Galileo's Revolution: The Copernican Model of the Solar System
Bertolt Brecht's play Life of Galileo underscores the earth-shaking ramifications of
Galileo's celestial observation of the phases of Venus, made possible by the newly invented telescope.
This single observation could not be explained by the geocentric astronomical model held by the Church, and
became a pivotal point in the further erosion of papal power, already weakened by the Reformation.
Although Galileo himself was put under house arrest for the remainder of his life,
his discoveries further loosened
the Church's capacity to impede the pace of science during the Renaissance.
Students build 2 software simulations of the inner solar system planets
– one Copernican/heliocentric, the other Ptolemaic/geocentric –
in order to observe whether each model is consistent with certain astronomical phenomena.
These simulations allows the user to position the camera/viewer anywhere in the animation,
but particularly on Earth, in order to observe and better understand:
(1) The Phases of Venus,
(2) Mars in Retrograde (reversal of direction for several months each 2-year cycle), and
(3) The Infrequency of Total Solar Eclipses.
Note: Planet sizes and orbital positions are relative, not absolute.
The sun is much smaller than its actual size relative to the planets.
I key = Zoom IN
O key = Zoom OUT
LEFT Arrow = Turn LEFT
RIGHT Arrow = Turn RIGHT
+ Plus key = Speed up
- Minus key = Slow down
P key = Toggle: Pause / Go
F key = Camera FRONT: On the Ecliptic Plane between Earth and Mars
A key = Camera ABOVE: Looking down on the Solar System
R key = Mars in Retrograde, viewer on Earth
V key = Phases of Venus, viewer on Earth
M key = Moon (Solar Eclipse), viewer on Earth
S key = Sun (Solar Eclipse), viewer on Earth
E key = Earth, viewer on the Sun