lost star cruttenden
Lost Star of Myth and Time by Walter Cruttenden
It's our pleasure to welcome Walter Cruttenden, author of Lost Star of Myth and Time, as our featured author this month. Walter is the Director of the Binary Research Institute in California and has a background in math and science. His book investigates the scientific reality behind the myths of ancient cultures worldwide that spoke of a vast cycle of time with alternating dark and golden ages. Plato called it the Great Year. With the backing of new scientific evidence, Walter's book examines how this cycle of high and low ages may have some basis in fact. To better understand the physics behind the concept, Walter argues that we must observe the diurnal and annual motions of the Earth. In his article, Walter explores how the Earth's yearly revolution around the Sun significantly and profoundly affects human consciousness. He suggests a better understanding of ancient cultures' wisdom is the recipe for a higher civilization. Interact with Walter on our forum here.
A Three Body Problem

The hit Netflix series, Three Body Problem, based on the very real physics of how a multiple star system might affect life on an alien world, contains an important lesson for the future of our own sun and world.

Once thought to be rare, it is now estimated that half of all stars have partner stars. Examples include nearby Sirius A and B, and the three-star Alpha Centauri system, currently our closest stellar neighbor, on which the Netflix series is based. With the recent discovery of countless red and brown dwarf stars, some astronomers have pushed estimates to 80%, with many unseen. We would be wise to better understand the wild physics of these stellar systems before visiting one!

But a bigger question is if companion stars are the norm, could our sun have a partner? Recently a team of scientists at Caltech realized that something big is tugging on our solar system. While these astronomers are searching for a large unknown "Planet Nine", they haven't yet found anything big enough to be the cause of the observed gravitational anomalies. Consequently, some are starting to think beyond a planet, wondering if our sun might be gravitationally bound to another star, the definition of a binary star system.

The driving science behind Three Body Problem, by Liu Cixen, is that people living on a planet with two or more suns might find it exceedingly difficult to predict the seasons. And worse, those seasons might be greatly exaggerated leading to catastrophic consequences for the planetary inhabitants. The point is if our sun has a partner star, then our earth might be subjected to periodic climate, and other cosmic upheavals. If it happened in the distant past, our memories of the last close stellar encounter are all but gone, but myth and folklore do hint at such events.

The Science

One indication that something big is now affecting our solar system is the strange behavior of the dwarf planets that lie beyond Neptune. These small planets, including Pluto, all have highly elongated orbits. Also, their perihelions (closest approach to the sun) tend to bunch up on just one side of the sun, and their orbits are highly inclined to the plane of the major planets. This strange behavior is what led scientists Mike Brown and Constantine Batygin at Caltech to begin the search for a large planet far past Neptune in the outer reaches of the Kuiper Belt. They estimate that such a planet has a mass of at least ten Earths, but some put the estimate much higher. An extensive search using telescopes and instruments around the world has been ongoing for about seven years. Scientists caution that such an object could be very faint and extremely difficult to detect.

Another reason that some are looking for something big, perhaps even a companion star, larger but farther out, has to do with the fact that our sun itself is accelerating in its motion across the sky. Over the last two hundred years, a period of relatively accurate modern measurements, it has been found that the sun has increased its motion across the sky from about 50.1 arc seconds per year to 50.3 arc seconds per year. While this might not sound like much, it means that the rate at which it takes the sun to move 360 degrees (1,296,000 arc seconds - a complete orbit across the sky) has gone from 25,868 years to 25,765 years. That represents a reduction in the sun's possible binary orbit period of 100 years in just the last two centuries! This is a large effect with astronomical implications.

Few people are aware of the sun's accelerating motion because it has been obscured by an archaic precession theory, which dictates the sun cannot move. In 1543 Copernicus published De Revolutionibus, bringing back the old Greek heliocentric system (lost in 300BC) and fixing the sun as the "immovable center of the universe". In doing so, he effectively explained away all motion of the sun by saying it only "appeared" to move relative to the equinox or background stars, due to a "wobble" of the earth's axis. He, and others to follow, would claim that all motion of the sun was a vestige of a wobbling earth axis, and the sun, like the fixed stars, could not move.

