The Vatican Observatory

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Suranis
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The Vatican Observatory

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From Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican_Observatory
The Vatican Observatory (Italian: Specola Vaticana) is an astronomical research and educational institution supported by the Holy See. Originally based in the Roman College of Rome, the Observatory is now headquartered in Castel Gandolfo, Italy and operates a telescope at the Mount Graham International Observatory in the United States.

The Director of the Observatory is Brother Guy Consolmagno, an American Jesuit. In 2008, the Templeton Prize was awarded to cosmologist Fr. Michał Heller, a Vatican Observatory Adjunct Scholar. In 2010, the George Van Biesbroeck Prize was awarded to former observatory director, the American Jesuit, Fr. George Coyne.

History

The Church has had a long-standing interest in astronomy, due to the astronomical basis of the calendar by which holy days and Easter are determined. For instance, the Gregorian Calendar, promulgated in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, was developed by Aloysius Lilius and later modified by Christoph Clavius at the Collegio Romano from astronomical data. The Gregorian Tower was completed in 1580 for his purpose, designed by Bolognese architect Ottaviano Nonni.

In the 18th century, the Papacy actively supported astronomy, establishing the Observatory of the Roman College in 1774. In 1789–1787, the Specola Vaticana in the Tower of the Winds within the Vatican was established under the direction of Msgr. Filippo Luigi Gilii (1756–1821). When Msgr. Gilii died, the Specola was closed down because it was inconvenient for students in the city because the dome of St. Peter's obstructed its view. Its instruments were transferred to the College Observatory. A third facility, the Observatory of the Capitol, was operated from 1827 to 1870.

Father Angelo Secchi SJ relocated the College Observatory to the top of Sant'Ignazio di Loyola a Campo Marzio (Church of St. Ignatius in Rome). In 1870, with the capture of Rome, the College Observatory fell into the hands of the Italian Government. Out of respect for his work, however, Father Secchi was permitted to continue using the Observatory. After Secchi's death in 1878 the Observatory was nationalized by the Italian government and renamed the Regio Osservatorio al Collegio Romano ("Royal Observatory at the Roman College"), ending astronomical research in the Vatican.

In 1891, however, Pope Leo XIII issued a Motu Proprio re-founding the Specola Vaticana (Vatican Observatory) and a new observatory was built on the walls at the edge of the Vatican.[3] The new Vatican Observatory remained there for the next forty years.

In the late nineteenth-century the Vatican Observatory was part of a group of top astronomy institutions from around the world which worked together to create a photographic "Celestial Map" ("Carte du Ciel") and an "astrographic" catalog pinpointing the stars' positions. Italian astronomer Father Francesco Denza led the Vatican's contribution to the project until his death in 1894. In the early twentieth-century Father John Hagen took over the project and recruited a group of nuns from the Sisters of the Holy Child Mary to work on the necessary recording and calculations. The sisters were Sisters Emilia Ponzoni, Regina Colombo, Concetta Finardi and Luigia Panceri.

By the 1930s, the smoke and sky-glow of the city had made it impossible to conduct useful observations in Rome.[1] Pope Pius XI relocated the Observatory to Castel Gandolfo, which is 25 kilometres (16 mi) southeast of Rome. By 1961, the same problems with light pollution made observing difficult at Castel Gandolfo. The Observatory then established the Vatican Observatory Research Group (VORG), with offices at the Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.[1]

D.K.J. O'Connell produced the first color photographs of a green flash at sunset in 1960. In 1993, VORG completed construction of the 1.8 metres (71 in) Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, which is at Mount Graham near Safford, Arizona.

The Observatory's headquarters remain in Italy at Castel Gandolfo. In early 2008, the Vatican announced that the Observatory would be relocated to a former convent a mile away from the castle as part of a general reconstruction of the Papal residence. Its former space would be used to provide more room for the reception of diplomatic visitors. There was some commentary that the Observatory was being shut down or cut back, but in fact the Observatory staff welcomed the move.[citation needed] The old quarters in the castle were cramped and very poorly laid out for the Observatory's use. VORG research activities in Arizona continued unaffected.
Castel Gandolfo is where Pope Benedict stayed after he stepped down and the Papal conclave was under way.

