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A B C D E F G H I-L M N O P Q R S T U-W X-Z
cadent: said of the third, sixth, ninth, and twelfth houses immediately preceding the four angles in a chart. Planets in them are subtler in their expression than in angular houses and are often indicative of mental energy, act in the background, and have an effect on one’s thinking.
Caesar, Julius: Roman general and statesman (100 BC-44 BC) who played a critical role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. After 293 AD during the Roman Tetrarchy, Caesar was the title of the junior emperor and successor to the Augustus of each prefecture.
caldera: a bowl-like volcanic feature caused by the emptying of a volcano’s magma chamber after an eruption and the subsequent collapse of the land above, sometimes covering 100s of square miles.
Callippic cycle: a period of 76 years containing 960 lunations or 27,759 days proposed by Callippus in 330 BC to improve on the century-earlier 19-year Metonic cycle. The first Callippic cycle began at the summer solstice of 330 BC.
cardinal: the signs beginning each season: Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. This quadruplicity denotes force manifesting in matter, activity, creativity, crisis, directness, speed and assertion. Planets in different cardinal signs are often square or opposed, and thus inharmoniously related.
catadioptric: from the Greek "cata": through, against or backward, and "diopter": "of optical lenses." Catadioptric telescopes use lenses and mirrors in their design, and are a mixture of reflector and refractor elements. Schmidt-Cassegrains and Maksutov telescopes fall into this category.
Cazimi (Arabic "in the heart of the Sun"): conjunct within 17’ (¼°) of the Sun. Originally thought to be very fortunate, like being in the private chambers of a great king; nowadays, it depends on the planet.
CCD (charge-coupled-device): Telescopes intensify images falling on them by focusing the image with a collecting lens or mirror. By virtue of its enhanced brightness, the focused image can then be magnified many times. Although in principle it can be magnified as many times as it has been brightened, telescope images are usually brightened millions to billions of times but magnified only a few hundred times. This is due to the limiting effect of atmospheric turbulence, and because the need to be make the object brighter far exceeds the need to make it larger. This subsequent magnification can be carried out by a variety of eyepieces or objective lenses placed in the various focal planes (places where the light comes to a focus) of the telescope.
In practice, however, the world’s largest telescopes rarely form images using a magnifying eyepiece. Instead, their light comes to a focus on a silicon wafer called a CCD whose surface is composed of millions of microscopic transistor gates. Like film, CCDs can gather images over time. But whereas film records only 1% of the photons falling on it, a CCD is far more sensitive, recording 60-70% of the photons that strike it. They are thus far more sensitive than both the human eye (gathering images in 1/14th of a second through an eyepiece) and time-exposed film.
A 36-inch telescope equipped with a CCD camera can record fainter images than even the 200-inch Mt. Palomar telescope using photographic plates. And most famous images taken by the world’s largest telescopes are formed from many hours of exposure on CCD plates. For example, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) image on page 228, released March 9, 2004, was formed from 278 hours of exposure on a CCD during 400 orbits of the Hubble Space Telescope.
celestial sphere: an imaginary sphere of the heavens on the surface of which all celestial bodies appear to be located; once thought by the ancients to be an actual, crystalline physical sphere.
centaur: a half-horse half-man creature depicted as an erect human torso emerging from a horse’s withers. Said to be born from either Ixion and Nephele or Centaurus on a Thessalian mare, they embodied the struggle between man’s animal and more civilized nature. Like Chiron they were sometimes teachers of the Greek heroes.
Also, an unstable class of minor planets usually orbiting the Sun between Jupiter and Neptune (diagram page 173), although some orbits extend inward almost as far as Mars (Damocles) or outward beyond Neptune (1995 SN55). Although 944 Hidalgo was discovered in 1920, it wasn’t until the discovery of Chiron (first to be called a Centaur) in 1977 that Centaurs were recognized as a distinct population. Since their orbits are unstable due to interactions with the giant planets, they are thought to be bodies in transition from some outer reservoir like the Kuiper Belt to active, inner system comet-like objects. In fact, their composition is probably intermediate between that of asteroids and comets. The largest Centaur is 10199 Chariklo with a diameter of 160 miles; Chiron is second at 143 miles. 1995 SN55, however, considered to be lost, is 193 miles in diameter. If found and confirmed as a Centaur, it will be the largest.
Cerberus: a three-headed dog with a snake’s tail and snake heads protruding from his back, one of the offspring of Typhoeus and Echidna, guarding the only gate into hell. Orpheus was one of the few living mortals to get past Cerberus by charming it to sleep with song during his attempt to rescue Eurydice from death. Hercules’ last labor was bringing Cerberus from the underworld and showing him to King Eurystheus.
