The Discarded Image Vindicated -
Though, sadly enough, it has not yet much influenced the understanding of lay people, the rank and file of common college professors in general, and temporizing theologians in particular - the relation between science and truth is no more what, until about the Second World War, it since Newton was accepted to be. Truly perceptive thinkers, at long last coming to their senses and recognizing the fatuity of a "we now know", slowly begin to attract a following. Slowly, for even among those who profess to admire the literature published by these harbingers of a better era in humanity's travel through time, today only a minority have already become fully aware of this new view's far-reaching impact. And this, I am inclined to think, because the sense of awe that modern technological accomplishments are wont to make us look at these accomplishments as products of theoretical science -which in the commonly accepted sense of the term they are not. These marvels result from trial and error tinkering, not from questioning - just read a biography of Edison.
Canny inventors may devise machinery capable of shooting men to the Moon and may fabricate
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microscopic tools for gene splicing, but this does not mean that therefore and thereby they can answer mankind's greatest and deepest questions - those remain as elusive as before. Returning to the subject concerning us here: with regard to presenting us with truth in theoretical cosmology, technology is powerless. Mighty telescopes and super-sensitive scanners may deliver reams and reams of data - they deliver not a syllable of unassailable interpretation. At bottom we always see, as Wittgenstein put it, what we want to see. That is in astronomy: either a closed finite, an open infinite, or a curved unbounded cosmos. "Today", thus James Burke, "we live according to the latest version of how the universe functions. This view affects our behaviour and thought, just as previous versions affected those who lived with them…Like our ancestors we know the real truth". And pondering the implications of the many shifts of view history presents us with he asks: "Do scientific criteria change with changing social priorities? If they do, why is science accorded its privileged position? If all research is theory-laden, contextually determined, is knowledge merely what we decided it should be? Is the universe what we discover it is, or what we say it is?"(72) In the same vein C.S. Lewis remarks: "The nineteenth century still held the belief that by inferences from our sense-experience (improved by instruments) we could 'know' the ultimate physical reality more or less as, by maps, pictures, and travel books a man can 'know' a country he has not visited; and that in both cases the 'truth' would be a sort of mental replica of the thing itself. Philosophers might have disquieting comments to make on this conception; but scientists and plain men did not much attend to them."
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No, they did not, but today they begin to do it. "We are all", Lewis adds, "very properly, familiar with the idea that in every age the human mind is deeply influenced by the accepted model of the universe. But there is a two-way traffic; the model is also influenced by the prevailing temper of mind... Hardly any battery of new facts could have persuaded a Greek that the universe had an attribute so repugnant to him as infinity; hardly any such battery could persuade a modern that it is hierarchical "(73)
I am aware: the temper of modern man's mind I still have against me. On the other hand the modest approach of the rising philosophy of science gives me the courage to speak my mind freely. Against all comers I therefore declare that I side with Lewis' Greek. I hold that the finite Universe is hierarchical, ascending from man on the Earth below to the Heaven of God Almighty above the stars. However, before placing my battery of facts in position I have to prepare the ground for doing this.
Pertinent to the importance of the right understanding of aberration: there has been more at stake with regard to its influence on the further development, and thereupon the demise, of Copernican astronomy than at first sight will meet the eye. That the publication of Newton's Principia caused Tycho Brahe to be driven into oblivion cannot be denied; but forty years later Bradley appears to have silenced almost without exception even the few percipient souls who cannot but have agreed, with Berkeley over against the great Isaac, that only in a space knowing place, and in it the fixed stars at rest, the nation of an Earth orbiting a Sun has any real, unequivocal meaning. For aberration, as it is
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presently preached, requires an Earth at a "real" velocity of 30 km/sec describing an ellipse through space with a Sun resting in one of its foci. A Sun in motion, carrying our Kepler's and Newton's laws abiding planet along, would cause that aberration to be inconstant and revealing the Sun's speed at the moments of its maximum and minimum size. Therefore it is not difficult to see that even these Berkeleyan doubters - reluctantly I suppose - began to go along with what everybody of name knew to be true. To attribute the phenomenon to a synchronous and simultaneous motion of all the fixed stars was out of the question. It would have involved a retrogress of astronomy to hoary Ptolemaic antiquity and to Kepler's long already abandoned Stellatum, that is: a shell of stars enclosing a finite Universe. It is accordingly understandable that no one judged a further conformation, as proposed by Boscovich, still necessary.
