unanimity over the domicile of Chiron.

See also

Chiron instrucing Achilles[5]

Weblinks

Bibliography

  • Erminie Lantero, 1983, The Continuing Discovery of Chiron, Samuel Weiser Inc. (), 189 pages, ISBN 0-87728-549-7
A detailed and well-founded aid to interpretation based on a symbolic and archetypal approach
  • Barbara Hand Clow, 1990, Chiron, Rainbow Bridge Between Inner and Outer Planets, LLewellyn Publications
  • Richard Nolle, 1997, Chiron: The New Planet in Your Horoscope, American Federation of Astrologers
  • Melanie Reinhart, Chiron and the Healing Journey: An Astrological and Psychological Perspective, 464 pages. Arkana 1989; 1998; Penguin 1999; Starwalker Press, 3rd edition 2010 ISBN 978-0955823107
Explores the myth of the wounded healer and explains the meaning of Chiron in the signs/ houses and in aspect

Notes and References

  1. German Wikipedia: (2060) Chiron
  2. New Data partly taken from JPL Small-Body Database Browser
  3. Source of the astronomical data: Das Kentauren Forschungsprojekt (The Centaurs' Research Project)
  4. Eva Stangenberg: Chiron, der verwundete Heiler. In: Meridian (German astrology magazine) 4/98, p. 43ff.
  5. Fresco from Herculaneum, first century AD (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples)