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The Discovery of Coordinate Systems

 

Each of these larger orderings has a plane of reference toward which its members concentrate and that plane is inclined to our zodiac by a particular angle or attitude. While all of these systems are worth investigating, the two which have shown themselves to be of greatest value in my research have been the galactic plane and the supergalactic plane. We will describe how some of these large systems are discovered and defined.

 

The Discovery of Coordinate Systems

 

Every system of coordinates (such as the zodiac) has a center. The most common centers in use are the Earth & the Sun, although for certain purposes it is useful to use more distant centers such as the galactic center or supergalactic center. Centers are easy to understand. Every star in the heavens is itself a center (Figure 1-A) and is connected to every other star by at least one beam of light (Figure 1-B). As we have presented earlier, a center (considered by itself) offers no way to measure or point out the direction of objects in space, all centers being equal. A coordinate system must not only have a center, it must also have some kind of equatorial reference plane that divides the heavens in two parts, so that ideas of "above" or "below" are possible. This plane should have some reason to placed where it is rather than just anywhere. We must also have some point along this reference plane from which to measure arc from 0° to 360°.

The vast cosmic reference planes like the galaxy were discovered in a gradual fashion. Men who studied the stars noticed that in some sections of the sky, there were many more stars than in other sections (Figure 1-C). In time it became clear that the area in which many more stars were concentrated extended on either side of the Earth, forming a vast belt or ring around the heavens in all directions. It was seen that this concentration of material was not a chance clustering, but a vast superstructure containing the majority of all the material, light, etc. in the near universe of our solar system. When a "best fit" circle was imagined and drawn through the denser parts of this belt (Figure 1-E), it divided the heavens into material located above and below this circle or equatorial plane, like a vast sheet of glass. A north and south pole were also projected (Figure 1-E) that "fit" the equator. The equatorial plane and the poles defined, there remains but one other step to perform: pick a point in space along this plane from which to measure longitude.

This is the most arbitrary step in the process of defining a new coordinate system, since all directions are equal along a circle. Astronomers attempt to choose the most significant and least arbitrary point along the equatorial plane of a system to be the zero longitude point. For instance, in galactic coordinates, the direction of the galactic center is now used as the zero point, and so forth. All of the above mentioned cosmic super-system were discovered in this manner.

 

© Copyright © 1997 Michael Erlewine

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