Earth’s Meteoric Veil

David Pratt

September 2003

Part 2 of 2


    5. Dust distribution
    6. Dust and earth’s motion
    7. Dawn dust bath?

  1. Solar galactic motion (Sep 2021)
    2. Theosophical quotations

5. Dust distribution

KH writes: ‘Science having luckily discovered, that, as our earth with all the other planets is carried along through space, it receives a greater proportion of [meteoric dust] on its northern than on its southern hemisphere, knows that to this are due the preponderating number of the continents in the former hemisphere, and the greater abundance of snow and moisture.’1

As shown in section 2, KH is here presenting the views of A.C. Ranyard. Ranyard argues that ‘many of the larger meteoric masses enter the Earth’s atmosphere with velocities which indicate that they are moving in hyperbolic orbits, and consequently do not belong to the solar system. ... The Earth and planets, as they are carried along with the Sun in his motion through space, would thus receive a larger proportion of meteoric matter on their northern than on their southern hemispheres ...’

It is important to note that Ranyard is referring here solely to meteoroids originating outside the solar system. At present, only about 1 to 2% of meteoroids are thought to come from outside the solar system.2 As will be explained later, if these meteoroids approach earth either from the direction in which the solar system is moving with respect to local stars, or from the direction of the solar system’s motion around the galactic centre – and the evidence is consistent with both possibilities – then the earth’s northern hemisphere will indeed receive a greater dust influx from these interstellar sources than the southern hemisphere.

Modern scientists have made many surveys of the amount of dust in the atmosphere using aircraft-borne dust collectors, but have not concluded that significantly more meteoric dust falls on the northern hemisphere. Nor is this to be expected if most dust impacting the earth comes from the interplanetary dust cloud; this dust cloud (including any interstellar dust grains that have become part of it) shares the motion of the solar system through space, in contrast to interstellar dust grains that arrive at earth at high velocity from a particular direction of interstellar space. There are however variations in seasonal and latitudinal dust deposition patterns depending on the type of dust under consideration. For instance, meteoric debris incorporated into stratospheric aerosols will mostly be deposited at middle latitudes due to stratospheric air motion. This contrasts with dust particles larger than 1 µm, which settle by gravitation.3

Every year, about 4500 meteorite falls each drop at least 1 kg of extraterrestrial material on earth. Falls are more common in the afternoon than in the morning hours, and are about 10% above average near the spring equinox and a similar amount below average at the autumnal equinox. The influx rate also varies somewhat with latitude: at the equator, the yearly average meteorite rate exceeds the normal value for the entire earth by 5% while the geographic poles experience 90% of the mean rate.4

The Hoba Meteorite (Namibia) – the largest known meteorite in the world – crashed to earth about 80,000 years ago. It measures 2.95 by 2.84 metres, weighs about 60 tons, and consists of 82.4% iron, 16.4% nickel, and 0.76% cobalt, as well as various trace elements.5

KH refers to the earth’s ‘magnetic attraction’ of ‘meteoric strongly magnetic matter’. Most cosmic dust particles in the 0.1 to 1-mm range are known to be magnetic. Scientists also recognize that even smaller dust particles in the vicinity of the earth collect electrostatic charges and respond to the electric and magnetic fields in the magnetosphere, so that their motion can be influenced by electromagnetic forces.6 Could the earth’s magnetic field affect the hemispheric distribution of meteoric dust?

Antal Juhász, a specialist in this field, says he does not see how these factors could cause more dust to be channelled towards the northern hemisphere.7 He points out that only the trajectories of submicron-sized dust particles are modified by electromagnetic forces. Computer simulations suggest that incoming interplanetary particles of this size concentrate near the north and south magnetic poles, but that there is no significant asymmetry between the two hemispheres.8

Interstellar dust is entering the solar system from various directions. One of them is the direction in which the solar system is orbiting the galactic centre. A second source of dust lies approximately in the direction of the solar apex, i.e. the direction in which the solar system is moving relative to local stars (see appendix 1). This dust is thought to be ejected from around nearby A-type stars by radiation pressure and collisions.9 Since both these sources lie in the northern sky, more of the associated dust will impact the earth’s northern hemisphere than the southern hemisphere (see next section). However, interstellar dust is thought to account for only a few per cent of the total cosmic dust influx to earth at present.

Ranyard suggested that the alleged greater influx of dust over the northern hemisphere might explain the greater land area there. Although KH mentions this idea in his letter, he does not explicitly endorse it, and it is not repeated anywhere else in theosophical literature. Instead, vertical crustal movements are identified as the main cause of the changing distribution of land and sea.10 Clearly, mountain-building and the elevation and submergence of landmasses are not the result of the uneven deposition of dust on the earth’s land surface or ocean floor. The presence of marine strata thousands of metres above sea level (e.g. near the summit of Mount Everest) and the great thicknesses of shallow-water sediment in some former ocean basins on the present continents indicate that vertical crustal movements of at least 9 km above sea level and 10-15 km below sea level have taken place – whereas all the dust that has ever fallen on earth is estimated to be equivalent to a layer about 5 cm thick! Even multiplying this figure by a factor of a thousand would barely begin to build a new landmass.


  1. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, 2nd ed., TUP, 1975, 162 / chron. ed., TPH, 1993, 318-9.
  2. E. Grün, B. Gustafson, I. Mann, M. Baghul, G.E. Morfill, P. Staubach, A. Taylor and H.A. Zook, ‘Interstellar dust in the heliosphere’, Astron. Astrophysics, v. 286, 1994, 915-24; R.L. Hawkes and S.C. Woodworth, ‘Do some meteorites come from interstellar space?’, Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, v. 91, 1997, 68-73; R. Hawkes, T. Close and S. Woodworth, in: W.J. Baggaley and V. Porubcan (eds.), Meteoroids 1998, Astron. Inst., Slovak Acad. Sci., Bratislava, 1999, 257-64.
  3. B. Peucker-Ehrenbrink and B. Schmitz (eds.), Accretion of Extraterrestrial Matter Throughout Earth’s History, New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2001, 138-40.
  4. Ibid., 313-4.
  6. A. Juhász and M. Horányi, ‘Magnetospheric screening of cosmic dust’, Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 104, 1999, 12,577-83; M. Horányi, ‘Charged dust dynamics in the solar system’, Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys., v. 34, 1996, 383-418.
  7. Antal Juhász (KFKI Research Institute for Particle and Nuclear Physics, Budapest, Hungary), personal communication, 13 March 2003.
  8. M.N. Vahia, P. Ayyub and J.S. Yadav, ‘Distinguishing sub-micrometer man-made debris from interplanetary dust using near-Earth satellites’, Astron. Astrophys., v. 301, 1995, 914-8.
  9. A.D. Taylor, W.J. Baggaley and D.I. Steel, ‘Discovery of interstellar dust entering the earth’s atmosphere’, Nature, v. 380, 1996, 323-5.
  10. See Sunken continents versus continental drift,

