The Magus of Magnetism: An Interview With Dr. Percy Seymour

An Astronomer's Magnetic Theory of Astrology and

How Planetary Motion Orchestrates Solar Activity and Geomagnetism

by Bronwyn Elko

[This article first appeared in issue #80 August/September 1998 of The Mountain Astrologer. Thanks to The Mountain Astrologer for allowing us to post this article from their magazine!]


Since the dawn of human history, stargazers have sought to discover the forces by which the planets influence life on Earth. Now, as we enter the 21st century, the long search for a physical mechanism that explains how astrology works may at last be nearing an end. Apropos to these times, which many astrologers believe to be a Neo-Renaissance period for astrology, an English astronomer named Percy Seymour has formulated a scientific theory of astral influences that describes the solar system as an intricate web of planetary fields and resonances. The Sun, Moon, and planets telegraph their effects to us via magnetic signals, says Seymour, an astrophysicist and respected authority in the field of cosmic magnetism. Omnipresent throughout the universe, magnetism is known to affect the biological cycles of numerous creatures here on Earth, including humans. In sum, Seymour's multi-link theory proposes that the planets raise tides in the gases of the Sun, creating sunspots and their particle emissions, which then travel across interplanetary space to strike Earth's magnetosphere, ringing it like a bell.[1] (See Fig. 1) These planetary magnetic signals are then perceived by the neural network of the fetus inside the mother's womb, heralding the child's birth.

Seymour's "magnetoastrology" theory[2] expands themes from French statistician and scientist Michel Gauquelin's work, in which human biological clocks keep time withthe planets.[3] Gauquelin's studies, which showed striking planetary similarities in the birth charts of parents and their children, comprise the strongest scientific evidence in support of astrology to date. But, whereas Gauquelin's studies showed planetary influences for Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon, Seymour proposes that Mercury, Uranus, and Neptune also play a role in orchestrating the sunspot cycle and violent solar activity.

Like Michel Gauquelin before him, Seymour's alignment with astrology predictably raised a storm of protest from several members of the scientific community when his book, Astrology: The Evidence of Science, appeared in April 1989. In an Omni interview later that same year, Seymour commented, "Of course, I expected people to take objection to my theory. But I didn't expect the reaction to be so vehement or so irrational."[4]

Seymour brings to the astrology-science debate a rich body of experience and credentials. His grandfather taught him to identify Orion's belt and other southern constellations. Growing up as the son of an interracial couple in apartheid South Africa, Seymour also learned what it meant to be labelled "Cape colored," a racist colloquialism applied in that country to non-whites. It was an experience that has left him intolerant of bigotry of any kind, including the prejudicial arguments against astrology employed by some scientists. Holding doctorates in astronomy and astrophysics, Seymour's expertise in the study of the magnetic fields that thread our galaxy, and his book, Cosmic Magnetism, have won him academic acclaim.[5] Director of the William Day Planetarium and principal lecturer in astronomy at the University of Plymouth, Seymour teaches gifted undergraduate students and conducts research in astronomy. In addition to Cosmic Magnetism, he is the author of five books: Halley's Comet, The Scientific Basis of Astrology, Astrology: The Evidence of Science, The Paranormal: Beyond Sensory Science, and Adventures in Astronomy, a hands-on approach to building simple astrolabes, star clocks, and sundials.

A chartered member of the Institute of Physics and Fellow member of the Royal Astronomical Society, Seymour's fascination with navigational instruments and the history of science has inspired him to organize and hold a pioneering conference at Plymouth University entitled, "Navigation in Astronomy." Scheduled to run simultaneously with the "Astrology in the 21st Century" conference, which is being organized by the Astrological Association of Great Britain, these two events will bring hundreds of astrologers and astronomers together under the full shadow of the much-discussed eclipse of August 11, 1999. Conference
attendees from the sister sciences will be observing the total eclipse from Plymouth Hoe, a vast, elevated, southern-facing waterfront with adjacent promenade, from which spectacular open vistas will maximize visibility.

Seymour lives in southwest England with his wife, Dianna, and his 16-year-old son, Bruce. He enjoys walking the moors in the company of family pets, a beagle and a spaniel. A Sun-sign Capricorn and self-described "inventive fixer-upper" with Uranus in Taurus on the IC, Seymour restores old family furniture in his spare time and reads extensively. Our first transcontinental conversation occurred during an exact Sun-Jupiter conjunction.
[Editor's Note: A Glossary of terms is presented following the article.]

TMA: How did you first become interested in astrology?
Percy Seymour: In the summer of 1984 a BBC film training crew came to Plymouth to do a film about astrology. The film crew interviewed people on the streets and byways, asking their views on the subject. They sought out my opinion due to my reputation here in Plymouth as the reigning authority on astronomy. Of course, as a trained astronomer and physicist, I trotted out all the normal objections. I told them that I knew there was some evidence in support of astrology, but that I couldn't think of a mechanism that might explain how the planets affect human life. It was actually the first time I'd been put on the line, so to speak, with no other astronomers there to back me up. (laughs) Suddenly these arguments didn't sound right to me. They ruled out the idea that any progress could be made in this area. They were totally dogmatic. And that got me thinking.

