Favourite Kant Footnotes, #5

Last one for now:

I have a conjecture according to which it strikes me as very probable that Sirius or the Dog Star is the central body in that star system making up the Milky Way and occupies the central point towards which all the stars are related. If we consider this system according to the design in the first part of this treatise, as a crowd of stars which have accumulated on a common plane, then the sun which is similarly located near this plane will have a view of the appearance of this circularly shaped zone with a shimmering white light at its brightest on that side located nearest to the outermost edge of the system. For it is easy to assume that it is not positioned exactly at the central point. Now, the band of the Milky Way is brightest in the part between the sign of the Swan and the sign of the Hunter (Sagittarius). Consequently, this will be the side where the location of our sun is closest to the outermost periphery of the circular system. And in this section we will consider the closest of all locations especially the place where the constellations of the Eagle and the Fox stand with that of the Goose, because there in the intervening space, where the Milky Way divides, the greatest visible scattering of stars shines out. If we then draw a line approximately from the place near the tail of the Eagle through the middle of the plane of the Milky Way right to the spot on the opposite side, this line must meet the mid-point of the system. And in fact it does meet Sirius with great precision. Sirius is the brightest star in the entire heavens. Because of the fortunate combination of this and its preponderant shape, Sirius appears to merit being considered that central body itself. According to this idea, Sirius would appear directly in the band of the Milky Way, if the location of our sun, which with respect to the tail of the Eagle deviates somewhat from its plane, did not cause the visual displacement of the mid-point toward the other side of such a zone.

From the “Universal Natural History and Theory of Heaven“.

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