Top Geocentrist Fails Pioneer Challenge

Those who have not spent much time critically reading the works of Robert Sungenis on strict Geocentrism may be unaware of how often he resorts to debater’s tricks when responding to his opponents.  One of his favorites is misdirection.  In many instances he appears to give a fulsome answer, but a closer look shows that he’s failed to engage his opponent’s argument at all.  His frequent modus operandi is to overwhelm the reader with copious but irrelevant verbiage, in the hopes that the reader will confuse quantity of words with intellectual substance.

One example is in his non-answer to the challenge posed by Dr. Alec MacAndrew concerning the Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft.  Dr. MacAndrew’s challenge is reproduced below from his article “Here Comes the Sun: How the new geocentrists persist in scientific and logical errors” (well worth reading in its entirety.)  What MacAndrew asks of the geocentrists – his challenge regarding Pioneer – is very specific:

Although it is true that within [General Relativity], local experiments cannot distinguish between various manifestations of acceleration and gravity, it is wrong to say that one cannot make reasonable inferences based on non-local observations and on considerations rooted in causation (as we did for the annual Doppler shift modulation of the CMB and quasars above).

Is there any such evidence for the Earth’s daily rotation? Let’s look at Pioneer 10 and 11, two spacecraft that were launched in 1972 and 1973 respectively, to study the asteroid belt, Jupiter and Saturn. After completing their mission they continued on their trajectory out of the solar system at well above escape velocity. Pioneer 10 remained in contact with earth stations until 2003 when it was some 12 billion kilometres away. You will remember that the Sun has by far the biggest gravitational field in the solar system and for that reason both Pioneers were slowed down by the Sun’s gravity as they flew away from the solar system. However measurements of the spacecraft position and speed indicated that both Pioneers were slowing down more than the models predicted and for several years this effect, known as the Pioneer anomaly, was a mystery. All we need to know about the anomaly is a) that it was tiny (~10-10 ms-2 – a hundred billionth of the acceleration due to gravity at the Earth’s surface) and b) that it has been explained with perfectly conventional physics [Turyshev, Slava G., et al. “Support for the thermal origin of the Pioneer anomaly.” Physical review letters 108.24 (2012): 241101]. What is relevant to us is the fact that the anomaly was so small and therefore, in order to measure it, physicists needed to know the position (range and direction) of the satellites with extreme precision. These measurements are made by Doppler measurements and timing of radio signals sent to the satellites and returned to Earth ground stations. There is a daily modulation of the Doppler signals caused by the fact that Earth’s rotation causes a daily change in the relative velocity between the spacecraft and the Earth which physicists must correct for. In fact this daily Doppler modulation is used to measure the direction of the spacecraft from the Earth (its amplitude gives declination and its phase gives right ascension).

But there’s more – because the Pioneer anomaly was so small, perturbations in the Earth’s daily rotation and in the velocity of the ground stations were significant and had to be taken into account. Corrections were made for: Earth’s precession, nutation, polar motion, tides, the Moon’s, Sun’s and planets’ gravitational torque, Earth’s mantle elasticity, Earth flattening, structure and properties of the core-mantle boundary, rheology of the core, underground water, oceanic variability, atmospheric variability, evolution of Earth’s shape, and the location of Earth’s centre of mass relative to the crust [see here.] Geocentrists would have us believe that the daily Doppler modulation was caused by variations in the velocity of the source (the spacecraft) and not by the Earth’s rotation which they claim does not exist. In that case, shouldn’t they explain why, according to them, the velocity of the Pioneer spacecraft, freely flying through space and several billion kilometres from Earth, cycled with a period of exactly one sidereal day? Can they explain why the details of the supposed Pioneer velocity cycle reflected all the subtle variations in the velocity of the ground station such as Earth’s precession, nutation, polar motion, and so on? Can they give us one good reason to conclude that the daily Doppler modulation was caused by daily changes in the velocity of the spacecraft rather than by earth’s rotation?

Sungenis’s “answer” to this challenge in his article “There Goes the Sun…” was to cut and paste seven pages of outdated and irrelevant material from Galileo Was Wrong (pp. 351-358 of volume 2 in the 11th edition.)

I emphasize outdated because Sungenis’s copy-pasted material only extends to 2004, whereas MacAndrew cited a source from 2012 that lays out the explanation of the Pioneer anomaly.

I emphasize irrelevant for three reasons:  First, MacAndrew’s challenge didn’t rely on the anomaly itself, but rather all of the corrections for motion that had to be made in order precisely to track the anomaly.  Without correcting for all of these motions we wouldn’t be getting intelligible data from the spacecraft at all.  The anomaly is irrelevant to this discussion, but that’s where Sungenis focused all of his attention.

Second, in the copy-pasted verbiage Sungenis doesn’t give even “one good reason” that we should conclude that the daily motions with regard to the Pioneers are motions of the spacecraft rather than the Earth.  He prefers to hide behind the Pioneer anomaly as if its mere existence absolves him from having to answer MacAndrew’s perfectly reasonable questions.