Yet already a decade before Bradley died the speculations of a Thomas Wright, about the Milky Way possible being a lens-shaped stellar system, commenced to set in motion a train of thought that, though inhering the Newtonian view of spatiality, would make havoc of mankind's still lingering parochial outlook with respect to our place in the totality of the visible cosmos.
Via, among many others, Herschel, Laplace, Kant, Doppler, and Kapteyn, the consequences drawn from the denial of a Stellatum have led modern astronomers to accept a theoretical stance, which convinces them that they "know" how we together with the Sun circle the centre of the Milky Way. We do that with a velocity of circa 250 km/sec., while in the meantime our galaxy and its neighbouring stellar swarms may well hurtle at 600 km/sec towards the Virgo cluster of star systems. Of
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course these supervelocities cannot in any way be directly determined, and do not expect aberration to reveal them. The fixed stars around us move along with us at distances of many light years; and the countless galaxies that expand space by rushing away from us and each other, or if you prefer, are outward bound in that space - the experts express themselves not too clearly on this point... those galaxies are so far away that centuries will have to pass before we shall perceive sizable changes in positions. There is with respect to aberration here even a fitting parallel with Fresnel's aether drift: we are unable to observe the aberration caused by those galactic whirls and swirls; only the change in it resulting from our going around our local Great Light the telescopes show us. Now it is beyond dispute: unobservables may exist, but do not have to exist. From which follows that when all is said and done there may be nothing beyond and above Bradley's miniscule angle. And if we take the Einstein solution seriously, holding that under its aegis the geocentric theory according to Hoyle is "as good as anyone else's - but no better", then we are, I posit, saddled with a perplexing quandary, which quandary - as I have already hinted at - Sir Fred will simply have overlooked as irrelevant for a Universe ruled by relativity. His adage, even a child can see this, surely holds for a Solar System adrift in a space that knows no place, and no handhold on the Heavens. However, his space-time continuum is a mental construct of which, without as well as with the help of the most elaborate instruments, his senses and those of all men can only observe and apprehend the three dimensions of the everyday world. A world, and we may do well to realize this, that allows us to fly to the Moon and to land
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instruments on Mars. And out of which we only at all costs must try to escape into "unthinkable" curved space, if we do not want to live in the geocentric Universe that all down-to-earth tests urge us to accept.
The triangulation of space, on which this today generally accepted vista rests, starts from a base line that no experiment can soundly show to be there. The "proofs" for its existence are too rashly drawn from a no-win situation. Under the constraints of classical science this base line is the diameter of the ellipse that the Earth at a velocity of 30 km/sec describes around the Sun. Alas - that velocity cannot in any way be directly demonstrated. One of its derivations, here the length of said base line necessary to determine by means of parallaxes the distances to the nearest stars, remains open to questions. And that the same must be said about the card castle of extrapolations brought into play after ignoring this weakness, I have already laid bare.
Brushing these uncertainties aside by means of the principle of relativity introduces only another dubiety. We may be able in many ways to measure our average distance from the Sun to everyone's satisfaction - whether that 149.5 times 106 km radius has been measured from the focus of either Earth or Sun, or results from these two bodies circling a common centre, Einstein cannot tell us. Any conclusion as to that is as good as anyone else's - but no better. Again it is the momentous "Believe it, or not" - that verisimilitude of respectability beyond which the oldest and yet newest philosophy of science does not permit us to proceed on the way to truly true truth.
The selfsame ambiguity confronts us with respect to aberration. Neither classically, nor relatively, does the
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phenomenon allow an astronomer to make a logically defensible choice between an Earth-caused or star-caused answer. But in case Einsteinian relativity will be found wanting, aberration becomes the trump-card in the neo-Tychonian game, restoring the Stellatum of old.
