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Related to Vesta: Ceres


, in astronomy

Vesta (vĕsˈtə), in astronomy, the fourth asteroid to be discovered. It was found in 1807 by H. Olbers. It is the third largest asteroid in size, with a diameter of c.326 mi (525 km). Its average distance from the sun is 2.36 astronomical units, and the period of its orbit is 1,325 days. Vesta is the only asteroid that can be seen with the naked eye; it can be seen only when it is in the right position in the sky relative to the earth and sun, namely, when it is at opposition and perihelion simultaneously.

Vesta is geologically different from the other large asteroids. Images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope show a basaltic surface indicative of ancient lava flows originating from a molten interior and two large, overlapping impact basins at the south pole; the largest, Rhea Silvia, about 295 mi (475 km) across and 8 mi (13 km) deep, may go all the way through the crust to expose the mantle. The crater is thought to have resulted from a collision with another celestial body, the impact tearing out large chunks of Vesta that formed a distinctive class of small asteroids, some of which have reached earth as meteorites. (Alternatively, they all may have originated from the breakup of a large parent body early in the history of the solar system.) These hypotheses were made more credible in 1999 when the space probe Deep Space 1 spectroscopically analyzed the small asteroid Braille and found it to be akin in composition to Vesta. In 2011 the space probe Dawn arrived at Vesta and began a year of study; it determined that Vesta has a metal-rich core constituting some 40% of its diameter and 18% of its mass. The data from the space probe also suggest that Vesta is a remnant protoplanet.


, in Roman religion and mythology
Vesta, in Roman religion and mythology, hearth goddess. She was highly honored in every household from early times to the beginning of Christianity. Her public cult maintained a sacred building in which her priestesses, the vestal virgins, tended the communal hearth and fire, which was never allowed to die out. Vesta was identified with the Greek Hestia.
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((4) Vesta) The fourth asteroid to be discovered, found in March 1807 by the German astronomer H.W.M. Olbers. It is the second largest asteroid, similar in volume to (2) Pallas but much more massive. Although it is only 60% as big as (1) Ceres, it has a much higher albedo (0.423) than any other large asteroid and is the only one bright enough to be visible to the naked eye at favorable oppositions, when it can reach magnitude 5.5. Its unusual spectrum suggests that it has a surface composed of basaltic minerals, similar to eucritic achondrite meteorites. It has a mass of about 3 ;× 1020 kg. Ejecta from a large impact crater in Vesta's southern hemisphere are believed to be the ultimate source of HED meteorites. Vesta's path around the Sun is inclined 7.1?% to the ecliptic, and it takes 3.63 years to complete one orbit. Its journey around the Sun carries it from a perihelion of 2.161 AU to an aphelion of 2.572 AU from the Sun. It is an oblate spheroid and its period of axial rotation is only 5.342 hours. NASA's Dawn mission, set for launch in 2006, is scheduled to visit Vesta. See Table 3, backmatter.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The asteroids are small planet-like bodies that orbit the Sun in a belt that lies mostly between Mars and Jupiter. They first dawned on human consciousness in the early 1800s. The first four asteroids to be sighted were given the names of four of the great goddesses of classical antiquity: Ceres (discovered in 1801), Pallas Athene (discovered in 1802), Juno (discovered in 1804), and Vesta (discovered in 1807).

Many more asteroids were soon discovered, so that by the end of the nineteenth century, over a thousand were known. The first asteroid ephemeris (a table listing planetary positions) was made available to astrologers in 1973 by Eleanor Bach, and it covered only the original four. Today astrologers have computer software developed by Mark Pottenger that tracks the placements of over 9,000.

Among the thousands of asteroids known, Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta have a special place. While these are not necessarily the largest asteroids, they were the first to be discovered, and as such they have imprinted themselves on human consciousness in a significant way. They also complete the female pantheon of goddesses, rounding out the system of symbols begun in the usual 10 planets. Of the six great goddesses of Olympus, only Aphrodite (Venus) and Artemis (the Moon) are represented in the conventional astrological symbol system. The other four great goddesses of Greco-Roman mythology—Demeter (Ceres), Athene (Pallas), Hera (Juno), and Hestia (Vesta)—were missing from astrology until they were reinvoked by their discovery in the early 1800s.

