Sunrays are Practically Parallel, but not Perfectly Parallel

The Sun emits sunrays to every direction. But as the Sun is very far, the sun rays that reach us are practically parallel. To an observer on Earth, the rays of light coming from the Sun form a maximum angle of about 0.53°. They are practically parallel, but not perfectly parallel.

Flat-Earthers often question the fact we say sun rays are parallel, but in any diagram of an eclipse, they are drawn at an angle. They merely confuse practicality with perfection. Sunrays are practically parallel, but they are not perfectly parallel.

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Geocentric Coordinate System Does not Imply Geocentrism

In astronomy, a celestial coordinate system is a system for specifying positions of celestial objects like satellites, planets, stars, etc. The origin of the coordinate can be anywhere, including Earth. If the coordinate system is Earth-centered, we call it a geocentric coordinate system.

Flat-Earthers are often triggered by the term ‘geocentric’. They would search inside astronomy books and scientific journals to find the word ‘geocentric’. If they can find it, they would use the fact as ‘evidence’ of geocentrism, or that the Earth is the center of the universe, and the Sun is revolving around the Earth.

They are wrong. In many cases, the term ‘geocentric’ refers to the origin of a coordinate system. And it has nothing to do with whether the Sun revolves around the Earth or the other way around.

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Circumpolar and Non-Circumpolar Stars

A circumpolar star is a star, as viewed from a given latitude on Earth, that never sets below the horizon due to its apparent proximity to one of the celestial poles. Circumpolar stars stay up there in the sky, even during the day.

Flat-Earthers claim the Earth is stationary because the same stars are always visible in the sky. They are wrong. Only circumpolar stars are always in the sky. There are others that are not circumpolar. Some are only visible during certain times in a year.

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Astrolabe

Astrolabe is an astronomical instrument for measuring the altitude of the sun or stars, and to determine the solution of various problems in astronomy, time, and navigation. Astrolabe was used from classical antiquity, about 2nd century BC,  until the age of discovery where it was superseded by the more accurate sextant, star charts, and time-keeping devices.

Flat-Earthers claim that astrolabes can only work because the Earth is flat. They are wrong. Astrolabes were designed using the spherical Earth model. To use an astrolabe, a good understanding of the spherical Earth model is required.

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Geometry of a Full Moon

Some people are confused that a full moon is visible all night, and think if the full moon is the result of the opposition of the moon from the sun, then a full moon should be visible only at midnight.

Flat-Earthers who have such spatial visualization problem take a step further and use it as ‘evidence’ that the Earth is not a sphere. They are wrong. The full moon phenomenon can easily be explained in the spherical Earth model.

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The Angle of a Shadow During Equinox

During an equinox (March 20 and September 22-23), the Sun is directly above the equator. If we are on the equator, an upright stick will not have a shadow in the middle of the day.

On any other location, the angle between the stick and the direction of sunlight will be the same as the observer’s latitude.

This fact can only occur if the Earth is a sphere, and only if the Sun is very far relative to the size of the Earth.

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The Change of Constellations

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We can’t observe stars moving relative to each other, and the shape of constellations looks the same every night. The reason is not that stars are stationary, but their motions are very slow and cannot be observed over the timescale of human life.

Flat Earthers claim that the fact constellations don’t appear to change as proof the Earth is stationary. They are wrong. Stars have proper motion, but they can only be observed using precise instruments over a long time. Constellations do change, but the change is slow and cannot be perceived over the timescale of human life.

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Polaris is not Stationary in the Sky

Polaris is a bright star that is close to the north celestial pole. Currently, Polaris is only 0.74° apart from the north celestial pole and the only star visible to the naked eye that is close to the celestial pole. This is why Polaris is popular as a navigational aid in the northern hemisphere.

Some flat-Earthers think that Polaris is stationary and that it is a ‘special star’ because other stars are in motion around it. They would take that as ‘evidence’ that the Earth is motionless. They are wrong. Polaris is merely a regular star, just like the others.

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Total Lunar Eclipse, Drawn to Scale

Any diagram showing two or more celestial bodies is almost never drawn in the correct scale. The reason is that in most cases, any two celestial bodies are spaced too far away relative to their sizes. It is just not possible to draw them in the correct scale and still effectively describes what we want to explain. We don’t have much choice other than drawing them not to scale.

The perpetrators of flat-Earth disseminate the allegations that the diagrams were drawn not to scale because of evil intentions, and not because of legitimate technical reasons. Some people don’t understand this and fell victim to flat-Earth indoctrination.

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The Saros Cycle and Prediction of Eclipses

A long time ago, Babylonians carefully maintained records of the occurrence of eclipses and used these records to predict future eclipses. To honor that, in 1691, Edmund Halley named the interval in a cycle of eclipse using a Babylonian unit of time: the “Saros”.

NASA explained the Saros in a web page titled Eclipses and the Saros, and the unscrupulous flat-Earthers were quick to devise a conspiracy theory. They invented the scenario that NASA —a space agency with billions of dollars of a budget— are somehow using ancient technology to predict the occurrences of an eclipse. They are wrong. NASA does not use the Saros Cycle to predict eclipses.

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