The major error with this approach is that it ignores the fact that many theories, once well-established in many experiments, are integrated into many precision measurement techniques. This means the original theory gets tested every time the measurement technique or technology is used.
Consider the phenomenon of stellar aberration (wikipedia). Aberration is a consequence of the fact that we see objects by the light they emit (or reflect) and that the speed of light is finite.
Everyone is probably familiar with the effect of aberration. The popular analogy is of walking through rainfall. Even though the rain may be falling vertically, to the walking observer, the rain appears to be falling at an angle.
In the case of light from distant objects, the change in the angle of propagation for the moving observer means that the object under observation will appear at a different position, relative to a given coordinate system, than it appears to an observer at rest in that system. In the case of the Earth moving around the Sun, this effect makes stars appear to trace out ellipses on the sky. The aspect of the ellipse varies depending on the angle of the star relative to the plane of the Earth's orbit, the ecliptic. At the ecliptic pole, the effect makes the star move around in a circle, while in the plane of the Earth's orbit, the star appears to move back and forth. The maximum value of this aberration angle is about 20 seconds of arc, about 1/90th the diameter of the full Moon (about 30 minutes of arc). This aberration angle created some problems for the first attempts to measure the parallax (wikipedia) of stars as it is much larger than parallax angles for the nearest stars.
Aberration in Practice
The effect of aberration is sufficiently small, that it is of no real concern in casual astronomical observation, when precision pointing not required. When more precision is required, the contribution of aberration becomes important.
Catalogs of stars and ephemerides of planets are generally computed with the position of the object in a specific reference frame. However, when it comes to pointing telescopes or similar light-based instruments at these stars and planets, the position and velocity of the observer relative to reference frame of the catalog must be known, as well as the velocity of the target object relative to the reference frame. This result is then used to compute the pointing corrections needed for the telescope to properly position the star or planet in the field-of-view. Note that the catalogs are constructed from telescope measurements and the aberration effects in the telescope reference frame must be REMOVED to make the catalog entry (ADS). This makes it possible to use the catalog in a different reference frame.
Resources for understanding stellar aberration:
- “Spherical Astronomy“ by Robin Green
- Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac
- Positional Astronomy: Aberration
FAQ entry about stellar (and other) aberration effects on the Hipparcos astrometry mission
The ancients navigated by knowing the positions of the stars. Modern navigation, requires high-precision for astronomical positions. Today, these positions provide the inertial reference frame (wikipedia) used for many precision navigation systems on the Earth, such as GPS. Most people don't even think about the connection of the GPS receiver in their phone with the ICRF (USNO) or its successor, ICRF2 (NASA), but this reference system is used to establish accurate positions of the GPS satellites.
But the positions aren't just important for navigation on the Earth. The orientation of a spacecraft relative to a reference coordinate system determines how applications of thrust by the spacecraft will move it. Even a small error in the spacecraft direction angle, magnified by the spacecraft motion over millions of kilometers at high speeds, can create a huge error in the final position.
To determine the orientation of a spacecraft, devices called star-trackers are mounted to the spacecraft to obtain information on the spacecraft orientation. Modern star trackers are very precise. Ball Aerospace has models (Ball Aerospace) with 3 and 0.2 arcsec positional accuracy - small enough that aberration effects must be included.
- Spacecraft Math by Stephen Leake (2009)
- High-Fidelity Measurement Models for Optical Spacecraft Navigation, John A. Christian and E. Glenn Lightsey
- Gravity Probe B needed high-accuracy pointing (20 milli-arcseconds!) in order to do its experiment: Covariant calculation of general relativistic effects in an orbiting gyroscope experiment, Twenty milliarcsec pointing system for the Rolling GP-B Spacecraft
As the need for more accurate positional measurements increases, the inclusion of aberration is even more important.
Gaia (ESA) is the follow-on astrometry mission to Hipparcos, with the goal of collecting accurate stellar parallaxes on a billion stars. For more details, see Reference Systems, Conventions, and Notations for Gaia by U. Bastian (2007).
For astrometry missions requiring micro-arcsecond precision, we'll will actually have to include the effects of the motion of the solar system barycenter moving around the galactic center, a phenomenon called secular aberration: Astrometric Effects of Secular Aberration. Sergei M. Kopeikin and Valeri V. Makarov, ApJ 131, 1471 (2006).
The effects of aberration are included in astrometric software libraries such as NOVAS (USNO) and SPICE (NASA/JPL), which is actively used for satellite trajectory planning. Here's a direct link to the documentation of the subroutine for computing the position of the satellite relative to the target, which includes corrections for stellar & planetary aberration (spkezr).
Aberration has been measured from reference frames other than the Earth. Spacecraft in Earth orbit and going to other planets must compute a different barycentric velocity correction to accurately account for aberration effects. Positional corrections due to aberration must be included to define inertial reference frames for accurate navigation, including GPS systems on Earth.
With their interest in ignoring relativistic effects such as aberration, Biblical Geocentrists have still failed to demonstrate that they are competent to navigate satellites anywhere in the solar system. Any nation that expects to either travel in space, or reap other benefits of space-faring capability, should view Biblical Geocentrism as a recipe for lost satellites and lost astronauts.
Thanks to Scott Snell, a flight software engineer at NASA/Goddard, for directing me to some of the public data available on star-trackers.