Chaldean: the Neo-Babylonian Empire or 11th dynasty of Babylon (626-539 BC) beginning with the death of Ashurbanipal. Greek and Roman sources often refer to Mesopotamian astronomers of this era (who were, in fact, astrologer-priests practicing divination) as "Chaldeans."
charge-coupled-device (see CCD above):
chart: a diagram or picture centered on a circle and representing the local sky at a particular time and place that astrologers then interpret. The circle is divided into 12 parts in two independent ways: one called the signs, the other the houses. The planets are interpreted by the house they fall in, the sign they occupy, their angular relationships to each other, and their pattern as a whole.
Chiron: a solar system object with characteristics of both a comet and an asteroid. Discovered in 1977, Chiron is peculiar because it has a coma—a cloud of water, carbon dioxide and other gases sublimed from its nucleus indicating it is a cometary body—yet is also 75 to 100 miles in diameter, more than 50,000 times the size of a normal comet. This size is characteristic of a large asteroid, which it was first thought to be. Its unusually elliptical orbit from just inside Saturn’s orbit to approximately that of Uranus’ is also unstable over millions of years, indicating that, in astronomical terms, it hasn’t been there very long. This is supported by the fact that Chiron’s coma is still active, yet the super-volatiles (its coma) sublimating from its surface would have completely vaporized in a few million years at its current orbit’s position.
Dozens of bodies have since been discovered with similar orbits and properties. In recognition of their dual comet/asteroid nature they have been designated Centaurs, the mythological Greek race that was half man, half horse. They are hypothesized to be escaped Kuiper belt objects because gravitational perturbations from Jupiter and Saturn would occasionally force Kuiper belt objects into Neptune-crossing orbits that could evolve into orbits like the Centaur’s. The similarity in size between Chiron and other Kuiper belt objects also makes the Kuiper belt a likely source. Although asteroids are in this size range too, Chiron’s coma rules out an asteroidal origin.
Chiron, the mythological being, was renowned for his goodness and wisdom. Whereas the other centaurs were rowdy party animals given even to looting and rape, he dedicated himself to the study of medicine, music, astrology and the martial arts. A renowned teacher counting Achilles and Hercules among his many students, he taught the latter how to make the poison-tipped arrows assuring victory in battle. There are many versions of this story, but either he accidentally dropped a poisoned arrow on his own foot, or Hercules accidentally shot him during a fight over some other centaurs’ wine. In either case he became violently ill, but being immortal, was unable to die. He then retreated to his cave to heal himself, and in so doing created the healing arts. Ironically and despite this great achievement, his wound never healed. Living daily in great pain, Chiron finally elected finally to meet Zeus’ condition and be the immortal to die in Prometheus’ place. (To punish Prometheus for stealing fire and giving it to the mortals, Zeus had chained him to a rock where vultures forever ate his liver.) Chiron may be the centaur in the constellation Centaurus.
Chiron, the wounded healer, symbolizes those who find the strength through suffering to help others avoid the pain they themselves have had to undergo. We are often directed and made wise by our own painful childhood experiences. Chiron’s house and sign may show where we have been deeply wounded and hold the key to our own healing. Chiron teaches us that our wounds contain a gift, and that the process of healing oneself is a journey back to greater wholeness and integrity: the gift of who we truly are.
chondrites: stony meteorites originating from asteroids that formed at the beginning of the solar system (about 4.55 billion years ago) and were never large enough to undergo melting or differentiation. These meteorites are relatively unmodified, and represent about 86% of the asteroid falls on earth.
Cicero, Marcus Tullius (Jan. 3,106 BC-Dec. 7, 43 BC): Philosopher, statesman, lawyer, constitutionalist and one of Rome’s greatest orators and writers, his speeches and voluminous correspondence are a primary source on the last days of the Republic. Proscribed as an enemy of the state by the 2nd Triumvirate, he was murdered in 43 BC.
COBE: The COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) satellite was developed by NASA to measure the early universe’s diffuse infrared and microwave radiation just after the Big Bang. Launched in 1989 it carried three instruments: a Far Infrared Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) to compare the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation with an ideal absorber and emitter of radiation (blackbody), a Differential Microwave Radiometer (DMR) to sensitively map the cosmic radiation, and a Diffuse Infrared Background Experiment (DIRBE) to search for the cosmic infrared background radiation. Each COBE instrument yielded a major cosmological discovery:
FIRAS: The cosmic microwave background (CMB) spectrum is that of a nearly perfect blackbody at a temperature of 2.725° ± 0.002° K. This means that the temperature of outer space is less than 3° above absolute zero in every direction almost without variation. This observation matches the predictions of the hot Big Bang theory extraordinarily well, and indicates that nearly all of the radiant energy of the universe was released within the first year after the Big Bang.
DMR: The CMB was found to have intrinsic "anisotropy" (differences dependent upon the direction or place of measurement) for the first time, at a level of a part in 100,000. These tiny variations in the intensity of the CMB over the sky show how matter and energy was distributed when the universe was still very young. Later, through a process still poorly understood, the early structures seen by DMR developed into galaxies, galaxy clusters, and the large-scale structure that we see in the universe today.
