Centaur Research © by Anne Lathrop

Email: stargazer@snet.net, May 2003

written for the third Centaur Research Project Newsletter, issued on May 11 2003

Traducione Italiano da Isabella Orsini: La ricerca sui Centauri



Researching the Centaurs—Some Background Information

Researching the centaur-bodies is an interesting experience. We have no precedent for the appearance of so many objects in our outer solar system in such a short period of time. This phenomenon had challenged the astronomical and astrological communities alike.

When Chiron was discovered in October-November 1977 by Charles T. Kowal between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus, Kowal, according to an interview he gave in the early eighties, decided to name this new discovery ‘Chiron’ after reasoning that since Saturn was the father and ‘Uranos’ the grandfather of the centaur Chiron, this would be an appropriate name for the new object.

Later, when it became apparent that Chiron had a comet-like tail, and was unlike any planet in that it shared characteristics of both comets and planets or asteroids, this name took on greater significance as Chiron, the centaur was a creature with the lower body of the horse and the torso and head of a human—an in-between sort of creature.

Because this new object was a maverick, and probably only one of a kind, the Minor Planet Center simply catalogued Chiron twice, once as the Comet catalog, and once as the Minor Planet catalog, thus avoiding the necessity of creating a new classification.

When Pholus was sighted in 1992, it created quite a stir. Unlike Chiron it had no comet tail and its orbit was quite different as well. It had a decidedly reddish hue. At this point the Minor Planet Center decided to introduce a new classification--the Centaurs--loosely defined as objects having orbits between Jupiter and Pluto. With this official recognition, the centaurs started appearing with greater frequency in our solar system. Nessus was discovered a year later and as of this writing, we have 42 centaurs romping around our solar system with a whole array of differing orbital and physical features.

An interesting problem has arisen in the wake of all these discoveries. The astronomical naming protocol demands that a newly discovered object eventually be named within the context of its classification. So although the name Chiron was chosen for completely different reasons on the part of Charles Kowal, this choice of a name set the stage for the centaur classification, and herein lies the problem. Von Heeren and others have come up with enough centaur names to accommodate about eighty newcomers. Let’s just say that at this point classification and naming of new objects is quite challenging for the astronomical community. [1]

Astrologers, for their part, have been just as busy keeping up with their job, that is, to discover the “logos” and the meaning of the new discoveries in human and planetary terms. Astrologers who have been drawn to the study of the centaurs have paved the way.

Researching the Centaurs—Pioneers and Resources[2]

Our own Robert von Heeren has made an enormous contribution to the study of these solar system newcomers. With Dieter Koch, a colleague, findings and musings on the meaning of the first discoveries were published as a book available only in German: Pholus – Wandler zwischen Saturn und Neptun—published by Chiron-Verlag and still available as far as I know, see this link: http://www.chironverlag.com/shop/front/article_detail.php3?language=l1&art_id=9

Articles were published in The Mountain Astrologer (http://www.mountainastrologer.com/) and elsewhere, introducing the centaurs to a wide astrological audience. Von Heeren published lists and ephemerides for interested researchers in the early years. He excitedly informed us of each new discovery as soon as it was announced by the Minor Planet Center (http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/mpc.html)

Later he created web pages with links to explore anything from the official astronomical sites to the ancient texts he uses in his research. For several years he has patiently moderated an e-list research group which operates according to a design almost as erratic as the orbits of the centaurs. He and others have participated with the astronomical community in the naming process. Go to von Heeren’s website for a centaurian tour de force: http://www.centaurresearchproject.de/menu/

Other astrologers, notably Al H. Morrison, now deceased, Zane Stein, Juan Revilla, Melanie Reinhart and Marianne Alexander have done a great deal to bring the centaurs to public attention as an exciting and attractive new field of astrological study by the steady publication of their findings.

Philip Sedgwick, who developed a system to give astrological meaning to galactic objects in the early seventies, turned to the study of centaurs a few years ago and has just this work on a CD. Contact him directly at galastro@aol.com for his many offerings, including a free newsletter “The Galactic Times” or a personal centaur chart reading.