6. Dust and earth’s motion

On the assumption that the northern hemisphere does in fact receive more meteoric dust than the southern hemisphere, several ‘theosophical’ attempts have been made to explain this in terms of the earth’s motion.

One writer suggested that the northern hemisphere receives more dust because the earth is tilted on its axis by about 23.5°, with the northern hemisphere leaning ‘forward’, as it were.1 This ‘explanation’ overlooks an elementary fact. As the earth revolves around the sun, the direction in which its axis points remains more or less fixed during each orbit; this is the main cause of the four seasons. At the time of the summer solstice in northern latitudes, for instance, the earth’s northern hemisphere is leaning directly towards the sun and the southern hemisphere away from the sun. But half a year later, at the opposite end of its orbit – the time of the winter solstice – it is the southern hemisphere that is leaning towards the sun, and the northern hemisphere away from the sun.

The position of the north celestial pole (the projection of the earth’s north geographic pole into space) moves only fractionally (by about 1/72°) in the course of each orbit, giving rise to the precession of the equinoxes, a cycle taking about 25,920 years (= 360 ÷ 1/72). The present polestar, Polaris (Alpha Ursae Minoris), currently lies about seven tenths of a degree from the north celestial pole.

As the earth orbits the sun, that half of its surface which faces the direction of motion forms the ‘leading hemisphere’. If the earth stood upright on its axis, the boundary of the leading hemisphere at any given moment would always pass through the north and south poles, and in the course of each daily rotation, all areas of the earth would spend the same amount of time as part of the leading hemisphere. Because the earth’s axis is inclined, this is not the case during a single day, but it is the case over the course of a year. As regards interplanetary dust (which moves along with the rest of the solar system), both hemispheres should therefore be exposed to equal influxes of dust.

The earth’s revolution around the sun is a relative motion. Just as the earth is orbiting the sun (at 30 km/s) while the moon is orbiting the earth (at about 1 km/s), so the sun is orbiting the centre of the galaxy (at about 220 km/s), while the earth is orbiting the sun. This means, for example, that when orbiting the sun, the earth never returns to the same point in space. It revolves around the sun without ever reversing its direction of motion, by speeding ahead of the sun and then falling behind, as the sun proceeds on its galactic journey. The earth’s maximum and minimum speeds are 30 km/s faster and slower than the sun’s own velocity.

Our galaxy is lens-shaped with the sun lying about halfway between the centre and the rim of the lens and near the centre of the plane of the lens (the plane of the galactic equator). From this vantage point, our galaxy appears as a luminous band across the night sky, forming part of a complete circle around the earth. This band of light – the Milky Way – consists of a myriad of stars and clouds of gas and dust. The celestial equator (the projection of the terrestrial equator into the sky) is currently tilted at 62.9° to the galactic equator.

The Milky Way and the William Herschel Telescope, La Palma.2

One writer has claimed that this tilt between the earth’s equator and the galactic disc explains why the earth’s northern hemisphere supposedly receives more dust. This theory is based on the diagram below, which shows the earth’s northern hemisphere tilted forward in the direction of solar galactic movement, so that the earth’s leading hemisphere on its galactic orbit includes most of the northern hemisphere and a small portion of the southern hemisphere.3 However, this theory overlooks a number of crucial factors.

The first point to note is that the tilt between the earth’s equator and the galactic plane has no bearing whatsoever on the amount of interplanetary dust that the earth sweeps up during its orbit of the sun. It only affects the influx of interstellar dust. However, as already mentioned, the contribution of interstellar grains to the total meteoric flux at earth’s distance from the heliopause (the boundary of the solar system, or heliosphere) is currently very small. At times when the solar system passes through dense interstellar dust clouds, the input of interstellar dust into the solar system might increase many-fold. Even then it would be necessary to take account of how the motion of interstellar dust entering the heliosphere is affected by the solar wind and gravitational and electromagnetic forces before reaching earth. And even if this resulted in a temporary asymmetric distribution of interstellar dust accreting to the earth, it would not always be the northern hemisphere that would receive most – for the reasons explained below.

The above diagram is not entirely accurate (see appendix 1). However, assuming for the sake of argument that the earth is tilted exactly as shown, and ignoring for a moment any changes in the earth’s axial tilt, we might ask ourselves in what direction the earth’s north pole will be pointing when the earth has advanced 180° on its galactic orbit. There is no reason to assume that the north pole will still be pointing in the direction of solar motion. During the earth’s orbit of the sun, the earth’s axis remains pointing in essentially the same direction during each orbit. If the solar system behaves similarly during its orbit of the galaxy, it will be the earth’s south pole that will be tilted towards the direction of motion half a galactic orbit later. And all parts of the earth will therefore receive the same exposure to interstellar dust during each galactic orbit, estimated at 246 million years.

There are also factors operating on much shorter timescales than this which affect the distribution of incoming interstellar dust: namely, changes in both the angle of inclination of the earth’s axis and the direction in which it points. In the course of a precessional cycle of some 25,920 years, the earth gyrates about its centre-point, with the result that its poles trace approximate circles around the ecliptic poles (the two points in space perpendicular to the earth’s orbit around the sun). The north ecliptic pole is 60.2° from the north galactic pole, and – if the earth’s angle of tilt did not vary – the angle between the celestial equator and the galactic equator would oscillate between about 37° and 84° in the course of a precessional cycle.