And third, the Pioneer anomaly was explained in 2012, as Dr. MacAndrew points out, “with perfectly conventional physics”.  Now that the anomaly itself is explained, Sungenis has nowhere else to go.  He prefers to hide behind an avalanche of outdated and irrelevant verbiage.  He’s hoping the reader won’t notice.

Well, we noticed.  Here’s Dr. MacAndrew’s challenge again:

Geocentrists would have us believe that the daily Doppler modulation was caused by variations in the velocity of the source (the spacecraft) and not by the Earth’s rotation which they claim does not exist. In that case, shouldn’t they explain why, according to them, the velocity of the Pioneer spacecraft, freely flying through space and several billion kilometres from Earth, cycled with a period of exactly one sidereal day? Can they explain why the details of the supposed Pioneer velocity cycle reflected all the subtle variations in the velocity of the ground station such as Earth’s precession, nutation, polar motion, and so on? Can they give us one good reason to conclude that the daily Doppler modulation was caused by daily changes in the velocity of the spacecraft rather than by earth’s rotation?

Obviously, Robert Sungenis cannot give even one good reason.


Now, dear reader, one can easily anticipate that, if Sungenis “answers” this article he will point out other alleged anomalies in various spacecraft trajectories detected since 2012.  In doing so he will hope that you fail to notice that, as interesting as those anomalies may be, they have nothing to do with the Pioneer anomaly itself, which has been solved.  He will hope that you don’t notice that said anomalies have absolutely nothing to do with the substance of the challenge.  And he will hope that you fail to notice that in the midst of all this obfuscation he will still have yet to give even one good reason why the numerous corrections necessary for daily Doppler modulations between the Earth and the Pioneer spacecraft could plausibly be attributed to motion of the spacecraft themselves, rather than to motion of the Earth.

Given that strict Geocentrism is no more than an elaborate exercise in scientific special pleading, gummed together with conspiracy theories, it is unsurprising that, yet again, its proponents have to rely so heavily on debater’s tricks like misdirection and obfuscation rather than answering basic questions.

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Geocentrism and Stellar Aberration: Illuminating the Earth’s Motion

by Dr. Alec MacAndrew and David Palm

The observation of aberration of starlight is a powerful piece of evidence in favor of the motion of the Earth. It represents objective evidence that the geocentrists are wrong. Aberration admits of a perfectly reasonable and straightforward explanation – it is caused by the motion of the Earth around the Sun according to the universally observed laws of gravity. On the other hand, the neo-geocentric “explanation” for how aberration occurs with a motionless Earth fails utterly, revealing both their fundamental misunderstanding of the phenomenon and their inability yet again to explain even the most basic observable phenomena from within their own system. This article will explain why stellar aberration is such good evidence for the Earth’s orbital motion and why the neo-geocentric explanation fails.

What is Stellar Aberration?

James Bradley was the first to observe aberration of starlight in 1727 while searching for stellar parallax. Parallax is “a displacement or difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight”. Once the Earth was understood to orbit the Sun, astronomers predicted that they should be able to observe parallax when viewing a star first from one side of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun and then again six months later when it is at the opposite side of its annual orbit (here’s a good video describing and illustrating this: link). Bradley’s instruments were not sensitive enough to detect the stellar parallax of even the nearest stars, but were sensitive enough to measure stellar aberration which is a bigger effect than parallax. Sure enough, once their instruments became sufficiently sensitive, astronomers were indeed able to observe stellar parallax, starting with Friederich Bessel’s successful measurement of the parallax of 61 Cygni in 1838, over 100 years after the first observation of stellar aberration. Since then both ground-based and space-based instruments have yielded ever more accurate parallax readings for more than one hundred thousand stars , out to a distance of around 3,000 light years. In future, ESA’s Gaia mission will measure the distance via parallax of up to a billion stars out to a distance of about 300,000 light years.

EAAE Astronomy

Stellar parallax itself provides powerful evidence for the motion of the Earth. Classical geocentrism would never predict its existence – simply put, it should not exist in an Earth-centered (geocentric) model in which the universe revolves around a motionless Earth at its center. As we will see, the neo-geocentrists’ “explanation” of stellar parallax ironically forces them to center the entire universe not on the Earth but on the Sun and then have the whole universe revolve around the Sun , while the Sun itself revolves around the Earth. Needless to say there is no known physics to explain this ad hoc and post hoc example of special pleading.

Bradley at first thought he was observing stellar parallax but it soon became clear that he was observing something else – it turned out to be stellar aberration. So let’s describe that related phenomenon, the aberration of starlight. Over a period of a year the apparent direction of all stars and galaxies appears to change by a small amount in a way that also depends on their location with respect to the ecliptic (the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun). The general form of the apparent figure traced out by the stars over a year is an ellipse. The major axis of the ellipse is about 41 arcseconds aligned with the ecliptic, and the minor axis varies from zero for stars on the ecliptic plane (so they trace out a straight line forwards and backwards) to the same 41 arcseconds for stars on the ecliptic pole (so they trace out a circle.)[1]  (See this video [link] for a good presentation on aberration.)