Suffer me - and this in the space and time beyond which mankind cannot measure motion or rest - to defend this assertion, unheard of since Kepler and more than a century ago so clearly suggested again by Airy's failure to confirm Copernicus.
The first step in tackling the issue evenhandedly is to keep in mind Russell's Reminder and the Armstrong Alert. For if there is a supernatural Bystander, for Whom the Heavens and the Earth on which we find ourselves are the first objects that He called into being and if since then He has constrained these by laws under which according to His will they operate - then He has the last word. And whether we, immanent observers and no more, have our options about the Universe right or wrong, only He knows.The question before all questions is in that case: does He share some of that knowledge with us, or does He leave us completely in the dark?
If our Universe is all there is, and if there are no higher orders of existence, then the positivists are right in crying foul when "rumours of transcendence in physics".(4) will begin to be seriously considered.
My position I have made clear. Even on the natural level God has let mankind know enough to leave them without excuse. And His message, conveyed to us in the pre-scientific, simply describing terms of Genesis One, I accept without any reservation. That message intimates the pre-eminence of the Earth as self-evident.
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Therefore our habitat is not a typical by-product of a by chance progressing cosmic mega-evolution, but the intricate multiform artifact, for the sake of which all other material objects in Heaven's wide expanse are assigned their specific signal functions. The natural world hence must be "rightly viewed as the backdrop for the world of men and women".(74)
On his own, as an observer of the world around him, a man surely can, but does not have to, doubt the truth of what he sees and feels. However, by accepting a metaphysical communication, which in no way can be tested by us on its truth content, any doubt about this content is for me out of the question. Backed up by the highest authority thinkable I declare the Earth to be the firm centre of creation and not a negligible globuleamong-globules whirling through space. And I hold that unbiased research will demonstrate that conclusion inescapable. Newton, accordingly, will be shown at bottom to have been right. Space knows place and movement rest. In defining that space as God's sensorium he went too far, and his efforts to demonstrate absolute motion by means of a rotating water-filled bucket Berkeley showed to be unconvincing. Yet both men believed in a Creator and Heavenly Father, whose existence they, be it unwittingly, alas, began to make subject to doubt by their acceptance of Galileo's folly.
I must admit that from the positivist point of view the Earth and the life on it rather appear as a miscarried, or in its present stage, dangerously flawed evolutionary development That at first sight from a religious outlook it appears at best as a field on which good and evil, God and devil fight a see-saw battle with the devil holding the upper hand, I also do not deny. Yet I do not believe
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that we Earthlings, are no more than the at the moment highest evolved specimens of some long-time natural caprice. We are not by chance living on a blob of matter adrift in nothingness. We are, on an unmoved world until the end of the present era here below on trial - sons and daughters of a Creator, whose glory the Heavens declare, and Who at His appointed Day will make all things new and forever abolish evil and death in an endless Golden Age, for which the deepest dreams of all men everywhere have been and are longing. How, seeing the damaged but still marvelous beauty, design, and order of everything around us, could this ever have come to be doubted? How, as clearly inevitable for the perfection of His ultimate purpose by an Almighty and Omniscient God allowed?
It cannot be repeated enough: nobody has ever incontestably shown the Earth not to be at rest in the centre of the Heavens. Numerous experiments have confirmed its stability, none have dislodged it But rather than at last again to confirm its unique position and to consider the obligations this may impose on all we think and do, secularized astronomy has after 1905 welcomed relativistic impossibilities. Even those - and their number is growing - who have come to see that Einstein cannot be right still, however, cling to the Copernican gospel, mightily toiling to uphold the fiction of Mother Gea's insignificance among the many links of the Great Chain of Being.(75)
Pro and contra the Special Theory of Relativity - they all are wrong. And the simple space trials proposed in the present paper will show it Mach may have declared all motion to be relative, the true state is that all motion is absolute, it being defined as such from an Earth at rest in a spatiality in and through which light - it is assumed - travels at constant speed. Assumed, to be sure - not necessarily true!