Home Page of the Vatican Observatory

http://www.vaticanobservatory.va/conten ... na/en.html

The Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope in Arizona

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican_A ... _Telescope


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

#2

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My brother used to work at the Steward Observatory. He was an operator on the mountain for a couple of years, then moved down to the campus and ran the computer, mostly working for the Lunar and Planetary Lab (they got one of the first moon rocks).

I'm not clear on how much the various associated groups interacted, but I think he did do some computer work for the Vatican folks there.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

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Moon life: what would living on the moon be like? Br. Guy Consolmagno explores the possibilities with U.S. astronaut Nicole Stott and her husband, space entrepreneur Christopher Stott on our most recent podcast.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

#4

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Very interesting blog post by the V.O. on Gallileo. I'm sure you will be quick to dismiss it as "Pro CC Propoganda" but I say onto that "so what" at least it quotes veriuus sources, and it does critisise church leaders of the time.

Its a LONG blog post but worth the read. This is a small part but is probably the bet you all want to read. There is a LOT more to the article though, including talking about the personalities involved, the Science, and the Politics behind the Inquisition trial.

https://www.vaticanobservatory.org/reso ... k-summary/
Bad Behavior

The Copernican theory is not false, even if it is an oversimplification.

The scientific problems that it seemed to have at the time were eventually resolved by further advances in science. We now know that the Earth does indeed orbit the sun, albeit not in a circle but an ellipse. It took the Vatican two centuries to fully rescind the Congregation’s declaration.

It cannot be denied that Urban VIII clearly abused his power in bringing the Inquisition down on Galileo.

Powerful officials within the Church, for their own reasons having little to do with religion, rejected a scientific idea that turned out to be right. And they maltreated a great scientist who advocated for that idea.

There is little to say in defense of the Church here.

Urban’s behavior, for example, could hardly be excused even had Galileo turned out to be wrong. Nor is it an excuse to note that in Galileo’s time authorities of all sorts regularly used power in the cruellest ways.

But it might at least explain how officials in the Church were tempted to act in such ways. The Church was and is an institution composed of human beings who absorb the culture that surrounds them.

In those days, brutal punishments were handed out for relatively petty crimes. Greater crimes were met with even greater brutality.

Galileo was also human and this meant he did not always act in the best way.

When the German-Protestant astronomer Simon Marius also published discoveries regarding Jupiter’s moons, did Galileo compliment him for his ingenious study that allowed him to show that Jupiter circled the sun? No. Instead, a jealous Galileo was angry that Marius had intruded upon his territory.

And when the Jesuit astronomer Christoph Scheiner published observations of the sun that exceeded Galileo’s, Galileo called him a “brute”, a “pig”, a “malicious ass”, a “rabid dog”, and a “wretched man”—all in one single short paragraph of a letter!

Galileo also made serious scientific errors. While his observations certainly were consistent with the Copernican system, they were not as he claimed “proofs” and the arguments he proposed were in fact incorrect. At times, he blatantly ignored data that contradicted him.

If one wishes to look for blame, there was certainly bad behavior on all sides. Nonetheless, one should be more disappointed in the behavior of Church officials than of Galileo. Not only should the Church officials have known better, they should have been more prudent in exercising their authority.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

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Lecture: From Peru to Mars: New Worlds and Jesuit Science
Online event
Details
TUESDAY, 24 MAY 2022 AT 00:00 UTC+01

Event by Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, NYC and Vatican Observatory
Public · Anyone on or off Facebook

PRESENTER: Br. Guy Consolmagno, S.J.