Others, working diligently behind the scenes, provide access to the ephemerides--constantly changing--necessary to any sort of research. We would naturally include Dieter Koch and Robert von Heeren in this list, but Mark Pottenger’s ephemerides and Jonathan Dunn’s behind-the-scenes work both need to be given due credit. Jon Dunn’s website has been an invaluable resource to the centaur-minded student who wants to see a centaur’s position in a chart quickly. Check it out. Jonathan Dunn’s Tools and Commentary: http://ephemeral.info/txt.

Mark Pottenger, the original--and for many years--the only source of ephemerides for the asteroids, centaurs, Trans-Neptunian and Far Distant Objects has to be elected as the patron saint of researchers into the nature of these “extras” in our planetary system. He can be reached at markpott@pacbell.net.

Lutz D. Schmadel’s Dictionary of Minor Planets, published as demand permits by Springer-Verlag, is an important tool. A hefty encyclopedia, it gives the discovery date, discoverer, and information about the naming process as well as the historical association with the name for thousands of objects. The latest edition, the 4th published in 1999, permits continual updating by connecting to the DMP homepage through the optional purchase of the accompanying CD. For information check the Springer-Verlag homepage: http://www.springer.de.

Zane Stein’s mailing list and webpages offer a tremendous learning opportunity and lively exchanges with fellow centaurians.

Homepage: http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/7969/chiron.htm


The Centaur Research Project Newsletter should eventually become an important resource, but as any centaur researcher soon finds, commitment is as erratic as the research itself. Von Heeren shoulders the publishing task alone, and he writes in a second language no less!

There are now several programs which will calculate the positions of the centaurs and make a list.

Mark Pottenger’s CCRS92, or the “Lite” version, Casteph, is supplied with the purchase of his ephemerides and allows for a wide variety of sorts and listings. markpott@pacbell.net

Ceres, a similar program is supplied with the Swiss Ephemerides when ordered from Astrodienst website (Alois Treindl and Dieter Koch). http://www.astro.com

Esoteric Technologies’ Solar Fire can be configured to list almost anything for which you have an ephemeris, (it will read from both Pottenger and Swiss Ephemerides) and this program allows a multitude of options for using the results including extra points in wheel or dial graphics: http://www.esotech.com.au/ or http://www.alabe.com

Riyal, Juan Revilla’s program, is a comprehensive centaur research tool. It comes supplied with ephemerides, and, as far as I know, it is freeware. http://www.expreso.co.cr/centaurs/riyal.html-ssi

VISION IV by Astrosoft Switzerland, written by Bernd was probably the first program able to show the centaurs in a chart automatically. All the charts on von Heeren’s website are created with this software. To download a trial version of this program go to: http://www.astrosoft.ch

Millennium, Alphee Lavoie's super-charged program, quickly calculates asteroids and centaurs from the Swiss Ephemerides with which it is supplied. I understand a search engine has been incorporated in the current update, a feature which should be very useful. http://www.alphee.com.


Researching the Centaurs—My Personal Experience

I first engaged with the study of centaurs through Al H. Morrison who worked hard to bring Chiron to public notice when it was first discovered. He published an ephemeris to which he appended preliminary findings about the possible attributes of Chiron.

Von Heeren, who once read all the correspondence entrusted to Zane Stein by Al H. Morrison before he died, reports a conversation between Dr. Brian Marsden, head of the Minor Planet Center and the astrologers. Marsden apparently asked that if astrologers thought that any planet in the solar system had meaning, why weren’t astrologers studying the asteroids. Morrison explained that there were a number of astrologers using asteroids in their work, but that for this new discovery of Chiron an ephemeris was necessary. Marsden complied by computing an ephemeris in right ascension and declination (normally used by astronomers), and gave it to Morrison telling him to get it converted to ecliptical coordinates on his own.

Morrison found someone to do this and thus the first ephemeris for Chiron came into being. This was the historical landmark for the small bridge that has been established between the astrological and astronomical communities. Dr. Marsden played a vital role in establishing this link, and has maintained an open door for communication until this day.

Morrison encouraged Zane Stein to write his book on Chiron, then published and distributed this book until he died in the spring of 1995. He also wrote many articles for publication, but perhaps those he published in The Mountain Astrologer had the widest impact.

He inspired the astrological community to accept the glyph he commissioned an artist to design according to his specifications. There was no way to avoid studying Chiron if Al H. Morrison was part of one’s astrological circle. He hooked me.

