THEOSOPHY, Vol. 38, No. 11, September, 1950
(Pages 492-494; Size: 10K)
(Number 8 of an 11-part series)



A NEW branch of astronomy has come into existence since World War II. It has been named radio astronomy. The invention of radar has been accompanied by many improvements in the sensitivity and directivity of radio transmitters and receivers. Sir Harold Spencer Jones (British Astronomer Royal) reviews these developments in a London Times "Review of Science" (April). He mentions that in February, 1942--

during the passage of a particularly large sunspot across the Sun's disk, severe interference with army radar equipment, operating on wave-lengths of from four to six metres, was caused by the very high level of noise in the receivers. The bearing of the source of interference was in all cases within a few degrees of the Sun, pointing to electromagnetic radiation of high intensity which was probably associated with the large sunspot. The high sunspot activity in succeeding years has provided favourable opportunities for the study of this radiation. It has been found that there is a close correlation between the mean level of solar radio noise and the total sunspot area.
This "electromagnetic radiation of high intensity" is referred to in an occult commentary quoted in The Secret Doctrine:
The Sun is the heart of the Solar World (System) and its brain is hidden behind the (visible) Sun. From thence, sensation is radiated into every nerve-centre of the great body, and the waves of the life-essence flow into each artery and vein.... The planets are its limbs and pulses...(I, 541).
H. P. Blavatsky also remarks that sunspots are "due to the contraction of the Solar HEART," and that, if the human heart could be made luminous "and the living and throbbing organ be made visible ... then every one would see the Sun-spot phenomenon repeated every second -- due to its contraction and the rushing of the blood" (S.D. I, 541-2).

Among the problems being clarified by radio astronomy is the detection of electromagnetic radiation from distant sources in the Galaxy, and in the field of meteoric observation. ("The dense trail of electrons left by the flight of a meteor through the earth's atmosphere gives a strong but short-lived radar reflection," writes the Astronomer Royal.) But, notwithstanding the special interest in these newer methods, the older branches of astronomy are also yielding items of interest:

Investigations at Greenwich have recently established conclusively that there is an annual variation in the length of the day. Relative to uniform time, the Earth gets slow in the spring and fast in the autumn by between 60 and 70 milliseconds. The extreme variation in the length of the day in the course of a year is about two and a half milliseconds. It is known that over a period of years there are larger variations; the length of the day may change by several milliseconds. Whether such changes in the Earth's rotation occur rather suddenly or whether they are the integrated effect of numerous erratic small changes is not known.
Further, the Earth's poles are admitted to have their own relativity. Mr. Judge has summed up the esoteric doctrine on this point: "At the intersection of the great cycles dynamic effects follow and alter the surface of the planet by reason of the shifting of the poles of the globe or other convulsion" (The Ocean of Theosophy). Similarly, although we speak of the Earth having its two fixed points in the North and South poles, H. P. Blavatsky (with Einsteinian anticipation!) points out that "both East and West are variable relatively to our own position on the Earth's surface, and in consequence of its rotation from West to East" (S.D. I, 605). And now Sir Harold Spencer Jones emphasizes that variations in the rate of the Earth's rotation have become of practical importance, and that, in this connection, an important factor is the irregular manner in which the Earth's poles "wander around a mean position, within a radius of about 30 ft."

Obviously, the astronomical unit of time, the mean solar second, needs to be thought of as invariable if it is to possess the fundamental importance it is expected to have in all the physical sciences. For this reason, and because time is determined by observation of stars across the meridian, astronomy pays due regard to the displacement of the meridian caused by a movement of the pole at right angles to it. We here enter upon the deeper question of time determination generally. In occult teaching, time "does not exist where no consciousness exists in which the illusion can be produced" (S.D. I, 37). In other words, the unit of time is constant only under the same conditions of consciousness, and, as our ideas on duration and time "are all derived from our sensations according to the laws of Association" (S.D. I, 43-44), it seems evident that astronomers will require something more than a perfect clock if they are to compute the motions of the celestial bodies on any assumption of invariability. Metaphysics will have to be added to physical astronomy if the science is to possess a living soul.

This being granted, astronomy will be seen to be more than a secular science, just as the Zodiac is a mystery to all but the initiated. Fundamental to its comprehension is the septenary nature of man and the universe. "The seven principles are allied to seven states of matter, and to seven forms of force. These principles are harmoniously arranged between two poles, which define the limits of human consciousness" (T. Subba Row, quoted in S.D. II, 636). If the interstellar dust clouds obscuring the distant regions towards the galactic centre should prove to be truly transparent to radio waves, the ionized hydrogen which is suspected to originate "galactic radio noise" may be found to possess more significance than its purely physical attributes. And (to enter a wider field) by relating what is known of astronomical cycles to the rise and fall of peoples and nations, future astronomers may understand the importance of this prophecy of H. P. Blavatsky:

Every sidereal year the tropics recede from the pole four degrees in each revolution from the equinoctial points, as the equator rounds through the Zodiacal constellations. Now, as every astronomer knows, at present the tropic is only twenty-three degrees and a fraction less than half a degree from the equator. Hence it has still 21/2 degrees to run before the end of the Sidereal year; which gives humanity in general, and our civilized races in particular, a reprieve of about 16,000 years (S.D. II, 331).

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(1) NOTE.--H. P. Blavatsky took pains to extend the "theosophical view" as far into the literature, the culture, the science, and the scholarship of the time as impartial investigations in the various fields would permit. Students of Theosophy are therefore on the lookout for other corroborative testimony on the philosophy, as new avenues of thought open up among modern thinkers. "Extensions of Evidence" aims to scan common grounds whereon the theosophist may meet the mind of the race. The series began in the January, 1950, issue. --Editors THEOSOPHY.
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