Director of the Vatican Observatory and President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation
Is there a particularly “Jesuit” form of science? From Acosta’s work in the New World to modern research at the Vatican Observatory, we’ll look at the work of a number of Jesuit scientists through history and see how what they did, and why they did it, was colored and influenced by Ignatian Spirituality as seen in the Spiritual Exercises.
The 2022 Lectures at St. Ignatius series has been generously underwritten by an anonymous donor. See less



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Re: The Vatican Observatory

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Suranis wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 4:13 pm Very interesting blog post by the V.O. on Galileo. I'm sure you will be quick to dismiss it as "Pro CC Propoganda" but I say onto that "so what" at least it quotes veriuus sources, and it does critisise church leaders of the time.
:snippity:
The Vatican Observatory has, as far as I am aware, an excellent reputation among observatories, and it engages with other scientific organizations all over the world. The quoted story doesn't read as "Pro CC Propaganda" nor does it deserve to be dismissed as such. Rather than defensive over perceived injustice towards The Church, it is pretty much the exact point of view presented to me in every science class in every (secular) school that discussed the matter my entire life. And believe me, I've been in a lot of "philosophy of science" type classes.

Of course Galileo made mistakes. He put forth hypotheses that turned out to be incorrect. Perhaps his biggest scientific mistake is his theory on tidal movements and their causes. But he didn't have Newton's Theory of Gravitation to help him. Also he didn't prove that the Earth orbited around the Sun or spun on its axis - because he didn't have the answers to the problems posed by stellar parallax and Coriolis effects, but he did demonstrate that Venus did orbit the Sun, and that the moons of Jupiter orbited Jupiter. He also showed that celestial bodies were not perfect, the moon has mountains and craters for example.

After Giuseppe Calandrelli observed stellar parallax in 1803 the Vatican fully accepted the heliocentric model. In 1851 Leon Foucault proved that the Earth spins on its axis (the Foucault Pendulum). Galileo was vindicated about the Earths orbit and axis spin 200 years after his death.

So what?

Whether he was wrong or right about any particular idea, what got him killed was not his ideas, he wasn't killed because he thought the Earth orbited the Sun. He was killed because he defied the Pope and the Inquisition and published his ideas in direct defiance of the mandates against him. He published his tidal theory in 1616 and was immediately put on the Inquisition's banned book list and told not to do it again. But he did do it again in 1632 when he published his "Dialog".

Of course his ideas are what earned him the ban, but the persecution was political not religious. The Church found no religious objection to the heliocentric theory 200 years later when Calandrelli proved it. The Church killed Galileo because Galileo refused to be supressed by The Church and The Church couldn't allow its SECULAR POLITICAL power to be challenged in such a public way.

Galileo's enduring contribution to science is not that he proved heliocentrism (that was Calandrelli), or that he proved that the Earth spins on its axis (that was Foucault), it is "Observational Astronomy" - insistence on observation and experiment that is the foundation of modern scientific method.

For more detailed reading:
Galileo's Big Mistake

Quora Answers: Did Galileo have in life evidence enough to prove that the Earth had both rotation and translation motions?


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

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Correction: The Church didn't kill Galileo.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

#8

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Suranis wrote: Sat May 21, 2022 3:58 am Correction: The Church didn't kill Galileo.
Nah, he was just tried for heresy -not a real thing- threatened with torture, forced to testify against heliocentrism, convicted of suspicion of heresy -again, not a real thing- and sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life.

But other than that . . .


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

#9

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Actually he was "forced" to prove that his mathamatics accuratly predicted the motions of the planets. Which he couldnt do becaus ehe robbed his whole idea from Copernicus, who had Circular Orbits. Cardinal Bellarme, who presided over the first trial, was one of the greatest Mathamaticians of his age, and pretty much cut through Gallileos BS and forced him to admit his Mathamatics were *shock* wrong. Yes that was him bieng "forced to testify against Heliocentralism" having to admit that his maths were wrong. The humanity!

Gallileo was also defended in the trial by the Jesuits.

Who was it who dragged him in front of the Inquisition for the second trial? Those very same Jesuits.

Like was said, this was about politics. Gallileo had pissed off pretty much the entire Scientific world of Italy at that point. If Twitter had existed he would be the quivalent of Trump lobbing insults at anyone who questioned the Genius of the Great Gallileo.

