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Pholus and Heracles

Symbol: a04_171_pholus.gif

Pholus' discovery chart
Parameter Size[1]
Semi-major axis 20,3 AU
Perihelion   8,7 AU 25°Can.gif
Aphelion 31,9 AU 25°Cap.gif
Inclination 24.705°
Eccentricity 0.5722
Orbital period 91.99 yr (33,601 days)
Diameter 185 ± 16 km
Albedo 0,04
Photo Proof 1/9/1992, 9:01 UT


Pholus is one of the centaurs among the minor planets.
The centaurs are an astronomical classification somewhere between the comets and the asteroids.
Pholus' orbit around the Sun lies between the orbits of Saturn and Neptune.
It was discovered by David Rabinowitz on the 9th January 1992 in Kitt Peak, Arizona. It has an estimated diameter of 192 km and an average distance from the Sun of 3024.4 million km.
Its orbital period is 90.9 years (highly elliptical orbit).


In ancient mythology, Pholos (Greek spelling) is one of the centaurs, creatures with a human upper body and the lower body of a horse. Although he has a darker side to his nature, he is, like Chiron, considered to be one of the more temperate of the centaurs.

Heracles and Pholus crossed paths while the former was attempting to capture the Erymanthian Boar. Although Pholus entertained his guest, he gave him nothing to drink. When Heracles discovered a cask of wine he complained about his host's avarice and demanded some of it. Pholus gave in and opened the wine and the sweet scent attracted many wild centaurs. The centaurs begrudged Hercules the wine and converged on it in a state of frenzy. Hercules tried to fend them off, killing many with poisoned arrows and driving others away. Pholos picked up one of the poisoned arrows and admired the fact that such a small weapon should be capable of slaying so many centaurs. But then Pholus accidentally dropped the arrow wounding his foot, the poison killing him instantly.


Although Pholus was only discovered recently, Robert von Heeren and Dieter Koch have written a detailed study about it. [2] Therein Pholus is described thus: "The energy of Pholus causes individuals to act spontaneously and instinctively in ways they may know to be very harmful. These actions often have fatal consequences in the sense that the life of the person in question is changed forever." And: "Any horoscope factor aspected by Pholus is intensified to such a degree that an individual may feel compelled to act in an unusual or reckless way in the area of life concerned. The tension may be so sustained and unbearable that they may feel forced to take a particular course of action. An undeveloped facet of a particular personality trait emerges which gives us spontaneous insight into our deficits and shortcomings while at the same time impelling us to make changes. Pholus appears to repeatedly catapult us into unexpected and extreme situations in which we feel unable to cope and which force us to outgrow old patterns."

Pholus' orbital diagram

See also


Notes and References

  1. From German Wikipediaand JPL Small-Body Database Browser
  2. Robert von Heeren and Dieter Koch, 1995. Pholus: Wandler zwischen Saturn und Neptun, Chiron Verlag