However, the angle of inclination of the earth’s axis does change. According to modern science it oscillates between about 21.6° and 24.6° over a 41,000 year period. According to theosophy, on the other hand, the axis is subject to a continuous shift of 4° per precessional cycle.4 This means that over a period of 2.3 million years the axis undergoes a 360° inversion. If this cycle of inversion constantly repeats itself, then any asymmetry in the interstellar dust flux would tend to be eliminated in the course of each such cycle.


  1. Protogonos, no. 22, Sept. 1995, 10.
  2. (photo courtesy of the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, La Palma).
  3. Sunrise, Feb./Mar. 2002, 76-7.
  4. Poleshifts: theosophy and science contrasted,

7. Dawn dust bath?

It has been suggested that a factor which helps to explain the magical quality and increased vitality associated with the dawn is that at daybreak we receive a shower of ‘immaculate cosmic matter not yet stained with the activity of all living things on earth’, whereas by evening it has become ‘agitated and polluted’.1

The above diagram is supposed to illustrate this theory, but it actually shows that it is wrong. For it is the entire leading hemisphere of the earth – i.e. that half of the earth experiencing times from midnight to midday – that sweeps up space dust during its orbit of the sun, and not just the thin band experiencing sunrise. Moreover, the atmosphere is at all times pervaded with dust and incoming dust must first pass through the entire atmosphere before it can reach the earth’s surface – which takes from several hours to several years.2 In other words, dust is constantly entering the earth’s atmosphere above half the earth’s surface, and is constantly reaching the surface of the entire earth after spending a certain amount of time in the atmosphere.

An irregularly shaped chondritic interplanetary dust particle is rigidly attached to a smooth aluminum-oxide sphere created by a solid-fuel rocket. Each particle measures 6 microns in diameter. This image suggests that IDPs can become contaminated by man-made material found in the earth’s stratosphere.3

Whether all the dust entering the atmosphere is necessarily ‘immaculate’ is open to question, but it certainly becomes contaminated with terrestrial matter (e.g. sulfates) as it passes through the atmosphere. However, it is hard to see how a shower of even ‘immaculate’ dust could noticeably enhance our vitality. The average amount of cosmic dust falling on each square metre of the earth every day is only about two ten-millionths of a gram! But even if we were to tip a whole bucketful of fresh meteoric dust over our heads every morning, it is unlikely that we would feel purified and energized. Dust cannot be directly converted by the body into usable energy – unlike the subtler energies reaching the earth from the sun.

The magic and vitality of sunrise probably have more to do with the fresh inflow of ethereal solar radiation that begins at dawn, following the renewal and partial purification that take place during the night when the world is largely at rest. To some extent, there is an analogy between sunrise and the transition from winter to spring.


  1. Sunrise, Feb./Mar. 2002, 75-6.
  2. Mike Zolensky (NASA), personal communication, 25 Feb. 2002; R.A. Muller and G.J. MacDonald, ‘Spectrum of 100-kyr glacial cycle: orbital inclination, not eccentricity’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, v. 94, 1997, 8329-34; B. Peucker-Ehrenbrink and B. Schmitz (eds.), Accretion of Extraterrestrial Matter Throughout Earth’s History, New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2001, 70, 155.

Appendix 1. Solar galactic motion

To describe the position and motion of celestial bodies, astronomers picture the earth as being at the centre of an enormous sphere – the celestial sphere – with each star, galaxy, etc. being represented by a point of light on the sphere’s inner surface. Each celestial object can then be assigned two coordinates (analogous to latitude and longitude on earth). Several coordinate systems are used for this purpose. Each coordinate system has a reference plane (analogous to the earth’s equator), a zero-point from which longitude is measured (analogous to the zero-point on the earth’s equator defined by the Greenwich meridian), and of course north and south poles, at +90° and -90° latitude respectively.

Three coordinate systems are relevant to the present discussion: the celestial or equatorial system, the ecliptic system, and the galactic system. The reference plane for these three systems is, respectively, the plane of the celestial equator (the projection of the earth’s equator), the plane of the ecliptic (i.e. of the earth’s orbit around the sun), and the plane of the galactic equator (or galactic disc). In the equatorial system, the terms right ascension (RA) and declination are used instead of longitude and latitude. RA is measured eastward along the celestial equator from the vernal equinoctial point (0° Aries, one of the two points where the ecliptic intersects the celestial equator; it is often expressed in hours and minutes rather than degrees (1h = 15°). The vernal equinox is also the zero-point for ecliptic longitude, which is measured eastward along the ecliptic. The galactic centre lies in the direction of Sagittarius near the border with Scorpio, and galactic longitude is measured eastward along the galactic equator from this point (17h 45.6m RA, -28.94° decl. (J2000.0)).

The ecliptic plane is currently tilted by 23.4° in relation to the earth’s equator; in other words, the angular separation between the north or south celestial pole (the two points on the celestial sphere directly above the earth’s geographic poles) and the north or south ecliptic pole (the two points on the celestial sphere due north or south of the ecliptic plane) is 23.4°. The north ecliptic pole lies in the constellation Draco, and has the equatorial coordinates 18h (270°) RA, +66.6° decl. The north galactic pole (NGP) lies in the constellation Coma Berenices, and has the equatorial coordinates 12h 51.4m RA, +27.13° decl. (J2000.0). The earth’s equator/celestial equator is tilted at 62.9° to the galactic plane; in other words, the angular separation between the north or south galactic pole and the north or south celestial pole is 62.9°. The ecliptic is tilted at 60.2° to the galactic plane; in other words, the angular separation between the north or south galactic pole and the north or south ecliptic pole is 60.2°. The relationship between these three coordinate systems can readily be seen on a desktop celestial globe.


The celestial sphere, showing different coordinate systems. The right-hand diagram shows the north and south celestial and galactic poles, and the zero-point of galactic longitude (GC). ♈ = 0° Aries.

We can now reconsider the diagram presented in section 6. As already said, the angle between the celestial and galactic equator is currently 62.9°.