Also important to my formative stage in the study of centaurs was Philip Sedgwick’s work on the galactic objects. Through long years of working with these objects, I was perhaps more inclined to accept “oddballs” within our own solar system. I routinely thought in terms of black holes, pulsars, quasars, infrared radio sources. People thought I was nuts when I spoke enthusiastically of SS-433. I carried the zodiacal position of about 20 different objects in my head, like fixed stars, and used them in charts.

Most of these objects are identified by the letter and number designation used by the astronomers to catalog them. Unlike the study of asteroids or planets where a name with some historical context is used and can be employed as an aid to understanding the meaning of the object, a number-letter reference leaves a lot to be desired as far as the imagination is concern. Sedgwick’s system works very well.


Researching the Centaurs—How I work

Sedgwick’s approach to unnamed object research was to use the astronomical information about the object, particularly those elements with which we are familiar in our study of the planets: the nodes, perihelion and aphelion positions (closest and farthest distance to the Sun described by a degree of the zodiac), and the period (the number of hours, days, weeks, months or years it takes the object to complete one circuit around the Sun). Working with these data and the information that can be inferred from them, and using charts with known birth times or events where a reliable account is available, one begins to develop a personal understanding of the object. This forms the basis for further study.

I have found that by adding the discovery chart, and using it as a “birth chart” for the centaur, one can gather a great deal of information to use as a launching pad for further investigation through mundane and personal events. This discovery chart is pivotal to the work I do and up until recently I made the chart as soon as the discovery was announced, then made a labeled folder to collect whatever information I gathered.

When it comes time to placing the centaur itself in charts, one has to have an ephemeris. I had purchased Mark Pottenger’s ephemerides and still use these. The data is made available by von Heeren on his website, or by Alois Trendl & Dieter Koch and in their Swiss Ephemeris site. The excellent resources on Jonathan Dunn’s and Zane Stein’s webpages are both valuable in all stages of the research. Sedgwick sells a floppy disk with the ephemerides of the centaurs, and perhaps still sells a printed ephemeris as well. This is handy to have.

Do the research with what you love best. If you like examining important personal events, or even better, the ordinary day-to-day “happenings” in your life, your knowledge of what the centaur means will develop more quickly because you are living the “story.” Diurnals and daily progressed charts are excellent tools, as angular contact with the centaurs pushes them into the foreground. This is a good way to work with several of them at once. Intuition and an active imagination are valuable in this process.

If your passion is famous people, or having a chart at hand as you read a novel or a biography, explore those avenues. If you are attracted by current world events or by historical events, use these.

Don’t neglect the resource of friends and family. Locate the centaur you are studying in their charts or use the astronomical data--the nodes work very well. Ask questions and listen to the responses you get. These centaurs are rowdy; they make themselves known in our lives.

By musing over the astronomical data, the discovery chart (hopefully thinking about your personal and general world conditions at the time of the discovery) and the reports you have gathered from friends and family and favorite study charts you will find you have created a magnet for the centaur to start delivering information about itself. It doesn’t take any effort, nor can the research be forced. Once the foundation has been laid, the rest takes place naturally and in its own rhythm!!! Don’t cramp the centaur’s style with impatience or a time schedule!

As with any new astrological territory, stick with the methods you like best and the kind of charts you normally use. If you like the Uranian system and dials, use them. If classical techniques are your forte, use them. If you prefer solar arcs to secondary progressions, use solar arcs. If tertiaries turn you on, use them. The idea is to create a methodical and consistent approach which becomes routine. The more fundamental the method, the more room the centaur has to push the envelope. And centaurs love this kind of intuitive horse play!

Anecdotal evidence definitely counts. There are no rules in this game, the centaurs have a history of doing things their way. In this regard, if you missed von Heeren’s superb musings on the association of the centaurs with Neptune, published in the second newsletter, ask him for a copy of this article. It is profound and establishes a very sound basis for the investigation of any and all of the centaurs. It is noteworthy that the discovery of centaurs increased in amplitude as Neptune returned from its twenty year gambit outside the orbit of Pluto! It seems Neptune found some playmates out there.


Researching the Centaurs—An example.

