CAPTIONS: Planet X as visualized by a NASA artist. (The glowing orb in the distance is our sun.) The late Zecharia Sitchin.
As recently as our March/April issue, Atlantis Rising reported on new claims for the discovery of a long-sought ninth planet in the solar system (with Pluto now excluded, eight remain, officially speaking). The existence of the legendary body, often referred to as “Planet X,” has long been dismissed as strictly imaginary, but detractors, it turns out, may have spoken too soon.
In his 1975 best-selling book, The Twelfth Planet, and its many sequels (as we reported in A.R., #116 “Planet X or Not?), the late researcher Zecharia Sitchin claimed he had decoded from the ancient cuneiform tablets of Sumeria, the story of a mysterious rogue planet which periodically (every 3600 years) approached the vicinity of Earth. Named ‘Nibiru’, the planet was populated, said Sitchin, by a powerful, technologically advanced race of giants known as the Anunnaki, which intervened forcefully in the affairs of Earth, accounting—Sitchin believed—for many of the anomalies of our ancient history. Ever since publication of The Twelfth Planet, legions of Sitchin acolytes have searched in vain for scientific evidence for the existence of ‘Planet X’.
Arguments over the possibility of another planet beyond the orbit of Neptune have raged since long before Sitchin, but nothing conclusive has ever appeared. Then, in December 2015, fresh scientific news on the subject emerged with the release of two Swedish papers to the website for the Journal of Astronomy of Astrophysics. The new findings soon rekindled the long-simmering debate and generated headlines around the world. The Swedes claimed to have spotted a new, relatively large, body out in the neighborhood of Pluto. Astronomer Wouter Vlemmings at Chalmers University of Technology, co-author of both studies, reported observation of an object moving against background stars, which was then dubbed Gna, after a swift Nordic deity who delivers messages for Frigg, the goddess of wisdom.
Unfortunately, or so it seemed at the time for Planet X believers, both papers were immediately dismissed by the astronomical establishment. The object reported, it was thought, might possibly be a large asteroid. Nevertheless, further analysis remained to be done, so the file—at least in theory—stayed open. The big news came in January, after Atlantis Rising’s March/April issue had already gone to press. “The solar system appears to have a new ninth planet,” trumpeted the prestigious magazine Science. A new study from two “respected planetary scientists” was making the case this time. According to Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, as published in The Astronomical Journal, this discovery is different from all the previously claimed Planet X findings. “We believe it enough,” says Brown, “where we’re willing to write a paper and stand up and say, ‘Yes. For the past century everybody who said there was a Planet X is crazy. And they were all wrong. But we’re right.’”
Brown got his first clue to his current conclusions in 2003, when he led a team that found Sedna, an object slightly smaller than both Eris and Pluto. Sedna’s odd, far-flung orbit made it, then, the most distant known object in the solar system. Its perihelion, or closest point to the sun, lay at 76 AU (Astronomical Unit—the distance from the Earth to the Sun), beyond the Kuiper belt and far outside the influence of Neptune’s gravity. The implication was clear: Something massive, well beyond Neptune, must have pulled Sedna into its distant orbit.
Not everyone is convinced that a new planet has been found. In a January edition of Atlantic magazine, Science writer Thomas Levenson says, “There aren’t any obvious errors in Batygin and Brown’s gravitational argument, but nature has plenty of ways to fool astronomers into seeing planets where there are none. Any mass exerts (as Newton saw it) a pull on everything else, and Newton’s universal law of gravitation describes how strong that tug will be, and what motion would result. In the case of Neptune and, presumptively, Planet Nine, undiscovered objects reveal themselves in the unexplained residues of motion of what’s already been observed, once all the known gravitational influences have been tallied up.”
As for the folks at NASA… Though they admit they’re excited by the possibility of a new planetary discovery, caution still reigns. “The idea of a new planet is certainly an exciting one,” NASA’s director of planetary science, Jim Green, told the Christian Science Monitor, but he qualified, “It’s too early to say with certainty that there is a so-called ‘Planet X’ out there.”
Other astronomers have argued that there could be an unseen planet much closer to Earth. Perturbations in Mercury’s orbit have led to speculation about a planet in that area, dubbed Vulcan. (For more on this, see Julie Loar’s Astrology column in A.R. #116. See also “Trek to the Planet Vulcan,” as well as her column in this issue, page 48, on the astrological significance of the new discovery.)