A few hundred years after Copernicus, Sir Isaac Newton gave us the "lunisolar theory of precession", reasoning that it must be the huge gravity of the sun, and the nearby gravity of the moon, both pulling on an oblate earth causing the axis to change orientation by about 50 arc seconds per year. He assumed that only an axis that wobbled this much would cause the equinox to occur 50 arc seconds sooner every year (making the background stars appear to shift this much, a.k.a. precession). In his mind, a wobbling axis was the only reason we saw the sun move backwards across the sky. In other words, he thought solar motion was all an illusion, just as Copernicus had stated. This was long before anyone conceived of a galaxy, or the idea that the sun could move around the galaxy.

Newton's equations never completely worked. Specifically, they couldn't explain why the sun "appeared" to move "faster" across the sky each year. Many scientists tried to fix Newton's formula by adding in thousands of variables beyond just the moon and sun. They included forces for the other major planets, asteroids, comets, atmospheric effects, etc., but the equation still didn't predict the acceleration. Finally, around the year 1900, the great astronomer Simon Newcomb said he didn't know why the sun moved faster each year but found that by adding .000222 arc seconds per year, the precession calculation could come very close to predicting the actual rate of the sun's observed motion. This mathematical plug allowed sailors and others who needed to know the exact position of the sun to better navigate. And so it went, until radios, computers, satellites, GPS, and other forms of navigation completely negated the need to measure the sun's motion. Today, almost no one needs to know the precession rate anymore because no one navigates by the sun. Thus, it doesn't matter how much the sun moves each year - or does it?

In Lui Cixen's novel, the inability of the Trisolarian beings to predict the position of their three suns, resulted in seasons of extreme cooling and heating arriving without warning! This led to a huge loss of life and history in his fictional world. Likewise, many ancient cultures here on Earth spoke of similar swings in climate and conditions. We read of ice ages and warming periods. And myth and folklore are replete with high ages of enlightenment, or Golden Ages, alternating with dark ages, and back again. Plato called this cycle "the Great Year". It is also known as one precession of the equinox, the period it takes the sun to move through all twelve ancient constellations of the zodiac and return to its starting point. Right now, based on the Vernal Equinox, the sun is in Pisces near the edge of Aquarius, i.e., "the dawning of the age of Aquarius".

The Greeks broke the cycle into Iron, Bronze, Silver and Golden Ages, saying that ages, like vast seasons, demarcated different eras and conditions here on planet Earth. The ancient Indians held the same belief, and called the precession cycle a "Yuga" cycle, and divided it into ascending and descending phases, when things would get better or grow worse. They, too, spoke of four ages; their Kali Yuga or darkest age was akin to the Greek Iron Age, the Indian Dwapara Yuga, when mankind supposedly begins to awaken in scientific knowledge, was like the Greek Bronze Age or Age of the Hero. And their two higher ages, known as the Treta and Satya Yugas, mirrored the Grecian Silver and Golden Ages, which the Greeks also deemed the age of the demigods and the age of the Gods, to depict the level of consciousness that was supposedly common in those ages.

Many of these myths are documented by the former professor of the History of Science at MIT, Giorgio de Santillana, in his brilliant book, Hamlet's Mill. Looking for the "origins of knowledge", Giorgio and his equally learned co-author, Hertha von Dechend, show that over thirty ancient cultures held such beliefs about a grand cycle of time. Some tied the changing ages to the movement of the sun or motion of the heavens, and some even claimed it was brought about by our sun's motion around another star. For example, the Mithraic culture spoke of a sun beyond the sun and showed this other sun as Mithras turning the wheel of the zodiac, again: precession. Their temples often include a basrelief of two boys, Cautes and Cautopates, one holding a torch up and the other holding a torch down, depicting the ascending and descending phases of the Great Year. Did the ancients have knowledge of another star, and did they understand how it affected life on Earth?

