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Astronomy

Astronomy is the study of the ethereal heavens, which includes the orbiting celestial bodies and the fixed stars of the Firmament. The heavens are made up of eight concentric spheres composed of pure aether that are nestled inside each other. Each celestial body has its own sphere, and the spheres fit tightly against each other with no space between.

Below the Lunar Sphere is the elemental region, which contains the four elemental spheres that comprise the world of Corthis. Above the Celestial Sphere is the Void. Philosophers disagree on what exactly the Void is, as the complete lack of evidence limits philosophical hypotheses. Some believe that the Void is pure nothing -- emptiness without end. Others say that the Void is the next frontier that can be understood when philosophers have mastered this reality.


The Fixed Stars

The Celestial Sphere (sometimes called the Firmament) is the outermost of the spheres and the home of the fixed stars. Stars do not move within the Celestial Sphere, but the sphere itself does rotate from east to west and rocks north and south very slowly over the course of a year. Astronomers stargazing with the naked eye could count the number of stars, which were all tallied and identified. With the invention of the telescope in the 16th century, astronomers discovered thousands of previously unknown stars and are still identifying and recording their locations.

Philosophers believe that the stars are the souls of men and women who ascended at their death to take their place in the Celestial Sphere. With the discovery of so many more stars through the telescope, the current theory is that more souls, and possibly all souls, drift upward to take their place in the heavens. While the number of stars seems to be limitless, far fewer stars are bright enough to have their light reach Corthis -- much the way a bonfire burns brighter and its light reaches further than a candle. The stars visible to the naked eye must be the souls of the greatest men and women who have ever lived. Upon the death of kings, queens, and other persons of note, astronomers take to stargazing to ascertain whether a new star has been born.


The Planets

Elus

Elus resides just within the Celestial Sphere and is the furthest of the planets from Corthis, which it orbits once every thirty years. Elus has dominion over lead, the color black, and a number of plants such as barley, elm, holly, ivy, nightshade, and yew. Elus is the planet of restrictions. It commands endings, structure, and time. Its positive social influences are self-discipline and organization, while its negative influences are needless hierarchy and lack of empathy. Its vice is greed, and its virtue is charity.

Zenos

Below Elus is Zenos. It orbits Corthis once every twelve years. Zenos has dominion over tin, the color gray, and the plants dandelion, endive, leeks, oak, and sage. Zenos is the planet of expansion. It commands growth, judgment, and digestion. Its positive social influences are justice, honesty, and understanding, while its negative influences are excess, hypocrisy, and waste. Its vice is manipulation, and its virtue is honor.

Pyra

The ruddy sphere of Pyra is next. It orbits Corthis every two years. Pyra is associated with iron, the color red, and the plants basil, coriander, garlic, hops, nettles, and wormwood. Pyra is the planet of outward projection. It commands strength, defenses, and the will. Its positive social influences are dynamic energy, courage, and competition, while its negative are cowardice, abuse, and pointless conflict. Its vice is anger, and its virtue is courage.

Sol

Below Pyra is the sphere of the Sun. The Sun is not a planet but a luminary. It glows with incredible heat and radiates enough light to fill the cosmos. The Sun has dominion over gold, the color gold, and the plants chamomile, cinnamon, ginger, lemon, rosemary, and walnut. Sol commands warmth, the ego, and circulation. Its positive social influences are self-confidence, truth, and vitality, while its negative influences are intolerance and arrogance. Its vice is pride, and its virtue is loyalty.

Astarte

Astarte shows itself twice a day - once in the early morning and again in the evening. For some time it was thought to be two separate planets and as a consequence was sometimes called the Morningstar and the Eveningstar. Astarte has an orbit of about a year. It has dominion over copper, the colors blue and green, and the plants elder, mint, periwinkle, rose, thyme, and yarrow. Astarte is the planet of life. It commands beauty, refinement, and tranquility. Its positive social influences are love, sharing, and peace, while its negative influences are vanity and self-indulgence. Its vice is lust, and its virtue is prudence.

Niteo

The closest planet to Corthis is Niteo, directly above the Lunar Sphere. Niteo orbits Corthis once a year. It has dominion over the metal mercury, the color white, and the plants dill, hazelnut, lavender, marjoram, oats, and parsley. Niteo is the planet of communications. It commands movement, speech, and breath. Its positive social influences are alertness, reasoning, and intelligence, while its negative influences are nervousness and compulsions. Its vice is envy, and its virtue is kindness.

Luna

The Moon is the closest celestial body to Corthis, and the Lunar Sphere acts as the border between the ethereal region above an the elemental region below. Like the Sun, the moon is not a planet but a luminary. It does not produce its own light, but shares that of the Sun. The Moon has an orbit of a mere 28 days. It has dominion over silver, the color silver, and the plants cucumber, lettuce, watercress, waterlily, and willow. Luna commands emotions, water, and the unconscious. Its positive social influences are dreams, empathy, and intuition, while its negative social influences are irrationality and unreliability. Its vice is sloth, and its virtue is wisdom.

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