The classical explanation for aberration is that the observed direction of incidence of light from the stars is given by the sum of two vectors – the velocity of light and the velocity of the Earth. In fact, in Bradley’s time, the speed of Earth’s orbit was known from Kepler’s and Newton’s laws, so the observed ±20.5 arcsecond amplitude of aberration was used to calculate the speed of light, a calculation which yielded a result very close to the currently accepted speed of light. This is direct physical evidence that the Earth is indeed in a gravitational orbit around the Sun. The modern explanation for stellar aberration, based on special relativity, uses the Lorentz transform to transform between the different inertial frames occupied instantaneously by the Earth as it orbits the Sun, and for an orbital speed much less than the speed of light, gives an aberration angle almost identical to the classical explanation.[2]

How Do Parallax and Aberration Differ?

Both stellar parallax and annual stellar aberration are similar annual phenomena, so how does stellar aberration compare with and differ from parallax? It is different in three important respects:

  1. The amplitude of stellar aberration is the same for all stars and galaxies, while the amplitude of parallax depends on the distance of the star.
  2. The amplitude of aberration is much bigger than parallax – the parallax of the closest star, Proxima Centauri, is about 26 times less than stellar aberration, and the parallax of stars gets proportionately less the further away they are.
  3. Parallax and aberration are 90 degrees out of phase, since parallax is proportional to the position of the Earth while aberration is proportional to its velocity. So, for example, if we observe a star lying on the ecliptic at zero degrees ecliptic longitude, for which the maximum parallax displacement occurs at the summer and winter solstices, then for that same star the maximum stellar aberration occurs at the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

Here is the key point: If the Earth were stationary or moving at a constant velocity (that is, in an inertial frame), we’d never be able to observe stellar aberration. We only observe it because the Earth’s velocity vector is continually changing as it orbits the Sun, and this causes the angle of observed aberration (the observed direction of the star) to change over the course of the year.  It’s difficult to understand how anyone who understands the history and the science can claim that stellar aberration is evidence  for a stationary Earth.  Let’s see why that is.

Reason #1:  Annual stellar aberration exactly matches the diameter and period of the Earth’s revolution round the Sun, calculated from different and independent considerations such as orbital mechanics and the circumference and period of Earth’s orbit.

Reason #2:  Stellar aberration is the same amplitude for all stars and galaxies independent of their distance.

Reason #3:  Stellar aberration is caused by the component of the velocity of the observer perpendicular to the direction of the light rays from the star, and is completely independent of the velocity of the star itself (that’s why it’s 90 degrees out of phase with parallax – parallax is caused by the earth’s displacement, and aberration is caused by the Earth’s velocity).  So stellar aberration must be caused by the velocity of the Earth changing with time and cannot be caused by motion of the stars a) because its magnitude is independent of the star’s distance and b) because stellar aberration is independent of motion of the source.


Reason #4:  We test b) in Reason #3 empirically by observing rapidly orbiting binary stars . If aberration is caused by the velocity of the source, then the very high velocity of orbiting binary stars would cause an aberration in their observed position, and because the direction of their velocity is rapidly changing as they orbit, we would observe a change in the direction of the aberration. The consequence of this is that the observed separation of orbiting binaries would appear to be larger than they are and from what we observe – they would appear to be separated much further apart.  That is not what we observe, hence the simple and straightforward explanation is shown to be the correct one – aberration is caused by the motion of the observer, and in the case of Earth-based observers by the motion of the Earth.

[De Sitter’s careful observations of binary stars in the early twentieth century substantiated the view that aberration does not depend on the motion of the source: “In 1913, Willem de Sitter argued . . . a star in a double-star system would usually have an orbit that caused it to have alternating approach and recession velocities, and light emitted from different parts of the orbital path would then travel towards us at different speeds. . . . That is, Kepler’s laws of motion would apparently be violated for a distant observer. De Sitter made a study of double stars and found no cases where the stars’ computed orbits appeared non-Keplerian” (link; see also E. Eisner, “Aberration of Light from Binary Stars-a Paradox?“)

What do the new geocentrists say about aberration of starlight and why won’t their explanation work?

While the neo-geocentrists have tried to explain aberration within their own system, their explanation is wholly inadequate and fails to account for numerous details we have highlighted above. We’ve already noted that the standard neo-geocentric “explanation” for parallax is that the entire universe is actually centered on the Sun – an interesting feature of a supposedly geocentric universe. So, according to them, the whole universe is centered on the Sun, while the Sun itself revolves around the Earth – coincidentally at just the period of revolution that we would expect if the Earth happened to be revolving around the Sun according to the universal law of gravitation, like any other planet. Thus, in their system the parallax is caused by the stars all moving in circles of 150,000 km radius, with the circles lying in the same plane as the ecliptic – a motion that we describe as a “wobble” of the star-field.

This same Rube Goldberg lash-up of a universe is what Robert Sungenis attempts to use to explain aberration as well:


The geocentric explanation for stellar aberration is very simple, and the simplicity speaks for itself. In reality, there is no aberration of star light. Rather, what appears as aberrated star light on Earth is caused by a movement of the whole star field around a fixed Earth. Essentially, the cause for stellar aberration is the same as stellar parallax – the stars are aligned with the sun and thus revolve with the sun around the Earth each year.

