Was My High School Physics Teacher Correct About Ptolemy's Theory of the Solar System?

Ptolemy taught that the earth was the stationary center of the solar system and that the sun, the moon, and the other planets rotated around the earth.  Of course, we now know that is not true, said our high school physics teacher, but he also said that Ptolemy's theory makes perfect sense so long as a person does not leave the earth.  Was our high school physics teacher correct when he said that Ptolemy's theory makes sense if a person does not leave the earth?

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  • 1 month ago
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    The geocentric system was rejected centuries before we could "leave the earth."  The Copernican heliocentric model proved much simpler than the geocentric model, and Newton in the 17th century provided a physical basis for the laws of Kepler and Copernicus.  

    If one were to insist on believing in the epicycles and other complexities necessary to support the Ptolemaic model, "leaving the earth" would not do much to change one's mind.

  • 1 month ago

    It can't easily explain seasonal variations in the sun's position in the sky - more to the south in winter and the north in summer (in the northern hemisphere on earth).  It also can't account for the position of the stars in the sky as the seasons change - some stars are only visible from the northern hemisphere at a particular time of year.  Finally, Polaris - the "north star" pretty much stays in one place over an evening - though its relative position in the sky changes over the year - and everything in the sky would appear to spin around that star.

  • 1 month ago

    No. Because it does not explain the comets. (See Britannica, Ptolemaic system.)

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