This diagram is inaccurate in several respects. First, it appears to show the earth orbiting the sun in the plane of the earth’s equator instead of the plane of the ecliptic. Second, the diagram shows the plane of the earth’s equator (and therefore the celestial equator) tilted in such a way that the vertical plane passing through the earth’s axis, and lying perpendicular to the galactic plane, exactly coincides with the direction of the solar system’s galactic motion – this is in fact the most favourable situation for the theory being proposed. However, the plane of the earth’s equator could in principle be swivelled about its ‘centre-point’ (the sun, in the above diagram) through a full 360° while retaining the same 62.9° angle with the galactic equator. In reality, the plane passing through the earth’s axis, and lying perpendicular to the galactic plane, currently intersects the direction of solar galactic movement at an angle of 33°, with the earth’s north pole pointing to the ‘left’ if we are facing the direction in which the solar system is travelling. As indicated in section 6, this angle could vary from 0° to 360° in the course of a galactic orbit.

The current 33° angle can be determined as follows: By definition, the solar system is moving at right angles to the galactic centre, i.e. towards 90° gal. long., and 0° gal. lat.; it is therefore moving towards 21.2h RA, 48.3° decl., an apex close to Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus. The galactic longitude of the north celestial pole is 123°, and its galactic latitude is +27.1° (= 90° - 62.9°). Only if the solar system was moving towards 123° gal. long., 0° gal. lat. would the earth’s axis be exactly aligned with the direction of solar motion. But this point lies 33° eastward along the galactic equator from the actual longitude of solar galactic movement (90°).

The diagram below (taken from a book by Paul LaViolette) shows the ecliptic plane (rather than the earth’s equatorial plane) tilted forwards in the direction of solar galactic motion.1 LaViolette gives the angle between the ecliptic plane and the galactic plane as 62°, whereas it is actually 60.2°. However, this diagram is more accurate than the one given above in so far as the plane passing through the axis joining the ecliptic poles, and lying perpendicular to the galactic plane, intersects the direction of solar motion at an angle of only about 6.5° (i.e. the galactic longitude of the north ecliptic pole is about 96.5°), compared with 33° in the case of the celestial poles.

The solar system’s orientation relative to the galactic centre. The symbols indicate the directions of Taurus (♉), Leo (♌), Scorpius (♏), and Aquarius (♒).

The fact that the 62.9° tilt between the earth’s equator and the galactic plane is only slightly different from the 60.2° tilt between the ecliptic and the galactic plane indicates that the 23.4° tilt between the ecliptic and the earth’s equator is transverse to the direction of solar galactic motion; in other words, if we are looking in the direction of solar motion, the ecliptic will be tilted mainly from left to right, rather than from front to back.

Another view of the sun’s path around the Milky Way (

The sun is said to lie around 27,700 light years from the centre of the Milky Way and 16-98 light years above the central plane of the galactic disc. The solar system orbits the centre of the galaxy at a speed of about 240 km/s, taking about 220 million years to make a complete orbit. As already mentioned, the current direction of solar galactic movement is towards the constellation Cygnus. As it orbits the galactic centre, in a clockwise direction as viewed from ‘galactic north’, the solar system also bobs up and down in the galactic plane in a harmonic fashion, with a period of 52 to 74 million years and an amplitude of about 160 to 300 light years out of the galactic plane. The solar system is believed to have passed through the galactic plane about 2 to 3 million years ago, moving ‘northward’. Relative to the nearest stars, the solar system is currently moving at 17-22 km/s toward a point in the constellation Hercules near the border with Lyra, at approximately 18h RA, +30° decl.2

According to theosophy, at the same time as the solar system is revolving around the galactic centre, it is also orbiting another sun (a central sun or raja sun), which is not physically visible. Modern astronomers have not been making observations long enough to realize that our sun is orbiting another point in space at the same time as both are orbiting the galactic centre, but it’s interesting to note that the solar apex is located in the constellation Hercules near the border with Lyra, and the raja sun is said to be located under the thigh of Hercules.*3 Since the solar apex is located to the east of the central sun, the sun must be orbiting it in a clockwise (retrograde) direction, just as it does the galactic centre.4

*H.P. Blavatsky mentioned that an astronomer by the name of Mädler believed that the sun orbited Alcyone in the Pleiades in a period of 180 million years, but she did not explicitly endorse this theory. Many later writers have adopted the same standpoint as Mädler, but G. de Purucker denies that Alcyone is the raja sun.5

In addition to the intragalactic motions already mentioned, the solar system also participates in the movement of the galaxy as a whole and the Local Group of galaxies. A celestial body, like any other object, can of course only be moving in one overall direction at any given time. An object’s absolute motion is the sum of its various relative motions. The solar system’s ‘absolute motion’ includes its orbital velocity around the galactic centre, our galaxy’s motion with respect to the Local Group, and the latter’s motion with respect to its neighbours). What is the current direction of this motion?

The cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation displays a dipole anisotropy, which is officially interpreted as a Doppler shift produced by the solar system’s motion through it; the CMB is slightly ‘bluer’ (hotter) in the direction of motion, and slightly ‘redder’ (cooler) in the opposite direction. These findings have been interpreted to mean that the earth and solar system are moving at about 370 km/s towards 11.2h RA, -6.9° decl., an apex located in the Crater constellation, near the boundary with Leo.6 An alternative explanation is that there is a higher density of protons in the alleged direction of motion. Some support for the CMB-based direction of absolute motion is provided by a few controversial ‘ether drift’ experiments.7

The solar system orbits the galactic centre in a direction that is almost opposite to the direction of the maximum observed intensity of the CMB, so if the CMB-derived velocity is correct it would imply that the Local Group and other nearby galaxies, including the Virgo Cluster, are moving at around 620 km/s towards the centre of the Hydra constellation.6 However, this vector does not match the results from other data. According to one survey, the Local Group’s direction of motion differs from the CMB-based direction by around 23° to 36°, and the investigator stated that this persistent discrepancy ‘only becomes more puzzling over time’.8 In addition, the estimated mass of stars, gas and dust fails to account for the calculated velocities.

The Local Group belongs to the Virgo Supercluster (or Local Supercluster), which is allegedly being pulled towards the ‘Great Attractor’, a large concentration of mass lying 150-250 million light years from the Milky Way in the direction of the Hydra and Centaurus Superclusters. All these superclusters are believed to belong to an even larger supercluster, known as the Laniakea Supercluster, whose central gravitational point is the Great Attractor.