Then one of the BBC interviewers asked me whether I'd read a book, Astrology: Science or Superstition?, in which authors Eysenck and Nias suggest that solar disturbances and their particle emissions are the most probable link between biological and extraterrestrial events.[6] Also mentioned by the BBC people was the work of a radio engineer named Nelson, who had apparently noted heliocentric planetary alignments corresponding with bad radio conditions.[7] At the time, I hadn't heard of either of these works. After the film crew left I found myself delving deeper into the scientific objections to astrology, and it became quite clear to me that the arguments being put forth were based on single-link theories, simple models that are easy to disprove. A well-known example of this is using gravity to explain how a planet might directly influence the fetus, and then showing how this can't possibly work because of the weak tidal tug of the planets. This type of approach completely ignores the possibility of multi-link theories.

A multi-link theory being one that draws upon several different scientific disciplines?
That's right. It's my view that those who use simplistic models to disprove astrology are violating the principles of the philosophy of science, which is a particular interest of mine. From the viewpoint of the philosophy of science, any number of theories may be shown not to work, but to say it follows that no theory of astrology can work is just bad science. It totally rules out scientific method. So, having examined the arguments that supposedly disproved astrology, I came to the conclusion that they were totally unscientific - a form of rationalized bigotry cloaked in academic language.

I know you've been influenced by Gauquelin's research. Have you been following the controversy that still surrounds
his results?
In The Journal of Scientific Exploration, Gauquelin's Mars effect[8] has again come under attack, most recently by the Committee PARA of Belgium.[9] One of its members decided to defend their earlier arguments, claiming that, although the Mars effect showed interesting correlations between planetary positions at birth and eminence in certain professions, Gauquelin's controls weren't rigorous enough because he failed to consider all of the sociodemographic factors involved, leaving his results inconclusive. On the other hand, there are those who, over the last three years, have reassessed their original objections, largely, I think, as the result of Suitbert Ertel's and Ken Irving's book, The Tenacious Mars Effect.[10]

What do you think? 
I've always known about this argument regarding the Mars effect. Basically, the difficulty lies in defining in objective terms what constitutes eminence in professions. I found Gauquelin's work on planetary heredity links[11] much more interesting, as it dealt exclusively with hard data-time, place of birth, and the planetary positions for both parents and child. In those studies, it was shown that, if a certain planet in a parent's birth chart was placed in a Gauquelin planetary zone of influence (see Fig. 2), the child showed a tendency to be born with a similar planetary placement. So these new objections to Gauquelin's work are limited, in my view, because they totally ignore the planetary heredity effect. 

Gauquelin's studies also showed that on days when the geomagnetic index was high, the planetary heredity effects of Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and, to some extent, the Moon, were enhanced (see Fig. 3). This seemed very significant to me because geomagnetism is known to rise during periods of heightened solar activity. The level and intensity of solar activity waxes and wanes within the eleven-year solar cycle, also called the sunspot cycle. My theory proposes that certain planetary alignments affect solar activity. Thus, the build-up of sunspots within the solar cycle can be accounted for by the complex interactions of planetary forces acting upon the Sun's magnetic field, which in turn affects Earth's magnetosphere. (A sunspot is a dark area in the Sun's photosphere, or visible surface layers, that is associated with strong magnetic fields.) 

This brings us to another intriguing aspect of Gauquelin's planetary heredity work that his critics often ignore, and which fueled my interest in astrology-the fact that the four-pronged pattern, involving two large peaks and two small peaks, that emerges for Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon, is very similar to the shape of the average lunar daily magnetic variation for one month. Earth's magnetosphere (see Fig. 4) contains a wide range of frequencies, one of which we know is connected to the Moon, and is well known to geophysicists. This lunar daily magnetic variation is caused by the Moon tugging at the layers of plasma, or charged particles, trapped in Earth's magnetosphere. When this plasma is dragged around by the Moon's tidal forces, it causes variations in the atmospheric pressure at ground level, and these we can measure. So, this resemblance between Gauquelin's four-pronged pattern for Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon and the pattern for the monthly average of the lunar daily magnetic variation suggested to me that the tidal tugs of the planets were in some way disturbing Earth's magnetosphere, just as the Moon and Sun are known to do. I began to suspect the existence of a daily planetary magnetic variation, different for each planet, which might account for Gauquelin's planetary maximums all falling into this same four-pronged pattern. 

 

Your theory posits that the planets play a role in disturbing both Earth's and Sun's magnetic fields. First, tell us how the planets affect solar activity.
According to my theory, the tidal effects of the planets on the geometry of the Sun's field disrupt that field, causing violent solar activity. We're saying that it doesn't matter that the tidal forces of the planets are weak; they can be amplified via what I call magneto tidal resonance. I'll try to explain this as simply as possible.
 

