aberration of starlight
birâheš-e nur-e setâré
Fr.: aberration de la lumière d'étoile
An apparent displacement in the observed position of a star. It is a result of the finite speed of light combined with the relative motion of the Earth through space. Suppose that you walk through a vertically falling rain with an umbrella over your head. The faster you walk, the further you must lower the umbrella in front of yourself to prevent the rain from striking your face. For starlight to enter a telescope, a similar phenomenon must occur, because the Earth is in motion. The telescope must be tilted in the direction of motion by an angle: tan θ =(v/c), where v the Earth velocity and c the speed of light. The aberration of starlight was discovered by the English astronomer James Bradley (1693-1762) in 1729 by observing → Gamma Draconis. The tilt angle is θ = 20''.50, from which the Earth's orbital speed, 29.80 km s-1, can be deduced, using the above equation. See also → annual aberration; → diurnal aberration; → secular aberration. → Special relativity modifies the classical formula for aberration, predicting results which differ substantially from those of classical physics for objects moving at a substantial fraction of the speed of light; → relativistic aberration.