Opposition to Galileo was scientific, not just religious – Aeon Ideas

Copernicus proposed that certain oddities observed in the movements of planets through the constellations were due to the fact that Earth itself was moving. Stars show no such oddities, so Copernicus had to theorise that, rather than being just beyond the planets as astronomers had traditionally supposed, stars were so incredibly distant that Earth’s motion was insignificant by comparison. But seen from Earth, stars appear as dots of certain sizes or magnitudes. The only way stars could be so incredibly distant and have such sizes was if they were all incredibly huge, every last one dwarfing the Sun. Tycho Brahe, the most prominent astronomer of the era and a favourite of the Establishment, thought this was absurd, while Peter Crüger, a leading Polish mathematician, wondered how the Copernican system could ever survive in the face of the star-size problem.

Locher thought much was up in the air and ripe for study. In light of the star-size problem, he thought that the Earth clearly did not move; the Sun circled it. But the telescope made it clear that Venus circled the Sun, and that sunspots also went around the Sun. Brahe had theorised that all planets circled the Sun, while it circled Earth. Locher noted that Brahe might be right, but what was clear was that the telescope supported Ptolemy.

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