There is no sky, there is no firmament. The vault of heaven is an illusion. There is only the void. The void is immense, it has no boundaries, it may extend forever. The Earth is suspended in the void, a speck of dust floating in the blackness and the emptiness.
But the void is not empty. There are lights in the void, lights in the distance, and we can see them. The Earth is not alone. And it is not motionless. The Earth spins once a day, and we see the lights in the void move around us as we turn. All those lights appear to spin about the Earth every day, so either they do so together, or it is the Earth that spins instead. It is the Earth that spins. There is no way for us to know this, but that is the truth, and that truth will become clear in time as our knowledge increases.
The Moon circles us every day as the Earth turns. That is an illusion, it is the Earth that is spinning. But we also know the Moon travels about the sky once a month. We see it moving slowly amongst the distant stars. The Moon is another world, like the Earth. We can see shapes on it, perhaps lands and seas, perhaps plains and highlands. We can also see its phases as it is illuminated by the sun. The Moon is full when opposite the Sun, and dark when near it, is it not? Sometimes it goes into Earth’s shadow, other times it passes in front of the Sun. The Earth turns every day, and the Moon circles the turning Earth every month. But how do we know the stars are more distant than the Moon? Sometimes the moon passes in front of a star, but never the opposite. We cannot know all this now, but as our wisdom increases so will our knowledge.
The Sun also appears to circle us every day as the earth turns. We know that is an illusion, it is the Earth that turns every day. But we see the Sun also move about the sky once a year, relative to the distant stars. And yet, it is not moving about the Earth, the Earth moves about the Sun. The Earth spins once a day, the moon moves about the Earth every month, and the Earth and Moon together circle the Sun once a year. The Sun is a great ball of fire, light and heat. It is much further away than the Moon, so it must be much larger. It illuminates the Moon, and it makes the day bright and the night dark when it sets. How do we know this? Why should it be so? Is there a reason? Those questions cannot be answered, but some day it will be clear as our knowledge increases.
There are other lights in the sky. The planets wander amongst the stars, and their paths are complex and strange. They too are worlds like the Earth, and they too circle the Sun, Mercury and Venus are closer to the Sun than Earth. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are farther away. They look like bright stars, but they are not. We call them wanderers, planets. This means the Earth is a planet too. It is farther from the Sun than Mercury and Venus, but closer to the Sun than the others. This explains the differences in their paths. Again, how do we know this? We cannot know this now, but as our wisdom increases so will our knowledge.
And what about the stars? What are the stars? They appear to circle the Earth every day as the Earth turns, but our Earth’s motion about the Sun does not appear to affect their positions at all. They appear to be stuck to a firmament we know does not exist, lights on a turning crystal sphere.
We see those not lost in the Sun’s glare, but as the Earth circles about to the other side of the Sun, or as it turns to face away from it, new stars are revealed in the East as the old stars gather behind the Sun. The stars are there even if we cannot see them in the sunlight.
So what are the stars? They are other suns, not so different from our own, but at immense distances from us. Perhaps they have planets circling them as well, too far away to see. There are planets and there are stars. How do we know this? We do not, We can not. But some day we will know, as our knowledge increases.
There are other lights in the sky. The Milky Way is made up of the combined lights of many distant stars, so far away they cannot be seen singly. There are many more stars, but so far away or so dim we cannot see them. Meteors and comets also pass through the sky, the former only briefly and randomly, the latter sometimes visible for weeks at a time. The meteors seen to fall to Earth, the comets fly through the realm of the planets. They too circle the sun.
I know this all to be the truth. But you cannot know this, and you must question this. You are right to question me, The lights in the sky are in the sky, not in a book, and it is the sky where you must look for answers, not in my word. I only speak to teach you that what you see is not what it seems. We are so small, and the void is so big. It is hard to tell what we see because it is like nothing else in our understanding. It is like nothing we have ever seen. But it can be understood, and it can be known. You can see, and you can reason.
You must learn these mysteries for yourself. Look at the sky, measure it. Study it. Ask questions, remember what you see, speak to others wiser than yourself. But remember, they know no more about the sky than you because they only see what you see. One day, after you learn how to learn, you will know. Do this, and someday your knowledge will increase, and you will know what I have taught you, but you will have learned it by yourself.