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The question, then, quoted in the beginning of this paper can be categorically answered. Is the Universe rotating? Yes, it is, and we all can confirm this, walking with absolute motion on an Earth on which the bases of our telescopes are absolutely at rest. And the extrapolations of that fact have to be grappled with. Aberration and parallax, that is to say, now accordingly appear in a different light altogether. The former does not exist, the application of the latter has to be reversed. Furthermore: whether this Earth-centered Universe gives the quietus to curved space of necessity invented to save the appearances and the flat-worldly data? Maybe something like it will appear to be the case - I do not know. And whatever there is beyond the region of the stars I shall not even try to fathom. Living and thinking, as we are, in a space in which objects can only have length, breadth, and height, it is only by playing with meaningless marks on paper according to certain rules -as the eminent German mathematician Hilbert once defined his craft - that higher dimensions and elastic time become for theorists as easy as child's play.
The Universe, having been created, is hence, I believe, finite. Following Aristotle I hold that whatever there is "outside" of it is of such a kind as not to occupy space and not to be affected by time.(76) Folly it is for mortal man to assume himself able, brushing aside Russell's Reminder, to ply us with any ultimate pronouncement about the way the Heavens go. However, "inside" that Universe we are in a better position. The Earth is at rest, and drawing conclusions from stellar data, thought to be obtained from a circling planet, is therefore beating the air. Those apparent aberration circlets are in fact real orbits. And since these
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orbits are practically of the same size, it follows that all the stars are at about the same distance from us, with less than a thousand of them slightly closer by. Which is to say that the Universe is bounded by a shell of stars - that Stellatum of Antiquity. Kepler, at least therein following his master Tycho Brahe, still defended this shell - two German miles thick, he estimated - against Giordano Bruno and his infinity of Suns becoming stars by virtue of their distance.
It is at this point that Hoyle's "as good as anyone else's but not better" shows itself to be only tenable for his relativistic model. As amply demonstrated earlier: whether we, elevating ourselves to the actually unattainable position of bystanders, assume the Earth to move through star-studded space or that space through the Earth - it makes for Earth-bound observers no difference in the celestial pageant. Contrariwise: if we are absolutely at rest in "flat" space, that conclusion does not square with the accepted view of the stars' positions. For, as after Bradley's explication of their apparently equal-sized orbits nobody wanted reasonably to doubt anymore, those stars are taken to be randomly scattered through an immense emptiness. However, if the Earth is at a standstill, then there is no aberration in the prevailing sense. Now the overwhelming majority of the stars are describing real equal-sized orbits, as it appears, "in step" with the Sun. And their designless distribution can in consequence solely be accounted for either by hypothesizing and artificial arrangement of orbits proportional to distance, which is hard to believe, or by a Stellatum, a layered shell of stars pat to the purpose.
Applying Hoyle's trigonometric handling of stellar parallax(77) for such a Stellatum centered on the
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a trans-Plutonian "Black Star" to the Solar System. This enables them to postulate the axis of the System to be tangential to the Earth, with the Earth revolving around that axis annually.(78) So to say: for Newtonian reasons they are anti-Tychonian. Maybe - who knows? - they are right, but in case Einstein meets a downfall, the existence of the Stellatum will become a hard to be dismissed datum. Yet, that even then the Tychonian theory with this Stellatum, not centered on the Earth but on the Sun will be unacceptable, I am fully aware.
"Impossible!", the enraged reader will exclaim. I ask: "Why impossible?" That is what we see every cloudless night, hence logic cannot fault such a contingency, and weighing the pros and contras there are sound data and common sense arguments favouring it. Allow me the time to tick off a baker's dozen of the most salient among those.
1. Do not overlook the fact that the heliocentric interregnum, still adhered to in an astronomically not up-to-date view, is actually a mare's nest of the past. In truth the choice is between Tycho Brahe and Einstein - Galileo, et al., are played out. On the one hand we can opt for a geocentric Universe, strongly intimating a Divine Designer; on the other hand we may prefer a megaevolutionary scheme. That is for a creation, maybe or maybe not, beginning with a Big Bang, leading to a cosmos in which the Earth is a non-entity, and on which we are the still far from perfect product of blind chance. For me, I repeat, the choice is not difficult I am sure that I am not an offspring of a tree-climbing monkey.