DIRBE: Infrared absolute sky brightness maps were obtained to carry out a search for the cosmic infrared background (CIB). The CIB represents a "core sample" of the universe: the cumulative emissions of stars and galaxies dating back to the epoch when these objects first began to form. The COBE CIB measurements constrain models of the cosmological history of star formation and the buildup over time of dust and elements heavier than hydrogen, including those of which living organisms are composed. Dust has played an important role in star formation throughout much of cosmic history.
combust: said of a planet that is within 8½° of the Sun, whence it is thought to be weakened; if within 17° of the Sun ("under the beams" of the Sun) it is still weak, but stronger than if combust; a planet within 17' of the Sun is said to be "cazimi."
comet: a small, fragile, irregularly shaped body composed of ices (water and frozen gases) and dust that was not incorporated into a planet when the solar system was formed. Comets have highly elliptical orbits bringing them very close to the Sun and deep into space, often well beyond the Pluto’s orbit. Only visible near the Sun, comets are thought to reside in the Kuiper belt or the Oort cloud. Most of a comet’s ice and gas is dissipated after a few hundred passes near the Sun. The remaining rocky object appears to be so like an asteroid that as many as half of the near-Earth asteroids may be "dead" comets.
conjunct: said of two planets (or a planet and an angle) that are less than 8° to 12° apart; denotes power or intensity.
conjunction: the state of being conjunct; said of two planets that are within 8–12° of each other.
conservation of angular momentum: angular momentum (the product of a rotating body’s mass times its velocity time its radial displacement from the point or axis of its rotation) is a quantity in physics that is said to be "conserved;" that is, unless a rotating or spinning body is acted upon by an outside force, its angular momentum remains constant. This is most commonly manifest in how the axis of a spinning gyroscope or a planet remains pointed in the same direction in space, even as the Earth rotates around the room in which the gyroscope spins, or the planet orbits its parent star. This principle is what gives us compasses and a north polar star by which to navigate.
constellation: any group of stars in a pattern thought to resemble a deity or object after which it was named. The Sun, Moon and planets all appear to move through only 12 constellations (the zodiac) due to their all lying in the ecliptic plane.
contraparallel: the aspect between two planets that are the same angular distance north or south of the celestial equator (the Earth’s equator projected onto the celestial sphere) but on opposite sides of it (with opposite "declinations"); orb 1°. This aspect acts like the conjunction when two planets have the same declination and are on the same side of the celestial equator (in parallel), and like the opposition when two planets have the same declination and are on opposite sides of the celestial equator (in contraparallel).
cosmic cross: see "grand cross."
Crito: A wealthy friend of Socrates who, in a dialog by Plato (set in prison where Socrates awaits death) tries to convince Socrates to let him save his life. Socrates rejects Crito’s arguments, saying he has entered into a binding social contract with Athens by remaining in the city after reaching maturity and benefitting thereby, and stands in relation to the city as does a child to its parent or a slave to its master. In Plato’s dialog Socrates does not address the justice of Athenian law, but rather that he has implicitly agreed to obey the law by staying in Athens, and that the law would say that he unjustly destroys the city by running away. Crito is pictured on page 26 in David’s Death of Socrates.
cubewano: a Kuiper belt object that orbits beyond Neptune and is not controlled by an orbital resonance with it. Cubewanos have semi-major axes in the 40-50 AU range and, unlike Pluto, do not cross Neptune’s orbit. The odd name derives from the first trans-Neptunian object (TNO) found besides Pluto and Charon, (15760) 1992 QB. Later objects were called "QB1-o’s", or "cubewanos".
Objects identified as cubewanos include (15760) 1992 QB; Makemake, the largest known cubewano and a dwarf planet; (50000) Quaoar and (20000) Varuna, each considered the largest TNO at the time of discovery; 19521 Chaos; 58534 Logos; 53311 Deucalion; 88611 Teharonhiawako; 2002 TX300; 2002 AW197; and 2002 UX25. Haumea was provisionally listed in 2006 as a cubewano by the Minor Planet Center, but is no longer so listed.
culminate: a celestial object is said to culminate when it crosses the local meridian. It is not necessarily at the zenith when it culminates unless its point on the ecliptic also happens to be at the zenith.
cuneiform ("wedge-shaped"): one of the earliest known forms of writing that emerged in Sumer as a series of pictographs around 3000 BC, it had 1000 unique characters in the 3rd millennium BC and about 400 by the 1st. Written on clay tablets (see page 22) with blunt reeds, the wedge-shaped impressions thus created gave rise to the name.
cusp: the beginning or clockwise border of a house or sign, thought to be its strongest region.
cutting planet: the most clockwise planet in a Planetary Pattern group "cutting" the horizon first in its group; often the chart’s most emphasized planet.
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