Did you know that there are literally thousands upon thousands of asteroids or “minor planets” on record? All of them can be identified by number and most of them can also be identified by name. To date, the IAU (International Astronomical Union) has “officially” named over 12,000 of these celestial entities whose monikers range from everything to cities to celebrities. Think I’m full of Blarney (Asteroid #2320)? Read on…
It all seems to have started out innocently enough. The first few asteroids were named after deities of the Greek or Roman persuasion. The first asteroid, Ceres was discovered on January 1, 1801 in Palermo, Italy by an astronomer named Piazzi. Ceres is one of the main asteroids used in astrological delineation along with Pallas (#2), Juno (#3), and Vesta (#4) which were discovered during the years 1802-1807. Chiron (# 2060) was added to the astrological asteroid dignitary list after its discovery in 1977. Most astrologers will include the meanings of these five asteroids in a consultation. Other astrologers delve further into the asteroid catalog and include many others as deemed relevant to a particular case. Since there are so many asteroids with “people names”, some astrologers will include the asteroid with the same name of the client in a natal chart or those with the same name as family members in a family spread.
The rule of thumb when it comes to asteroids is that the astronomer who discovers a new body gets to name it … in whatever fashion he/she so chooses! If you have the patience to read an asteroid listing, you can’t help but wonder what some of these astronomers were thinking when they named their discoveries. Could some of them been under some strange influence? Take asteroid # 1896 for example. The name of this asteroid is Beer. It was discovered in 1971 by an astronomer in Bergdorf. Continuing with this silliness, all of the car lovers in our audience might be tickled to know that there are asteroids named Mercedes (#1136), Suzuki (#2393), Toyota (#3533), and Ferrari (#4122) out there in the Heavens.
Music from classical to contemporary is also covered. There are four asteroids named after the Beatles, Lennon (#4147), McCartney (#4148), Harrison (#4149), and Starr (#4150). Completing the old “British Invasion” is the Rollingstones (#19383). Zappafrank (#3834) named after Frank Zappa also graces the asteroid spotlight. For those of you who prefer a classical fare, there are asteroids Rachmaninoff (#4345), Stravinsky (#4382), Debussy (#4492), Chopin (#3784) and Beethoven (#1815). The world of art yields Rembrandt (#4511) Dali (#2919), Michelangelo (#3001), and van Gogh (#4457) to name a few. Those of you who like country music will be happy to know that Brendalee (#3824) is also represented. Among the many first class writers are Dostoyevsky (#3453), Hemingway (#3656), Mark Twain (# 2362) and Descartes (#3587). It seems especially fitting that Descartes has an asteroid since his first major work Essais philosophiques contained a division dedicated to meteors. Of course citing the “writer” asteroids would not be complete without the mention of McGraw-Hill (#4432) which is named after the famous publishing house.
Stage and screen are also represented in the Heavens. For those of you who are old Star Trek fans, there is Mr. Spock (#2309), McCoy (#4259), and even a representative for the show’s creator, Roddenberry (#4659). Showing respectful good taste, an astronomer by the name of Bowell dubbed one of his finds Sagan (#2709) after famous astronomer and author Carl Sagan. From the big screen there is Seanconnery (#16452) and Goldfinger (#16452). Robinwilliams (#12820), Bobhope (#2829), and directors Spielberg (#25930), and Hitchcock (#7032) also shine brightly among the asteroids. Disneya (#4017) also belongs to this group despite the fact that the astronomer tried to confuse us by adding the letter “a” to the name! The infamous celebrity judge Simon Cowell of American Idol fame is represented by Cowell (#1898) on the stellar stage. Monroe (as in Marilyn # 3768) and DiMaggio (as in Joe # 3767) are also on board up in the heavens.
Historic figures don’t escape the asteroid list either. There are many references ranging from Attila (#1489) to Lincoln (#3153), Grant (#3154), and Lee (3155), to Hancock (#3731), and Johnadams (#3726) to Karl Marx (#2807). For good measure, Smithsonian (#3773) should be also added. All of the metaphysicians in the audience will enjoy the asteroids Karma (#3811), Wisdom (#3402), Rudolphsteiner (#10356), Atlantis (#1198), and Stargazer (#8959). Gardeners will delight in Magnolia (#1060), Clematis (#1101), Crocus (#1220), and Geranium (#1227).
What about DuDu? It really exists and its number is 564. Does it have an archetypal meaning in association with astrology? No, but it has been hinted in jest that it can be representative of the unpleasantness its name implies…you certainly wouldn’t want to step in it!
(Asteroid names and file numbers courtesy of the Astrodienst Asteroid List.)