The Celestial Sphere Is An Essential Model Of Wholeness.

Albrecht Durer. Draughtsman Making a Perspective Drawing.

Humans were aware of the Earth and celestial sphere long before they thought to apply coordinate systems to them; longitude & latitude lines for the Earth and declination & right ascension lines on the celestial sphere. A coordinate system is just a grid of lines, but these lines are part of a mathematical structure, involving angles and distances. These lines allow us to precisely mark and measure that which the grid covers.

One of my favorite books on the subject of Time is A Sideways Look at Time, by Jay Griffiths. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. She begins her book with a discussion of this drawing by Durer, and what she says is so perfect that I am going to quote the first paragraph:

“An artist, a woman and a gridded screen. The woman is naked and entirely sensual. She reclines away from the artist, smiling a very knowing smile, and––if he looked––the artist would see her left hand is teasingly, playfully, almost touching herself. What of the gridded screen? The artist has set it between himself and the nude, so that he can accurately plot her measurements and proportions. So rigidly preoccupied is the artist with the grid, that on the paper before him is no woman at all, no knowing smile, no thigh and no moist finger, just the straight lines on the page, the frets of a grid. Looking at it once, it occurred to me that this is how modernity sees time; that we are so preoccupied with our gridded, subdivided constructions of numbered measurements that we lose sight of the gorgeous, lifeful thing itself. Modernity knows the strut and the fret. But not the hour.”

Albrecht Durer was born in 1471 and died 1528, a contemporary of Copernicus. His attention was focused on the Earth while Copernicus’ attention was focused on the heavens surrounding the Earth.

475 years ago (1543) Copernicus published On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres. This is considered to be the beginning of the scientific revolution. Copernicus had a radical idea, that not only was the Sun the central body all of the planets orbited, but also that the Earth was revolving (spinning) as it orbited the Sun.  This of course made no sense because if the Earth was moving rapidly around the Sun and spinning, why weren’t we all flung off into space? Copernicus had no answer to this question, and neither did any one else until Isaac Newton came up with the concept of universal gravity, which he describes in detail in his book Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, published 1687.

Before Copernicus, almost everyone believed that Earth was fixed (not moving or spinning) at the center of the universe, and everything else, including the Sun, Moon, stars and planets all revolved around the central Earth (Astrology Mode). The stars were thought to be located on the surface of a great celestial sphere, and the Sun, Moon and planets all moved against this background of the stars. The celestial sphere, covered with stars, seemingly rotated around a celestial axis passing through the center of the Earth, clearly indicating we had a very privileged position.

Of course now we know that the celestial axis passing through the center of Earth coincides with the spin axis of Earth.  Earth is spinning and orbiting the Sun and it maintains a fixed orientation relative to the surrounding stars due to conservation of the massive angular momentum of the spinning Earth.  Sure, all of that makes sense now but it didn’t several hundred years ago.

And somewhere along the way, as we were working out all the details concerning the dynamics of the solar system, the celestial sphere got lost.  Or not lost so much as ignored.  Shunned even.  In spite of its utility as an essential astronomical tool for projecting the celestial coordinate system, the celestial sphere has got a bad reputation.  It’s strongly associated with the almost 500 year old “primitive” belief system that Earth has a special position at the center of everything.

The essence of the celestial sphere is the celestial coordinate system, which is projected on the celestial sphere and fixed relative to the Earth’s spinning axis, the celestial equator and the ecliptic.  If you extend the plane of the Earth’s equator out to infinity, where this plane intersects the celestial sphere is the celestial equator.  The ecliptic is defined as the apparent pathway of the Sun as it apparently orbits the Earth over the course of a seasonal year, from an Earth-centered perspective.

5oo years ago nobody could imagine the Earth in motion, much less the Earth’s projected coordinate system also in motion.  MONAD (in Heliocentric Mode) shows how the celestial sphere’s coordinate system can be thought of in motion.  Earth orbits the Sun once per year and so does the celestial sphere. The celestial sphere, marked with the celestial equator and ecliptic, is an essential component of a Calendar-Clock.  The celestial sphere is the analog calendar, and the Sun, apparently moving along the ecliptic, is the indicator of the analog date.  The 12 signs of the zodiac are the 12 analog months of the seasonal year.

Of course now everybody knows that the Earth is just one of an infinite number of planets orbiting one of an infinite number of stars.  However, there is one thing that Earth is definitely the center of; Earth is the center of planet-centered space and time as we know it, here on planet Earth.

MONAD restores the Earth back to the center of our collective attention and awareness. With MONAD, every time you check the time or date or your schedule, you are reminded of the Earth at the center of the celestial sphere, an essential model of wholeness without which we are all diminished and impoverished.  Earth without a celestial sphere is like a heart torn out of a living body.  Without the celestial sphere as a model of wholeness, it’s hard to see and appreciate the biosphere.  The celestial sphere brings the biosphere into focus.  The celestial sphere is a conceptual container for the biosphere. (Check out: A 12 Step Program to Restore the Biosphere.)

MONAD is an essential tool for a more globally conscious humanity, and will change the way you see yourself in relation to the living Earth. MONAD shows you your unique place in planet centered space and time, but it also reminds us all of our collective purpose here on this living planet: we are the gardeners and caretakers of the planetary biosphere. You have power and purpose when you know your place, and our purpose is to take care of this biosphere.