The Pleiades in Fact & Fiction

Exploding the myth of the Photon Belt

By Clare Williams

Originally published in UFORIC Communique, October 1992

Avid readers of Nexus Magazine may well recall an article entitled "The Photon Belt Story", which appeared in the February 1991 issue.

I read the article with amusement and laughed it off as a joke, however, I have recently become aware that many people took this article seriously and that it has been the cause of some concern.

I am sorry to say that this story, as romantic as it may be, has absolutely no basis in fact. It appears to have become part of a modern mythology, which has sprung up around the Pleiades, an open star cluster in the constellation of Taurus, the Bull, contrary to current scientific knowledge. This mythology seems to be based on a heady mixture of pseudoscience, channeled messages from alleged space entities, Biblical prophecy, ignorance and a liberal dose of naivete. It is fuelled by a general mistrust of our scientific community and misinterpretation of scientific thinking.

It is a sad reflection of the scientific education of our society that so many people can be taken in by a story that probably started life as a university student's prank.

For the benefit of those readers who have not read the article, in brief, it goes as follows:

In 1961, satellite born instruments discovered a PHOTON BAND in outer space. This PHOTON BELT or MANASIC RING, which scientists have not been able to reproduce in the laboratory, encircles the Pleiades and extends the 400 light years to our solar system. Quoting someone called Jose Comas Sola, our Sun was said to orbit this system and all these stars were said to have planets. Our Sun was said to orbit this system in 24,000 years. During this time we spend alternately 10,000 years in the dark and 2,000 in the light of the PHOTON BELT. We were said to be about to enter the light of the PHOTON BELT, whereupon, we would all be transformed "in the wink of an eye" into Atmosphereans and night would cease to exist, amongst other things.

A diagram accompanied the article showing 6 of the Pleiadian stars, Merope, Atlas, Maya, Teygeta, Electra, Coeleno and our own Sun in orbit around Alcyone, also a member of the Pleiades, encircled by the PHOTON BELT.

Having been contacted by several members of the public with queries about this story, I determined to sort the fact from the fiction and track the story to its' origin.

The article had been reprinted with permission from Australian UFO Flying Saucer Research Magazine. A phone number had been given. The phone number proved to be that of a prominent South Australian UFO researcher, who told me that the story had originally been written by a university student who had been a member of his group at the time. This student is now apparently a physicist at a well-known nuclear facility. The UFO researcher, however, was not clear on where the student had obtained the information and had attempted to verify aspects of it with an astronomer at Mount Stromlo Observatory. I was unable to determine which aspects had actually been verified.

Fortunately, the astronomer concerned was known to me, so I paid him a visit. He vaguely recalled talking to the researcher, but could not remember the exact details of the conversation. He assured me that he would never have verified the existence of the PHOTON BELT, but may have given him some information on the Pleiades themselves. He told me that Mount Stromlo had also received queries about the PHOTON BELT and, like me, had considered the whole thing as a cruel joke.

So, what is fact and what fiction? Well, for a start, I was unable to find any evidence for a satellite in 1961 carrying the instruments required to detect a PHOTON BAND as described. Satellites of the era were crude by today's standards and were more concerned with telecommunications, operating principally in the radio wavelengths.

Subsequent satellites and probes, with their sophisticated instrumentation, would certainly be capable of detecting the PHOTON BELT, however, no such thing has ever been reported. This is not a case of scientists keeping secrets, it is simply because it has never been detected.

According to other information I have received, this PHOTON BELT is supposed to be preceded by an ELECTROMAGNETIC NULL ZONE. This zone is said to be an energy vacuum, completely lacking in electromagnetic fields. If it existed, this NULL ZONE would certainly have shown up in the many sky surveys done over recent years on the Cosmic Microwave Background. This background radiation is remarkable because it is so evenly distributed over the entire sky. The ELECTROMAGNETIC NULL ZONE does not exist!

The PHOTON BELT was also described as a MANASIC RING, a 'phenomena which scientists have not been able to reproduce with laboratory experiments". I have been unable to determine the meaning of the word "manasic". I can only surmise that it is derived from the word MANA. It is hardly surprising that this has not been recreated in a laboratory, as no one really seems to know what MANA is, beyond its dictionary definition as a mysterious power.

And so to the Pleiades themselves. Jose Comas Sola, whoever he may be, was either quite wrong or misquoted. Our Sun is not part of the Pleiades system; neither does it orbit the Pleiades ever 24,000 years.

The Pleiades are approximately 125 parsecs or 407.5 light years from our solar system. A quick calculation shows that if our Sun were in this orbit, then its orbital velocity would be 0.107C, or a little over one tenth the speed of light. This equates to approximately 32,000km/sec. This velocity would be apparent, not only to astronomers, but to everyone, as the constellations would change dramatically in the course of a single lifetime if this were true.

The Pleiades is a loose cluster of approximately 100 stars, with an average age estimated at 78 million years. These are very young stars, much younger than our own Sun, estimated at 5 billion years old, much younger even than our own planet, Earth.

These are very hot, bright stars of spectral type B, much hotter and about 10 times more massive than our Sun, spectral type G. They have not yet moved away from the interstellar gas cloud, or nebula, from which they formed. Remnants of this nebula can readily be seen in photographs of the group. It has been suggested that this mist nebulosity, shining with the light of the stars within, is what has given rise to the myth of the PHOTON BELT.

Studies of the proper motions of these stars, or their movement through space, have shown that they are in the process of dispersion. There is no evidence that these stars orbit Alcyone, as depicted in the diagram. It must also be said that there is no evidence of planets around any of these stars. It may well be that planetary systems may evolve around some of these stars, however, it must be remembered that these are very young stars and planetary formation may well take a lot longer than stellar formation. It seems unlikely that habitable planets have had time to evolve there. 78 million years is a very short period on the cosmological or geological time scale.

It is very pleasing to think of our planet coming out of the darkness and into the light, although I do not think our nocturnal fauna would agree. It is much better for each of us to seek enlightenment within ourselves. This enlightenment cannot be imposed by external forces. A deluge of photons from the Pleiades will not save the planet, nor will it transform its inhabitants into enlightened Atmosphereans. We will have to solve our problems ourselves.


For further information about the author see Clare Williams' home page at:  


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