The Planet X Conjecture
As early as 1906, astronomer Percival Lowell was looking for his own version of Planet X, which he believed was indicated by observed perturbations in the orbit of Neptune. Over the years, there have been several reports of large objects in the Kuiper belt (i.e., Pluto and Eris); until now, though, none has been heavy enough to make a serious claim on the title, ‘Planet X.’ The newly discovered body, however, is said to be nearly as big as the planet Neptune. Though no one has seen it yet, its presence has been confidently proposed, and other experts have agreed that the numbers add up.
“The scientists inferred the planet’s presence,” says Science, “from the peculiar clustering of six previously known objects that orbit beyond Neptune. They say there’s only a 0.007% chance, or about one in 15,000, that the clustering could be a coincidence. Instead, they say, a planet with the mass of ten Earths has shepherded the six objects into their strange elliptical orbits, tilted out of the plane of the solar system.” The new ninth planet’s orbit around the sun is estimated to take around 15,000 years.
Neptune itself was discovered in 1846, after the French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier predicted the existence of a giant planet from irregularities in the orbit of Uranus; and, at the time, many observers suspected another planet might be orbiting beyond. Then, after the turn of the twentieth century Lowell began to argue that discrepancies in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune could be explained by the gravity of an unseen planet. When Pluto was discovered in 1930, many thought it validated Lowell’s hypothesis, and consequently, it was initially dubbed the ninth planet. In 1978, it was determined that Pluto had too little mass to have produced the observed effects on the orbits of Neptune and Uranus. After further research, including measurements by the Voyager spacecraft, it was decided that Pluto would be better classified as a dwarf planet, leaving the ‘ninth planet’ title vacant.
When Zecharia Sitchin wrote The Twelfth Planet, he followed ancient practice and included the Moon and the Sun on his solar system list. A lifelong student of Sumerian cuneiform text, as well as Hebrew, and Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Sitchin always insisted the ancient texts should be read, not as myths, but quite literally, essentially as journalism. Forget about Jungian archetypes and metaphysical/symbolic analysis. “If somebody says a group of 50 splashed down in the Persian Gulf, under the leadership of Enki,” he told Atlantis Rising in a 1990s interview, “and waded ashore and established a settlement, why should I say that this never happened, and this is a metaphor, and this is a myth, and this is imagination, and somebody just made it all up, and not say [instead] this tells us what happened.” Sitchin elaborated his unique explanation of the ancient texts into a vast and detailed history of what he believed were the actual events surrounding mankind’s origins. Presented in his books, was extensive 6,000-year-old evidence that there is one more planet in the solar system, from which “astronauts”—the biblical ‘giants’ (Nephilim)—came to Earth in antiquity.
The extra planet, he said, was called Nibiru, or Marduk in Babylonian. This planet, Sitchin argued, had a very eccentric orbit traveling from far beyond Pluto, cutting across the orbits of the rest of the planets, and then half-circling the Sun between Mars and Jupiter, taking 3,600 Earth years in the process. On its closest orbital approach, about 450,000 years ago, a band of Nibiruans known as the Anunnaki landed on Earth in southern Mesopotamia and proceeded to mine gold, evidently needed for their planet’s survival. Early efforts in the Persian Gulf proved inadequate, so underground mining in South Africa was begun.
Unused to such backbreaking toil, the workers ultimately rebelled, precipitating a visit to Earth by Anu, the Lord of Nibiru. At a meeting convened to resolve the problem, it was decided to genetically engineer a race of slave workers by crossing the ape-like creatures then inhabiting Earth with the Anunnaki. About 300,000 years ago, after a period of trial and error, the “perfect model” of a primitive worker was achieved by implanting the engineered embryo into the womb of a “birth goddess.” Mass production quickly followed. The rest, according to Sitchin, was history.
Of course, the idea that our planet has hosted visitors from other worlds who have played an important, yet secret, role in our history, has become very popular in recent years. The research of best-selling authors like Sitchin and Chariots of the Gods author Erich Von Daniken has been spotlighted by the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens show. The idea of alien intervention in the affairs of Earth in both the past and the future could be deemed more plausible if the home planet of the visitors is within our own solar neighborhood, and not light years away. Certainly many of those who believe the mysteries of advanced ancient technology on Earth are best explained by alien intervention will see support for their viewpoint in the new planetary discoveries. The same is also true for readers of science fiction who have witnessed many developments first described as science fiction.