Oriental Astronomy

The Binary Research Institute in California has been studying this idea for almost twenty years, producing documentaries, books, papers, podcasts and conferences on the subject. That is where I work and where we investigate both the celestial mechanics of a moving solar system, as well as the myth, folklore and historical references to related cycles of time. The most thorough ancient account describing our sun as being part of a binary star system is found in the book The Holy Science, written in 1894 by the Indian astronomer and philosopher Swami Sri Yukteswar. In the introduction, we find a most interesting paragraph:
We learn from Oriental astronomy that moons revolve around their planets, and planets turning on their axes revolve with their moons round the sun; and the sun with its planets and their moons takes some star for its dual, and revolves round it in about 24,000 years of our earth - a celestial phenomenon that causes the backward motion of the equinoctial points around the zodiac.
What?! You will notice the first three statements are in perfect accord with modern astronomy: 1. moons do revolve around their planets, 2. planets do turn on their axes, and 3. planets do revolve around the sun. But mid-sentence, we find two startling statements: our sun "takes some star for its dual" (effectively claiming we are in a binary system), AND this phenomenon causes the backward motion of the equinoctial point - suggesting the cause of "precession" is not solely a wobbling axis - but also - or rather - a sun that moves! This eastern explanation is much different than the western hypothesis: the axis must wobble because the sun cannot move.

While some astronomers will entertain the possibility that our sun is, or might have been, part of a binary system at one time, I was unable to find any astrophysicist who was even aware of the ancient or Oriental concept of precession: that precession — seen as the sun moving backwards across the sky every ~25,000 years — is actually the observable (what we see from Earth) of our sun moving around another star!

At BRI, we built a precession model based on this binary sun concept (binary model of precession), and tested it against the standard Newtonian model, and compared these to the precession observable (the rate at which the sun moves across the sky) over the last two hundred years. While Yukteswar didn't give us the name or location of the possible companion star, he did give us a 24,000-year orbit period and the dates of the last aphelion and perihelion (farthest and nearest points) as 500AD and 11,500BC. Using this information and knowing that any orbit would have to obey Kepler's laws (bodies speed up when moving closer together and slow down as they move farther apart), the binary model predicted the rate at which the sun should be moving across the sky, a.k.a. precession, at any point in its orbit. The result was startling! This simple binary model proved to be 40 times more accurate than the far more complicated Western model for predicting the changing rate of precession. If only Newton and Newcomb knew!

This is not to say Newton was completely wrong about axial wobble. But we did find that axial wobble is constrained to no more than about two arc seconds per year, meaning that most of the precession observable (sun moving across sky) is because the sun actually moves across the sky. There are several proofs here. For example, precession is easily observed relative to objects "outside" the frame of the moving solar system (i.e., Stars) but cannot be detected relative to objects "within" the frame of a moving solar system (i.e., Planets), thereby suggesting the precession observable is caused by a moving solar system. But the best proof comes by calculating the number of lunar orbits in a year versus the number of full moons we see each year. Both are numbers known to several decimal points, as evidenced by our ability to predict the time and place of solar eclipses to within a few seconds. The moon, which travels with and observes the Earth (but does not care if the Earth wobbles or not), tells us that very little of what we call precession can be due to axial wobble. Most of the sun's motion across the sky must be caused by a sun that actually moves - and in fact - it moves a great deal!

What Astronomers Say

Precession and classical celestial mechanics, in general, are considered settled science. Very few astronomers study precession or care about precession dynamics anymore. They can find the solar and stellar positions from a host of online services and don't need to do calculations. Those dynamists who are involved in producing the data may occasionally add or subtract variables to the computations (what was originally Newton's equation), but none are looking at any new (or very old) underlying theories. Most astrophysicists today prefer more exciting fields like black holes, dark matter, dark energy, plasma physics, gravity waves, etc.

If you ask an astronomer if we could be in a binary system most will say it is highly unlikely, or if we were in one, we should know it by now. This is largely because most think the sun hardly moves at all (because precession obscures its motion), and surely, we would see the sun move if it were gravitationally bound to another star. The old paradigm, "the sun cannot move", still haunts us!

