Does the Earth Orbit the Sun or the Other Way Around?
Scientific revolution and advancement have seen several explanations about the motions or movements of the earth including the earth’s daily rotation, the annual revolution around the sun, the orbit variations, and the motion of the entire solar system and other galaxies. Different arguments and suggestions are presented regarding these movements as well as many fascinating narratives concerning the history of the motions. As such, this essay focuses on the movements of the earth and other heavenly bodies with a key focus on whether the earth orbits the sun or the other way around.
The “Galileo Was Wrong” argument supports the geocentric model, which is also known as geocentrism. This model makes a claim of the universe with the earth at the centre with the primary argument that the sun, moon, stars, and planets orbit the Earth (Sungenis and Bennett 11). Religious beliefs or traditions aside, there are several reasonable perspectives or ideas about the claims given by the proponents of the geocentric model. First, there is the belief that the earth and everything in it were created by Allah (Muslim perspective). From this perspective, the earth is considered solid, stable, and unmoving, and therefore, the argument that the earth moves or orbits the Sun or any other body is refutable. With a little attention to the scientific perspective, every earth-bound observer will not see the earth moving or orbiting the sun. Second, what appears reasonable in this model is the argument that the sun revolves around the earth once per day. Of course, an earth-bound observer will take note of the sun being at different positions in the sky as the day progress, which is in line with the geographical perspective that “the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.” With this in mind, it is reasonable to say that the sun orbits the earth as stated in the geocentric model.
However, there are various perspectives and observations made, especially after the invention of the telescope, which raise concerns or are “red flags” indicating that geocentrism is pseudoscience. With the planet, Venus orbiting the earth, it is expected that its phases that go all the way from crescent to full will be of the same size. However, when observed through a telescope, it is seen that Venus appears much larger when at the “new” phase and much smaller when at the “full” phase as can be seen below.
The observation of the variation in the sizes of the phases of Venus is different from that of the moon that varies in size slightly as seen from the earth given that it orbits the earth. In the geocentric model, on specific occasions, Venus is on the same side of the earth as the sun, thereby, appearing new and on other occasions, it is on the opposite side and appears full when observed from the earth. In this case, it is important to note that the closeness of Venus to earth that ought to determine how big Venus appear is not in any way linked to what its phase should be yet from numerous telescopic observations, a crescent Venus always appears huge and a full Venus is always tiny (Sungenis and Bennett 25). From these perspectives, it can be deduced that Venus does not go around the earth as stated in geocentrism but goes around the sun, and therefore, this is one of the several “red flags” that indicate that geocentrism may be pseudoscience.
A popular argument presented by a Greek astronomer, Anaximander, a strong supporter of geocentrism, is that the earth is the centre of a wheel with the rim of the wheel consisting of the sun, the moon, and other planets, rotating around the earth. He states that the edge of both the sun and the moon are bigger than the earth. According to Anaximander, the earth is not spherical but cylindrical and suspended at the centre of the universe and surrounded by a collection of the stars along the rim. These arguments are in line with the perspectives of the geocentric model, hence, one can say that Anaximander is one of the several supporters of the model.
A critique of the geocentric model is that it does not give an accurate explanation for the changes in the sizes or shapes of the phases of Venus (Sungenis and Bennett 27). From observations through a telescope, Venus appears much larger when it’s at the “new” phase and much smaller at its “full” phase. Of course, the changes in sizes is because of variation in the distance of Venus from Earth, and this model does not explain what instances Venus is close to or far from the earth. On the other hand, the heliocentric model gives an accurate explanation for the changes in sizes of the phases of Venus by stating that it is huge when it is a crescent because it is closer to earth and small when it is full because it is on the other side of the sun, thereby, underscoring that the sun is at the centre of the solar system with all other planets revolving around it.
In a nutshell, from the geocentric perspective, it can be argued that the sun orbits the earth and not the other way around. However, this argument can be refuted bearing in mind the scientific discoveries and developments by the proponents of the heliocentric model. From a personal perspective, the argument that the earth is a solid and motionless body is inaccurate. Of course, there are seasons such as winter, summer, autumn and spring, which can be attributed to the movement of the earth around the sun. Also, the fact that longer days or nights are experienced on earth is because of the distance of the earth from the sun, it is an outcome of the earth’s movement around the sun and not vice versa.
Sungenis, Robert and Bennett, Robert J.. Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right. Catholic Apologetics International Pub, 2008.