Consequently, stellar aberration is not caused by a bending of the star’s light, but by the revolution of all the stars around the Earth, which, depending on the latitude of the star with respect to the Earth’s equator, makes the starlight appear as a circular or elliptical annual motion on Earth. The star field rotates around the Earth on the north/south celestial pole, but the pole itself revolves with a 20.5 arc second radius. As viewed from Earth, the motion of the stars on or near the celestial pole will form a circle in the north, an ellipse at 45° latitude and a hyperbola at the equator (GWW1, 11th ed., p. 155.)

[See the neo-geocentric video seeking to demonstrate their explanation here: link ]

This “explanation” may have the advantage of being “very simple”, but it also has the disadvantage of being very simply wrong. For starters, the quote above coupled with another a few pages earlier in GWW shows that Sungenis doesn’t understand the phenomenon that he is attempting to explain. Sungenis thinks that the eccentricity of the form of stellar aberration (varying between a circle at one extreme and a straight line at the other) depends on where on Earth the observation is made:

If one observes the stars at a 45º celestial latitude, he will see each of the stars form ellipses over a year’s period. The eccentricity of the ellipse will increase the greater one’s distance from the North Pole. If one observes from the equatorial plane, one will see the stars form an acute hyperbola or even a horizontal line (GWW1, 11th ed., p. 150f.)

This is a grotesque misunderstanding of the phenomenon. In fact, the form of the aberration is a circle for stars at the ecliptic pole, a straight line for stars on the ecliptic plane and an ellipse for stars lying between, where the eccentricity of the ellipse depends on the latitude of the star in ecliptic co-ordinates. The form of the aberration is independent of where on Earth the observation is made – this is a fundamental blunder on Sungenis’s part. And where he gets the idea that any of these motions form a hyperbola is anyone’s guess – that’s wrong too. Yet again, Sungenis shows that he is abjectly ignorant of the very things he pontificates about (see many more examples documented in “Robert Sungenis: Incompetent in Physics”.)


Sungenis is also simply wrong in his explanation of stellar aberration as a movement of the whole star field around the Earth. Why? First, as we have already seen, aberration and parallax are two distinct phenomena. They can’t both be explained by a movement of the whole star field centered on the sun around the Earth. They are different phenomena with different amplitudes, 90 degrees out of phase. If one is prepared to ignore the violation of orbital mechanics and other fatal physical objections (see the paragraph below), one could explain parallax by a motion of the whole star field in a circle with a radius of 150,000 kilometers, because that would look the same as a fixed star field with Earth orbiting the sun (the angular parallax is inversely proportional to the star’s distance). But it doesn’t work for stellar aberration because the amplitude of the angular aberration is the same for all celestial objects whether they are 4.5 light-years or 4.5 billion light years away. To get a phenomenon where the angular aberration is the same for Proxima Centauri or a galaxy at 4.5 billion light years, the diameter of the wobble for Proxima Centauri would be 4.3 billion kilometers and for the galaxy at 4.5 billion light years it would be 4.3 billion billion kilometers. This explanation is nonsense.

Second, the neo-geocentric “explanation” of aberration doesn’t consider the light time issue, which is fatal to the geocentric “wobbly universe” explanation of both the parallax and the aberration. For any given direction, the parallax of all stars is in phase and the aberration of all stars is in phase (and 90 degrees different from each other) regardless of their distance, but celestial objects are at a complete range of distances and their light takes from 4.5 years to ten billion years to reach us. Their individual wobbles would have to be arranged in such an out-of-phase way as to arrive in phase at the Earth accounting for different light propagation times from these different distances – you wouldn’t observe what we do observe if the cause of aberration was the whole star field wobbling together.

Let’s stick with reasonable explanations.

Thus, the existing neo-geocentric explanation fails at the most fundamental levels. It cannot fully “explain” stellar parallax, and it certainly cannot explain parallax and aberration together with the same mechanism. No doubt they’ll now scurry to come up with something else.  But that they are compelled to find some alternative, tortured explanation for something that already admits of a perfectly reasonable explanation highlights a broader point in this whole debate. Not all explanations are equally reasonable. It is not sufficient to have some explanation, any explanation to stay in the realm of the reasonable.

Both aberration of starlight and stellar parallax admit of a simple, reasonable explanation that fits all the observable evidence – the Earth is orbiting the Sun according to the well understood and universally observed laws of gravity. The angular amplitudes of both parallax and stellar aberration are perfectly consistent with the radius of the Earth’s orbit, and therefore both phenomena can be explained with a simple fact: the Earth orbits the Sun once a year with an orbital radius of 150,000 kilometers. And after that there is no need or even justification to search for any other explanation. As the great philosopher Thomas Aquinas has said, “If a thing can be done adequately by means of one, it is superfluous to do it by means of several; for we observe that nature does not employ two instruments where one suffices”. Ironically the neo-geocentrists repeatedly do the very thing they so often belittle real scientists for – clinging tenaciously to their personal view in spite of the evidence against it.