 
 

 

The Sun's magnetic field can be pictured as a series of meridian lines that, roughly speaking, come in at the south pole and go out at the north pole (see Fig. 5A). 

Because the Sun's equator rotates faster than its polar regions, these lines of force become stretched and distorted over time (see Fig. 5B). 

The indication is that, as the solar cycle progresses, just below the surface of the Sun the magnetic lines or tubes of force are getting twisted, dragged sideways. The field is getting "wound up" by the differential rotation of the Sun. As the sunspot cycle builds toward maximum, because the equatorial regions of the Sun rotate faster than the polar regions, the north-south lines are distorted, forming a series of magnetic canals parallel to the surface on 
either side of the solar equator (see Fig. 5C). 

The eddy currents twist and braid the lines of force in these canals to form ropes of magnetic force. It is these ropes that will eventually form the loops for the generation of the field. Conventional theory requires that the lines of force generally remain in circles parallel to the equator (i.e., without braiding). Bundles of lines of force in these regions, all pointing in the same direction, will repel each other, thus creating elongation "bubbles" in which the density will be lower. These lower-density bubbles will rise to the surface because of their buoyancy. Unfortunately, this simple theory gives a solar cycle that is only a few months long. Our claim is that braiding considerably reduces the effects of buoyancy. So, in order to explain why the tubes come to the surface, we have invoked tidal resonance. 

Now, what's important about the Sun's magnetic canals is their capacity to greatly amplify the weak tidal forces of the planets. Such canals can amplify planetary tidal effects because they are able to channel the Sun's very hot gases parallel with the equator. If you could pluck one of these canals with your finger, it would vibrate like a violin string. Thus, the magnetic lines of force actually behave like the strings of a musical instrument. And what we've shown is how the weak tidal effects of the planets on the gases trapped in these lines of force could give rise to resonance late in the solar cycle.

What we've basically done is apply George Biddell Airy's canal theory of ocean tides to the magnetic canals beneath the surface of the Sun.[12] Airy worked out a rigorous mathematical theory which showed that if you constructed a specially designed water canal around Earth's equator, a wave traveling around the canal could become amplified. Amplification of this kind is called resonance, and it means that you can get much bigger ocean tides than normal. How you get tidal resonance in the case of the Sun works like this. Say you take the subplanetary point of Jupiter and plot its course across the surface of the Sun. As the Sun spins on its axis, Jupiter's subplanetary point moves across the Sun's surface at a specific speed.

Now, the braided lines of force vibrate with their own frequency as they travel around the Sun's magnetic canals. The speed of the wave as it goes around the magnetic canals is called the Alfven speed, which varies within the solar cycle. The Alfven speed of the free wave moving along the canal travels faster and faster as the solar cycle progresses toward  maximum. When the speed of Jupiter's subplanetary point matches the speed with which the free wave propagates along the Sun's canals, you'll get resonance. In other words, the free wave that keeps step with the subplanetary point grows as it travels around the Sun, and will gain amplitude. I call this phenomenon magneto tidal resonance. When the tidal tug of a planet sits on a given wave crest traveling around the magnetic canals, it causes the wave to grow in size, until eventually it erupts on the Sunís surface in the form of a bridge, or prominence. The "feet" of the bridge, or prominence, are called sunspots. The loops or prominence of sunspots that arch high above the visible surface are still anchored in the active sunspot region of the Sun (see Figs. 6 and 7).
 

 

 

They will be stretched out into interplanetary space by a stream of energetic particles, called the solar wind, which gusts against Earth's magnetosphere, causing it to fluctuate.

Which planetary alignments disrupt the Sun's magnetic field?
Jane Blizard's work for NASA showed evidence for heliocentric planetary conjunctions, oppositions, and certain 90" alignments giving rise to violent solar disturbances.[13] No one could explain the squares until we put forward this theory. Since each planet possesses its own orbital speed around the Sun, the speed of each subplanetary point differs as it moves across the surface of the Sun. Say, for example, that the speed of the Alfven free wave within magnetic canals of different depths lies between the speed of Jupiter and the speed of Saturn. Then you can actually get a Jupiter-Saturn heliocentric square configuration that gives rise to strong events on the Sun. So our theory is able to explain this aspect of Blizard's work.

The theory also goes further in proposing that the regular magnetic reversal of the Sun's field, which occurs roughly every eleven years, is due to the tidal effects of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The Sun itself actually moves about the common center of mass of the solar system with a period of just over ten years, and this is mainly due to the pull of Jupiter and Saturn. By violently tugging on the common center of the mass of the solar system, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune cause the little eddy currents that generate the Sun's magnetic field to reverse or flip over from being in one direction to being in another direction. (See Fig. 8)

As these four planets cause the flipping over of the Sun's magnetic field, and the Sun's equator rotates faster than the poles, the lines of force are dragged into the form of canals. Then all the planets in turn can play a part in disrupting the Sun's magnetic canals.

