Ceres

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Ceres: Goddess of the Asteroid Belt

BY JULIE LOAR

In January 1, 1801, Giuseppe Piazzi pointed his telescope in the direction of the rocky objects that orbit the Sun be­tween Mars and Jupiter and discovered what he thought was a new comet. Piazzi named the object Ceres, after the Si­cilian goddess of grain, and Ceres became a planet for 50 years. Three other objects were discovered in the next few years: Pallas, Vesta, and Juno, which were also considered to be planets. Later, William Herschel, discoverer of Ura­nus, argued that they were too small…

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Planet to Plutoid: Pluto’s Identity Crisis

By Julie Loar

“The name of Eris was so appropriate, it’s enough to make me almost start believing in astrology.”—Mike Brown, Caltech Astronomy Team Leader Technology is dramatically expanding our solar system as the light-gathering capacity of telescopes increases the number of objects we see in the sky to billions. The IAU, the International Astronomical Organization, brings togeth­er nearly ten thousand distinguished astronomers from all nations. In August of 2006, the IAU downgraded Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet. According to new rules, which define a…

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Lilith

BY JULIE LOAR

“Don’t curse the darkness—light a candle.” Chinese Proverb Our concept of the solar system is in a state of flux, and it’s a challenge for astrologers to keep pace with the discover­ies and their significance. We lost Pluto as a planet, and Dwarf Planet Eris, who upset the apple cart, has an even larg­er mass, adding insult to injury. In 2001 an asteroid was identified which may be larger than Ceres, the first discov­ered. Ceres itself is now believed to be a “mini-planet,” boasting pure…

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The Asteroids

BY JULIE GILLENTINE

“Life begins when you get out of the grandstand into the game.”—P. L. Debevoise The first asteroid was discovered on January 1, 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi in Italy. He thought he saw a new comet. Pi­azzi named the object Ceres, after the Roman goddess of agriculture. Over the next few years three similar “goddess­es” were located, which were named Pallas, Vesta and Juno. By the close of the 19th century several hundred of these small bodies had been identified. They are called asteroids, which means…

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