# Aberration of light

**aberrationstellar aberrationconstant of aberrationaberration of starlightastronomical aberrationaberratedaberration effectaberration of star lightannual aberrationannual solar aberration**

The aberration of light (also referred to as astronomical aberration, stellar aberration, or velocity aberration) is an astronomical phenomenon which produces an apparent motion of celestial objects about their true positions, dependent on the velocity of the observer.wikipedia

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### James Bradley

**BradleyBradley, James**

In 1727, James Bradley provided a classical explanation for it in terms of the finite speed of light relative to the motion of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun,

He is best known for two fundamental discoveries in astronomy, the aberration of light (1725–1728), and the nutation of the Earth's axis (1728–1748).

### Moving magnet and conductor problem

**conductor moving in the field of a magnetelectric conductor moving with respect to a magnet**

The aberration of light, together with Lorentz's elaboration of Maxwell's electrodynamics, the moving magnet and conductor problem, the negative aether drift experiments, as well as the Fizeau experiment, led Albert Einstein to develop the theory of special relativity in 1905, which presents a general form of the equation for aberration in terms of such theory.

This problem, along with the Fizeau experiment, the aberration of light, and more indirectly the negative aether drift tests such as the Michelson–Morley experiment, formed the basis of Einstein's development of the theory of relativity.

### Light-time correction

**light time correctionlight time delaylight-time effect**

Aberration is also related to light-time correction and relativistic beaming, although it is often considered separately from these effects.

It should be contrasted with the aberration of light, which depends upon the instantaneous velocity of the observer at the time of observation, and is independent of the motion or distance of the object.

### Velocity-addition formula

**velocity addition formularelativistic velocity additionvelocity addition**

The reasoning in the relativistic case is the same except that the relativistic velocity addition formulas must be used, which can be derived from Lorentz transformations between different frames of reference.

Standard applications of velocity-addition formulas include the Doppler shift, Doppler navigation, the aberration of light, and the dragging of light in moving water observed in the 1851 Fizeau experiment.

### Michelson–Morley experiment

**Michelson and MorleyMichelson–MorleyMichelson–Morley interferometer experiment**

The aberration of light, together with Lorentz's elaboration of Maxwell's electrodynamics, the moving magnet and conductor problem, the negative aether drift experiments, as well as the Fizeau experiment, led Albert Einstein to develop the theory of special relativity in 1905, which presents a general form of the equation for aberration in terms of such theory.

Eventually, Fresnel's idea of an (almost) stationary aether was preferred because it appeared to be confirmed by the Fizeau experiment (1851) and the aberration of star light.

### Apparent place

**apparent positionsapparent motionapparent places**

The aberration of light (also referred to as astronomical aberration, stellar aberration, or velocity aberration) is an astronomical phenomenon which produces an apparent motion of celestial objects about their true positions, dependent on the velocity of the observer.

Annual aberration — a deflection caused by the velocity of the Earth's motion around the Sun, relative to an inertial frame. This is independent of the distance of the star from the Earth.

### Aether drag hypothesis

**aether-draggingaether-dragging theoriesFresnel drag coefficient**

However, Bradley's theory was incompatible with 19th century theories of light, and aberration became a major motivation for the aether drag theories of Augustin Fresnel (in 1818) and G. G. Stokes (in 1845), and for Hendrik Lorentz's aether theory of electromagnetism in 1892.

All Arago observed was ordinary stellar aberration.

### Special relativity

**special theory of relativityrelativisticspecial**

Aberration is historically significant because of its role in the development of the theories of light, electromagnetism and, ultimately, the theory of special relativity.

(1) If the receiver is in motion, the displacement would be the consequence of the aberration of light.

### Hendrik Lorentz

**LorentzH. A. LorentzH.A. Lorentz**

However, Bradley's theory was incompatible with 19th century theories of light, and aberration became a major motivation for the aether drag theories of Augustin Fresnel (in 1818) and G. G. Stokes (in 1845), and for Hendrik Lorentz's aether theory of electromagnetism in 1892.

Although Lorentz did not give a detailed interpretation of the physical significance of local time, with it, he could explain the aberration of light and the result of the Fizeau experiment.

### Lorentz ether theory

**aether theoryether theorya theory of electrodynamics**

However, Bradley's theory was incompatible with 19th century theories of light, and aberration became a major motivation for the aether drag theories of Augustin Fresnel (in 1818) and G. G. Stokes (in 1845), and for Hendrik Lorentz's aether theory of electromagnetism in 1892.

(Woldemar Voigt had previously used the same expression for local time in 1887 in connection with the Doppler effect and an incompressible medium.) With the help of this concept Lorentz could explain the aberration of light, the Doppler effect and the Fizeau experiment (i.e. measurements of the Fresnel drag coefficient) by Hippolyte Fizeau in moving and also resting liquids.

### Stellar parallax

**parallax shiftparallaxparallax method**

Aberration should not be confused with parallax.