With all of this said, let me give an example of this process at work. When Asbolus was discovered and given its designation 1995GO, my initial reaction was, “Another centaur? Forget it! I can only deal with so many new objects at once.” Just the same, I peeked at the astronomical data and saw that its node was conjunct my IC within a degree. I calculated the chart, my routine with every new centaur discovery, and made a folder for the newcomer.

1995GO’s discovery position on April 5th 1995 was 7 Li 46--25 minutes from my Midheaven and retrograding to exact conjunction. As I wrote it into the printed chart, I had to take a closer look. Both Uranus and Pluto were at 0 degrees of their respective signs. And then, “Hummm, that’s interesting,” I thought to myself as I saw that the Ascendant (for Kitt Peak Arizona where it was discovered) was 27 Capricorn 31, getting the big squeeze between Neptune at 25 Capricorn 25 and Uranus at 00 Aquarius 06, in fact at their midpoint. And as Robert points out, where there is Neptune, there’s likely to be some chaos, and where there’s Uranus, some disruption. Nonetheless I managed to put Asbolus away in his manila folder.

It didn’t escape my attention that this centaur was discovered as Al H. Morrison, my centaurian friend, was dying, or that two grandchildren were about to make their appearance on the planet. Later on, I read Juan Revilla’s writings about this centaur, before it was named, and then eventually, as was given a number 8405, then finally a name—Asbolus which began to show up in researcher’s comments before it was made official. And the name had something to do with black, soot, ash.

Meanwhile, I had become quite intrigued with the actual orbits of the named centaurs in their relationship with the planets by which they were bound. I went through several months in 1998 drawing these orbits, and then plotting them on the computer. I learned a lot doing this exercise as it gave me a very strong sense of their “crossings” and their close and distant behavior. From that point forward I always considered not only its nodes but Chiron’s position in its orbit relative to aphelion and perihelion of the centaurs in any chart work I did with Chiron. I began to add Nessus and Pholus to my chart preparation for clients by using their nodes at least, and often their zodiacal position. I had accepted them into the family.

Fast forward to the year 2000. By this time I had actually started to rely on the IBM computer I got in 1997 to run Solar Fire. It was a hard transition from almost two decades of Apple computer use and I had many difficulties. I don’t know how the association developed in my mind, but I noticed that every time I had a very difficult stretch on the IBM, Asbolus seemed to be involved. Early in 2001, after a particularly gruesome period, I said to myself, “maybe this computer needs a name.”

My Macintosh IIX, purchased in 1989, had been a steady and reliable companion. I had named it Chiron almost immediately. Thinking about what to name the IBM which I had been treating as a second-class citizen, I said, well, the computer is soot black and I have been neglecting Asbolus maybe the computer wants to be called Asbolus. So I officially named it Asbolus and duly took note of the time.

Later in the day I made a chart for the event. Asbolus and Chiron were conjunct at 27 Sag in the 7th house. My new team! Mars, the significator of computers, as far as I am concerned, was in the sixth house at 0 Sag, the position of Pluto in Asbolus’ discovery chart. Pluto and the Moon were in the seventh house at 15 Sag where Jupiter resides in the discovery chart, as part of a grand trine between itself, Mars and Sun, the fiery planets, in the fire signs

There were other interesting tid-bits in the chart, but the remarkable thing is that I have never since had a difficult time with that computer! It must have wanted to be noticed and identified, on a par with Chiron, the dominant Alpha Male in my computer family. Or perhaps Asbolus was looking for some way to get out of his file folder without having to get by attention by disruptive activity when I least wanted it. This is the intuitive side of the research. One has to be able to play, have a sense of humor and to be flexible about the way one these centaurs make themselves known.

And yet, to this day, I can’t say that I have a “keyword” for Asbolus, other than soot black.

Here’s another largely intuitive Asbolus teaching. This year I am back in touch with a friend I haven’t seen or spoken with in 26+ years. We egged each other along when we were in the first years of our journey to the source--one could say a rather Neptunian objective. Thanks to the internet, we are now able to correspond as part of the daily flow and we have a lot of fun reminiscing and sharing stories about our journeys.