After one has been nurtured, gone out into the world, found one’s life partner, and reared children, the time comes to turn inward to reconnect with one’s spirit. In women, the matron becomes the crone; in the culture of India, the householder sets out on his final spiritual journey as a monk-like wanderer; and in Jungian psychology, the active person of affairs embarks on an inward journey to find the self.

Vesta, the fourth and final of the major Olympian goddesses to give her name to an asteroid, relates to this final stage of life. Although renowned for her shining beauty, she is in fact the eldest of the Olympian gods.

Like Pallas Athene, Vesta was known as a virgin. If Pallas Athene was the prereproductive Maiden, Vesta could be thought of as the post-reproductive crone. After their 30-year term of office was up, the Vestal Virgins of Rome were allowed to marry, but they were then often beyond childbearing age. In pre-classical times, the cult of the goddess who later became Vesta included sex as a sacrament. Thus Vesta, insofar as she is sexual, represents a rarefied form of sex that transcends the procreative function and aims to achieve spiritual union rather than physical children.

Vesta was related to Jupiter as his sister. This, too, expresses her non-procreative way of relating, and the fact that she is often thought of as the prototype of the nun, also called “sister.”

Besides suggesting the letter V, which points downward and inward, the astrological glyph for Vesta represents a flame burning on either a hearth or an altar. This signifies Vesta’s function as keeper of the hearth fire and the temple flame, but it also points to the cultivation of the pure spark of spirit within. Fittingly, Vesta is the brightest object in the asteroid belt.

To the ancient Greeks, Vesta was known as Hestia, a name derived from the word for hearth, and it appears she had to do with the domestication of fire for human use in the home and in sacrificial offerings. As the eldest of the Olympian gods, she was the most venerated, and was always given the first sacrifices and libations. There are few stories about her deeds and the few depictions of her show her in repose, indicating an inward, contemplative nature. She refused the marriage offers of Apollo and Poseidon, and under Zeus’s protection vowed to remain a virgin forever.

In Roman mythology, Hestia became Vesta, always veiled, but known as the most beautiful of the deities. In the home she was venerated as the protectress of the hearth and its flame. In public life, she was thought of as the protectress of the state, and her priestesses were the six vestal virgins of Rome. Dedicated to spiritual service, the vestals were responsible for keeping the sacred flame burning, which was thought to ensure the safety of Rome. They enjoyed great prestige, but if they let the flame go out, they were whipped, and if they violated their oath of chastity during their term of office, they were punished by a public whipping and then buried alive.

Vesta became the prototype of the medieval nun. However, several thousand years earlier in the ancient Near East, the predecessors of the vestals tended a temple flame, but also engaged in sacred sexual rites in order to bring healing and fertility to the people and the land.

The original meaning of the word “virgin” meant not “chaste,” but simply “unmarried.” Whereas Ceres and Juno required relationships to complete themselves, Vesta’s priestesses represent an aspect of the feminine nature that is whole and complete in itself.

When the old goddess religions gave way to those of the solar gods, sexuality became divorced from spirituality, such that a woman desiring to follow a spiritual path had to remain chaste. Earlier, however, a priestess, representing the goddess, could enter into a state of spiritual transcendence through sexual union with an partner in a manner that did not call for marriage or commitment. In the later patriarchal culture, ecstatic illumination was experienced as the descent of the spirit of the god into oneself, and the now-chaste Greek priestesses became the brides of the god Apollo in the sense that the Christian nuns became the brides of Christ.

In the human psyche, Vesta represents the part of each person’s nature that feels the urge to experience the sexual energy of Venus in a sacred manner. This may occur in several different ways.

If one is a typical product of one’s culture’s mores, he or she will most likely internalize this sexual energy. One may devote one’s self to following a spiritual, religious, or meditational path, even following in priestly or monastic footsteps. Or, in one’s lifelong therapeutic work, one may experience this union with the self as the process of psychological integration. In one way or another, this results in turn inward to attain clarity and energy. The vision that arises when one reaches the whole and self-contained core of one’s being then enables one to follow a vocation in which one can be of service in the world.