The Bottom Line:

The bottom line is that both stellar parallax and even more so aberration of starlight are powerful evidence in favor of the motion of the Earth. The geocentrists’ proffered explanation for aberration fails on multiple levels. This demonstrates yet again that these men are incompetent in scientific fundamentals and also that they have no good answers for very basic observations from within their own system. Strict Geocentrism is once more shown to be a dangerous pseudo-science, an elaborate exercise in special pleading and conspiracy mongering.


Appendix 1: Debunking Geocentric Challenges to the Mainstream Explanation of Aberration

Geocentrist claim #1:

Additionally, the sun and the planets will show the same aberration, approximately 20.5 arc seconds. The only body exempt is the Earth’s moon. So the natural question is: what is causing the light of these celestial bodies to create these shapes and why is the moon exempt? . . . Whatever the true state of affairs for the heliocentric side, the dual explanation from different “frames of reference” will lend itself to establishing the geocentric explanation, which will offer a more cogent reason why the sun takes part in annual aberration. Moreover, the heliocentric argument will show itself not to have an explanation for why the planets show aberration and why the moon does not (GWW1, 11th ed. pp 151 and 155).

In order to understand how aberration applies within the solar system, we need to understand in which frame the aberration is measured. In the case of extra-solar objects we know that their apparent position changes throughout the year, but with respect to what? Since angular aberration is the same for all stars regardless of their distance, their apparent positions relative to one another remain unchanged as a consequence of the phenomenon, unlike the case of parallax where the closer star appears to move with respect to the background of more distant stars. So, in the case of aberration, the apparent movement of the stars is with respect to ecliptic co-ordinates or ECI (Earth-Centered Inertial) coordinates – if you point your telescope in the direction of the ecliptic pole and keep it fixed in that direction you’ll see celestial bodies trace out a circle of ±20.5 arcsecond – this is the stellar aberration.

Once we consider the aberration of bodies within the solar system, we have to think hard about what frame we are basing your measurements on. For the Sun, the aberration, based on heliocentric ecliptic co-ordinates, is the familiar 20.5 arcseconds, but because it’s always in the same sense as the direction of Earth’s orbital velocity (always to the west in ecliptic longitude), there is no annual variation. Light-time correction for the Sun in ecliptic co-ordinates is zero because the Sun is at rest in these co-ordinates. Light time correction for the Sun’s position in ECI co-ordinates has the same value as aberration in heliocentric ecliptic co-ordinates, because it is based on the same ratio of Earth’s orbital speed to light speed.

The apparent direction of planets in heliocentric ecliptic co-ordinatesas observed from Earth is aberrated, and depending on the relative locations of Earth and planet, can have a periodic variation, but the co-ordinates of a planet change considerably during the course of an Earth year because of their own orbits. Planetary aberration is defined as the sum of the stellar aberration caused by the motion of the Earth in heliocentric ecliptic co-ordinates (just the same as annual stellar aberration) and the difference between the apparent and actual position of the planet caused by the motion of the planet during the time that light takes to travel from the planet to Earth. For planets within Earth’s orbit (Mercury and Venus) there is no periodic variation in stellar aberration. For the planets and other solar system bodies outside Earth’s orbit there are periodic variations in stellar aberration, with periods longer than one year. The period of the aberration for planets is their synodic period, which is the time between the closest approaches of the planet to the Earth). The synodic period for Mars is 780 days, for Jupiter it is 399 days, for Neptune it is 368 days. The further the planet is from the sun, the closer its synodic period approaches one Earth year.

Annual aberration is caused by Earth’s orbit around the Sun, or in relativistic terms by Earth’s change of reference frame as it orbits, but the moon and Earth are orbiting together around the Sun in the same frame, so that there is no aberration of moonlight.

Thus, the neo-geocentrists are simply wrong when they claim that “the heliocentric argument will show itself not to have an explanation for why the planets show aberration and why the moon does not.”

It’s worth remembering, too, that there is no such thing as absolute velocity in relativity, so stellar aberration can only be observed, and only has meaning where the observer is in a non-inertial frame – in other words is changing inertial frame over time. It is the orbit of the Earth and the fact that its velocity is changing annually as it orbits the Sun that enables us to observe stellar aberration.

Geocentrist claim #2:

There is one other factor to consider – the speed of light and the difference between the source and the receiver of the star light. Modern heliocentrism believes: (a) star light is independent from the star once it is emitted from the star, and (b) the emitted star light is not independent of the motion of the receiver. The geocentric explanation has incorporated both of these heliocentric parameters. In doing so, it has shown that whereas the heliocentric explanation requires the phenomenon to be an actual aberration of light, the geocentric explanation holds that it is caused by a vector radiation of light from the star that is not aberrated but travels in a linear direction to the viewer on Earth. In later chapters we will see how this result agrees in principle with the results of the experiments performed in 1871 by George Biddell Airy (GWW1, 11th ed. p. 158).

