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No. 28: Jul-Aug 1983

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Chiron: the black sheep of the solar system

Charles Kowal discovered the smooth, very dark sphere called Chiron over five years ago. Only a little more is known about it today. Chiron is 300-400 kilometers in diameter -- asteroid-size. But its orbit (aphelion, 18.9 A.U.; perihelion, 8.5 A.U.) is definitely anomalous for asteroids. One would expect to find only comets in this region of the Solar System. To compound the mystery, Chiron's orbit is unstable. This planetoid was originally somewhere else (no one knows where) and was nudged into its present orbit by a major planet. One group of researchers calculates that Saturn could have been the nudger, and that the event might have happened as recently as 1664!!

(Lipscomb, R.; "Chiron," Astronomy, 11:62, March 1983.)

Comment. Only a minor bit of extrapolation will carry a proponent of catastrophism from a 1664 nudge of a 400-kilometer body to a much more violent Solar System rearrangement sometime during the past 10,000 years.

From Science Frontiers #28, JUL-AUG 1983. 1983-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987