[UPDATE: Just FYI, I changed the links below to a new version of the video with better audio.]
My love of time lapse night sky shots is on record (see Related Posts below), and I was all set to point you to this simply stunning video that’s been making the web rounds the past couple of days, showing the sky circling above the Very Large Telescope observatory in Chile…
… but then I found out that Youtube user bulletpeople took that video and manipulated it a little. He changed the point of view a teensy bit, just a scosh, so that instead of the sky moving around us in a geocentric fashion, the Earth rotates under the sky:
[Set the resolution to 720p and make it full screen for the best effect.]
How cool is that? I won’t say this frame of reference is more real than our usual everyday geocentric one*, because no frame is more real than any other. But it does give you a little bit of cosmic perspective, doesn’t it?
Don’t ever forget: we live on a tilted spinning ball revolving around a star that’s orbiting the center of the Milky Way galaxy that’s on the outskirts of the Virgo galaxy cluster that’s part of the Local Supercluster that’s in an expanding Universe that not only gets bigger every second but gets bigger faster every second.
That’s a lot to handle, I know… but it’s real, and it’s true, and it’s awesome.
* Not to be confused with a capital-G Geocentric one.
– Incredibly, impossibly beautiful time lapse video
– Australian Outback time lapse
– Dust, from the desert below to the galaxy above
– Stunning winter sky timelapse video: Sub Zero
– OK, because I like y’all: bonus aurora timelapse video
– Sidereal Motion
– Amazing wide-angle time lapse night sky video
– AWESOME timelapse video: Rapture
In my long, long experience as both a scientist and an active skeptic, I have seen people believe in a lot of seriously, um, odd stuff. In many cases, it doesn’t matter how overwhelmingly the evidence is against them, or how even simple logic will unravel their tangled theories. They cling to these beliefs like a drowning man clings to a life preserver.
And even with all this, I have to scratch my head over Geocentrists.
These are people who believe that the Earth is fixed in space, unmoving and unmovable, and the Universe literally revolves around it. Without exception, in my experience, these followers of Geocentrism believe in it due to a literal interpretation of the Bible. Finding passages in the Bible to support this belief isn’t hard; Genesis is loaded with them.
However, like young-Earth creationism, the problem here is in that "literal" part*. If you take the Bible to be true word for word, then you have to deny a vast amount of reality, and almost everything we’ve learned about the Universe since the Bible was written.
That has not stopped some people, nor even slowed them down. A group of Geocentrists is holding a conference this November in Indiana. Called "Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right", it features a veritable who’s who in geocentrism — not that there’s a lot of them. The meeting flyer is presented above; click it to see the conference details. The conference website is full of all sorts of claims saying Geocentrism is real, science is wrong (except where it supports them; cherry-picking is something else they have in common with creationists), the Bible is the only truth, and so on.
Well, as you might expect, I have something to say about that.
As much as I’d love to attend that meeting — in much the same way I’d love to extract my own tonsils with a spork and a pair of pliers — I don’t need to. Geocentrism is so wrong, so amazingly wrong, that it falls apart with just a little thought. What follows below is a little thought.