This geocentric “explanation” is essentially incoherent. As we have already demonstrated in the main body of this article, one cannot predict the observed aberration if one assumes that the phenomenon depends on motion of the source, and there is good reason to discount motion of the source as a cause. We don’t know what a “vector radiation” is, and there Sungenis offers no mathematical or even verbal explanation for how stellar aberration could arise if the Earth is stationary. Where in Sungenis’s book, Galileo Was Wrong, can we find the demonstration alluded to here?

Geocentrist claim #3:

Finally, in the geocentric model, the sun and planet’s 20.5″ movement is caused by their annual traveling with the rest of the star field and thus they will react in the same manner as the stars. The moon, however, does not show a 20.5″ movement since it is locked in place by the gravity of the fixed Earth. The heliocentric model has no explanation for these phenomena (GWW1, 11th ed., p. 158).

This is incorrect. As pointed out above, aberration is a consequence of motion of the observer, and cannot be explained by the motion of the entire universe with respect to the Earth for several reasons that we have explained above. In relativistic terms it is a consequence of the fact that the Earth is not at rest in an inertial frame.

However, the moon and Earth are orbiting together in a single frame (the Earth-moon barycenter), and the Earth remains in that frame throughout the year, so there is no annual aberration of moonlight. In ECI co-ordinates there is a light time correction of the moon’s position given by vm/c, where vm is the moon’s orbital speed. Vm = 1.02km/s, so vm/c = 3.42 x 10-6 radians or 0.704 arcseconds. So the fact is that there is a perfectly good real physics explanation for these phenomena, a monumentally superior explanation compared with the neo-geocentrists’ ridiculous “explanation”.

Fundamentally, claim #3 depends on the neo-geocentrists’ foundational claim that aberration can be explained by a “wobbly universe”, a claim which we have already demolished in the body of this article. It is even more obviously incorrect for solar system bodies, because the planets change their distance to Earth by significant amounts as they and the Earth orbit the Sun, so if the explanation of aberration is a wobble of the planets, Sun and stars round the Earth, a planet’s wobble would have to change its displacement amplitude in direct proportion to its distance from us to keep the angular aberration constant as observed. Again, the neo-geocentrists are forced to pile absurdity upon absurdity in order to explain a phenomenon that admits of a perfectly simple and reasonable explanation, namely, that the Earth is orbiting its star according to the universal laws of gravitation, just like any other planet.


End Notes:

[1]  Because the instantaneous amplitude of the aberration is proportional to the instantaneous amplitude of Earth’s velocity (its speed), stars on the ecliptic axis don’t trace out an exact circle but a slightly misshapen circle caused by the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit. The speed of Earth’s orbit is maximum at perihelion and minimum at aphelion.)

[2]  The classical vector sum of the two velocities, that of light and of the Earth at right angles to the light propagation direction, explained Bradley’s and later experiments very well. For example, for a star on the ecliptic pole, the angle of aberration, alpha, was predicted by the simple vector addition of the two velocities by tan(alpha) = v/c, where v is the speed of Earth’s orbit and c is the speed of light. So alpha = tan-1(2.98 x 104/2.99×108) = 20.56 arcseconds. The more rigorous relativistic prediction, based on the Lorentz transform, gives, for v<<c, sin(alpha) = v/c, so alpha = sin-1(2.98 x 104/2.99 x 108) = 20.56 arcseconds. So, the classical and relativistic calculations give the same result for the earth’s orbital velocity, but will diverge for higher velocities.


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Paranoid Much? The “Principled” Response to Flat Earth Geocentrism

Robert Sungenis, press release, Dec 2013

Ball Earth geocentrists like Robert Sungenis and Rick DeLano have been flummoxed by the tremendous surge of interest in Flat Earth geocentrism over the past few years.  As I wrote in “Growing by Leaps and Bounds?”, popularity of Flat Earth geocentrism is outstripping Ball Earth geocentrism by a long mile.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given their penchant for conspiracies [see here and here], the Ball Earth geocentrists smell a rat.  Specifically they contend that the Flat Earth outbreak is all about messing up the promotion of their movie on geocentrism, The Principle.  Ball Earth geocentrist Mark Wyatt first asserted that there was something nefarious going on in January 2016, on the conspiracy site Before It’s News:  “The flat earth explosion that started towards the end of 2014 is a direct attack to keep America and the world from seeing the documentary THE PRINCIPLE” (link).  His single piece of “evidence” for this “direct attack” was a Google Trends chart that shows the start of a rise in interest in Flat Earth geocentrism around that time frame.  More on this in a bit.

In a follow-up article, Wyatt takes the “it just has to be about us” meme to a ridiculous extreme:

The Guardian has written two stories about flat earth in January 2016, here and here.

The second article, “Flat-Earthers aren’t the only ones getting things wrong”, interestingly attempts to tie flat earth with “Galileo’s 17th Century Critics”, a jab at Robert Sungnis [sic] who wrote Galileo Was Wrong, and was Executive Producer of “THE PRINCIPLE”. Interestingly, also, they managed to do this while staying true to the media blackout of “THE PRINCIPLE”, by not mentioning who “Galileo’s 17th Century Critics” are… (link).