In talking with astronomers, I have compiled a short list of requirements for being in a binary system. Beyond observing a moving sun, they are: 1. The best partner candidate would likely be our closest star, or one that is soon to be our closest star, 2. This companion star would probably display a very high rate of proper motion, appearing to move very quickly across the sky, 3. The companion would probably appear to be coming almost straight towards us, and 4. The center of mass (mid gravitational point) between our sun and this other star would need to be less than one light year away (when our companion star reaches aphelion) in order for our sun to complete an orbit in roughly 24,000 years, the approximate precession period. Amazingly, we have found a candidate that meets all criteria!

Barnard's Star

When Sri Yukteswar wrote of our sun's "dual star" in 1894, Barnard's star, a red dwarf star with a mass of about 50,000 Earths, our second closest stellar neighbor (after the three-star Alpha Centauri system), was completely unknown. In fact, it was not discovered until 1915 by E.E. Barnard. But it appears to fulfill all companion star requirements.

This faint star, which can't currently be seen without the aid of a telescope, wasn't given much attention until the 1960's when people began to notice it is moving faster than any other star in the sky. Of course, any nearby object, be it a planet or star, should appear to be moving faster than a more distant object. But Barnard's breaks the mold. It is currently 1.8 light-years more distant than Proxima Centauri (the nearest star in the nearest stellar system, Alpha Centauri), yet Barnard's is moving three times faster! Consequently, some are now calling Barnard's "the runaway star". It clearly meets the high proper motion threshold!

No one thinks our sun has a companion, so no one equates Barnard's speed to anything to do with our sun. The best guess is that Barnard's high proper motion is due to a close encounter with another star sometime in the last ten to twenty thousand years. The thinking goes that only an interaction of this magnitude would give Barnard's the gravitational boost needed to become "the fastest star in the sky".

So, which star gave Barnard's its big boost? Given the scale of the local stellar neighborhood that mystery star should still be relatively close by. When you search the hood, you will see that one of the very few nearby stars is none other than our own sun! Moreover, the direction that Barnard's is now moving, straight towards us, is almost too much of a coincidence. Indeed, Barnard's current trajectory has led some alarmists to suggest that Barnard's, the runaway star, is now on a collision course with our sun! I seriously doubt this, but it is a fun subject to Google! Barnard's clearly meets the proximity, speed and trajectory criteria.

Comment: Bear in mind the comment from the beginning of the article: many of these binary stars are unseen. And so whilst Barnard's star may be a candidate, it's also possible that the twin may be a brown dwarf that cannot - yet? - been seen, even if its affect is clearly measurable, and consequential.

Smoking Guns

Beyond the obvious criteria, there are two more data points that are even more compelling. The first is a relatively recent paper that shows Barnard's is not slowing down after whatever close encounter it may have had in the last few thousand years. Barnard's is speeding up! If you understand Kepler's Laws, you know that when an object has a close encounter with another large object, it gets an initial gravitational bump and then fades as it leaves the near point (periapsis), with the deceleration becoming more apparent over the years. However, if two objects are in a gravitational relationship, and in the phase of moving towards each other, they will both show acceleration. This is exactly what we see with Barnard's and the sun, a pretty good sign the two objects may be attracted to each other. It might be possible that Barnard's is attracted to something other than the sun, causing it to accelerate, but that would be an even bigger mystery! Given its direction, straight towards us, and the fact that we, too, are accelerating, it seems these two stars have a thing for each other!

Another big reason to suggest Barnard's could be our companion comes from a recent calculation of "when" Barnard's will come closest to our sun. Independent astronomers have now calculated that Barnard's will move even closer to us than Proxima Centauri (currently our closest star, at 4.2 light-years) when Barnard's comes within 3.75 light-years of our sun in the year 11,800AD. This date is remarkably close to the time Yukteswar predicted our "dual star" would make its next close encounter with the sun "in 12,500AD". In fact, the difference between the two dates (one made before Barnard's was even discovered!) is about 700 years, which is less than 3% of the predicted 24,000-year orbit period! Again, it is either a fantastic coincidence or "Oriental Astronomy" had a lost knowledge we are only now rediscovering.

