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

The discovery of Chiron

Chiron was discovered by Charles Kowal of Caltech at approximately 10.00 hrs local time on Nov. 1st, 1977 at Pasadena, California. Kowal was scrutinizing a set of photo plates taken at the Palomar Observatory on the nights of 18. and 19. October, searching for distant galaxies, when the dancing light of an unknown object appeared on the screen. Kowal assumed, like Herschel, that the new body belonged to that of a comet. But further observations revealed the object to have a diameter in the reign of 310 to 410km across. This was 100 times larger than a comet, and its size placed it more along side with the largest asteroids. However, the possibility of Chiron being a member of the asteroid family was soon outruled. The asteroids are thousands in number and the majority are seated between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. Chiron was singular and its orbit lay between those of Saturn and Uranus, which placed it much too far out, even for a strayed asteroid.

The correct technical term for Chiron is by describing it as a planetoid (* although astronomers have more recently agreed to classify it as a comet). "Planetoid" is another word for a small planet, but at the same time distinguishes it from an asteroid. Chiron is not a permanent member of the Solar system. At some time in ancient history it appeared drifting through space. Having been attracted within the Solar system it was captured by the gravity field from one of our major planets, either Saturn or Jupiter. In the future its erratic orbit will once more bring it close to the body of Saturn. This will cause a major alteration in Chirons course and it is likely to disappear back into the unknown space.

At first the newly discovered planetoid went under the name "Object Kowal", but Kowal himself soon changed this to Chiron in honour of Jupiter's half-brother, chief of the Centaurs. Due to Chirons astronomical uniqueness, its unmatched features and self-represented independence, it qualifies to being listed along side with the other trans-saturnian planets. This entitles it to both a co-rulership and exaltation. Chirons relatively small size may be a less important factor. Micro-chips do not lack in their ability to process information. Obviously, if we were to receive a visit from higher intelligent creatures from out of space, we won't actually turn around and look at them and say: "Sorry, but you're only 6-inch tall! You don't count!"

This unanticipated call paid the Solar family by planetoid Chiron indicates an important development and experience occurring within the system. And Chiron will continue to mark its field and impress life on Earth until the day he bids us his farewell.

That witty American astrologer Debbie Kempton-Smith termed Chiron an "inconvenient benefic". This statement becomes perfectly clear from the discovery chart, which doesn't quite show what you first would expect. The two fixed stars Lesath and Ettain are on the ascendant. Ettain gives a liking for solitude and may symbolize a stranger. He offers opportunity for developing the mental forces and success may be gained though esoteric and philosophical studies. Otherwise his lot is loss and downfall. Lesath is no better in the fact that he points to accidents, catastrophes or operations, but the latter in particular suggesting how a hand may directly grip in on life. The fixed star gives the danger of being torn apart of wild animals, a description that can be no less that the turmoil existing between the boundaries of Saturn and Uranus.

The fixed star Algorab on the Midheaven is clearly malefic. Algorab is reputed for fated accidents, enmity in general and we can detect that misfortune may come about from wrong handling of affairs. The question one might well ask oneself is where Chirons part of a benefic comes into the picture. Through a study of Chiron in Greek mythology we become aware of the many parallels to the figure of Jesus Christ. They were both healers and both teachers. Within the discovery chart we find Chiron tied up in a violent T-square with the Sun and Mars. Surely this indicates danger from fire? According to the Greek myth, Chiron gave up his immortality to save Prometheus (Mankind), the stealer of fire, from eternal suffering. Jesus, our Saviour, was sacrificed to save Mankind and they nailed him to a T-square, too. By referring to Algorab we might recognize how the authorities of his time would have said it wasn't really necessary to crucify Jesus, if only he had handled affairs in a different manner. Thus, "The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone": Psalm 118:22.

Pluto, who is culminating, suggests extremes in behaviour, violent or sudden changes and eliminations, but also penetration and x-ray vision. X-ray is under the rulership of Chiron, but doctors treat it with extreme caution, or else the patient might get "burnt up".

As we can see, the show fits but the landscape we are talking about there is more dramatic than what first comes to mind. Chiron gives people wild expressions or a "wild" look, and often occurs the need to change horses midstream.

Chiron is placed in an opposition to the Sun. Simultaneously we notice that Chiron is the only planet possessing a position in the lower hemisphere. This indicates that Chiron doesn't truly belong among the other planets and in a sense isn't a child of the same Sun. (Reminds me of HC Andersen's story of the Ugly Duckling). But both Chirons "adoption" into the solar family and his opposition to the Sun puts a strong emphasis on his part of forming relationships. The North Node on the Midheaven also imports group and collective meanings. Lastly, the Chirons opposition to the Sun suggests how Chiron often acts in an "out of hand" manner, by introducing events though external circumstances in the environment.

Astrologically, Chiron is a higher octave of the Moon. Malcolm Dean says in his book "The Astrology Game" that years before the discovery off Chiron, Dane Rudhyar suggested there might lie a "higher-moon" between the orbits of Uranus and Saturn. Chiron is in Taurus, the sign of the Moons exaltation. Chiron also has a square to Mars. According to classical astrology Mars is the greatest enemy if the Moon. The sign of the Moons exaltation succeeds that of the Sun, while Cancer, the Moons rulership, precedes that of the Sun in Leo. In the discovery chart the Sun is in Scorpio. It succeeds Libra and precedes Sagittarius. Libra is on the Midheaven of the chart and shows the sign in which Chiron receives co-rulership. Sagittarius on the ascendant is his exaltation. In 1988 Saturn and Uranus conjunct close to the ascendant of the Chiron discovery chart.

Charles Kowal was born Nov. 8, 1940, in Buffalo New York. Birth time unknown. He graduated from Buffalo High School in 1957 and accepted a scholarship at the University of Southern California. In 1961 he obtained a Bachelors Degree and began working for the Hale Observatories the same year. Charles Kowal is a popular and successful astronomer and a person of his own brand. He does not hold a Philosophical Doctors Degree like his many colleagues. The long trail of discoveries he has credited his name includes a comet, asteroids, over 80 supernova and the 13th and 14th moons of Jupiter. Kowal felt that Chiron would probably not be called a planet, but the term "planetoid" would be a nice name for it, if only the expression were revived.

The glyph of a semi-circle set on a cross, set on a circle, was designed by Joyce Green as a provisional symbol for Chiron which was adopted by the Riverside Astrologers in Memphis. The second glyph, the "K" set upon a circle, was an inspiration shared amongst Al H.Morrison, Joelle K.D.Mahoney and Marlene Bassoff. Hence, the suggestion was originally presented by a committee without any identification of the artist. In the Summer of 1978, Aug. 18-19, the General Convention of Congress of Astrological Organisations, San Diego, held an official vote upon which of the glyphs were to be taken into common use. The main reason to the defeat of the first symbol was its resemblance to the glyph used in France for Pluto. The chosen glyph bears the shape of a key. The letter "K" in the upper half of the symbol gives credit to its discoverer, Charles Kowal.

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