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This issue marks the end of our third year under the name of the Biblical Astronomer. Although our readership is down from the time when subscriptions were free, we are reaching a more dedicated readership and we've seen a steady increase in members and subscribers in each of the last three years. This being the end of the year (and the volume), all 1993 subscriptions now expire. So it is time to renew now, if you have not already done so. Do it now, before you forget; and check out the renewal specials in the next article or on the back cover.

About Walter van der Kamp's aberration article in this issue

This issue is the first of two where we focus on the phenomenon of aberration. It has been an extremely difficult issue to assemble, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the difficulty involved in explaining aberration in both the heliocentric and geocentric models. I shall talk about that in my paper entitled “Aberration” which is slated for the next issue, there being no room in this one.

In this issue we publish what Walter van der Kamp states is his last foray into the defense of geocentrism. For many years Walter has advocated a small universe and for the last decade or more he has been doing so on the grounds that aberration is actually a parallax and that the stars are, as a result, less than two light months away. His argument is very, very subtle, but for several reasons, I believe he is wrong. For example, if aberration were a parallax, then what we commonly call the parallax (which is a much smaller effect than aberration) would be in phase with aberration. This would be so because the smaller parallax would be due to slight differences in the distances of the stars near the edge of the 58- light-day universe. As it is, the so-called stellar parallax is 90-degrees out of phase. In other words, if aberration were a parallax, then when the star appears furthest west in its aberration path, it should also be furthest west in its lesser parallactic path. As it is, when the star is furthest west in it aberration path, the star is furthest south in its parallactic path. Walter is thus wrong in stating that the aberration advocates need light rays to bend 90-degrees in or at their telescope objectives (the big lens at the top of the telescope). It is his view that requires the 90-degree bend. Particularly, in his Figure 2, when the star is located at the place he shows, its aberration makes it appear at the point S of its path. Walter has the light coming directly from the star (*), not from S.

A second problem with Walter's conclusion is that even in his model, aberration is based on the speed of the star. But the speed of the star has no relationship to the size of its orbit. The amount of aberration observed would be the same in Walter's model, (indeed, in any geocentric model,) whether the star is 58 light days away or 58 trillion light days away. There is no way that aberration could be due to parallax! If Walter wants to claim that he is not assuming aberration on the part of the star, then he does not win either, for in that case, he cannot explain why for the earth- sun position he has in his figure 2, the star actually appears at S in its path, not above the sun as illustrated.

There is another problem which is not dealt with at all in Walter's paper except in his suggestion for looking for that aberration with a water-filled telescope, and that is the problem of diurnal aberration. Astronomers have detected the aberration due to the daily rotation of the cosmos about the earth (or, if you must, of the earth's rotation in the cosmos). That lends credence to the standard explanation of aberration and runs into the face of Walter's explanation of aberration as parallax.

The greatest error in Walter's article is his claim that starlight should share in the aberration of the sun's path around the galactic center. It would take 250,000,000 to see one “orbit” of that aberration, and even then it would only show up in the galaxies well away from the Milky Way. It would not show up for the stars inside it, since they are ”moving” with the sun. Aberration is only detectable if there is a change in direction of travel. It is present when moving in a straight line, but then there is no way of detecting it.

So, if Walter is wrong on these counts, why include his article? First of all, it takes a lot of thought and careful visualization to see that Walter is wrong and to recognize that, if we did not have diurnal aberration and the traditional phenomenon known as parallax, that there is no way to demonstrate that he is wrong. Second of all, the small universe idea is relatively popular, and for a significant fraction of the people it is based on Walter's erroneous reasoning. Those who adhere to the small universe on the grounds of Rabbinical writings or imagined problems between a large universe and scripture, will not be moved by the demise of Walter's argument; but it behooves all of us to make certain of the cor rectness of our claims. Third of all, if I am wrong in my claims, I need to know that. By printing Walter's claims I air his and have occasion to air mine in the sight of a number of subtle thinkers who are well-equipped to analyze our points of view. I invite their response, especially if I am wrong.

In the next issue I shall, Lord willing, present a review of what is known and believed about aberration by the astronomical community. I think you will find it rather surprising and informative.




Translated from WS2000 on 5 February 2006 by ws2html.