One of the big reasons the Jesuits turned against him was that he wrote a book calling a Jesuit astronomer a Jackass, for the crime of proving Mathamatically that one of The theories of the Great Gallileo was wrong. Gallileo thought that Comets were clouds, and Grassi proved mathamatically that they existed somewhere beyond the orbit of the Moon

And, by the way, if it was all about Heliocentralism, how come his contemerary, Kepler, was not touched for proving that the Orbits of the Plants were Ellipses?

If you want to get a greasp about what really happened withthe Catholic Church and Heliocentralism, take a look at this article from "History For Athiests." Did you know that it weas a Catholic Bishop who carried the finished manuscript to the printers, for example?

https://historyforatheists.com/2018/07/ ... blication/


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

#10

Post by Resume18 »

Suranis wrote: Sat May 21, 2022 12:08 pm]

Like was said, this was about politics . . .
Heresy (and suspicion of heresy) is not politics, it's religion, and like blasphemy and demonic possession, it's not a real thing.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

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Resume18 wrote: Sat May 21, 2022 12:24 pm Heresy (and suspicion of heresy) is not politics, it's religion, and like blasphemy and demonic possession, it's not a real thing.
Sure, dude. Enjoy your article of faith. :roll:


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

#12

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Suranis wrote: Sat May 21, 2022 12:29 pm
Resume18 wrote: Sat May 21, 2022 12:24 pm Heresy (and suspicion of heresy) is not politics, it's religion, and like blasphemy and demonic possession, it's not a real thing.
Sure, dude. Enjoy your article of faith. :roll:
Yeah, I place no faith in Hebrews 11.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

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Resume18 wrote: Sat May 21, 2022 12:33 pm Yeah, I place no faith in Hebrews 11.
Ocean's 11 was a good movie. Didn't know they made a Hebrew's 11.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

#14

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Suranis wrote: Sat May 21, 2022 12:43 pm
Resume18 wrote: Sat May 21, 2022 12:33 pm Yeah, I place no faith in Hebrews 11.
Ocean's 11 was a good movie. Didn't know they made a Hebrew's 11.
Edited to prevent any accusations of my post being antisemitic. Sorry if it gave anyone that impression.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

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Kepler was Protestant and in Prague so he was probably out of the reach of the Catholic Inquisition.

None of the articles mention that Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for among other things embracing Copernicanism. His problem was that unlike Galileo he would not recant his beliefs.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

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I think the point is that right or wrong Galileo was punished by the church for having theories with which they disagreed. Galileo was right on the big thing but wrong on the cause of the earth's motions. Had he not recanted on heliocentrism he might have met the same fate as Bruno.

One thing I see in Christian apologist articles is that proof the church was pro-science is that almost all scientists were Christian. Of course that ignores the fact that in those times everyone was Christian.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

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Reality Check wrote: Sat May 21, 2022 3:04 pm Kepler was Protestant and in Prague so he was probably out of the reach of the Catholic Inquisition.

None of the articles mention that Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for among other things embracing Copernicanism. His problem was that unlike Galileo he would not recant his beliefs.
Prague was the seat of the Holy Roman empire, definitely NOT out of the reach of the Inquisition. If he HAD been in a Protestant city he would probably have been killed, as the Protestants were violently and I mean VIOLENTLY against Heliocentrism from the very start. "This will turn the science of Astronomy on its head!" were words uttered by one Martin Luthor.

It took 60 years for Catholicism to sort of turn against Heliocentrism due to Heliocentrism being used by Protestants to call Catholics Heretics, and even then they didn't ban Copernicus's book completely. They allowed the calculations in the book to be used.

Bruno is dragged out by everyone as the big (and only) example of the Church being reactionary and against science. The problem is that it does not hold water at all when you actually look at what happened.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno
During the seven years of his trial in Rome, Bruno was held in confinement, lastly in the Tower of Nona. Some important documents about the trial are lost, but others have been preserved, among them a summary of the proceedings that was rediscovered in 1940. The numerous charges against Bruno, based on some of his books as well as on witness accounts, included blasphemy, immoral conduct, and heresy in matters of dogmatic theology, and involved some of the basic doctrines of his philosophy and cosmology. Luigi Firpo speculates the charges made against Bruno by the Roman Inquisition were

holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith and speaking against it and its ministers;
holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about the Trinity, divinity of Christ, and Incarnation;
holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith pertaining to Jesus as the Christ;
holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith regarding the virginity of Mary, mother of Jesus;
holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about both Transubstantiation and the Mass;
claiming the existence of a plurality of worlds and their eternity;
believing in metempsychosis and in the transmigration of the human soul into brutes;
dealing in magics and divination.