Distribution of galaxies beyond the Milky Way, showing the CMB-dipole direction of motion versus the Great Attractor/Norma Cluster. The galaxies are colour-coded by redshift: purple/blue = nearest sources; green/yellow = moderate distances; orange/red = the most distant sources. (T. Jarett)


  1. Paul A. LaViolette, Earth Under Fire: Humanity’s survival of the apocalypse, Schenectady, NY: Starlane Publications, 1997, p. 33.
  2. P.R. Weissman, ‘The solar system and its place in the galaxy’, in: T. Spohn, D. Breuer and T.V. Johnson, Encyclopedia of the Solar System, Elsevier, 3rd ed., 2014, pp. 3-28.
  3. H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, TPH, 1950-91, 5:162-3; Daniel H. Caldwell (comp.), The Esoteric Papers of Madame Blavatsky,, 2004, ‘Instruction no. VI’, commentaries by KH, p. 660.
  4. F.J. Dick, The Theosophical Path, July 1914, pp. 30-2.
  5. H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, TUP, 1977 (1888), 1:501, 2:551; A.L. Conger (ed.), The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, TUP, 1948, 1:290-1.
  6. Planck Collaboration, ‘Planck 2018 results. I. Overview, and the cosmological legacy of Planck’, Astronomy & Astrophysics, v. 641, 2020, A1.
  7. P.N. Correa, A.N. Correa, D. Pratt and M. Askanas, ‘Re-examination of the experimental evidence for a nonzero aether drift’, parts 2 and 3, AKRONOS Publishing, 2020-2021.
  8. A.C. Crook, Motions of galaxies in the nearby universe with 2MASS, PhD thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2009.

Appendix 2. Theosophical quotations

The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, TUP, 2nd ed., 1975 / TPH, chron. ed., 1993

A.P. Sinnett: ‘Have magnetic conditions anything to do with the precipitation of rain, or is that due entirely to atmospheric currents at different temperatures encountering other currents of different humidities, the whole set of motions being established by pressures, expansions, etc., due in the first instance to solar energy? If magnetic conditions are engaged, how do they operate and how could they be tested?’ (146 / 305)

KH: ‘Most assuredly they have. Rain can be brought on in a small area of space – artificially and without any claim to miracle or superhuman powers, though its secret is no property of mine that I should divulge it. I am now trying to obtain permission to do so. We know of no phenomenon in nature entirely unconnected with either magnetism or electricity – since, where there are motion, heat, friction, light, there magnetism and its alter ego (according to our humble opinion) – electricity will always appear, as either cause or effect – or rather both if we but fathom the manifestation to its origin. All the phenomena of earth currents, terrestrial magnetism and atmospheric electricity, are due to the fact that the earth is an electrified conductor, whose potential is ever changing owing to its rotation and its annual orbital motion, the successive cooling and heating of the air, the formation of clouds and rain, storms and winds, etc. This you may perhaps, find in some text book. But then Science would be unwilling to admit that all these changes are due to akasic magnetism incessantly generating electric currents which tend to restore the disturbed equilibrium. By directing the most powerful of electric batteries, the human frame electrified by a certain process, you can stop rain on some given point by making “a hole in the rain cloud,” as the occultists term it. By using other strongly magnetized implements within, so to say, an insulated area – rain can be produced artificially. ...
    ‘Even simple muscular contraction is always accompanied with electric and magnetic phenomena, and there is the strongest connection between the magnetism of the earth, the changes of weather and man, who is the best barometer living, if he but knew to decipher it properly; again, the state of the sky can always be ascertained by the variations shown by magnetic instruments. It is now several years that I had an opportunity of reading the deductions of science upon this subject; therefore, unless I go to the trouble of catching up what I may have remained ignorant of, I do not know the latest conclusions of Science. But with us, it is an established fact that it is the earth’s magnetism that produces wind, storms, and rain. What science seems to know of it, is but secondary symptoms always induced by that magnetism and she may very soon find out her present errors. Earth’s magnetic attraction of meteoric dust, and the direct influence of the latter upon the sudden changes of temperature especially in the matter of heat and cold, is not a settled question to the present day, I believe.* [*Dr. Phipson in 1867 and Cowper Ranyard in 1879 both urged the theory but it was rejected then. – KH] It was doubted whether the fact of our earth passing through a region of space in which there are more or less of meteoric masses has any bearing upon the height of our atmosphere being increased or decreased, or even upon the state of weather. But we think we could easily prove it; and since they accept the fact that the relative distribution and proportion of land and water on our globe may be due to the great accumulation upon it of meteoric dust; snow – especially in our northern regions – being full of meteoric iron and magnetic particles; and deposits of the latter being found even at the bottom of seas and oceans, I wonder how Science has not hitherto understood that every atmospheric change and disturbance was due to the combined magnetism of the two great masses between which our atmosphere is compressed! I call this meteoric dust a “mass” for it is really one. High above our earth’s surface the air is impregnated and space filled with magnetic, or meteoric dust, which does not even belong to our solar system. Science having luckily discovered, that, as our earth with all the other planets is carried along through space, it receives a greater proportion of that dust matter on its northern than on its southern hemisphere, knows that to this are due the preponderating number of the continents in the former hemisphere, and the greater abundance of snow and moisture. Millions of such meteors and even of the finest particles reach us yearly and daily and all our temple knives are made of this “heavenly” iron, which reaches us without having undergone any change – the magnetism of the earth keeping them in cohesion. Gaseous matter is continually added to our atmosphere from the never ceasing fall of meteoric strongly magnetic matter, and yet it seems with them still an open question whether magnetic conditions have anything to do with the precipitation of rain or not!
    ‘I do not know of any “set of motions established by pressures, expansions, etc., due in the first instance to solar energy.” Science makes too much and too little at the same time of “solar energy” and even of the Sun itself; and the Sun has nothing to do whatever with rain and very little with heat. I was under the impression that science was aware that the glacial periods as well as those periods when temperature is “like that of the carboniferous age” – are due to the decrease and increase or rather to the expansion of our atmosphere, which expansion is itself due to the same meteoric presence? At any rate, we all know, that the heat that the earth receives by radiation from the sun is at the utmost one third if not less of the amount received by her directly from the meteors.’ (160-2 / 317-9)