The stellar movement proved too insignificant for his telescope, but he instead discovered the aberration of light and the nutation of Earth's axis, and catalogued 3222 stars.

### Lorentz transformation

**boostboostsLorentz boosts**

The reasoning in the relativistic case is the same except that the relativistic velocity addition formulas must be used, which can be derived from Lorentz transformations between different frames of reference.

The transformation of velocity is useful in stellar aberration, the Fizeau experiment, and the relativistic Doppler effect.

### Samuel Molyneux

Consequently, when Bradley and Samuel Molyneux entered this sphere of research in 1725, there was still considerable uncertainty as to whether stellar parallaxes had been observed or not, and it was with the intention of definitely answering this question that they erected a large telescope at Molyneux's house at Kew.

His work with James Bradley attempting to measure stellar parallax led to the discovery of the aberration of light.

### Relativistic beaming

**beambeamingbeaming effect**

Aberration is also related to light-time correction and relativistic beaming, although it is often considered separately from these effects.

Aberration is the change in an object's apparent direction caused by the relative transverse motion of the observer.

### Speed of light

**clight speedvelocity of light**

The change in angle is typically very small — of the order of v/c where c is the speed of light and v the velocity of the observer. It may be calculated using the relation substituting the Earth's average speed in the Sun's frame for v and the speed of light c. Its accepted value is 20.49552 arcseconds (at J2000).

Another method is to use the aberration of light, discovered and explained by James Bradley in the 18th century.

### Stellar aberration (derivation from Lorentz transformation)

Stellar aberration (derivation from Lorentz transformation)

Stellar aberration is an astronomical phenomenon "which produces an apparent motion of celestial objects".

### Luminiferous aether

**aetherluminiferous etherether**

However, this explanation proved inaccurate once the wave nature of light was better understood, and correcting it became a major goal of the 19th century theories of luminiferous aether.

This effect is now known as stellar aberration.

### Gamma Draconis

**γ DraEltaninγ Draconis**

Robert Hooke, in 1674, published his observations of γ Draconis, a star of magnitude 2 m which passes practically overhead at the latitude of London (hence its observations are largely free from the complex corrections due to atmospheric refraction), and concluded that this star was 23″ more northerly in July than in October.

In 1728, while unsuccessfully attempting to measure the parallax of this star, James Bradley discovered the aberration of light resulting from the movement of the Earth.

### Wanstead

**Wanstead UDChrist ChurchWanstead Slip**

On August 19, 1727, Bradley embarked upon a further series of observations using a telescope of his own erected at the Rectory, Wanstead.

Combined with observations from his friend Samuel Molyneux's house at Kew in Surrey, this established the existence of the phenomenon of aberration of light, and also allowed Bradley to formulate a set of rules that would allow the calculation of the effect on any given star at a specified date.

### Epoch (astronomy)

**J2000epoch2000.0**

It may be calculated using the relation substituting the Earth's average speed in the Sun's frame for v and the speed of light c. Its accepted value is 20.49552 arcseconds (at J2000).

Meeus defines the beginning of a Besselian year to be the moment at which the mean longitude of the Sun, including the effect of aberration and measured from the mean equinox of the date, is exactly 280 degrees.

### Augustin-Jean Fresnel

**FresnelAugustin FresnelA Fresnel**

Similarly inconclusive was stellar aberration — that is, the apparent change in the position of a star due to the velocity of the earth across the line of sight (not to be confused with stellar parallax, which is due to the displacement of the earth across the line of sight).

### Fizeau experiment

**dragging of lightexperiment in 1851Fizeau experiment (1851)**

The aberration of light, together with Lorentz's elaboration of Maxwell's electrodynamics, the moving magnet and conductor problem, the negative aether drift experiments, as well as the Fizeau experiment, led Albert Einstein to develop the theory of special relativity in 1905, which presents a general form of the equation for aberration in terms of such theory.

Thus from the viewpoint of the aether models at that time, the experimental situation was contradictory: On one hand, the aberration of light, the Fizeau experiment and the repetition by Michelson and Morley in 1886 appeared to support partial aether-dragging.

### Timeline of electromagnetism and classical optics

**electromagneticElectromagnetism timeline**

Timeline of electromagnetism and classical optics

1728 — James Bradley discovers the aberration of starlight and uses it to determine that the speed of light is about 283,000 km/s

### Sir George Stokes, 1st Baronet

**George StokesSir George StokesStokes**

His first papers on the aberration of light appeared in 1845 and 1846, and were followed in 1848 by one on the theory of certain bands seen in the spectrum.

### Jean Picard

**PicardJean-Felix PicardPicard, Jean**

However, in 1680 Jean Picard, in his Voyage d’Uranibourg, stated, as a result of ten years' observations, that Polaris, the Pole Star, exhibited variations in its position amounting to 40″ annually.

These correspondences led to Picard's contributions to areas of science outside the field of geodesy, such as the aberration of light he observed while in Uraniborg, or his discovery of mercurial phosphorescence upon his observance of the faint glowing of a barometer.