2060 Chiron

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2060 Chiron (pronounced /ˈkaɪrən/ KYE-rən, or as in Greek: Χείρων) is a planetoid in the outer Solar System. Discovered in 1977 by Charles T. Kowal (precovery images have been found as far back as 1895),[8] it was the first known member of a new class of objects now known as centaurs, with an orbit between Saturn and Uranus.

Although it was initially classified as an asteroid, it was later found to exhibit behaviour typical of a comet. Today it is classified as both, and accordingly it is also known by the cometary designation 95P/Chiron.

Chiron is named after the centaur Chiron in Greek mythology. It should not be confused with the Plutonian moon Charon, discovered in 1978.


Discovery and naming

Chiron was discovered on November 1, 1977 by Charles Kowal from images taken two weeks earlier at Palomar Observatory.[9] It was given the temporary designation of 1977UB.[10] It was found near aphelion[9] and at the time of discovery it was the most distant known minor planet.[10] Chiron was even claimed as the tenth planet by the press.[11] Chiron was later found on several precovery images, going back to 1895, which allowed its orbit to be accurately determined.[9] It had been at perihelion in 1945 but was not discovered then because there were few searches being made at that time, and these were not sensitive to slow-moving objects.[9] The Lowell Observatory's survey for distant planets would not have gone down faint enough in the 1930s and did not cover the right region of the sky in the 1940s.[9]

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