So, we've clarified how the planets can affect the magnetism of the Sun by amplifying tidal resonance. We've also generalized the theory by extending the application of magneto tidal resonance to Earth's magnetosphere. We're saying that some of the planets can have a direct influence on Earth's magnetic field.

Certain planets directly affect Earth's magnetosphere, not just via the solar wind?
Yes, I think so. Earth's magnetic field shows myriad bands of frequencies, ranging from a few minutes to several years. We know one such frequency is associated with the Moon-the lunar daily magnetic variation. Not all of these frequencies will have a coherence about them. When they start and end will be random. But, say you have a spectral line or frequency in Earth's magnetic field that is very close to the synodic period of Mars. If placed on a graph, you would see a peak that closely coincides with the synodic period of Mars. Just as resonance occurs when the subplanetary point of Mars moving across the surface of the Sun matches the speed of the free wave, resonance can also happen when the frequency of Mars closely matches a frequency already present within Earth's magnetic field. It then becomes phase-locked. In other words, those frequencies in Earth's magnetosphere that are close to the tidal frequencies of the planets Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will remain in step with those planets. Youíll have one magnetic frequency associated with Mars, another with Jupiter, and so on.

Your theory draws upon research into the biological consequences of fluctuations in Earth's magnetosphere. How did this
research impact the formulation of your theory?
In the process of trying to formulate a mechanism to explain Gauquelin's results, I was led to consider magnetobiology, a vast body of knowledge that links planetary alignments with magnetic events on the Sun and the biological consequences of fluctuations in Earth's magnetic field. That's what actually gave me the idea that there is a mechanism, magneto tidal resonance, which can not only explain the Sun's magnetism, but also why specific fluctuations in Earth's magnetosphere can get phase-locked with the tidal effects of the planets.

Research in magnetobiology shows that a wide variety of organisms respond to changes in Earth's magnetic field.[14] For
instance, Professor Franck Brown of Northwestern University, who has done much work in this area, showed how mudsnails and turtles followed the lunar daily magnetic variation even when these creatures were removed from the sea and lodged inside laboratory tanks.[15] The experiments of Dr. Robin Baker of Manchester University suggest that humans are also sensitive to changes in Earth's magnetic field.[16] Baker first placed people inside a darkened room and asked them to locate North. Most of the time people got it right. But when Baker then fitted these same subjects with a little magnetic skullcap, they lost their ability to find North. This strongly suggests the presence of an internal compass or biological clock.

What I think might be happening is that the fetus's neural network acts as a sort of antenna that tunes into fluctuations in Earth's magnetic field. The imprinting of the neural antennae depends on genetic heredity, which gives us our basic congenital personality. Thus, the fetus is genetically predisposed to hear specific planetary signals, much as a radio is resonantly tuned to receive a particular station. So it's not that the planets make the person. Rather, the planets label a person's genetic predisposition to respond to specific magnetic signals.

Take the Moon in the case of the lunar personality. We already know that the lunar daily magnetic variation has two peaks and two troughs that roughly correspond to Gauquelin's four-pronged pattern of the child born with a lunar personality. This suggests that the fetus is responding when the lunar daily magnetic variation is at either maximum or minimum, but nowhere between these two extremes. It doesn't matter whether it's a peak or a trough because it is acting on something in the body that is responding to the lunar daily magnetic variation. The neural network of the fetus thus tunes into very low frequency fluctuations in Earth's field that are connected with where the Moon is, and ignores all others.

Looking at the lunar daily magnetic variation around the globe, however, shows that the peak of the lunar daily magnetic variation doesn't always occur when the Moon is about to rise. There can be a phase lag, which is a function of the longitude and latitude on the surface of Earth, that is actually telling you something about the geometry of the field in that particular locale. This can be caused by geological deposits of magnetic materials. The Moon rises at a given observatory, and the lunar daily magnetic variation peaks, but at another observatory where the geometry of the field is different, it might peak up to 40 minutes later. The peak won't exactly coincide with the Moon rising on the horizon. There's a time delay vis-à-vis the Moon's position due to the phase lag. So the fetus doesn't really respond to where the Moon is in the sky per se, but to the actual physical agency that the Moon is affecting, in this case the lunar daily magnetic variation.

The fact that a phase lag occurs as a result of changes in the local geometry of the field could explain why Gauquelin's third study of planetary heredity effects failed to support his two earlier findings.[17] After successfully replicating the planetary heredity link on two separate occasions, Gauquelin was deeply puzzled when the third study failed to yield similar results. This anomaly might be explained by the fact that the local magnetic field alters over a given period of time, due to variations in Earth's field that are longer-term changes of internal origin (see Fig. 9). And I think this is where a theory can perhaps help improve astrological prediction. What we need to do now is actually observe and compare what the lunar daily magnetic variation is doing at the time and location of the births of lunar-personality children. If my theory is correct, these children will be born when the lunar daily magnetic variation peaks.