Wyatt’s sense of chronology seems a bit out of whack here.  Perhaps the reason Sungenis wasn’t explicitly mentioned as one of “Galileo’s 17th century critics” is because those critics all lived and died in, you know, the 17th century?  Unless Sungenis is considerably older than we’ve been told that seems fairly plausible.  Or perhaps Wyatt is right and there really is something more sinister going on here.  You decide.

Rick Delano,

More recently Ball Earth geocentrist Rick DeLano has made even more sweeping and specific claims about a Flat Earth geocentrist conspiracy to neutralize his movie:

Let me tell you guys the truth, okay? Flat Earth is a psyop. It’s a psyop that was launched, not coincidentally, right around the time The Principle was released. Ah, and again emanates from certain Catholics circles who wanted to shut us down. If you wanted to discredit geocentrism, the first thing you do is tie it to Flat Earth so that every time you hear geocentrism the next thing you hear is flat earth. Brilliant. . . .

This thing was suddenly everywhere. Absolu…, everytime…I remember because I was in Chicago opening the film and every time I googled “The Principle” or “geocentrism” flat earth would be everywhere on my page. And I go, “Somebody is putting some serious money to get these links up on Google so high. What in the heck is going on?

And it turns out that, you know, some of the clever guys who really despise us in the Catholic Church, they went back and they said, “Oh, okay, so they’re going to interpret the Scriptures literally for geocentrism, let’s have them interpret the Scriptures literally for flat earth, it’s a dome you see, so we’re going to make them look stupid by saying that if you believe geocentrism you must believe flat earth.” Well somebody grabbed that and ran with it, as a psyop. . . . (link; at 1:15:50).

Displaying a staggering lack of self-reflection, DeLano – whose sidekick Robert Sungenis has publicly espoused a whole panoply of conspiracy theories and who regularly tells his followers that they are being “lied to” by the entire science establishment – nevertheless portrays Flat Earth geocentrism as a veritable conspiracy within a conspiracy:

See, here’s the appeal, the beautiful appeal. OK. Everybody knows everything is wobbling right now. Everybody knows they’re being lied to right now. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could say that every single thing that you have been taught in your whole life is a complete load of hooey and you’re being conspiratorially lied to — there are no satellites, we’ve never been to the moon, the moon is a little light up about 3000 miles above us and so’s the sun and there’s a dome above us and thus the Earth Is Flat! All of a sudden you are the keeper of the secret. This is Gnosticism on steroids. You have the secret and you and your friends are the only ones who have cracked the code and you have the evangelical fire in your belly to go out there and spread the word. Now, people are tired of having their religious views, their cultural views spat upon by the scientific elites. But they can’t fight these guys, they don’t know calculus. What an attractive world to enter, where you can be Einstein. Where you can be Kepler. Where you can be Galileo. Because you know the secret! Right? It’s an incredibly powerful and persuasive psychological operation. And it’s taken off like a rocket. And it was in fact launched, in my opinion — I have circumstantial but certainly only circumstantial evidence — that Flat Earth was deployed as a psyop with big money behind it to divert attention away from The Principle, to sort of set in everybody’s mind that geocentrism, oh that’s just like flat earth (link; at 1:17:30).

Of course DeLano’s critique of Flat Earth geocentrism applies every bit as much to Ball Earth geocentrism – it’s Gnosticism on steroids, the Ball Earth geocentrists think they have the “secret” that the mainstream “opposition” is hiding (“They Know it but They’re Hiding it”), they’ve got the whip hand on Galileo/Kepler/Newton/Einstein, and they have the evangelical fire in the belly to spread the word (remember, DeLano and Sungenis make their whole living hawking Ball Earth geocentrism.)

The fact is that Wyatt’s and DeLano’s conspiracy, like so many others, is made up out of whole cloth.  Let’s go ahead and assess it factually one point at a time, starting with DeLano’s claim that Google has closely linked Flat Earth with geocentrism and The Principle.

Google Searches for “The Principle” or “Geocentrism” had Flat Earth “Everywhere”?

This claim really had me saying “huh?”  I’ve been researching and writing about geocentrism for more than six years.  It shouldn’t surprise anybody that I have done my fair share of Google searches for “geocentrism” and more recently for “The Principle”.  I have never once seen Flat Earth come up prominently in any such search.  Certainly it’s not true right now.  Go ahead, try it yourself.  If I google “geocentrism” I find the first reference to “Flat Earth” twelve pages in.  If you google just “The Principle” it appears that you’ll never get a page that references “Flat Earth”.  If you google “The Principle movie” then references to “Flat Earth” start on page 4 of the searches, but they are all to documents and comments created in 2016 or later, too late to contribute to DeLano’s conspiratorial contentions.  One commenter on the interview with DeLano noticed the same thing I did and came to an interesting conclusion:

I did a google search and went 6 pages deep, Not once did “flat Earth” show along with “The Principle” Hmmm?, and I did the same in Youtube, same results?, Flat Earth is not a PsyOp, His explanation is the PsyOp (link).

Unless DeLano is going to contend that somebody put “serious money” to get all these links up on Google in late 2014 to coincide with the launch of The Principle and then managed to get them all down again, without anybody else noticing but him, his assertion looks very flimsy indeed.

There’s Big Money Behind It?