Science fiction, after all, has been right about many amazing things, and some of its fans have even speculated, over the years, that SF writers must have had access to secret and authoritative sources of information. As researcher William B. Stoecker explained in “Foreseeing the Past,” (Atlantis Rising #94, July/August 2012) some writers of the genre do “seem to have had knowledge of our own mysterious past, as well as knowledge of the present, unavailable to most people.” He cites Jonathan Swift’s famous satire Gulliver’s Travels, seen by some as early science fiction, which in 1726 mentioned “the two moons of Mars, over a century before their discovery. Swift said they orbited at three and five diameters of Mars in orbital periods of 10 and 21.5 hours. The actual moons orbit at 1.4 and 3.5 Martian diameters from the red planet, in 7.6 and 30.3 hours. While not exact, this is pretty close for a coincidence.”
In their 1966 book, Intelligent Life in the Universe, astrophysicists I.S. Shklovski and Carl Sagan devoted a chapter to arguments that scientists and historians should seriously consider the possibility that extraterrestrial contact occurred during recorded history. However, Shklovski and Sagan stressed that these ideas were speculative and unproven.
The authors argued that sub-light-speed, interstellar travel by extraterrestrial life, was a certainty when considering technologies that were established or feasible in the late ’60s; that repeated instances of extraterrestrial visitation to Earth were plausible; and that pre-scientific narratives can offer a potentially reliable means of describing contact with aliens.
Sagan illustrated this hypothesis by citing the 1786 expedition of French explorer Jean-François de Galaup, Comte de La Pérouse, which made the earliest first contact between European and Tlingit cultures in the American Northwest. The preliterate Tlingit preserved the contact story as an oral tradition. Over a century after its occurrence, anthropologist George T. Emmons then recorded it. Although it is framed in a Tlingit cultural and spiritual paradigm, the story remained an accurate telling of the 1786 encounter. According to Sagan, this proved how, “under certain circumstances, a brief contact with an alien civilization will be recorded in a re-constructible manner. He further states that the reconstruction will be greatly aided if: 1) the account is committed to written record soon after the event; 2) a major change is effected in the contacted society; and 3) no attempt is made by the contacting civilization to disguise its exogenous nature.”
Additionally, Shklovski and Sagan cited tales of Oannes, a fish-like being attributed with teaching agriculture, mathematics, and the arts to early Sumerians, as deserving closer scrutiny as a possible instance of Paleo contact due to its consistency and detail (Wikipedia).
During World War II, natives on numerous Pacific Islands, exposed to the technologies of advanced civilization for the first time, became dependent on the supplies brought by cargo flights and subsequently formed what became known as cargo cults. The foreign visitors were deified and worshipped for the bounty they delivered, and continued to be so, long after the soldiers had left. Many believe the experience of the islanders is equivalent to that of ancient people encountering extraterrestrial visitors. Richard Hoagland, author of The Monuments of Mars, claims that NASA, which had studied the cargo-cult phenomena, made it policy from its inception to withhold any evidence of extraterrestrial civilization from the public, precisely because of the fear that we might be destructively influenced by contact with any advanced off-planet society.
There are others who argue that ET influence in our past may not consist entirely of the kind of crude physical events envisioned by materialist scientists who lead the world today. Indeed some, like Swedish polymath Emanuel Swedenborg, have claimed that intercommunication between this world and others has been going on for millennia, but in subtle, spiritual ways well beyond the capacity of most earthlings to fully appreciate.
Whatever the nature of any new Ninth Planet, or any potential life thereon, it seems unlikely that it will to be able to interface with Earth anytime soon. Like other objects in its Kuiper belt neighborhood, it is a very long way from Earth. Its closest approach to the sun, in fact, is seven times farther than Neptune; and, in its outward journey, it may well travel far beyond any of the frozen worlds we have identified so far. In the meantime, scientists are continuing to scan the skies, mostly from an observatory in Hawaii, in hope of eventually laying eyes on our elusive distant neighbor, but don’t look for any emissaries to drop by.