‘The stars are distant from us, at least 500,000 times as far as the Sun and some as many times more. The strong accumulation of meteoric matter and the atmospheric tremors are always in the way. If your astronomers could climb on the height of that meteoric dust, with their telescopes and havanas they might trust more than they can now in their photometers.’ (165 / 321)

‘[The toothed wheel for measuring the velocity of light] is very ingenious and can hardly fail to give splendid results on a journey of a few thousands metres there and back; there being between the Paris observatory and its fortifications no atmosphere, no meteoric masses to impede the ray’s progress; and that ray finding quite a different quality of a medium to travel upon than the ether of Space, the ether between the Sun and the meteoric continent above our heads, the velocity of light will of course show some 185,000 and odd miles per second, and your physicists shout “Eureka”! ... Could they measure light above our atmosphere they would soon find that they were wrong.’ (166-7 / 323)

G. de Purucker, Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, TUP, 2nd ed., 1979

‘We do not see the (true) sun. The sun is not burning, or incandescent. Heat exists around the sun, but it is not from burning gases or incandescence. We see the sun’s robes, or reflection, but we do not see the sun itself. It is, in very truth, a spiritual thing, and we think we receive our entire supply of heat and light from it because the forces flowing from the sun act in conjunction and reactively with the forces on our own earth – forces working in the universal nature around us. If most of our light is due to the sun, this is not the case with 75 percent of the heat which we receive, which comes – most of it – from our own globe and its forces, and especially from the immensely thick clouds of cosmic dust which fills all space. The electromagnetic forces at work between this cosmic dust and our earth furnish most of the terrestrial heat.’ (117)

‘[W]hile the sun gives us our light on earth, it probably does not furnish us with 30 percent of the heat that we have, and then not by direct physical radiation, but in somewhat the same way in which the electric current furnishes us with heat, or in a similar way – in the same way would be, perhaps, too strong a manner of putting the fact. Forces emanate from the solar heart or center and reach the meteoric veils encircling the earth, and arouse electromagnetic currents, producing thus a part of the meteorological phenomena which we experience in storms and fair weather and rain and snow and ice. The earth itself produces probably 70 percent or more of the heat which we know; and such things as storms are caused mostly by electromagnetic action and reaction, if I may use that expression, between the innate prana, or vital forces of the earth, and the meteoric continent which surrounds our globe like a veil. For we are encircled during our manvantara, and every other planet of the solar system is similarly encircled during its manvantara, with a thick veil of meteoric dust, most of it very fine, some of it of more or less large bodies. ‘Take Venus, for instance, or Mercury. They are surrounded each one with its own veil of meteoric or kosmic dust: each one veils her face, or his face. This meteoric veil acts in one sense as does a cushion, thus forming a protection to its planet. We do not see for that reason the real face of the planet. But Mars has no such veil. Why? Because the vital essence of that planetary chain has left Mars’ physical globe for its other globes.’ (327-8)

‘[A]ll the planets not in obscuration or sleeping (as Mars is) are surrounded with thick and often greatly condensed clouds of the kosmic dust which they have accreted unto themselves; it actually is the former solar dust of now disintegrated moons and planets. For over our own heads and over and around every one of the nonsleeping planets of our solar system, there is a continent, literally a continent, of this kosmic dust, so thick is that solar dust and so numerous are the bodies or particles of various sizes which compose it. It acts as a veil protecting us from the terrific energy of the sun, acting not merely as a veil of protection against his rays alone, but also against other accidents that might happen to us were there no such protecting veil surrounding our globe in thick folds.
    ‘Mars has at present none or very little of such a protecting veil, simply because its life-energies have gone to another globe of the Martian planetary system – the Martian planetary chain – and the attractive magnetic force which holds together such a veil therefore is largely absent. But Venus and Mercury, for instance, have, as we have, such a protecting veil, although much thinner in Mercury’s case than in that of Venus, because Mercury is just emerging from obscuration, and it is what the astronomers see when they look at those planets through their telescopes, when they see the “clouds,” and note that they cannot see the face of the planet itself. They really see the veil. We are not conscious of the veil protecting us. Somewhat like a man in a room with one of those white net curtains over his window – he can see outwards, and discern what passes in the street beyond; but the man in the street cannot easily see him.’ (339-40)

[Listed as an example of how some scientific theories are approaching theosophical teachings:]
‘That storms – rain, hail, snow, wind – and droughts, likewise most of the earth’s heat, are not caused by or derived from solar energy, but result from electromagnetic interplay of forces between the earth’s mass and the meteoric mass, or “veil,” above our atmosphere; such phenomena or effects being accompanied, partly causally, partly effectually, by periodic expansion or dilation of the atmospheric body and by periodic contraction thereof; and that the glacial periods, so called, are largely due to the same causes. ‘(A few months ago, let me interpolate, some eminent scientists in the northern part of California were investigating the upper regions of the atmosphere, and to a certain extent they have come to this conclusion, at least in part and in degree.)’ (371-2, cf Man in Evolution, TUP, 2nd ed., 1977, 17-8)

