home Sciencey Shit Medieval Geocentric Idea of the Solar System

Medieval Geocentric Idea of the Solar System

Medieval Astronomy from Melk Abbey. Credit: Paul Beck (Univ. Vienna), Georg Zotti (Vienna Inst. Arch. Science). Copyright: Library of Melk Abbey, Frag. 229
Medieval Astronomy from Melk Abbey. Credit: Paul Beck (Univ. Vienna), Georg Zotti (Vienna Inst. Arch. Science). Copyright: Library of Melk Abbey, Frag. 229

The Earth is at the center, the Moon and Sun circling it in their own orbits. In the upper left we see the shadow of the Earth eclipsing the Moon. On the upper right we see an illustration of a Solar Eclipse. The offset, varying orbit drawn for the Moon shows how the medieval astronomer understood that the Moon’s orbit must vary in order for it to completely block out the sun, as well as fall completely into the Earth’s shadow for a Lunar Eclipse, according to the Earth-centered Ptolemaic system.

However inaccurate it may be, this is a great example of science at work in medieval times. This is also a perfect example of how science works, and what science has uncovered through time since then. The more we look, the more we learn, and the more potential there is to prove our previous notions incorrect. That is how science works. Many people are unwilling to apply this same understanding to other ideas and beliefs.

We should keep in mind that at least someone was trying to figure things out and making an attempt to understand the workings of our solar system, and in a sense, our place in the then unknown universe beyond. That shows imagination and curiosity, things science is built on.

We shouldn’t stop thinking or trying to understand, even if our ideas may be completely wrong at the time. The problem is when we refuse to admit our bad ideas in light of contrary knowledge.

Share