It took me a couple of months to get around to calculating Don’s chart, and when I finally did, it was one of the first I made with the named centaurs in the outer ring, something I had finally accomplished in Solar Fire. As with Asbolus, once I had the chart made, I stuck it in a folder of charts I wanted to study when I had a moment.

The moment came out of the blue about a week ago. I had just reviewed Juan Revilla’s articles on the various centaurs, when I decided I wanted to look at Don’s chart because it had the centaurs already in the wheel. When I did, I had a real start! He had an exact Asbolus-Sun conjunction on the ninth house side of the Midheaven. I remembered Juan’s references to the Asbolus Sun conjunction in some famous person’s chart. So I dug out Juan’s article again and with it in hand, wrote to Don about his exact Asbolus-Sun conjunction.

Here’s our two day exchange:

Him Day One: It's strange, but I seldom look at mine (our charts) either these days. I found that it was like a meditation, and almost a full time thing in order to get into the space where I could "know" things through astrology. Some of the things I came to know, I questioned whether I "saw" them, or "created" them by conceiving the thought. One incident in particular had to do with a Uranus transit in a person’s chart, aspecting her natal Mars, and I told her to be careful of unexpected things while she was driving. She asked for more detail and I said, "Oh something like someone running a stop sign". Her daughter called me the next day, telling me her mother was in the hospital after someone ran a stop sign and hit her broadside. I have often wished I had used another example.

Me: One of my nephews asked that question when he was only seven. He said, "But Aunt Anne, if you can predict the weather, how do you know you aren't creating it?" That stumped me. It is a question I still ponder.  Intuition definitely plays a huge role in any astrologer worth his or her salt. In your case, I did take a look at your chart this afternoon on my way out, thinking that perhaps I'd have a moment before the research meeting to take a look. I saw something that totally struck me, in light of what you had said, above. It was the conjunction between Sun at 5 Gemini and one of the new centaur-bodies discovered in our solar system since 1977, all but one of them since 1993. This one has been given the name Asbolus. In your rectified chart the Sun is 5 Ge48, Asbolus is 5 Gem 46 and the MC is 8 Ge 25. Asbolus seems to represent the "seer", the one who knows, and purity--as in ash. The color is soot black.

When I saw Asbolus there, I was quite intrigued as I had just re-read an article by one of the best centaur researchers written back in 1999. I have just relocated this article to see whom he used as an example of Sun-Asbolus conjunction. It was Nathaniel Hawthorne. He had the conjunction in 11-12 Cancer. The Enclyopedia Britannica says “His greater short stories and 'The Scarlet Letter' are marked by a depth of psychological and moral insight seldom equaled and never surpassed by any American writer." Mel Gibson has a close Sun-Asbolus opposition.

I don't know too much about Asbolus, but I noticed that every time I had a major snafu with my desktop IBM computer, Asbolus was lurking about. And so I eventually named the computer, which was sooty black, Asbolus. I have Asbolus at 11 Gemini in my chart, in the sixth house and opposing Mercury in the 12th, 12 Sag.

I've been reviewing the centaur files I have hanging around to see which one appeals to me the most as I need to write an article in the next week. Here's what the same fellow, a Costa Rican astrologer, has to say by way of Asbolus keywords: preacher, magician, the eagle and the serpent, dreams, mist, fog, other-worldliness, clairvoyance, clinking glass beads, hiding places, mystery, conspiracy, taboo, sin, confession, torment, punishment, anguish, bewilderment, bleeding hearts, oven, igneous, ash and smoke fusion, alchemy, density. 

Him Day Two: I have some errands to run, so I'm going to skip to this part, because this is another of those "amazing coincidences". On the path I'm following now the four directions, (which are really six, and actually seven) and the colors associated with them are very significant. In the Lakota creation story, West was the first direction established, and the color ascribed to it is black. This is also the main color that I have gravitated toward, along with the westerly direction. Prayers start, and end in the west, and the Wakinyan Oyate Kin are the beings of the West, the Thunder Beings. Sage is the sacred plant for the west. The Thunder Beings control the weather, and are the most powerful of all the Beings, and the most feared. I have felt closely allied with the Thunder Beings, and pray to them primarily. I always start my prayer ties with a black one, and also end with a black one. The name given to me is Wankinyan Wanbli, (Eagle Thunder). Black has come to play a big part in my life.

