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NotesonAristarchus(310230BCE)

contemporaryofEuclid
ageometer
measuredrelativedistancetotheSun:1820timesfurtherawaythan
theMoon(didthisusingtheapparentanglebetweentheEarth,Sun
andMoonatthemomentoffirstquartermoon)(see
illustration).Correctansweris400.
From:http://wwwgroups.dcs.stand.ac.uk/~history/Biographies/Aristarchus.html

ThediagramshowsanargumentusedbyAristarchus.Heknewthatthe
moonshinesbyreflectedsunlight,soheargued,ifonemeasuredtheangle
betweenthemoonandsunwhenthemoonisexactlyhalfilluminatedthen
onecouldcomputetheratiooftheirdistances.Aristarchusestimatedthatthe
angleatthetimeofhalfilluminationwas87sotheratioofthedistancesis
sin3.Ofcourse,wehavetranslatedthisintomodernnotationfor
Aristarchusdidnotusedegreesnorhadtrigonometrybeeninventedsohe
didnothavethesinefunctionathisdisposal.Howeverthisisineffectthe
calculationhemade,correctinprincipleyetalmostimpossiblydifficultto
observeinpracticesincedeterminingthemomentatwhichhalfillumination
ofthemoonoccurscanonlybeveryinaccuratelyfound.
Aristarchuswasthenfacedwithcalculatinganapproximationforwhatisin
ournotationsin3.Heobtainedtheinequality
1
/18>sin3>1/20
anddeducedthatthesunwasbetween18to20timesasfarawayasthe
moon.Infactatthemomentofhalfilluminationtheanglebetweenthemoon
andthesunisactually8950'andthesunisactuallyabout400timesfurther
awaythanthemoon.

measured
diameterof
Suntobe
between19/3and43/6timesbiggerthantheEarth.Correctansweris
109.

HavingdeducedthattheSunwasmuchbiggerthantheEarth,he
cametobelievethattheEarthprobablyrevolvedaroundtheSunsince
itseemedreasonablethatthelittleobjectshouldorbitthebigone.
proposedfirstknownheliocentricmodelfortheuniverse(dayand
nightand24hourrotationofstarsandsunandmoonandplanets
explainedbyrotationofEarth)buthedidn'tpushthisideaveryhard.

claimeduniversewasenormous(toexplainabsenceofmeasurable
parallaxinaheliocentricuniverse)
measuredlengthoftheyear:365days+1/1653day(365d,6h,0m,
53s)whichisonly12m7stoolong
Aristarchus'geocentricmodelof"movableeccentrics"
1. theMoonorbitstheEarthin27days.
2. theSunorbitstheEarthin1year.theSun'sorbitalcircleismuch
biggerthanthatoftheMoon.
3. VenusandMercuryhadsmall,circularorbits,withMercury'sorbit
insideofbutnotconcentricwiththatofVenus.Thecentersoftheir
orbitswerefoundalongthelineconnectingtheEarthandSun.Asthe

SunmovedaroundEarth,itcarriedtheseorbitalcenterswithit.Thus,
VenusandMercurywerealwaysfoundclosetotheSun.
4. Mars,JupiterandSaturnorbitinverylargecircles.Theirorbitsare
alsocenteredalongEarthSunline;however,orbitsaresolargethat
it'simpossibletodeterminewherethecentersare(i.e.,arenot
constrainedtobegeocentric).
5. thereisnophysicalexplanationastowhyorhowthismodelworks
andthereisnotheologybehindit.
6. notethatinthismodel,ifyoukepteverythingthesameexcepthadthe
EarthrevolvearoundtheSun,itwouldhavealmostnonoticableeffect
(excepttheEarthwouldhavetorotatetocreatedayandnight).