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Venus, Mars and Earth on the Move


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A few days ago, the Moon, Mars and Venus made a beautiful display in the western sky as they set in  concert in the evening. Last night, the moon had gone on its merry way, and I saw only Venus and Mars but they had changed position. Where Mars was above and to the left of Venus, it was now low and to the right. Armed with current knowledge of the solar system, it didn’t take long to figure out that the relative positions of the Earth, Venus and Mars had changed as they orbited the sun. I had the benefit of a three dimensional view and not a two dimensional one. But what of the ancient astronomers? What conclusions did they come to? I find the subject fascinating and must read more.

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People used to assume that heavenly bodies were "perfect," and the only "perfect" shape for them to move in was the circle, hence all kinds of messy wheels-within-wheels theories.  The moral is, forget the assumptions and look at the evidence.  (But some assumptions can be so deep-rooted that we don't recognise them.)


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