Modern Calculations Confirm Ancient Predictions

In the series, Three Body Problem, it is said that the Trisolarians will travel at about one percent the speed of light, requiring roughly 400 years to cruise from Alpha Centauri to our solar system. The book uses this mean travel time to build a tantalizing drama!

I assume the interstellar speed of the Trisolarian ship is actually closer to 1.1 percent the speed of light but allows a few decades to accelerate and then decelerate again as their spacecraft approaches our system. It raises the question: is it realistic to assume our solar system and Barnard's star could go around their common center of mass in just 24,000 years? Stars may not move like spaceships, but are the stellar speeds we now observe in the ballpark?

Before answering that question, you should know that most astronomers have long thought that if we were in a binary system, the orbit period would be some crazy number, like 60 million years. This is the number used in the Nemesis theory, put forth by Richard Muller of Berkley in the late 1960s. His theory assumed that the destruction of the dinosaurs, and other periodic extinction-level events, were caused because some binary neighbor occasionally perturbs massive objects out of the Oort Cloud, sending a reign of terror (comets or asteroids) towards an innocent earth. But there is evidence of much shorter periodicities.

Author and investigative reporter Graham Hancock believes that the Younger Dryas, a sudden climate change that resulted in abnormally low temperatures between roughly 12,900 BC to 11,700 BC, may have been caused by a comet impact. Others, like geologist Robert Schoch of Boston University, think the Younger Dryas event might have been triggered by a huge solar outburst that affected the Earth's climate. In either case, such events may have been "triggered" by another star coming quite close to our sun. Note that the time of the Younger Dryas syncs neatly with the last time Barnard's star would have been closest to our sun, estimated at about 11,500 BC.

Technically, when two stars are in a binary system, they don't go around each other as much as they revolve around a common center of mass. This is how all gravitational systems work. If you want to balance a three-foot-long barbell, with a two-pound weight on one end and a one-pound weight on the other, you would lift that barbell by holding it just a foot from the heavier side. Likewise, if our sun's mass is equal to the weight of 333,000 Earths (which it is) and Barnard's star weighs about 48,000 Earth masses (latest best guess), and the two are 4.5 light-years apart (average during the entire orbit) then you can see the center of mass between the two objects would be less than one light year from our sun, more like .7 of a light-year. All this means is that our sun doesn't need to move very far or very fast to get around a common center of mass with Barnard's star in 24 thousand years. All it needs to do is just keep accelerating at its current rate until it reaches periapsis. Bottom line — all the physics work. Orbital calculations can be found on the BRI website.


Living on a planet in a binary star system may not be as dramatic as foretold in the Three Body Problem, but it would cause a cycle commensurate with the orbit period. As the two stars move closer, we would likely feel not only gravitational effects but also increasing electromagnetic effects. These should be similar to what we now experience during the cycle of day and night, or the cycle of the seasons, albeit on a longer time scale.

Think about it. Every evening, when we turn away from the sun, we eventually fall asleep, slipping from a conscious waking state to a subconscious dream state. Everything is different. Our worldly activity stops, and the same is true for most plants and animals. But when the Earth turns to face the sun again, we awaken, photosynthesis occurs, and practically everything on the sunny side of the Earth becomes more active, thanks to the electromagnetic stimulation. That's just the daily Earth rotation cycle. The seasons, caused by the Earth's revolution around the sun, produce similar effects, with trillions of plants and animals springing to existence and activity in the spring, only to wither and die with the coming of fall and winter. Of course, animals hibernate, migrate or take shelter to avoid the effects of less solar light. These are all behavioral changes indirectly produced by the waxing and waning electromagnetic spectrum from our nearest star, the sun, modulated by the Earth's tilt and orbit period around that star.

The last time our sun and Barnard's star would have been in close proximity would have been about 11,500AD. Hesiod, the famous Greek historian, spoke of a long-lost higher age as a time when mankind lived in peace and harmony with the Earth, and she "gave of herself freely". Imagine a time when not even mono crops were required! If true, mankind must have lived very close to nature. Hesiod also said that mankind lived to be very old in the higher ages, and we find similar statements in ancient Egyptian, Chinese, Persian and Biblical texts, where many figures like Noah, Seth or Methuselah supposedly lived to be more than 500 years old.