G. de Purucker, Studies in Occult Philosophy, TUP, 1973

‘[T]he earth’s atmosphere ... is continually dilating or expanding. We know that when this expansion occurs we have the dropping of the barometer, that sensitive instrument we have learned how to build which registers the air-pressure. It is a sign of rain. And we all known the chill in the air that follows a rain-storm even in the summer-time. We say “It cooled the air.” The opposite effect, heat, is produced when the atmosphere condenses or contracts, and the greater pressure on the barometer causes it to go up. “Fair weather,” we say, “and heat,” – relative heat according to the season, of course.   
    ‘What causes these contractions and dilatations of the earth’s atmosphere? Mainly the periodic, vital pulsations in the earth itself. But these pulsations are intimately connected every instant of time, without a second’s interruption, with all the other bodies of the solar system. All things contribute to all things. ...
    ‘Now these contractions, or pressures as the modern scientific phraseology has it, of the atmosphere, and these dilatations of the atmosphere, are mainly caused by the actual meteoric continent surrounding our globe like a thick shell. You will say, “But how can it be such a thick shell when we can see right through it; we can see the sun and the stars and the clouds?” Suppose instead of my present eye-sight I had an electric eye. Why then I could look right along a copper wire. Such things as copper and iron would be transparent to me. But with my present eye-sight I cannot see through a copper wire or along a 5000 mile stretch of copper wire because I have not the electric eye. On the other hand, with the electric eye I could not see things I now see. The fact is that our eye-sight has been evolved by Nature, or, if you like, evolved by Karman, so that we can look right through this meteoric mass surrounding our earth like a shell; and all we see of it is what we call the blue of the sky. That is the real explanation of the blue of the sky. The scientific theory that it is very fine dust mostly from earth which intercepts the blue rays of the solar spectrum, might be called a weak, partial explanation. ...
    ‘All the other planets except Mars are likewise, each one, surrounded with its own meteoric continent. Science knows this and calls them the clouds of the different planets. Call them clouds if you want to. Say that they are clouds of cosmic dust and dust from the respective planets. All right: but they are actually mostly interstellar and interplanetary meteoric dust. Every one of the planets in our solar system except Mars, as I have said, is surrounded by such a continent of meteoric dust; and even Mars has a thin gauzy veil of meteoric matter surrounding it. Mars is different from the others because it is in obscuration at present; and on Globe D of the Martian Chain the forces of attraction holding the meteoric continent together have been relaxed, as it were. These magnetic and electric forces surrounding Mars are weak because the meteoric continent around Globe D of Mars has been more or less dissipated throughout space – not quite, but almost. That is the reason we can catch just glimpses of the Martian Globe; but even those glimpses are still uncertain. Our astronomers are not sure that what some see others see. You know the interminable dispute aroused by the discovery of the so-called canals of Mars which Professor Lowell of Flagstaff, Arizona, and others have quite believed so long; and which others deny. Schiaparelli, the Italian astronomer, was the first to speak of these lines years and years ago, and as they seemed to him to resemble canals, he called them canali, the Italian word for canals or channels of any kind; and then people got the idea, because they took the word in the English sense of water-courses, that they must be water-courses. That is still not proved; it may be and it may not be. I do not care to say anything more about that.’ (293-5)

‘[T]he part played by these meteoric continents is enormous. ... Now Mars is in obscuration, consequently the meteoric veil surrounding globe D of the Mars-chain is very thin. When the life-waves begin to come into Mars again, as they will before many millions of years have passed, Mars also will begin again to be re-covered with what scientists call heavy clouds, which are really veils of meteoric dust. Attracted psycho-vital-magnetically by the tremendously vital power of the planets which they surround, these meteoric continents perform somewhat the same function with regard to the planets that the human aura does for us. The meteoric veils are composed of dust, the effluvia rising up from the earth partly, but mainly and more largely from interplanetary and interstellar cosmic dust: the refuse, the sweat, the detritus, of other manvantaras, karmically drawn back, as life-atoms are drawn back to the reincarnating man.’ (320)

‘[Meteorites] are the waste-material, the ejecta, of former suns ... At death [a sun] leaves behind a body which immediately bursts into innumerable fragments, some atomic and some much larger; and these ejecta are scattered through solar and stellar space to be swept up in later aeons not only by the reimbodiment of the sun which has just died, but by other suns, and even other planets, as well as occasionally by comets. These meteorites contain many materials found also in our earth: iron, nickel, traces of copper, carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and what not. ...
    ‘The sun when the moment of its death comes bursts, explodes, into simply innumerable fragments of various sizes, sun-stuff, which originally were almost as ethereal as spirit; but as the sun grew older became more and more compacted, more and more materialized, concreted, until when the sun is dying, practically dead, it is not a solid body yet but on the way to becoming solid. ...
    ‘[The fragments] become the meteors and meteorites of interstellar spaces. Originally spirit-stuff, mulaprakriti, they are now some of the most solid portions of prakriti, iron, nickel, carbon, and all the other things that our scientists have found in the meteorites which have reached this earth. These meteorites wander through space for ages and ages until the imbodiment of the solar system comes again. Thus the cometary nebula picks up uncounted numbers of these meteorites, thus bringing back as it were its life-atoms of the former body of the solar system into its new body, just as we humans do. But it takes ages and ages for the solar system to gather up all these meteorites; and as a matter of fact all the meteorites that traverse our solar system are not due to the explosion of our former sun. Multitudes and multitudes of them are, but multitudes are not, but are the explosions of other suns in interstellar space which have wandered far and have become caught by our sun in its former state, by our planets in their former state.’ (324-5, 327-8)

‘Sunlight is neither hot nor cold, although because it is energy, it can set up movement in the molecules and atoms of the bodies on which it falls, like our skin, or a rock, or the side of a house, and thus give us the impression that the sunlight is hot. ...
    ‘Most of the heat on our earth actually arises from magnetic and electric interplay between the earth itself and that marvelous continent above our head, as the Master says.
    ‘The earth gets very little heat direct from the sun, as compared, I mean with the heat generated in the manner above explained between the earth and the meteoric continent above our heads.’ (435)

G. de Purucker, Fountain-Source of Occultism, TUP, 1974

‘When things are not in equilibrium, electrically speaking, we have the very hot or the very cold days, the stormy days or the abnormally calm days. There is a constant change of direction in the movements and operations of this cosmic electricity. Lightning is one short segment of a circulation of the cosmos, and is very closely involved with certain vital currents between the sun and the earth and man and the earth, which pass through, and to and from, the earth and the meteoric veil which surrounds it.’ (191)

