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GeocentricityTycho Brahe was a renowned Danish astronomer who explained the movements...

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ilovetruth | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:21 AM via web

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Tycho Brahe was a renowned Danish astronomer who explained the movements of the heavenly bodies geocentrically, much as they had been explained throughout history. That is to say, he placed the Earth at the center of the universe and had all bodies orbiting around it.

Although the whole world ultimately abandoned the Earth-centered model, no one has been able to disprove his model. In fact, his non-moving earth model is still used today in all applied sciences including practical astronomy, aeronautics, space travel, and eclipse predictions. It still provides the basis for calculations which demand precision and accuracy. For example, no airline pilot ever takes into consideration the speed of a rotating and revolving earth in calculating his flight plans. He simply take for granted that the earth is not moving.

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jillyfish | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted September 3, 2011 at 3:13 PM (Answer #2)

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Are you actucally suggesting that the geocentric model is correct?

For example, no airline pilot ever takes into consideration the speed of a rotating and revolving earth in calculating his flight plans. He simply take for granted that the earth is not moving. - ilovetruth

this is simply because the Earth's movement in relation to the sun is not relevant to the pilot's calculations. You, I, the pilot and everything else on Earth do not move in relation to the Earth. If it takes you 10 seconds to go from the sofa to the bathroom, do you take into account the 200 miles movement of the Earth in relation to the Sun? You don't need to factor this in to your journey. But are you really suggesting that the Earth doesn't move?


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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 4, 2011 at 12:14 AM (Answer #3)

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Maybe pilots don't take into account the rotation of the Earth, but there are lots of other people who do.  For example, the space shuttle, when it was being used, certainly had to take into account the rotation of the Earth and, more importantly, its orbit around the sun.  The space shuttle doesn't just return the way it came -- Earth wouldn't be there any more.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted September 4, 2011 at 7:34 AM (Answer #4)

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One reason that Brahe's model may still be used today is that he made excellent and surprisingly accurate calculations for stellar parallax: the apparent relocation of stars based upon locational point of observation (illustration: the clock on the wall seems to relocate from beneath your thumb when looked at through one eye and then the other). Brahe's observations were correct and, therefore, remain correct today. The mistake in the scenario was the conclusion he surmised from the facts he had gathered.

He rightly realized that, based on the facts, either (1) the stars were so very far away that there was no stellar parallax (no apparent relocation of stars relative to locational point of observation) or (2) Earth is the center of the Universe. Unable to fathom a universe so very large that there could be no parallax, Brahe chose the more familiar Copernican and Ptolemaic idea that Earth is the center of the Universe. He was, of course, mistaken: the Universe is indeed that large and, in fact, even larger.

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lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted September 4, 2011 at 11:27 PM (Answer #5)

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I would have to agree with post 4 in that the reason many of Brahe's theories are still used in studies today is based on the accuracy of his measurements and not the fact that he wrongly surmised that the Earth was the center of the universe.

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pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted September 5, 2011 at 12:46 AM (Answer #6)

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The movement of the Earth certainly is used in calculations for space travel - the location of the Earth in its orbit is a key to identifying so-called "launch windows".

The reason for using a geocentric model is its simplicity. Due to the Earth's gravity, we are part of the Earth's physical system as long as we are within its immediate vicinity, and pretending the Earth is a fixed point makes doing the calculations not only easier, but in some cases actually makes calculation possible. In a universe where, due to expansion, everything is moving, it is necessary to declare a fixed point to compare other motions to. Otherwise one gets tangled up in the notoriously difficult three-body problem.

Many scientific and mathematical models are used for the sake of simplicity, even when they are know to be incorrect or inaccurate. Geocentrism is one such example; another would be drawing Lewis structures of electrons in order to understand the bonding of atoms.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:15 AM (Answer #7)

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As the saying goes, it's hard to prove a negative.  Although we have advanced science, we don't really understand how the universe works.  It's all supposition and models and equations as proof.  No one can really PROVE anything definitively either way.

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