What about his assertion that there is “serious money” behind these nefarious schemes, or as he has said in any number of on-line venues that this alleged connection of Flat Earth Geocentrism with The Principle is “Very, very well funded….”?

Once again DeLano makes assertions without a shred of evidence to back them up.  He starts the interview stating, categorically and confidently, that “the truth” is that “Flat Earth is a psyop. It’s a psyop that was launched, not coincidentally, right around the time The Principle was released”.  But by the end of this part of the interview, he rolls that back rather sharply, ending on the note that “it was in fact launched, in my opinion – I have circumstantial but certainly only circumstantial evidence – that flat earth was deployed as a psyop with big money behind it to divert attention away from The Principle” (see links above.)

Circumstantial evidence like what?  The lone piece of circumstantial “evidence” that he or anybody else has offered for this conspiracy theory is that interest in Flat Earth geocentrism experienced an uptick in the same timeframe that The Principle was released.  By itself that’s hardly a sufficiently firm foundation on which to build DeLano’s more sweeping allegations of a “very, very well funded” “organized oppo” specifically targeting his movie.

This “psyop” emanates from “certain Catholic circles” and is backed by “some of the clever guys who really despise us in the Catholic Church”?

Well, again we have a lot of assertions, but no evidence.  On what basis does Rick conclude that this interest in Flat Earth geocentrism is masterminded by those of us who object to Rick and Sungenis et al. linking their crusade for Ball Earth geocentrism to the Catholic faith?  He gives no evidence for the assertion – not even circumstantial – so what is gratuitously asserted may be just as gratuitously denied.

A More Plausible Explanation:

With this much I’ll agree: Google Trends data do indeed show that interest in “Flat Earth” began gently to pick up at the very end of 2014 and has experienced rapid and sustained growth since then (as a side note, interest in “geocentrism” and “The Principle” have remained as flat as the Flat Earth.)

DeLano, et al. chalk this rise in Flat Earth popularity to a conspiracy specifically bent on making their movie look ridiculous.  But is there a more plausible explanation?  There is indeed.  Eric Dubay, one of the most prominent promoters of Flat Earth geocentrism, lays out the actions he was taking on behalf of Flat Earth as far back as 2008, leading to the publishing of a book and unveiling of a documentary in late 2014:

In 2008 teacher and author Eric Dubay (that’s me), began a web site and published a book titled The Atlantean Conspiracy which exposed among many other things Free Masonry, the fake moon landings, geocentricity, and even featured a quote from [International Flat Earth Research Society] president Charles K. Johnson. . . .

For the next several years I continued writing books and articles about various conspiracies and worked on building a huge social media presence by making multiple accounts, adding as many friends and followers as possible, joining and posting to as many groups and pages as possible. Over the course of a few years I began building up very large followings on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Tsu, and many other sites. To give you an example of their efficacy you can see here my main Google+ account with over 135 million views and my secondary one with over 87 million. . . .

In November of 2014, after years of researching and writing, I released my book The Flat-Earth Conspiracy, the first pro-Flat Earth book written in nearly fifty years. I simultaneously released a Flat-Earth Conspiracy documentary on Youtube, began giving radio interviews, and published several influential articles on the subject. Within a very short space of time the “Flat Earth” keyword saw a 600% rise in activity and Google search results jumped from a few thousand to over 21 million. . . . The moment when the Flat Earth tide shifted and the exponential growth of the movement began was clearly around and after November 2014, the exact month when I exploded all of my Flat Earth research onto the Internet (link at 1:27:36 and 1:30:25).

Certainly it is true that after Dubay disseminated his Flat Earth material to his social network the popularity of Flat Earth geocentrism has absolutely blown away interest in Ball Earth geocentrism, as I documented in “Growing by Leaps and Bounds?” and “Flat Earth Geocentrism Has Global Appeal While Ball Earth Geocentrism is Flat-lining” (red line below = searches for “flat earth”, very flat blue line = “geocentrism”):

Here’s the bottom line.

There is no evidence for Rick DeLano’s “Very very well funded” “organized oppo” psyop seeking to undermine his movie.  There is no evidence for his assertion that at the end of 2014 “Flat Earth” sites mysteriously came up everywhere in a Google search of “geocentrism” or “The Principle” (and then just as mysteriously disappeared without a trace.)  There is no evidence that any of this is backed by some nefarious Catholics working behind the scenes to torpedo The Principle.

One is free to consider Eric Dubay himself as some sort of agent provocateur – certainly there are those even within the Flat Earth geocentrism movement who do.  But to connect his launch of Flat Earth material with The Principle, one would have to hold that these shadowy Catholic operatives anticipated the release of The Principle several years in advance and worked with Dubay to get his book written, his documentary created, and his social media presence established, all in anticipation of the moment when the Flat Earth meme could be unleashed to crush the Ball Earth opposition.

Anybody who could pull that off would have to be pretty darn clever, eh?

Hmmmmm.  Maybe that’s what really happened after all.

Posted in Credibility, Flat Earth Geocentrism | Comments Off on Paranoid Much? The “Principled” Response to Flat Earth Geocentrism