‘It should be borne in mind that every globe of a planetary chain is surrounded during its globe manvantara with a thick veil of meteoric dust, most of it very fine, some of it, however, consisting of more or less large bodies. Take Venus, for instance, or Mercury: each is surrounded with its own meteoric veil which acts in one sense as a cushion, thus forming a protection to the planet. For that reason, we do not see the real face of Venus or Mercury. Globe D of Mars – which we see – has no such veil at present, because the vital essence of that planetary chain has left globe D for its superior globes. ‘The meteoric veil is the seat of very great electromagnetic forces continuously at work. It is this “meteoric continent” surrounding our own globe which is responsible for some seventy per cent of our heat. Forces emanate from the solar heart and reach the meteoric veil encircling the earth, and arouse electromagnetic currents, producing a part of our meteorological phenomena. Such things as storms are caused mostly by electromagnetic action and reaction between the innate prana or vital forces of the earth and its meteoric continent – a fact pointed out by K.H. in the same letter (p. 161) when he wrote that “every atmospheric change and disturbance was due to the combined magnetism of the two great masses between which our atmosphere is compressed.” ‘There is a close analogy between the coils of a dynamo and the earth whirling within its surrounding continent of cosmic dust. As said, the great climatic changes of the earth, such as the glacial periods, are directly due to this continent of cosmic dust. Even such things as strong winds, electrical storms or heavy rains, the aurorae borealis and australis, and the changes in temperature, can ultimately be traced to the electromagnetic interchanges between the earth itself and this spherical continent or veil of meteoric dust.’ (336)

‘All meteorites, meteors – all intercosmic dust in other words – are but the debris, the residue, of old and dead worlds. They are all destined to some cosmic dust heap where they will be broken up and ground over in nature’s wonderful laboratories. ...
    ‘Meteorites are simply old matter in process of decomposing into cosmic dust, later to be used in building up other new worlds. ...
    ‘There is a certain analogy between the manner in which a planet attracts unto itself meteors from outer space (as our earth does by the millions daily) and the way in which the human body continuously draws to itself millions of life-atoms, giving them temporary harbor and then ejecting them when they have served their purpose, after which they are again attracted to some other body.’ (337-9)

The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, TUP, 1948

‘The rings of Saturn are a resultant of the evolution of the planetary nebula, later of the comet which became the planet we now call by the name of Saturn. ...
    ‘Other planets have similar rings about them, but they are not visible to our physical eyes. And, as a matter of fact, every planet, visible or invisible, in our Solar family, is surrounded by a veil. The Teachers have spoken of this veil as a “continent” of meteoric matter existing for each one of the planets. This veil or “continent” of meteoric substance serves a number of purposes outside of the physical one. It is a protection. It is also a veil against the titanic vital forces of the Sun. [T]he Sun is not a body on fire, but is the heart of our system and is in itself a focus of titanic electric and magnetic energies, on account of which, if the planets were not protected, they would literally be consumed.’ (1:7-8)

‘There is an old Hindu saying, never understood in the West, and yet full of occult wisdom, that the gods live on men. The sun would annihilate us as a planet, as planets, not deliberately but as automatically as fire burns, as goodness refines a man, as automatically as that morals are based on the principles of harmony in the universe. It could not be otherwise. But we are protected by our own earth’s auric egg, and by the various auric eggs of the other planets, each one having its own auric egg. This is an akasic veil which not even a sun can penetrate, provided that the planets keep their distance, which they do. It is not the god in the sun which will be the great devourer. It will be the automatic action of nature, like the bite of an asp, or the burning of a caustic, or the goodness which raises and saves. And furthermore each planet, our earth included, is surrounded by a perfect – the Master calls it a continent – a perfect shell of cosmic stuff, cosmic dust, meteorites, astral stuff, all which protects us against the fearful force of the sun. I say fearful because we would simply vanish, the planets in the entire solar system would vanish like a puff of smoke, if they were not protected. ‘Now this continent above our heads and surrounding the earth actually is attracted karmically by the earth’s auric egg. All these things that are attracted have been parts of its former bodies in other earth-imbodiments. The moon is not alone the holder of all the former earth-stuff. A certain amount of karmic stuff, of life-atoms, is also attracted by the immense magnetism of this continent over our heads. It is a continent. It is scores and scores and scores of miles thick. I believe myself that it partly accounts for what we call the blueness of the atmosphere on a clear day, and for the sun’s rays reaching us in the beneficent godlike way in which Father Sun does touch his children with his light and aid. This meteoric continent or veil surrounding the earth like a shell is likewise the cause of our climatic and meteorological disturbances. Storms of all kinds, wind-storms, electric storms, rain-storms, snow-storms, the heat of summer and the cold of winter, are very largely brought about by interaction between this continent over our heads and the earth’s own electro-vital magnetism working up and against it and against this meteoric shell surrounding our earth. What is called the earth’s heat does not come from the sun, at least a small portion only comes from the sun, and that not in the direct form of heat, but rather as radiation, which when reaching our earth immediately begins to act electrically and magnetically, electro-magnetically, electro-vitally, to stir up things on the earth. The reason that the sun-rays warm us and feel grateful in the cold winter and oppressive in summer, is because on passing through the air and on our skins they are like a current of electricity. Electricity is not hot, nor is it cold, but it starts vibratory activity in whatever it touches or passes through, and this to our senses we feel as heat, warmth, light, comfort; or if it be summer-time oppressive heat from which many people die.’ (1:35-6)

‘You remember the Master K.H. in The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett speaks of what he calls a continent above our heads as he expresses it – simple, graphic language said to spiritual children in an attempt to give them a hint, which alas, they did not take or understand. H.P.B. in her own letters to A.P. Sinnett speaks of Saturn and his rings, and uses a very open statement (really anyone who runs can read it), that Saturn is the only half-frank planet of our solar system. Look at this open door: the only half-frank planet. We may deduce immediately that it is the only planet of our solar system which on this plane, let us call it the plane of visibility to our eyes, shows a portion of the meteoric continent, as the Master describes it rather oddly, surrounding Saturn. I will go this far. Every planet in the solar system is surrounded with such a meteoric continent or shell or container. The word continent here is most graphic. It does not mean a landmass as the word is used in human geography. It is a noun used in the distinct Latin sense, to contain, to hold, to inclose – hence the meteoric continent the Master speaks of is the containing meteoric shell surrounding the earth, especially thick in the region of its equator. Saturn shows us this equatorial meteoric continental thickening, and we call it Saturn’s rings.’ (1:97)

Earth’s meteoric veil: contents

Poleshifts: theosophy and science contrasted