Most of us realize that the sun provides us with light and heat.   Many of us realize that it gives us our rain; our energy sources such as petroleum, coal, wood, and hydroelectricity.   A lot of us know that almost everything on Earth functions because of energy from the sun.   But very few of us know of the less obvious forces of the sun and how they operate.   And fewer of us know that the sun is similar to our television picture tubes, shooting out energetic particles whose patterns are influenced by subtler forces.   And what are these subtler forces?   They are the gravitational effects of the bodies about the sun, of course; the everchanging pulls of the planets.

The sun is a whirling mass of luminescent gas that is more than 100 times as great in diameter as Earth.   It is moving through space with all its attending planets and their moons at a speed of about 700,000 miles per hour.   Its mass is about 333,000 times that of our planet and this mass is so intense in its energy output that it warms us at an approximate distance of 93 million miles.

The sun provides energy in many octaves other than that of visible light.   It also provides a "solar wind" which is actually its expanding atmosphere.   It has a magnetic field which shifts periodically and may, in part, be responsible for Earth's shifting magnetic field.   The sun has a cycle of brightness based upon activity we see upon its visible surface, the photosphere.

The chromosphere of the sun is just above the photosphere, and just above the chromosphere is the sun's corona, which extends well out into space.   The sun's cycle of brightness influences the entire solar atmosphere as well as the layers just above the photosphere.   This atmosphere, which we feel as the solar wind, influences us as it moves past us.   Likewise, the solar magnetic field affects us as it shifts.

Solar flares are huge, bright eruptions from the sun's surface.   These flares may be likened to volcanoes except that they come from the sun rather than from Earth.   Both the solar wind and the solar magnetic field shift due to solar flare activity.   The solar flare activity, the solar cosmic rays, ultraviolet radiation, X-radiation, and consequent solar brightness all vary directly with sunspot activity.

A sunspot is a shallow depression in the solar surface which lies a few hundred miles below the sun's visible surface.   The bottom of the depression is not as bright as the photosphere, so it appears dark to us.   This makes it easier for astronomers to see sunspots and this is why sunspots have been monitored as a measure of solar activity for over 300 years.

The cycle of solar brightness or of sunspot activity has been found to consist of two shorter cycles which vary from nine to fourteen years in duration and average about 11.2 years between peaks.   At the beginning of a sunspot cycle, the new sunspots appear centered upon the solar latitudes of 40o north and 40o south.   As each spot appears and is replaced, the total collection of spots moves toward the solar equator and arrives there about 11 years later.   The the old collection then dies and a new collection of spots begins to appear at the 40o latitudes.   With each new 11 year cycle, the magnetic polarity of the sunspots reverses.   Thus, a full cycle is actually about 22 years long.

In an article called The First Science by Joseph F. Goodavage, MAFA, Analog, September 1962, it is stated that RCA Communications, Inc., uses heliocentric astrology to predict storms in Earth's ionosphere which affect radio communications.   These storms seem to be caused by solar flares.   The mechanism of this phenomenon is more easily seen in Scientific American, March 1986, The Earth's Magnetotail, by Edward W. Hones, Jr.   In any case, John H. Nelson of RCA has found that planets' positions either influence the sun and its sunspot activity or, at least, coincide with sunspot activity in a very suggestive manner.   It seems that planetary positions of 0o (conjunctions), 90o (squares), and 180o (oppositions) are unsettling to the sun and coincide with sunspot activity, while planetary positions of 60o (sextiles) and 120o (trines) cause our sun to be complacent.

If we examine the mathematics of gravity and tides, we find that Earth and the moon, working together, exert a gravitational force upon the sun in a manner similar to the moon's effect upon our oceans.   Saturn, large but more distant from the sun, has an approximately equal effect to Earth/moon upon the sun, yet there are differences.   Venus, closer to the sun, but the same approximate mass as Earth/moon, has half again as much influence upon the sun.   Little Mercury, considered to be the closest planet to the sun, exerts about a third of Earth/moon's gravitational influence upon the sun.   Jupiter is so massive that it has 11 times the effect of Earth/moon upon the sun - even though it is much farther away.

Although actual tidal effects upon the sun's surface are somewhat less for the more distant planets and greater for the closer ones, the general effects are greatest from Jupiter, Venus, and Earth/moon.   Due in part to lesser influence and in part to time of orbit, Mercury and Saturn act out of phase with the basic cycle so that that they become triggers and dampeners which either aid or hinder the more pronounced effects of the more influential planets mentioned.   Mars, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto have negligible gravitational/tidal effects upon the sun as compared to the other planets, but they may have some fine-tuning effects that are less obvious.   After all, a ball of white-hot plasma such as the sun can be very sensitive.

If we presume that the sunspot cycles are due to the positions of the planets, shifting according to particular patterns, the most obvious cycle we can find averages 11.19 years in length, but varies slightly from one peak the next.   This cycle is caused by Earth/moon and Venus conjuncting at a time when Jupiter is either pulling on the sun at right angles to them (squaring), pulling directly opposite to them (opposing), or pulling in line with them (conjuncting).   Because of the various times for these three planets (Earth/moon, Venus, and Jupiter) to move about the sun, the proper positions for maximum stress upon the sun's surface averages once every 11.19 years.

This is analogous to the face of a clock in which Jupiter is the hour hand, Earth/moon is the minute hand, Venus is the second hand, and the sun is the center where the hands are attached.   At precisely three o'clock and nine o'clock, the hour hand is at right angles to the other two.   At precisely six o'clock, the hour hand is opposite the other two.   And at precisely twelve o'clock, all of the hands are in line.

This 11.19 year cycle varies somewhat because Mercury and Saturn do not orbit in reinforcing periods.   Instead they cause the cycle to deviate a bit.   However, this is in accord with the deviation found in the known sunspot cycle of about 11.2 years.   When one actually plots the heliocentric conjunctions, squares, and oppositions of the solar-tide-creating planets, one discovers that they do, indeed, coincide with the sunspot activity peaks and the associated solar flares.

The sunspot 11.2 year cycle, for which most astronomers still claim to find no cause, is caused by Earth/moon, Venus, and Jupiter.   Planets trigger solar flares and solar flares cause variations in the solar magnetic field and solar wind which, in turn, cause the northern and southern lights, variations in weather, and quite possibly contribute to earthquakes, volcanic activity, and variations in the human gestalt.   This is only one of many examples as to how the solar system functions as an integrated unit with each part affecting each of the other parts.

Copyright (C) 1987