Bruno defended himself as he had in Venice, insisting that he accepted the Church's dogmatic teachings, but trying to preserve the basis of his cosmological views. In particular, he held firm to his belief in the plurality of worlds, although he was admonished to abandon it. His trial was overseen by the Inquisitor Cardinal Bellarmine, who demanded a full recantation, which Bruno eventually refused. On 20 January 1600, Pope Clement VIII declared Bruno a heretic, and the Inquisition issued a sentence of death.
Any one of which would have resulted in a crispy fried Bruno.

And contrary to holding him up as as a hero of rationalism, he decided all these things using the scientific instrument known as "his ass." Ya he thought the sun was at the Center of the system, but only becasue he thought every Star had its own God the father and its own Jesus Christ. He was not an astronomer or mathematician or a scientist in any way. His ass and lots of drugs were the only instruments he needed.

The problem is that he was the only one burned where Heliocentricism was even vaguely mentioned, so people feel they HAVE to make Bruno this great hero of Rationalism simply becasue Catholic Church Bad, while the fact that Protestants were killing people over Heliocentrism is allowed to be forgotten becasue Protestants Good. So Bruno gets held up as a hero despite no-one even vaguely knowing what the hell the guy believed. If you take out Bruno there is no evidence left to call Catholics Heretics I mean Anti-science, is there?

Admit it, you don't want to believe what I'm telling you as it cracks your preconceptions. So, when are you going to have to defend your Protestantism from accusations of being anti-science for being against Heliocentricism?

Much like Columbus who people try and turn into a great hero against the Church, when in fact he was an idiot who thought that everyone else's Mathematics were wrong, and the Earth was not a Sphere but roughly in the shape of a Pear. And, if you think Kepler was out of the inquisitions reach, Columbus was definitely not, setting out from Spain and you know SPANISH INQUISITION and all that.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

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Suranis you seem to have assumed a few things.You assumed I held up Bruno as a hero. I did not. I just said he was executed for among other things his heliocentric beliefs. You assumed I am defending Protestantism and that I am a Protestant. Neither are true. You used the lack of prosecution by the Inquisition of Kepler as an example that the Catholic Church tolerated heliocentrism. That doesn't wash since he was a Protestant.

I am not sure how it speaks highly of the Roman Catholic Church that after tolerating the theories of Copernicus for half a century they then reversed course on reason based on political pressure from gasp! Protestants and banned Copernicus's book for the next 200 years. And the Church did eventually admit Galileo was right after a mere 400 years.

I do not hold the Catholic Church in particular to be anti-science. There are many religions who are more anti-science. Look at the conservative denominations and Fundamentalists in the US who do not believe in evolution and hold many other ignorant beliefs.

I believe all religions reject science when it threatens their core beliefs. After all isn't every religion based on superstition dressed up as faith?


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

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There comes a point when you realise you are the fool for even responding, and you can trace out the trigger words that are designed to set you off. No point wrestling with farmyard animals and all that.

Anyway Br. Guy Consolmagno, S.J. Director of the Vatican Observatory and President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation is giving a lecture tomorrow. You lot might find it interesting. Or not. Up to you all.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

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and the Earth was not a Sphere but roughly in the shape of a Pear.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson says the same. Earth is a pear-shaped oblate sphere...
I don't think he'll recant.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

#21

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Liz wrote: Sun May 22, 2022 8:57 pm
and the Earth was not a Sphere but roughly in the shape of a Pear.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson says the same. Earth is a pear-shaped oblate sphere...
I don't think he'll recant.
Columbus's version was much narrower in the middle, ergo Asia would have been within reach.