You propose that pairs of planetary alignments dominate the solar cycle during specific periods. Does this mean that certain conjunctions or oppositions possess greater intensity than others?
I think this might be so. It might well be that the human neural network has a threshold above which the magnetic fluctuations of given planets must be in order for it to respond to these signals. So it's likely that certain planetary alignments will cause the geomagnetic tide of specific planets to be above this level.

As things look presently, it seems likely that Mercury and Venus are the planets that first play a role early in the solar cycle by giving rise to high solar activity. They are followed by Venus and Earth, then Earth and Mars, gradually working out toward the outer planets. Because of their size and relative proximity to the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn cause larger tides than the other planets. Jupiter and Saturn play the major role late in the solar cycle, whereas the inner planets play an important part early in the solar cycle, but only for short periods. This is because the formation of the canals and the braiding are giving rise to an enhanced magnetic field. The Alfven speed depends on the strength of this field, increasing as the strength increases. The inner planets soon pass out of resonance, but the outer planets stay in resonance longer because they move through only small angles during one rotation of the Sun's equator. Hence, according to our theory, the dominant planets would be Jupiter and Saturn later in the solar cycle. One of my Ph.D. students is presently trying to map this planetary sequence, but the rigorous calculations have yet to be further worked out.

We've expanded the theory since 1992, but we still can't explain everything about Gauquelin's results. We know that high sunspot activity causes Earth's magnetosphere to grow in size, amplifying solar-terrestrial effects. Gauquelin himself noted that periods of violent solar activity corresponded with enhanced planetary heredity results.[18]

You mention in your books that, while there's strong evidence supporting the effect of planetary alignments as seen from the Sun, only some evidence exists to support geocentric aspects. What does this mean in terms of your theory?
If you have, say, a Sun-Jupiter conjunction opposite Saturn, the planets are actually all in a straight line. It doesn't matter whether the view is heliocentric or geocentric, but, with the square, it depends on which planets are involved. An exact heliocentric square of Jupiter and Saturn, as seen from Earth, would be about 98" instead of 90". Tight squares involving Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are possibly influential. But the theory thus far rules out geocentric squares involving inner planets with outer planets because, heliocentrically, the orb would be too wide. Smaller aspects, such as semi-squares, also do not appear to be influential.

Where does Pluto fit into this scheme?
We haven't actually plotted Pluto because its orbit is too elliptical and the planet too lightweight to have much of an effect in terms of my theory. However, we're not ruling out the possibility that it may play a role later on in the solar cycle.

Ten years have passed since you first proposed your ideas on how astrology may work. Have there been any new developments or discoveries since then that either support or alter your theory?
We've found out that the strength of the field that we've calculated is in keeping with the strength of the field measured by other methods, such as the Zeeman effect, which is how the magnetic field affects the light of the Sun. The theory gives us an independent method of calculating what the strength of the magnetic field of the Sun ought to be in sunspots in order to make this mechanism work. It also explains quite naturally why there is a migration of sunspots from higher to lower latitudes as the solar cycle progresses toward maximum (see Fig. 10). According to our theory, sunspots should migrate toward the Sun's equator in a way that is consistent with a solar cycle of roughly eleven years. This just sprang out of the equations once we began dealing with the more detailed calculations, and we didnít realize it until 1993. In other words, the theory explains sunspot migration in a way that suggests the theory itself is correct in some respects. Interestingly, our critics often ignore these facts. We're not saying our theory is right, but at least it doesn't run into certain problems presented by other theories that say the solar cycle should only be a few months long.

You once mentioned hopes for predicting the next sunspot maximum.[19] Have you made any progress?
We're still working on this. Our calculations thus far seem to suggest that the next solar maximum will be around May 2000, when Jupiter and Saturn are making particularly strong alignments.[20] Both planets play a role in two different aspects of the theory. That is, Jupiter and Saturn both affect the canals of the Sun and play a role in determining how the Sun moves about the common center of mass of the Solar System. So, given what we know so far, May 2000 should coincide with the next solar maximum.

