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The use of asteroids in astrology has become a hot bed of research and discussion amongst astrologers in the past few years. From the biggest (Ceres) to the furthest away (Eris) to tiny rocks with obscure names. These solar system bodies are used to hone chart interpretation giving it a richer and fuller meaning. It’s rather like the difference between a violin solo and a full orchestra playing. Asteroids give depth to the chart – each with their own song that connects to the rest of the choir. Asteroids and other bodies tend to have very specific meanings which can often help you to tease out the story behind a chart. 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.
Working with Asteroids
Because there are many thousands of asteroids, I personally use a very tight orb of 1 degree and only tend to take into account the conjunction, sextile, square, trine, opposition and quincunx. Occasionally, with larger bodies such as Ceres or Eris, I will extend the orb a little if the body is near a sensitive point or angle but only to about 3 degrees at most. The reason for this is that with so many asteroids available to use in interpretation, it is very easy to get completely overwhelmed by so much information! Working with very tight orbs ensures that you only take into account those bodies which affect the chart most strongly.
Asteroids are still very young astrologically speaking and in many ways we are still formulating our understanding of them. Some have yet to be written about at all. The best way to get to grips with them is to read as much as you can. Read the mythology, asteroid based books, read about the physical aspects of the asteroid, find out why an asteroid was given a specific name – was it named after someone? What qualities and skills do they have? Check the numerology – each asteroid is given a number. Investigate the discovery chart and what was happening in the world around the time of discovery. Eris certainly made an impression in the mundane world! You can also play a little, for example, there are lots of asteroids named after places in the world. If you are drawn to somewhere and there’s a named asteroid for it, see where it falls in your chart and consider what it might mean. You will also find asteroids named after people and it can be interesting to pick those that have names of people you know to see again their placements in your birth chart.
Just to clear up some confusion – the term ‘minor planet’ covers dwarf planets and asteroids but not comets.
The Different Types
This category first came into being in 2006 when Eris put the cat amongst the pigeons and shook up the whole classification system resulting in Pluto being ‘downgraded’ to dwarf planet status. The dwarf planets currently recognised are :-
These are classed as any object in the Solar System that orbits the Sun at a greater average distance than Neptune. As you’ll see, both Pluto and Eris are in this category too.
This class of minor planets have characteristics of both asteroids and comets. For example it’s been discovered that Chiron has a halo around it (called a coma) which is generally made of dust and ice. It’s what gives typical comets their tail as the solar winds push the coma away. Centaurs are known to be unstable and have orbits that cross those of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus or Neptune although there is some discrepancy between astronomical organisations as to the exact definition. What is fascinating about this group is that if they move closer to the Sun in their unstable orbit, they will most likely become a comet. Centaurs are rather like heralds in the making.
Finding Asteroids in Your Chart
If you have your own astrology program, you will probably find that it will include at least a few of the minor planets. Matrix Win*Star Express for example has Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta as well as Chiron. Solar Fire has a fabulous range of asteroids and this can be added to via the Solar Fire website.
If you don’t have your own program, you can check positions of various bodies freely through Astro.com. Once you have created an account, go to the ‘Extended Chart Selection’ under ‘Free Horoscopes’. At the bottom of the page you can either select a variety of the more commonly known bodies or you can enter the minor planet number under ‘Additional Asteroids’.
Another excellent site you can use is Serennu
On this page you can enter your birth details and get a huge list of asteroid positions. Do make sure you enter the time as Universal Time as instructed.