Plus, unlike today, no-one in the Middle Ages believed the Earth was flat.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

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Suranis wrote: Sun May 22, 2022 9:11 pm :snippity:
Plus, unlike today, no-one in the Middle Ages believed the Earth was flat.
It is probably a stretch to say no one in the Middle ages believed in a flat earth since access to scholarly writings was so limited.

What is true is that the Flat Earth Movement seems to be a relatively modern phenomenon dating from the late 1800's. Mankind does seem to regress. We can certainly see that in the US in the 21st century.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

#23

Post by keith »

Reality Check wrote: Mon May 23, 2022 12:57 am
Suranis wrote: Sun May 22, 2022 9:11 pm :snippity:
Plus, unlike today, no-one in the Middle Ages believed the Earth was flat.
It is probably a stretch to say no one in the Middle ages believed in a flat earth since access to scholarly writings was so limited.

What is true is that the Flat Earth Movement seems to be a relatively modern phenomenon dating from the late 1800's. Mankind does seem to regress. We can certainly see that in the US in the 21st century.
I tend to think of the Flat Earth "Movement" as a piss take in joke. I don't really believe that its proponents really believe it, its just fun to be contrarian - sorta like a philosophical version of the "Society for Creative Anachronism". Or maybe the college dorm room where everybody is a toke or two over the line.

Possibly when it first found voice in the 19th century or when ever it was there were people who were honestly pursuing alternate explanations - but that was the flavour of the times - everybody thought they could be the amateur scientist that would change the world.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

#24

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Its not a stretch to say that the idea, that people in the Middle Ages thought the Earth was flat, is a modern invention. Anyone educated, who had to navigate for a living, who had seen ships sink into the horizon as they left port, or who had seen a globe did not. Hell Dante's Divine Comedy described a Spherical Earth, and that was written between 1308 and 1320.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_flat_Earth

http://veritas-ucsb.org/library/russell/FlatEarth.html
It must first be reiterated that with extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat.

A round earth appears at least as early as the sixth century BC with Pythagoras, who was followed by Aristotle, Euclid, and Aristarchus, among others in observing that the earth was a sphere. Although there were a few dissenters--Leukippos and Demokritos for example--by the time of Eratosthenes (3 c. BC), followed by Crates(2 c. BC), Strabo (3 c. BC), and Ptolemy (first c. AD), the sphericity of the earth was accepted by all educated Greeks and Romans.

Nor did this situation change with the advent of Christianity. A few--at least two and at most five--early Christian fathers denied the sphericity of earth by mistakenly taking passages such as Ps. 104:2-3 as geographical rather than metaphorical statements. On the other side tens of thousands of Christian theologians, poets, artists, and scientists took the spherical view throughout the early, medieval, and modern church. The point is that no educated person believed otherwise.

Historians of science have been proving this point for at least 70 years (most recently Edward Grant, David Lindberg, Daniel Woodward, and Robert S. Westman), without making notable headway against the error. Schoolchildren in the US, Europe, and Japan are for the most part being taught the same old nonsense. How and why did this nonsense emerge?
And even now someone pointing it out runs smack into a brick wall.


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Re: The Vatican Observatory

#25

Post by Sam the Centipede »

Liz wrote: Sun May 22, 2022 8:57 pm
and the Earth was not a Sphere but roughly in the shape of a Pear.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson says the same. Earth is a pear-shaped oblate sphere...
I don't think he'll recant.
This oblate spheroid stuff is bad science, just showing off. The Earth is about 12,700 km wide. That width is about 40 km less if measured across the poles rather than across the equator. That is negligible, 40 is very, very small compared to 12,700. If one is aiming for pedantic precision, the Earth is NOT an oblate spheroid because it is not a spheroid nor a sphere. The Earth is lumpy (not very!) – spheres and spheroids are by definition smooth. Mount Everest is roughly 9 km above sea level, the Mariana Trench is about 11 km below sea level. So if that 20 km lumpiness is ignored in describing Earth as an oblate spheroid, the flattening at the poles (or bulging at the equator, depending on one's point of view), which is of the same order, should equally be ignored in describing it as a sphere.

(Multiply km by 0.621 if you must have miles.)


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