Modern authors on this subject tell us much the same. According to Joseph Selbie, author of The Yugas, the higher ages are a deeply spiritual age with highly conscious beings. Lifespans increase with the Yugas, and as he points out, they have roughly doubled just since the last dark age, the classical medieval period. It is said that only when consciousness declines in the lower ages that mankind suffers so greatly. Perhaps the building boom of the megalithic era, with great pyramids and ziggurats seeming to harness earth energies, was an attempt to hang on to the electromagnetic effects of a higher age. No one knows for sure, but for some reason, Egypt's first structures were its most amazing. Oddly, its engineering capabilities declined until, by the time of the Dark Ages, they could hardly build anything anymore! Same story with the Indus Valley, Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, and the same thing in Mesopotamia, Summer, Akkad and Babylon, and many other places around the world.

Another author on these subjects, Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, tells us in the higher ages, mankind was clairvoyant and telepathic, and that this capability declined until finally it was lost about 3000 BC. But he did say it would once again become "common knowledge" by 4100AD, when the two stars move closer together, and Earth enters the next higher age, Treta Yuga. It makes one wonder if writing is a skill only required when our clairvoyant abilities begin to lose hold?!


Graham Hancock and archaeologist Flint Dibble recently debated the idea of whether a higher age culture, or lost civilization of the distant past ever really existed. While Graham pointed out evidence for a knowledge of geodetics, precession, worldwide navigation, and similar wisdom that would have allowed ancient Egypt to be at its height in the beginning, Flint wanted more physical evidence. Holding to a strictly Darwinian paradigm, where no big cycles are recognized, traditional archaeology needs to see more physical stuff that preceded Egypt and Mesopotamia. A culture that lives in tune with Nature herself would probably leave little. It is likely that only when they begin to lose their higher consciousness abilities would they see the necessity of building large structures again. Thus, we find many early cultures "at their height near the beginning", as noted by the late great John Anthony West. Archaeologists may never find sufficient physical evidence of a lost higher civilization outside of megalithic structures (whose purpose we still don't understand) until we begin to look differently at what constitutes a higher age.

But there is evidence. The Ancients gave us the geodetic systems we still use today to map out our world: degrees, arc minutes and arc seconds for space, and hours, minutes and seconds for time. We connect and use them both for terrestrial and celestial reference frames. Heck, modern astronomers still use the ancient zodiac for convenience. If you want to know where Jupiter is, they will more often say, "It's in Taurus now", rather than give you the coordinates in terms of right ascension or declination. It's just easier.

And if you look very closely, you will see these ancient systems contain a knowledge of the larger yuga cycle. For example, our clocks and watches depict a 24 hour system of time that is a microcosm of the 24 thousand year macrocosmic cycle, the sun's motion through space (or through the Zodiac). While the Great Year is measured in years, even its phases, 12 thousand years moving towards its companion (more light), and 12 thousand years moving away (less light), mirror our daily system of time: 12 hours of AM (increasing light), and 12 hours of PM (decreasing light). These non-physical artifacts, a vestige of exceptional intelligence, will hopefully one day carry as much weight for the archaeologist as any physical evidence found at a dig site. The ancient sky watchers apparently understood the connection between the motions of the heavens and life on Earth much more than we do today!

Celestial motions have consequences daily, yearly, and longer! By grasping this concept, so dear to our ancestors, we might just better understand the highs and lows of our rich and beautiful history!


Walter Cruttenden

June 2024
Author links:


Lost Star of Myth and Time Amazon Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk CA JP DE ES FR IT

The Great Year Adventures Amazon Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk CA JP DE ES FR IT

Endorsements - from Lost Star book jacket:
"...a wonderful, stimulating, thought provoking...approach to the greatest problems of human history" -Graham Hancock

"A compelling explanation for a major, but studiously neglected mystery..." -John Anthony West

"In this pioneering book a new thesis has been parsed from ancient texts..." -John Major Jenkins