Vesta the virgin speaks of the importance of the relationship each person has with him or herself. This may lead to a single lifestyle. If a person is married, he or she may not be comfortable with the total surrender asked for in the merging with another.

Vesta protects not only the inner flame of spirituality and sexual energy, but also other precious things that ensure the continuation of human life. As “keeper of the flame,” she preserved the state and the institutions of society. She also guarded the home and hearth, including kitchens and the preparation and purity of food. Today she could be seen as a librarian, museum curator, or other sort of worker who preserves the sparks of human culture. She could also express herself in an occupation that deals with housing or food.

Through Vesta, one integrates and regenerates on inner levels in order to focus and dedicate one’s self to work in the outer world. In the human psyche, Vesta represents the process of spiritual focus that can lead to personal integration. In a broader sense, she signifies the ability to focus on and dedicate one’s self to a particular area of life. When the focus becomes too narrow, it is possible to sometimes feel limited and hemmed in. When the capacity to focus is obstructed, one can feel scattered. This, too, may cause one to experience limitation in the area of life represented by Vesta’s sign or house position.

In summary, Vesta is the archetype of the sister and the temple priestess, whose virginity signifies her wholeness and completeness within herself. Her sign, house, and aspect placements in on’s birth chart show how one can use the basic sexual energy of Venus to deepen one’s relationship to one’s self.

—Demetra George


Dobyns, Zipporah. Expanding Astrology’s Universe. San Diego: Astro Computing Services, 1983.
Donath, Emma Belle. Asteroids in the Birth Chart. Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers, 1979.
George, Demetra, with Douglas Bloch. Asteroid Goddesses: The Mythology, Psychology and Astrology of the Reemerging Feminine. 2d ed. San Diego: Astro Computing Services, 1990.
George, Demetra. Astrology for Yourself: A Workbook for Personal Transformation. Berkeley, CA: Wingbow Press, 1987.
Lehman, J. Lee. The Ultimate Asteroid Book. West Chester, PA: Whitford Press, 1988.
The Astrology Book, Second Edition © 2003 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a steamship of the Black Sea fleet. Built by the Russian Steamship Transport and Trade Company in 1858. It had a displacement of 1,800 tons and a speed of 12 knots. Its armaments included five 150-mm and two 107-mm guns and 11 rapid-fire cannon.

During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 the Vesta, while cruising on July 11, 1877 (under the command of Lieutenant Commander N. M. Baranov), in the vicinity of Konstant, met the Turkish battleship Fethi Buiend and was forced to enter into combat. The skillful maneuvering of the Vesta deprived the enemy of the possibility of successfully using its superior artillery. The Vesta inflicted heavy damage on the Turkish battleship and forced it to break off the battle and retreat. During the battle, new fire-control devices were successfully employed.



(asteroid no. 4), an asteroid discovered in 1807 by the German astronomer H. Olbers. Its average distance from the sun is 2.36 astronomical units, its brightness in its mean opposition is 6.5 stellar magnitudes, and its diameter is 385 km. Vesta is the only asteroid that is visible to the naked eye under favorable conditions.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The third-largest asteroid with a diameter of about 300 miles (500 kilometers), mean distance from the sun of 2.362 astronomical units, and a unique surface composition resembling basaltic, achondritic meteorites.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


virgin goddess of hearth; custodian of sacred fire. [Rom. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 1127]
See: Fire
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Pictorial vesta cases in general are popular and can achieve high prices, particularly if they are by a well-known maker like Sampson Mordan.
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"Dawn's data allow us to decipher how Vesta records fundamental processes that have also affected Earth and other solar system bodies," said Carol Raymond, Dawn deputy principal investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Perhaps the most important finding is Dawn's discovery of not one but two enormous impact basins near Vesta's south pole.
Chris Russell, principal investigator of NASA's Dawn mission, said he now considers Vesta the smallest terrestrial planet in the solar system.