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The Encyclopedic Chiron Date Published: by Clarke Fountain
Bio: Clarke Fountain

Clarke Fountain has been studying astrology with varying levels of intensity since the 1960s, is a U.S. Navy veteran, and gave his first professional reading in 1977 in San Francisco. After years of doing every kind of job under the sun, he earned an M.A. in Buddhist Studies from the Naropa Institute (as it was then called) in 1989 and at that time became involved with aspects of publishing. Astrology has been one of the few consistent threads in his otherwise extremely varied life, and he is delighted to have the opportunity to serve the astrological community as the Editor for "Astro Talk Online Astrological Magazine."



The Editor put this little reference together from online encyclopedias for those who are, as he is, intrigued by the symbolic and physical attributes of various heavenly bodies - in this case, Chiron and the asteroids. It seemed an appropriate area to explore during the period of the sign Sagittarius, since both Chiron and Sagittarius are centaurs.


Comet, once thought to be the most distant known minor planet. It was discovered in 1977 by Charles Kowal, an American astronomer, at the Palomar Observatory in southern California. Chiron travels in an unstable, eccentric orbit between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. It measures 200-300 km (120-190 miles) in diameter. In 1989 astronomers detected a cloud of particles around Chiron. Such a dusty envelope is considered to be a distinguishing feature of comets. On the basis of this discovery, Chiron was reclassified from an asteroid to a comet

[From the Encyclopedia Brittanica online: using the search "asteroid chiron"]


In Greek mythology, centaur, son of Kronos. He was a renowned sage, physician, and prophet. Among his pupils were Hercules, Achilles, Jason, and Asclepius. When Hercules accidentally wounded Chiron, the pain was so great that Chiron surrendered his immortality to Prometheus and died. Zeus then set him among the stars as the constellation Sagittarius.

[From the Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2000 Columbia University Press.]


Chiron (astronomy), object that traditionally has been classified as an asteroid, discovered in 1977 in an eccentric orbit, between Saturn and Uranus, that takes it close to both of those major planets as it completes one revolution around the sun every 51 years. Perhaps up to 320 km (nearly 200 mi) in diameter, Chiron has a dark surface. Named after the most notable of the centaurs, it has a somewhat cometlike orbit but is much larger than any known comet. In January 1995 scientists reported the detection of an envelope of gas and dust around Chiron, similar to the coma of a comet, but held in place by gravity from the large body.

[From Microsoft™ Encarta™: © 1997-2000 Microsoft Corporation™. All rights reserved.]


All the Myths of Chiron say he was a centaur (Half man and half horse). He was a great healer, astrologer and an oracle. Chiron rules crystals and healing and was suppose to be the teacher of heroes to help them discover their destiny.

Chiron's pupils came to him to learn the pragmatic way to fulfill their highest potential. He taught Jason (golden fleece) how to undertake the quest, and he taught Achilles to be a sacred runner and to play the Kithara. Asclepios was taught the art of healing and thus Chiron is actually the father of Medicine and is mostly associated with ancient medicine. Chiron founded the Chironium, a healing temple on Mt. Pellius.

The Chiron mythology on death is particularly fascinating. The centaurs were party animals (literally) drinking and having fun was their main goal in life. As time went on, the centaurs seemed to have overdone the partying and were becoming extinct. Chiron became the only one left. His staying alive was crucial to their being any centaurs in the world. His death was a tribute to mankind. Chiron gave himself willingly so that the fire could be released from the Underworld by Prometheus. This was done so that humankind would learn to use power in the right way. In the process of obtaining fire, Chiron had to die. The teacher/healer took a poisoned arrow of Hercules and dropped it on his foot, poisoning himself. This poison was the very one that the teacher had given to the student. Chiron gave his life for the greater good of humanity. Chiron was a teacher who taught healing by means of clearing and bravery and then letting go without fear when the time came.

So powerful was his influence on the legends and myths of the ancient world that today many of the root words of the ancient healing arts are connected. Chiral means the polarization of light from one hand to the other; chiromancy is reading of the hand or palmistry. Chiropracty is healing of the joints and bones by means of manipulation, Chirothesia is energy in the hands during sacred rites, a blessing without hands is Chirotony and another word, Chirurgery is an ancient word which later became surgery. And even the magical divination form of chiron is chiromancy, which is the Tarot. The Tarot is a way into understanding how Chiron rules the search for the exact place and time of awareness which then is the gateway to its opposite.

[From the Creative Minds site at: and ]


Chiron, asteroid, discovered in 1977 in an eccentric orbit, between Saturn and Uranus, that takes it close to both of those major planets as it completes one revolution around the sun every 51 years. Perhaps up to 320 km (nearly 200 mi) in diameter, Chiron has a dark surface. Named after the most notable of the centaurs, it has a somewhat cometlike orbit but is much larger than any known comet.