You've organized a conference to be held at Plymouth University during the August 11, 1999 eclipse. "Navigation in Astronomy" is scheduled to run parallel with another conference, "Astrology in the 21st Century," organized by the Astrological Association of Great Britain. What hopes do you have for astrologers and astronomers rubbing shoulders at these event?
The Astrological Association of Great Britain is holding their conference in conjunction with ours at my suggestion. The conference I'm organizing is on the impact of navigation on the history of science. Nautical instruments are another keen interest of mine, so in a way it's an opportunity for me to combine several areas of interest under one umbrella. But I also hope the conference will inspire scientists to realize that astronomy wouldn't exist without the two main stimuli of navigation and astrology. Greenwich Observatory, for example, wasnít founded solely in the interests of science, but to solve the longitude problem. Then Greenwich broadened its work to include all extraterrestrial events affecting navigation. And when it was found that the compass needle had a deviation that depended on the sunspot cycle, a solar observatory was also set up. Some astronomers are snooty in that they dismiss all astrology as superstition, which is wrong. The Greek and Babylonian astrology that arose 200 years before the birth of Christ was different from earlier star lore, which was more the result of an associative process. From Greco-Babylonian astrology emerged the first systematic attempt to form a theory that could explain life and the universe, a Theory of Everything, which is basically what physicists strive to formulate today. The great historian of science, Otto Neugebauer, pointed out that it is wrong to dismiss the astrology of the ancient world, because it heralded the beginning of an orderly methodology as a means of formulating a theory within which all phenomena could be explained.[21] So I hope conference attendees will mix their diet with both astrology and astronomy.

Any comments on the eclipse itself?
As far as my theory is concerned, an eclipse is not any different from a conjunction because the Moon doesn't have a magnetic field that stretches way beyond it. So I don't think it's going to be dramatic from an astrological point of view. The solar cycle will be approaching, but not near, maximum. I do think we're going to see some spectacular solar flares, which would enhance direct planetary effects on the magnetosphere, but not dramatically so. From the point of view of solar activity, May 2000 is the time to watch.

The language describing these solar-terrestrial events evokes images of a living system. Particles eject from beneath the surface of the Sun and energize the plasma of Earth's magnetosphere, which resembles a sort of womb. It's similar to how living bodies operate.
Yes. The way sunspots are born out of the Sun is very much like the way a baby is born out of the womb. Changes in the Sun's magnetic field can be likened to a gestation period for sunspots. The "flipping" over of the eddy currents, due to the movement of the Sun about the common center of mass of the solar system, determines the total length of time that the field will have one direction of polarity rather than another (see Fig. 8 on page 24). This process and the differential rotation of the Sun are the astrophysical processes that "prepare" the solar magnetic field to respond to the resonant tidal tug of the planets. In this sense, the formation of a sunspot pair plus a loop prominence is somewhat akin to the birth process. And so you have the biological process taking place inside the womb ó preparing the nervous system to respond to the magneto tides of the planets-causing an ejection from the womb.

Modern physicists' viewpoint of the subatomic, deepest level of reality is not dissimilar from that of the mystics of old. I think concepts presented by Fritjof Capra in his book, The Tao of Physics, are essentially correct.[22] And I see my theory in a similar light. We're actually attempting to quantify and rephrase in scientific terms ideas that have been around for a long time.
I think there may very well be other ways that Earth's magnetosphere can affect the developing fetus. Right through the entire nine-month gestation period, the neural network of the fetus may be synchronizing and tuning its biological clock into Earth's magnetic fluctuations. Thus, our own resonances may be evolving along with changes in Earth's magnetic field. Perhaps at different stages of development we pick up different magnetic tunes from out of the solar symphony, which later become part of our earliest memories. These preprogrammed magnetic memories may be evoked later in life when similar magnetic tunes are repeated. And this may even help us through certain exciting or challenging phases in life.

The idea of my own resonances evolving with cosmic fields of energy is very inspiring. It makes me wonder about our solar system in turn being influenced by the magnetic fields of other star systems . . . .
That's right. My work on the galactic magnetic field shows us that particles are coming to us from way beyond the Sun. These are called galactic cosmic ray particles, which are generated in supernova explosions. When a supernova explodes on the other side of the galaxy, cosmic ray particles are trapped inside the magnetic bottle that envelopes the whole Milky Way. I've attempted to work out the geometry of the galactic field by looking at how it affects radio waves and light waves.

Oddly enough, explanation in science isn't about certainty. People who believe that are fooling themselves. What we do is grope toward a better understanding of how the universe hangs together. To believe that weíve found all the answers simply isn't true. I think there's a grudging respect from critics of my theory because I'm not dogmatic about being right. I'm not saying, "This is the Truth." In trying to clarify basic principles to explain the salient features of Gauquelin's work and the solar cycle, we've developed the principles of resonant coupling between the tides of the planets and the evolving magnetic field of the Sun.[23] We're still working out details of a theory that may provide a fundamental underpinning for astrology. Meanwhile, I'm using the debate to highlight the very real need for science students to be taught the philosophy of science.

Paving the way for open-mindedness in future scientists -- that's exciting news. We look forward to hearing the results of your student's thesis on planetary dominance in the solar cycle. Thank you very much, Dr. Seymour.
You're welcome. It was nice talking to you.
 

