New Moon in Sagittarius – Nov. 26, 2019, 15:05 UT

The New Moon at 4+ degrees of Sagittarius is opposite asteroid 10 Hygiea in Gemini. The New Moon is always a conjunction of the Sun and the Moon.

Last month asteroid 10 Hygiea was in the headlines of the science news, and now its prominent position in the New Moon chart brings me a good opportunity to talk about it.

Hygiea is a main belt asteroid, orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. It was the 10th asteroid to be discovered, which happened in 1849 by Annibale de Gasparis, an Italian astronomer (the first being 1 Ceres, discovered in 1801). Hygiea is the fourth largest asteroid. Its diameter is just over 430 km, less than half of that of Ceres. Because of Hygiea’s dark surface some smaller asteroids were found before it. It is the main member of the Hygiean asteroid family, which was formed billions of years ago, when another object collided with it.

Hygiea made news about a month ago, when astronomers announced that Hygiea is round and thus meets the requirements of a dwarf planet, the smallest in the solar system. This observation was possible because of the improvement of optical instruments and telescopes. So far Ceres has been considered to be the only dwarf planet in the main asteroid belt.

When astronomers in 2006 approved the definition of a planet (first time ever), they also created a dwarf planet category, in which officially belongs only Ceres, Pluto, Eris, Makemake and Haumea, although the total number of objects that qualify as dwarf planets is thousands. According to the official definition, a dwarf planet is a celestial body that is in orbit around the Sun, is not a satellite, unlike a planet has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit, and has sufficient mass for its own gravity to pull it into a roughly spherical shape (nearly round). The IAU has not yet officially accepted Hygiea to the dwarf planet class.

Originally at the time of its discovery Hygiea was considered to be a planet (as were also Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta, among others). The rapidly expanding number of objects found between Mars and Jupiter prompted their reclassification as asteroids in the 1850s.

History has shown that the man-made classifications can be changed when the scientists get new relevant information. They are not so important for astrologers anyway. But the celestial facts and properties of the objects are worth knowing also for the astrologers. Sometimes they can have an effect to the astrological delineation of a body.

Asteroid Hygiea was named after the Greek goddess Hygieia, the personification of health, cleanliness and hygiene. She was associated not directly with healing, but more with preserving good health. The symbol of this asteroid in astrological programs is usually the caduceus staff, the symbol of medicine. However, the older symbol of Hygieia is a serpent crowned with a star. Many astrologers have found that Hygiea is also astrologically connected to health matters. The current conjunction of the Sun and Hygiea emphasizes the need of feel well and healthy.

The New Moon in Sagittarius is square 2007 OR10 in Pisces, the fifth-largest trans-Neptunian object and likely a dwarf planet. This body is still without an official name. It was first nicknamed as “Snow White” for its presumed white color. However, 2007 OR10 turned out to be very red, and the nickname was dropped. Last spring the discovery team hosted a poll for the general public to help choose the name between three possible options: Gonggong from Chinese mythology, Vili from Norse mythology, and Holle from German mythology. Gonggong was the winning name, and it was proposed to the International Astronomical Union, but IAU has not announced the official name yet.

In Capricorn Saturn is approaching Pluto. The exact conjunction takes place on Jan. 12, 2020. At the moment Saturn is in tight conjunction with 486958 Arrokoth, the latest named trans-Neptunian object, a contact binary and the most distant world ever visited by a man-made spacecraft. Arrokoth was discovered in 2014 by astronomer Marc Buie and the New Horizons Search Team using the Hubble Space Telescope. It was targeted for the space probe New Horizons’ next destination after it would have completed a flyby of Pluto (in 2015). This body was long known by the nickname Ultima Thule, which means a place beyond the borders of the known world. On Jan. 1, 2019, New Horizons spacecraft made a close pass of it.

The official name Arrokoth, a term meaning “sky” in the Powhatan / Algonquian language of native people from the Chesapeake Bay region, was announced on Nov. 12, 2019, at a ceremony at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Institutions in the region played a prominent role in facilitating the discovery and exploration of the object.

“The name ‘Arrokoth’ reflects the inspiration of looking to the skies, and wondering about the stars and worlds beyond our own,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator. In acknowledgement to the Powhatan people’s significance to the Tidewater region of Virginia and Maryland, Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, asserted that Arrokoth’s name “signifies the strength and endurance of the indigenous Algonquian people of the Chesapeake region. Their heritage continues to be a guiding light for all who search for meaning and understanding of the origins of the universe and the celestial connection of humanity.”

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