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2. There is one consideration, echoing through and lingering behind all the pages of this essay: instinctively to objectify any extra-terrestrial event against a background taken to be at rest is to misjudge it. From kindergarten on we may have been trained - better: brainwashed! - to do this. But to parrot the ubiquitous: "The Earth goes around the Sun" is even on Galilean premises, let alone Einsteinian ones, an aphorism without truth content. Only when preceded by a conditional subordinate clause it should be considered seriously. Even then, to be sure, it does not rise above a wishful hypothetical level, but at least makes clear what it means to mean. That is: "Provided you allow that in principle in spatiality we can find a spot guaranteed and proven to be at rest, together with the Sun also solidly at rest, then I predict that we shall see that the Earth goes around the Sun". But...do I have to repeat the philosophical and, more directly, logical objections against that statement? Apart from the scientifically unattainable certainties, semantics already dispatches the argument as an act of begging the question. Who can define "rest" without referring to "motion"? Or talk about "motion" without presupposing "rest"? Indeed: relativity is king unless we somehow somewhere find three points demonstrably at rest. Searching as we may, not even one of these points we shall ever find - it is a certainty as old as the hills. Archimedes of old (287-212 B.C.) did not utter a profound new insight when he asked for a firm spot to stand on that would enable him to move the Earth. The first members of the human race pondering the problem will have realized the quandary. In concreto we cannot even kick a football absolutely across a field unless we have first made sure that the field is absolutely at rest. In abstracto it is easy to declare that we are
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corkscrewing through space at a velocity of hundreds of kilometers per second. To make good that contention is a different story, and to assume the supra-spatial stance it presupposes leads us astray.
However tiresome it may have become: since ever and again without much ado this stance is assumed in all astronomical discourse, debate, and dissertation, I want to show its absurdity and tainted origin from yet a different, historical perspective. The fallacy is an old Greek one from which, it seems to me, Aristotle wisely shied away. As C.S. Lewis puts it: the Stagyrite's standpoint, "the timidity, the hushed voice, is characteristic of the best Paganism".(79) Above his Primum Mobile he never postulates himself - whatever is there is of such a kind as not to occupy space, nor thus time affect it. And during the first thousand years of the Christian era, whatever the slips of many a pedantic individual, Aristotle's modest doctrine spoke "loud and jubilant".(80) It is Gerbert of Reims, Pope Sylvester 11(999-1003), to whom a Dutch philosopher and historian, F. de Graaff - rightly I think - imputes the first moves leading to the emergency of the post-Copernican mind set. "Modern science, of which Gerbert is possible the most important founder, is not delineated by more factual knowledge, not by a more accurate observation, not by a broader and deeper insight than the old sciences knew. No, modern science only means a new relation to reality. The old knowledge understood the immediate relation with the creation, the new science only knows the abstract relation. Its principle is: the creation is by means of its representation reduced to a recognizable and useful object... The goal of modern science is to be master of all that exists. The representation that serves as a means to
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accomplish this is not an extract of reality but only an image that man projects on reality."(81) That is: it brushes aside Russell's Reminder that a man cannot, and in science should not, arrogate a metaphysical viewpoint spuriously allowing him to become a bystander viewing the Universe against a background at rest. Or to borrow out of context a Pauline phrase: man cannot take a seat in the temple of God.
As said: to do this will lead us astray, and a Canadian who did not, as his national anthem enjoined him to do "stand on guard", considered himself beaten when he was not beaten at all. Seven years ago in a debate following my reading of a geocentric paper at a Christian College at Amersfoort, the Netherlands, an opponent succeeded in keeping the audience and me chained to his pseudo-supernatural viewpoint of objectifying the cosmos. He won the disputation hands down. Since then I have had to wrestle with this "objective" approach countless times. Often interested experts as well as laymen have driven me so handsomely almost into a corner that only in the nick of time I realized how they were seducing me to go "outside" creation for a better look.(82)
I realize that I should stop my thematical harping on this transcendental topic, the impact of which some people see immediately, but others just cannot get into focus. Yet the vitium originis, the basic error of modern astronomical theorizing, I must make clear to the latter if the present essay is ever to accomplish anything.
