Heliocentric or Geocentric


In Paul Sutter’s article, “Going Bananas: The Real Story of Kepler, Copernicus, and the Church,” talks about how back in the day it was believed that the Earth was the center of the universe. Sutter goes on talking about how before there wasn’t separation of fields (i.e. science, philosophy, and theology) it was just “all mixed up.” He goes on talking about Kepler’s occupation as well as theories and Copernicus’s way of justifying his theory.

Kepler just like Copernicus believed in the heliocentric theory where the Sun is at the center of the universe, unlike others that believed in the geocentric theory where the Earth was thought to be at the center of the universe.

The article directly relates with the PowerPoint that went over a bit of history covering theories that have been developed among different people, giving us more knowledge about our universe. I found the article interesting and informative because of the way theories would be justified, such as, using religion and music. This portion of material has given me more knowledge about the two main theories that were believed in regards to the center of our universe.


The Everpresent Threat of Pseudoscience

We all have that family member or friend. The one who vehemently disagrees with the contemporary scientific consensus purely on the grounds of some non-scientific standard while still regarding it somehow as scientific. I’ve experienced it countless times particularly among relatives, especially those who, for example, outright deny the evidence for evolution, the big bang, and/or climate change. In any and all instances of pseudoscience, one must maintain a non-condescending manner while also explaining why the other person’s worldview does not comply with reality. The article I’ve chosen for my blog post, while not specifically about heliocentrism and geocentrism, goes along the same lines as to what to do with people who deny objective facts, and that is to take their reasoning to its logical (or rather illogical) conclusion and to provide an alternative explanation in its place.


Ian Whittaker of Nottingham Trent University wrote an excellent article a little over three months ago explaining in great detail why the “flat Earth” hypothesis is very misguided and ignorant of the observable evidence to the contrary. Near the start of his article, he gives an example of how the Ancient Greeks first discovered the Earth was globular. Very basically put, they had multiple sticks erected in various Greek cities and all documented the shape and direction of their shadows cast at the same time. What they found was that the shadows were all different from each other, meaning the Sun, while seemingly perfect in line with the Earth, was casting shadows at varying angles, leading the Greeks to confirm that the Earth did indeed have a curve as if it did not, this would not have occurred. After explaining this, he then goes into detail about an 1838 study which is often cited from flat-Earth proponents and explains why this study leaves out a few things, like the presence of mirages, and why it is not held in high regard by scientists today.


So what does all of this flat-Earth debunking have to do with geocentrism and heliocentrism? What they share greatly in common is that both the flat-Earth hypothesis and the geocentric worldview are based on ignorance, whether willful or not. This is not meant to sound discouraging, rather it is an affirmation of what really goes on in the minds of people who hold these misunderstood positions. Tradition, for example, is a dangerous justification to hold scientific ideas. That is to say, “this is the way it’s always been”, which is not how science works. Rather, science is determined by observable evidence, as Copernicus found himself when first proposing heliocentrism (he wasn’t necessarily the first to claim this as we learned in class, just the first to justify it with a preponderance of evidence). Instead of attempting to convince other scientists with persuasive rhetoric, he published his findings for others to observe the facts themselves. Our conversation in class about dispelling pseudoscience was what sparked me to write this post, as I take misconceptions of science very seriously. I firmly believe they must be addressed immediately, especially if they have far-reaching effects on society (such as anti-vaccination and faith healing).


As for what I learned from the article, I learned many new facts pertaining to dispelling the flat-Earth hypothesis. One example would be how the author near the end explains one of the most effective ways, especially for school experimentation purposes, of showing the curvature of the Earth is to attach a live camera to a high-altitude balloon and view it directly. As for the objective, I learned about Aristarchus of Samos, who I was previously unaware of. I had already known of Copernicus and his heliocentric model, however, I never knew about Aristarchus being the first one to propose a heliocentric model. This surprised me as I was not under the impression that heliocentrism was as well as it was understood then to be properly formulated.


Source: https://www.space.com/38931-kids-can-prove-earth-round.html

The Universe Does NOT Revolve Around You! (It’s been proven by Science.)

Since the beginning, humans have looked up at the sky and attempted to make sense of the universe. In Ancient times, geocentric models of the universe were commonly accepted as the truth–meaning that most people thought that the planets in our solar system revolved around our home planet, Earth. Aristarchus of Ancient Greece was the first person to suggest a heliocentric model of the universe–meaning  that all the planets of our solar system, including Earth, actually revolve around the sun–but his idea was ignored for several centuries.

Astronomers throughout history continued to try to plot the movement of the planets in our solar system, but the way Mars moved stumped them, for it appeared to change direction at different points in time. Finally, in 1543, Copernicus published his findings on the universe we live in, and his theories changed science forever. He found that not only was our universe heliocentric, but also that the Earth’s axis shifts over time, causing the North Pole to change as well. His heliocentric model and other findings explained Mars’ strange motion as well. When Earth passes by Mars, it appears to go backwards, then appears to go forwards once again once Earth has passed.

Newton and Kepler based their ideas of gravity and motion on the heliocentric model, and the heliocentric model is still used today when studying space. I found an article on universetoday.com called “What Is The Difference Between the Geocentric and Heliocentric Models of the Solar System?” that explains all of this.

UPDATE: (CONNECTION TO CLASS) I liked the article because it explained all of the information that we learned in class in a condensed, easy to read format. Reading the article explained the differences between heliocentric and geocentric models, and how these discoveries gave way to Kepler’s and Newton’s theories of planetary motion and gravity.

A Newly Accepted Model


The fourth conceptual objective, I can describe how the heliocentric model of the solar system was developed and why it was adopted over the geometric model of the universe, has been discussed frequently in class. In class, we discussed and eventually came to the realization that the “Earth circles the Sun”. Prior to this belief, many philosophers, scientists and astronomers believed that the Earth was at the center, otherwise known as the geocentric belief. This conceptual objective goes into depth about factors that dispute the geocentric belief. As time went on, more evidence surfaced that supported the heliocentric theory. These findings ultimately dismissed the geocentric theory. The philosopher most known for believing that the Earth was at the center of the universe was perhaps, Aristotle. Eventually, Copernicus came along and proposed that the sun was, in fact, at the center of the solar system. Other discussion topics in class included retrograde motion. Retrograde motion played a big role in supporting the heliocentric theory. As defined in class, retrograde motion is when the Earth overtakes the slower moving outer planets, causing the planets to appear to move backward compared to the background stars. The article I chose, “The Copernican Model: A Sun-Centered Solar System”, discusses the events leading up to Copernicus’ new model and how it was eventually adopted. This article closely relates to the fourth conceptual objective. The Earth was believed to be at the center of the universe for nearly 2000 years. In the 16th century, near the time of his death, Nicolai Copernicus proposed the new idea of the heliocentric system. The Copernican system led to a simple explanation for varying brightness of the planets and retrograde motion. These occurrences could not be explained under the geocentric system. In class we discussed Epicycles. This article clearly demonstrates this concept. Uniform circular motion was often used to describe planets and was assumed to be likely for all planets. Planets, instead of orbiting circular, orbit in ellipses. However, the Copernican system did require fewer epicycles because it moved the Sun to the center of the solar system. The article then continues to support the Copernican system and refute the geocentric system. This article is very comparable to what we exercised in class regarding retrograde motion and the heliocentric model. This article has made this objective more clear to me. The information presented in this article is listed precisely in a way that is easy to understand. The clearness of this article is great because this concept/objective can be difficult to comprehend for some.

Image result for copernican model retrograde motion