Asteroid, one of the many small or minor planets that are members of the solar system and that move in elliptical orbits primarily between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Sizes and Orbits
The largest representatives are Ceres, with a diameter of about 930 km (about 578 mi); Pallas, with a diameter of about 552 km (about 343 mi); and Vesta, with a diameter of about 521 km (about 324 mi). About 200 asteroids have diameters of more than 97 km (more than 60 mi), and thousands of smaller ones exist. The total mass of all asteroids in the solar system is much less than the mass of the moon. The larger bodies are roughly spherical, but elongated and irregular shapes are common for those with diameters of less than 160 km (less than 100 mi). Most asteroids, regardless of size, rotate on their axes every 5 to 20 hr. Certain asteroids may be binary, or have satellites of their own.

Few scientists now believe that asteroids are the remnants of a former planet. It is more likely that asteroids occupy a place in the solar system where a sizable planet could have formed, but was prevented from doing so by the disruptive gravitational influences of the nearby giant planet Jupiter. Originally perhaps only a few dozen asteroids existed, which were subsequently fragmented by mutual collisions to produce the population now present.

The so-called Trojan asteroids lie in two clouds, one moving 60° ahead of Jupiter in its orbit and the other 60° behind. In 1977 the asteroid Chiron was discovered in an orbit between that of Jupiter and Saturn. By the late 1980s, about 75 asteroids, the Amor asteroids, were known to intersect the orbit of Mars, about 50 Apollo asteroids to intersect the orbit of the earth, and less than 10 Aten asteroids to have orbits smaller than the earth's orbit. One of the largest inner asteroids is Eros, an elongated body measuring 36 by 12 km (22 by 7 mi). The peculiar Apollo asteroid Phaethon, about 5 km (about 3 mi) wide, approaches the sun more closely, at 20.9 million km (13.9 million mi), than any other known asteroid. It is also associated with the yearly return of the Geminid stream of meteors.

Several earth-approaching asteroids are relatively easy targets for space missions. In 1991, the National Aeronautic and Space Administration's Galileo space probe, on its way to Jupiter, took the first close-up pictures of an asteroid. They showed that the small, lopsided body, 951 Gaspra, is pock-marked with craters, and revealed evidence of a blanket of loose, fragmental material, or regolith, covering the asteroid's surface.

Surface Composition
With the exception of a few that have been traced to the moon and Mars, most of the meteorites recovered on earth are thought to be asteroid fragments. Remote observations of asteroids by telescopic spectroscopy and radar support this hypothesis. They reveal that asteroids, like meteorites, can be classified into a few distinct types.

Three-quarters of the asteroids visible from earth, including Ceres, belong to the C type, which appear to be related to a class of stony meteorites known as carbonaceous chondrites. These are considered to be the oldest materials in the solar system, with a composition reflecting that of the primitive solar nebula. Extremely dark in color, probably because of their hydrocarbon content, they show evidence of having adsorbed water of hydration. Thus, unlike the earth and the moon, they have never either melted or been reheated since they first formed.

Asteroids of the S type, related to the stony iron meteorites, make up about 15 percent of the total population. Much rarer are the M-type objects, corresponding in composition to the meteorites known as "irons." Consisting of an iron-nickel alloy, they may represent the cores of melted, differentiated planetary bodies whose outer layers were removed by impact cratering. Very few asteroids, notably Vesta, are probably related to the rarest meteorite class of all: the achondrites. These asteroids appear to have an igneous surface composition like that of many lunar and terrestrial lava flows. Thus, astronomers are reasonably certain that Vesta was, at some time in its history, at least partly melted. Scientists are puzzled that some of the asteroids have been melted but others, such as Ceres, have not. One possible explanation is that the early solar system contained certain concentrated, highly radioactive isotopes that might have generated enough heat to melt the asteroids.

[From Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia online at



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Other articles by Clarke Fountain

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Fountain, ClarkeInterview with Ray Merriman

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Fountain, ClarkeInterview With Trish MacGregor - Part I

Fountain, ClarkeInterview With Trish MacGregor - Part II

Fountain, ClarkeGetting The Most from Your Computerized Astrology Program

Fountain, ClarkePluto Statistics

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Fountain, ClarkeAbout Jupiter

Fountain, ClarkeAbout Saturn

Fountain, ClarkeAbout Uranus

Fountain, ClarkeAbout Neptune

Fountain, ClarkeAbout Mars

Fountain, ClarkeAbout Venus

Fountain, ClarkeInterview with Steven Forrest and Jeffrey Wolf Green



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