A not to be overlooked crux of the matter in hand is our understanding and application of the concept of relativity with regard to pure, a priori spatiality and the vexatious problems posed by its constituents, if any.
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Leaving aside the Kantian conception, is there a matter-free space? Or is space no more than a consequence of matter, a relation between objects? Einstein clearly accepts the first option by according to empty space physical qualities and by asserting one absolute: the constant velocity C of light in a vacuum. And deliberately set against the possibility of an Earth-centered cosmos he has persuaded all those on that score agreeing with him to put their faith in an ontological impossibility. That is: with whatsoever speed we approach or leave a light source, our instruments register the appropriate Doppler shifts but measure the velocity of radiation received as if we are at rest with regard to the source.
Choosing the second, anti-Newtonian, Leibnizian option makes Poincaré's principle, the Earth's apparent immobility, at least understandable. In plain terms: the light any photometer observes it observes in that meter's own space in which that meter obviously is "at rest". Both options, however have to be rejected if the space tests I propose were to give a positive result. Only "tied-aether" theories, may then still be fielded against the defenders of Tycho Brahe, provided that by the force of evidential support they will be able to rise above their present, anti-Einsteinian, as well as anti-geocentric, wishful thinking.
Returning now to Airy's failure: we surely cannot look at anything unless from a point of view. And it is self-evident that there are only two of these points available to us. We can choose to observe the Universe either from somewhere in space or super-space, or else from the Earth underneath our feet. The first possibility compels us to view that Universe against a background at rest that willy-nilly we must imagine to be there when
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we assign "motion" to anything. The Copernicans from before 1905, projecting themselves to a platform in classical "flat" space and then declaring us to be revolving around the Sun, strenuously toiled to substantiate that revolution. Nobody can deny it: they failed miserably. The super-Copernican vision of Mach, prefiguring "the great theoretical vision of Einstein", sounds prima vista impressive. But anything about the latter's four-dimensional mathematical model, its adherents can only apply to our three dimensional spatiality by means of an analogy. To with, by presenting it to us as happening on the friction-less surface of a globe or torus. For cerebral super-space constructs cannot be measured in the world we live in unless presented in that world's terms. Not only that: never even in a million million years will logic compel us to accept a proposition as confirmed by an analogy. If, as is nowadays generally believed, the planet Tellus is corkscrewing through curved space, then this has to be made good here on ground level. To pontificate that something by definition physically measurable is true, yet cannot be measured is no more than a mere put-off. The heart of the matter remains this: anything will do if only it allows men to escape from a distasteful Earth-centered, and a Great Engineer proclaiming, Chain of Being.
The second option, then, is to look at the Universe from the Earth on which we live, and thereupon to investigate whether space knows place and whether, such being the case, our temporal home in the heavens is at rest. Which, on authority delegated to me by its Creator, I hold to be the case. And data attesting to this will be obtainable by instruments capable of measuring
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velocities in meters and duration in seconds. Space-time continuum experiments are beyond our ken, therefore we shall have to work with means applicable to "our" space and "our" time. Neither Galileo, nor Einstein can deny us the right to find out what model emerges from such a hard-nosed, common sense, and rational undertaking. An unwillingness to do this, and under the aegis of Einstein no longer even considering his stratagems to be possibly wrong, that I deem to be, as already said, the vitium originis of present-day astrophysics.
Positioning therefore ourselves on our Earth, stellar aberration observed with terrestrial telescopes allows two completely different explanations (see figures 7). And allow me to emphasize that "terrestrial". In what follows I do not instinctively look at the motions of either Earth or stars against a background taken to be at rest. The reasoning is strictly Earth-bound, and from a 49o northern latitude the stellar motions are dextrorotatory.
The accepted view of the phenomenon is the following. As already by means of two different analogies elucidated: my telescope has to be tilted slightly forward and observes the star as apparently situated at S2