Friday, June 1, 2012

Transits and Haughtiness

It is very exciting that in the next few days there will be a transit of Venus across the sun! This means that Venus will pass directly between us and the sun.

I remember the last time this happened, eight years ago. I set up my telescope (then I had an 8" Celestron Schmidt Cassegrain) early in the morning and watched as the black orb of Venus appeared to cross past the face of the sun. I admit that for those not very interested in astronomy this event is not as aesthetically pleasing as viewing the rings of Saturn or the craters of the moon, but the rarity of this event creates excitement itself. Additionally, those who do appreciate astronomy (and perhaps its history) definitely can appreciate this event with greater appreciation.

Such transits are relatively rare with a pairing of them spaced eight years apart (as is the case with this and the last) and then a duration of time that spans greater than a century prior to the next. In fact, the next time this event will occur will be in 2117. These events were crucial to earlier astronomers in helping them calculate the size of the solar system and of Venus. This was done from the seventeenth century onwards.

Such calculations are predicated on the fact that we exist in a heliocentric system and not a geocentric one. This means that the planets revolve around the sun and not the sun/planets around our planet. Believe it or not, even relatively recently there were "scientific" and Torah works that were still advocating the geocentric version, however, as time such views no longer seem to be adhered to by the greater number of scholars.

I do find it interesting that the solar system has the sun at its center, but from our perspective it would appear that we are the center of the universe. I think a lot of mussar can be taken from this concept. Naturally people see things only from their personal vantage point and often feel as though they are, in fact, "the center of the universe." It takes objective analysis and an open mind to listening to the truth that allows one to realize that his haughtiness is inappropriate. Gaavah, haughtiness, is a very difficult attribute to eradicate from within ourselves, but until one does so, he is effectively incapable of truly recognizing the emes, truth, in many situations.

Unfortunately, I do not think I will be able to witness this wonderful event as I have (b"H) upgraded my telescope to a 10" Meade Schmidt Cassegrain and do not have a solar filter for this size telescope. Although, one can view this without a telescope, it still requires proper protective eyewear and I do not have those either. I was lucky enough to see it eight years ago and I remember it clearly as, for me, it was memorable.


Disgusted said...

The notion - what you refer to as a 'fact' - that the earth revolves around the sun, remains to this day only an unproven theory. As such, myself and many other Torah Jews are well justified in remaining with the belief which is taught by Chazal and in particular the Rambam that the earth is at the center, and you had no right to write disparagingly about those who believe such, and would do well to erase your words from your blog.

FYI, the 'fact' that nothing moves faster than the speed of light was based on an experiment that was predicated on the 'fact' that the earth moves, and now scientists in Europe are completely stunned by their finding of some particles which appear to move faster than the speed of light, and have worked tremendously hard to try and prove that their results are wrong, without success, and have consequently opened their findings to the rest of the world in the hope that someone can show them where the problem lies.

I could show them.

Hey Dummy.... said...

OK, I have to assume that "Disgusted" is joking. I honestly do not believe that ANYONE could be that stupid. Additionally, I am certain that "Disgusted" is so knowledgable. he clearly knows that spped of light resluts were generated in the Scern Particle Accelerator which turnoed out to have been improperly calibrated thus giving FALSE results.

Again though, I am sure he's only joking. Galaleo would be proud.