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Understanding Asteroids in Modern Astrology

Classical astrology considered seven planets, later adding three more, and modern astrology adding two more bodies. As more astrologers consider other asteroids in honing charts, here's what you should know.

Asteroids in astrology: A hot topic

The use of asteroids in modern astrology is a hotly debated topic. Once Ceres and Chiron were added to the list of heavenly bodies considered in creating and interpreting horoscope charts, some astrologers began adding more asteroids to the list when extracting meaning.

But before we get into how asteroids are used in astrology in particular, let's do a quick review of the role of planets in astrology and how they've changed since ancient times when this art was first developed.

Why use asteroids? Are they necessary?

Proponents of the use of asteroids in chart interpretation say they add depth.

"Asteroids and other bodies tend to have very specific meanings which can often help you to tease out the story behind a chart," Astrologer Leah Whitehorse of Lua Astrology writes. "Whilst the planets, lights, angles and houses will give you a wonderful overall picture, the asteroids help you to connect with very specific chart themes that may otherwise be missed and they can serve to accentuate themes already highlighted."

Still, Whitehorse says she works with a "very tight orb of 1 degree." She also adds that she limits the aspects she takes under consideration. Whitehorse says she only considers "conjunction, sextile, square, trine, opposition and quincunx."

Planets in astrology: From antiquity to modern times

In the classical astrology of antiquity, there were seven heavenly bodies. This included Sun and Moon. There were five planets that could be seen with the naked eye: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

With the advent of the telescope, modern astrologers added the newly discovered planets of Neptune, Uranus and Pluto.

The inner planets, those that orbit the sun more quickly and influence our lives more often are: Mercury Mars and Venus.

The outer planets, those that take seven years or more to orbit the sun, and influence our lives on more of a "generational" basis, are: Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus and Pluto.

More modern still, astrologers added two additional celestial bodies to the list of outer planets: Ceres and Chiron.

Ceres was originally considered an asteroid, but reclassified as a dwarf-planet, the largest object in the asteroid belt that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Ceres is the 33rd-largest known body in the Solar System, discovered in 1801. Ceres embodies the sign of Virgo. It is related to motherhood, nurturing, family relationships, food, agriculture and transition in a female's life. Ceres is considered to be akin to the Earth Mother.

Chiron is an intermediate object that is a hybrid between a comet and asteroid, and was discovered in 1977 orbiting between the asteroid belt and the Kuiper belt. Astronomers consider it a centaur. Some astrologers see Chiron as a bridge between the inner and outer planets. Chiron does not rule any sign of the zodiac. Chiron stays in each sign of the zodiac for approximately 4 years. Chiron represents healing, healing powers, suffering, trauma, insecurities, our deepest wound or greatest weakness. Chiron is considered to be "the wounded healer."

Asteroids considered by modern astrologers

Astrologers now considers three different types of asteroids grouped as Dwarf Planets, Trans-Neptunians and Centaurs. The term "minor planet" encompasses both dwarf planets and asteroids, but not comets.

Dwarf Planets

Defined as any celestial body that orbits the sun but does not dominate its region of space (as a planet does). It also must have sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and is not a satellite, according to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) per Wikipedia.

This category was established in 2006. It includes: Pluto, Ceres, Haumea, Makemake and Eris.

Trans-Neptunians

Defined as any object in the Solar System that orbits the Sun at a greater average distance than Neptune.

The list includes: Chaos, Varuna, Ixion, Rhadamanthus, Huya, Typhon, Quaoar, Deucalion, Logos, Ceto, Borasisi, Sila-Nunam, Teharonhiawako, Sedna, Orcus, Salacia, Pluto, Haumea, Eris, Makemake, Altjira.

Centaurs

In planetary astronomy, a centaur is defined as a small solar system body with either a perihelion or a semi-major axis between those of the outer planets. Centaurs generally have unstable orbits. They have the characteristics of both asteroids and comets.

The list includes: Chiron, Pholus, Nessus, Hylonome, Asbolus, Chariklo, Pelion, Ocyrhoe, Cyllarus, Elatus, Echeclus, Bienor, Thereus, Amycus, Crantor.

Determining the meanings of each asteroid

Determining the meanings of individual asteroids is a lengthy and complex topic beyond the scope of this article. An excellent list for learning and interpreting the astrological meanings of various asteroids can be found on Lua Astrology.