THERE are definitely no solid bodies between the earth and the dome of the sky. The stars are not masses of matter, and they do not result either from projections like the satellite discs of the earth.
Xenophanes in the 6th century B.C. thought that the humid exhalations of the earth contained latent sparks which, after some sort of condensation, formed the stars, and this explanation appears to be acceptable.
The astronomers of ancient Egypt believed also that the stars were suspended from the dome of the sky by cables, like lamps, and the fact is that on very clear nights, filaments or lines connecting the stars of each constellation can be clearly distinguished; from this we may conclude that there exists above the earth a network of ethereal cords, certain parts of which, particularly at the intersections, condense and retain permanently the radio-active emanations from the earth, thus constituting the stars, in accordance with the theory of Xenophanes. This does not exclude the possibility of any effects resulting from the influence of the dome of the sky or from the presence of the sun during the day.* It is also evident, since all the constellations are seen to move in bulk, that it is the frame or structure, acting as their support, which revolves and carries them along. It could, further, be surmised that this stellar network above the earth is, at intervals, subjected to phases of tension and relaxation, which would have the effect of enlarging or reducing the size of interstellar spaces; and also that the volume of the earth’s radio-active emanations varies according to seasons or other causes, therefore increasing or diminishing the luminosity and the number of the stars.
The stars are, thus, nearer the earth than the satellite discs which move on the vault of the sky, and this fact is in accordance with the theory of both Anaximander and Parmenides. Concerning the supposed occultations of the stars by the moon, it can be said that it is not necessary that the latter should pass in front of a star to render it momentarily invisible, since the same result is achieved if the moon, the brighter light of which causes the disappearance of the star, passes at the back of it.
When we speak of a stellar network or system, it is self evident that there are two such networks, one over each half of the earth, which possess different signs and constellations and meet over the equator. It can be observed that the constellations make a complete circle of that part of the heavens in which they are situated, in one year, which is equivalent to an approximate speed of one degree per day, and it
* Shooting stars are not to be confused with stars in the ordinary sense. They are luminous manifestations which took place on the surface of the dome of the sky as previously explained.
is this advancing motion of the constellations of one degree per day which, for some incomprehensible reason, has been attributed to the sun. In our regions north of the equator this movement takes place from west to east, in a direction opposite to that of the satellite discs of the earth. As to the possible origin of the motion of the stars, this could be determined by a magnet action exercised by the metallic dome of the sky, or perhaps by the passage of the daily and semi-annual cosmic breath streams.
It has been said that there exists a regular retrogression of the constellations of fifty seconds of degree per year, and that this movement was first noticed by Hipparchus in the 2nd century B.C. when comparing his notes with those which another observer, Timochris by name, had made one and a half centuries beforehand. It would be necessary, in the first place, to know whether the calculations these two investigators made at an interval of one hundred and fifty years are correct, and whether they must be accepted, which is by no means certain; but why, anyhow, has this retrogradation which was visible and measurable in the time of Hipparchus, been mysteriously transformed through the ages into an invisible retrogradation? A difference of fifty seconds per year is appreciable over a length of time, as it amounts to one degree in seventy-two years, and it should by now since the 2nd century B.C. equal about thirty degrees. It is, however, impossible nowadays to see this considerable difference in longitude in the position of the constellations. These always return to the exact spot they occupied in the heavens the preceding years at a given instant. That is to say that this retrogradation which Hipparchus thought he had discovered, does not exist, and if it does exist why, considering the importance which is attached to it, does it not figure in any of the official astronomical publications?
There is, therefore, no retrograde motion of the zodiacal signs over each other. Aries, actually presumably occupied by Taurus, is not in Pisces, Pisces in Aquarius, etc. They are still, in the same order, at the place they occupied in the beginning of time. Further, the theory of the precession of the equinoctial point which was derived from this supposed retrogradation of the constellations, as extended to the sun, cannot be substantiated.