When I first came back to Texas, I hung out at a bookstore, and eventually started doing readings there for select people. The name I used in this work was Asebov Sobelo.

This response from my friend gave me more of a sense of what Asbolus was about than all that I have seen or read over the last eight years. Not only because of the content, but because of the co-incidence of events which led to my giving the information to him. We have been corresponding since January, this was the first time I looked at his chart. I want to stress the importance of intuition, or perhaps what I have always called “the psychic wireless” in the centaur research work, and the importance of timing. Since this exchange, quoted above, I have seen many Asbolus streams in my life. It definitely helps to have a playmate or two, or more, in this kind of work.

Before closing, I’d like to mention one last tool I use in all my astrological work, the Sabian Symbols. When I opened my Asbolus folder a day or so ago to see what I had tucked away in it over the years, a piece of paper fell out. On it were two paragraphs titled “Asbolus Symbolism.” There was no date. It took me a few minutes to figure out what this was all about because the language seemed ancient. I read the paragraphs and recognized these as symbols from a book published in the 70’s giving Hindu symbolism for the degrees of the zodiac by dates. This reminded me of the Sabian symbols, and I quickly identified that it was for Asbolus’ position in his own discovery chart at 7 Libra 46. I looked up that degree in Dane Rudhyar’s An Astrological Mandala.

Here’s what I found:

A blazing fireplace in a deserted home.

Keynote: The need to realize that even through the most empty hours a spiritual power is ever ready to welcome and warm up the wayward consciousness returning to center.

Until the fire of the Soul within the human psyche totally dies out—a rare and tragic occurrence, there is always hope of recovery and rebeginning. Many disciples find themselves compelled to abandon their spiritual quest, even after having had a sense of essential being. Yet “the home” that once received them—the guru’s love—remains ready to welcome the return of the “prodigal sons.”

Anne Lathrop 4/30/03 16:28 EDT


A Biographical Sketch

This article was written with Asbolus conjunct my second house Mars, Chiron conjunct my progressed New Moon, Chariklo conjunct her progressed position, Hylonome conjunct my Asc/MC, Pholus conjunct my Sun, Nessus conjunct my progressed Sun, Mercury conjunct natal 5th house Uranus—all within a minute or less of exactitude.

By way of a short bio, I am providing my chart calculated in Solar Fire and configured to show the named centaurs as “extra points.” This gives my birth data; the rest of my biography stems from the chart derived from the moment of my birth. Please note that a prime signal for being captured by the centaurs is engraved into my psyche by my place of birth--Neptune!

I have practiced astrology professionally since 1977, have done a fair amount of writing, a lot of teaching and counsel my clients with great joy.

I live in an ancestral home purchased out of trust in 1983, deep in the woods of Connecticut in the USA. Before settling down to the rhythm of country living, I spent six years traveling around the world on a 42-foot sailboat, practicing astrology in many different cultures, and learning from fellow astrologers along the way, particularly in Australia.

I have two grown sons and four grandchildren and a host of wonderful friends and colleagues.



[1] I am indebted to Robert von Heeren for the details about the discovery and eventual classification of the centaurs.

[2]  See list of selected links and email addresses which follows.

Some Email and Internet Links

Jonathan Dunn’s Info: http://ephemeral.info/txt

Zane Stein’s Homepage: http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/7969/chiron.htm

Astrodienst Homepage: http://www.astro.com

Astrodienst Charts with Centaurs: http://www.astro.com/cgi/awd.cgi

Juan Revilla’s Homepage: http://www.expreso.co.cr/centaurs/


Riyal: http://www.expreso.co.cr/centaurs/rial.html-ssi

Vision IV: http://www.astrosoft.ch

CCRS92 or Casteph: markpott@pacbell.net

Solar Fire: http://www.esotech.com.au/ & http://www.alabe.com

Millennium: http://www.alphee.com

Melanie Reinhart’s Books

To the Edge and Beyond: Saturn, Chiron, Pholus and the Centaurs, (1996) is available through CPA Press Box 1815 London WC1 3XX GB Tel/Fax 0181-749-2330

Chiron and the Healing Journey (published by ARKANA Penguin Books in 1989) may be purchased from a bookseller.