References and Notes
1. The ringing bell analogy was taken from Doug Margel's article, "Ringing the Bell: Storms on the Sun," The Mountain Astrologer, Aug./Sept. 1997. Margel examines the astrology of solar flares affecting Earth's magnetosphere.
2. Percy Seymour, The Scientific Basis of Astrology, W. Foulsham, Slough, U.K.: Quantum, November 1997.
3. Michel Gauquelin, The Cosmic Clocks, San Diego, CA: ACS Publications, 1982.
4. Dava Sobel, "Dr. Zodiac," Omni, December 1989, p. 62.
5. Percy Seymour, Cosmic Magnetism, Bristol, U.K.: Adam Hilger, 1986.
6. H. Eysenck & D. Nias, Astrology: Science or Superstition?, London, England: Maurice Temple Smith, 1982.
7. J. H. Nelson, "Shortwave Radio Propagation Correlation with Planetary Position," RCA Review, March 1951.
8. Michel Gauquelin, Neo-Astrology: A Copernican Revolution, Chapter 3, London: Arkana, Penguin Group, 1991. Gauquelin examines the controversy surrounding his studies, in which the birth charts of outstanding athletes were shown to have Mars positioned in one of the four "Gauquelin plus zones" of the diurnal circle (see Fig. 2). This planetary effect later became known as "the Mars effect."
9. J. Dommanget, "The 'Mars Effect' as Seen by the Committee PARA," Journal of Scientific Exploration, Volume 11: Number 3:
Article 2, 1997, pp. 275-295; Jan Willem Nienhuys, "The Mars Effect in Retrospect," Skeptical Inquirer, Nov./Dec. 1997, pp. 24-29; Suitbert Ertel and Kenneth Irving, "Mars Effect -Dead or Alive? Dissenting from J. W. Nienhuys' 'Retrospect,'" Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 22, No. 4, July/Aug. 1998, p. 59; and J. W. Nienhuys, "Responding to Ertel: Mars Flukes," Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 22, No. 4, July/Aug. 1998, p. 60.
10. Suitbert Ertel & Kenneth Irving, The Tenacious Mars Effect, Urania Trust, England, 1996. This book may be obtained by telephoning The Astrology Center of America at 1-800-475-2272.
11. Michel Gauquelin, Planetary Heredity, San Diego: ACS Publications, 1988.
12. George Biddell Airy, "Tides and Waves," London, England: Encyclopedia Metropolitan, 1845.
13. J. B. Blizard, "Long Range Solar Flare Prediction," NASA Contractor Report, CR 61316, 1969.
14. P. A. H. Seymour, Astrology: The Evidence of Science (revised and extended paperback version), Great Britain: Arkana-Penguin, 1990. Diverse research and references provided by Dr. Seymour on the biological consequences of fluctuations in the geomagnetic field.
15. F. A. Brown, Jr. et al., "Comparison of Fluctuations in Cosmic Radiation and Organismic Activity during 1954, 1955, and 1956," Amer. J. Physiolo., Vol. 195, 1958, pp. 237-243. Brown has several published works detailing his research in this vast field of study.
16. R. Robin Baker, "Human Navigation and Magnetoreception in Animal Behavior," Phys., Technol., Vol. 35, 1987, pp. 691-704.
17. Michel Gauquelin, Neo-Astrology: A Copernican Revolution, pp. 171-173. Gauquelin discusses possibilities as to why subsequent studies of the planetary heredity effects failed to replicate earlier, positive results.
18. Michel Gauquelin, The Cosmic Clocks, pp. 127-129.
19. Dava Sobel, "Dr. Zodiac," Omni, p. 68.
20. For more details on the strong planetary aspects of May 2000, see Tem Tarriktar,"Millennial Alignments: 1999-2000," The Mountain Astrologer, June/July 1998, p. 67.
21. Otto Neugebauer, The Exact Sciences in Antiquity, New York: Dover, 1969.
22. Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, Berkeley, CA: Shambhala, 1975.
23. P. A. H. Seymour, "Magneto-Tidal Coupling Between the Components of the Solar System," in Proceedings of the First International Conference on Geocosmic Relations, Pudoc (Wageningen), 1990.Bibliography R. B. Culver and P. A. Ianna, The Gemini Syndrome: A Scientific Evaluation of Astrology, Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1982.
 

GLOSSARY

Magnetosphere -- A magnetic cavity surrounding Earth formed by the interaction of the planetary magnetic field with the solar wind as it flows past. Earth's magnetosphere fluctuates between 20 to 30 times the size of the diameter of the planet, and contains
layers of multi-frequencies, some of which make shortwave and satellite communications possible. High sunspot activity causes Earth's magnetosphere to grow in size (see Fig. 4).

Tidal forces/tidal tug -- The gravitational pull of the Sun, Moon, and planets on each other. The Moon, for instance, is known to "tug" on the Earth's oceans, causing the changing tides. Likewise, the planets constantly pull on each other.
In Seymourís theory, a key effect of tidal tugs is how the outer planets tugging on the common center of mass of the solar system cause the reversal of the Sun's magnetic field.

Geomagnetic index -- A general term for a measurement of magnetic variations in Earth's field. Several indices using various methods are employed for this purpose. "A-index," for example, measures solar particle radiation by its magnetic effects. Gauquelin noted in The Cosmic Clocks, " . . . if a child is born on a [magnetically] disturbed day, the number of heredity similarities is twice as high as on quiet days. This suggests that the Moon and planets do affect life, through the solar field," p. 127.

Lunar daily magnetic variation -- A phenomenon in which the Moon's tidal tug on Earth's ionized regions of plasma registers variations in the atmospheric pressure at ground level. The lunar daily magnetic variation varies according to latitude on the surface of the planet, the geometry of the land mass, and the presence or lack of iron ore deposits. Seymour asserts the possibility that even buildings constructed with reinforced steel may affect the local geometry of the field, thus distorting magnetic signals picked up by the fetus.

Plasma -- A highly ionized gas cloud comprised of electrically-charged particles. Earth's ionosphere has various layers differing in intensity and frequency. These layers exist in the Earth's upper atmosphere due to solar radiation, which strips atoms of some of their electrons, thus creating an electrically- conducting medium. Four major factors seem to influence the Earth's ionosphere. Daily changes in the various layers are caused by the rotation of the Earth about its axis. Seasonal changes occur due to the constantly changing positions of the Earth and Sun relative to the Earth's orbit around the Sun. Geographical variations in the ionosphere depend on latitude; in equatorial regions where the Sun is more directly overhead, greater intensity is noted. Cyclical variations caused by the eleven-year sunspot cycle are perhaps the most influential in altering the intensity of plasma regions, which are the regions employed by radio short- wave communications. This happens as a result of the solar wind transporting charged particles from the Sun's magnetic field to the Earthís magnetosphere, thus disrupting the field.

Magneto tidal resonance -- Seymour's new term to describe resonance phenomena connected with the tidal effects of the planets. An example of resonance is when an opera singer shatters a wine glass by matching the frequency in her voice with the natural frequency of the glass. A more dramatic display of resonance occurred in Washington state some years ago when high winds produced resonance phenomena that caused the Tacoma Narrows bridge to collapse. Seymour's theory applies magneto tidal resonance to planetary tides affecting solar activity beneath the surface of the Sun, and to planets affecting the Earth's magnetosphere.

Solar cycle  --  Cyclical variation in solar activity measured by the number of sunspots, with a period of roughly eleven years.  A new solar or sunspot cycle begins when new spots first appear 30 to 40 degrees north and south of the solar equator.   The Sun's equatorial regions are relatively "spot-free" during this phase.  As the solar cycle progresses, sunspots increase in size and number, gradually appearing closer and closer to the Sun's equator.  In other words, newly emerging sunspots "flee" the Sun's poles, clustering around the solar equator.  This migration of sunspots from higher to lower latitudes as the solar cycle progresses creates the butterfly diagram (see Fig. 10).

As the cycle nears its end, old-cycle spots at higher latitudes begin to vanish. It should be noted that sunspots are associated with strong magnetic fields.  The magnetic fields of sunspots and their migratory movements appear interrelated with other aspects of solar activity.  For instance, astronomers have discovered that at the beginning of each new sunspot cycle, the Sun's north and south magnetic poles switch polarity.  This reversal of the Sun's magnetic field is called the Sun's magnetic cycle, which is approximately 22 years long, twice the duration of the eleven-year solar/sunspot cycle.

Eddy currents -- Convective currents that circulate and transfer heat/energy in the form of hot gases. Heated gases from the Sun's interior expand and rise. As they rise to the Sun's surface regions, the gases cool and fall. The Sun's magnetic field is generated by the complex churning motions of these gases. As the gases move, the lines of magnetic force follow, thus producing what Seymour calls the "braiding of the field."
 

Subplanetary point -- Draw a line from the center of a planet to the center of the Sun. Where that line intersects the surface of the Sun is the subplanetary point of that planet.  As the Sun rotates, the subplanetary point moves across the surface of the Sun, which corresponds with a gravitational pull of that planet on the Sun.

Alfven speed -- The speed at which the free wave naturally propagates along a canal. A wave motion occurring in a magnetized plasma.

Spectral line -- A graphic representation of a well-defined frequency, denoted by a peak or vertical "spike." Atoms broadcast a number of light waves of various frequencies. These narrowly defined frequencies correspond to specific lines in the spectrum.

Zeeman effect -- A measurement used to determine the strength of magnetic fields in the Sun and other stars. All atoms give off a set of colors characteristic of their chemical elements. The Dutchman Zeeman showed how atoms placed in a magnetic field change the colors they emit. Astronomer George Hale first used the Zeeman effect to measure the strength of the magnetic fields in sunspots. Percy Seymour, Astrology: The Evidence of Science, p.132.

Percy Seymour
 

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