Earth Axial Tilt

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Earth’s axis of rotation is tilted. The tilt is relative to Earth’s orbital plane. Therefore, it only affects the apparent positions of objects in the solar system, but not that of the distant stars. Both of Earth’s celestial poles still point to the same location in the sky.

Flat-Earthers fail to understand why the stars are unaffected by Earth’s tilt, and they use it to discredit science. In reality, Earth’s axis of rotation is practically constant in the short term, only not perpendicular to Earth’s orbital plane. As a result, it only affects the apparent positions of the Sun, planets, moon, and other objects in the solar system.

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Geometry of a Full Moon

Some people are confused that we can see a full moon all night. They expect 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 with such a spatial cognition problem go a step further and use it to “disprove” spherical Earth. In reality, we can easily explain the phenomenon in the spherical Earth model.

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Orbital Inclination: The Reason an Eclipse Does Not Occur Every Month

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The plane of the Moon’s orbit around Earth does not coincide with the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun. The two orbital planes form an angle of 5.145°. This is the reason an eclipse does not occur every month.

Flat-Earthers claim an eclipse should occur every month, but it does not, and they use it to discredit the science. In reality, they are unaware of the inclinations of the orbits.

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Temperature and Earth’s Axial Tilt

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Earth is tilted relative to its orbital plane. The Northern Hemisphere experiences more sunlight in the months around June. The same is true of the Southern Hemisphere around December. This causes an annual temperature cycle and the seasons.

Flat-Earthers claim the Equator is the hottest place on Earth and use it to disprove Earth’s tilt. In reality, the Equator is not necessarily the hottest place on Earth. Earth’s temperature caused by the axial tilt has an annual cycle and cannot be shown in a single image. Additionally, the Earth is rotating, and therefore the Sun affects the same latitude similarly.

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Apparent Motion of Planets

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Planets appear to move near the ecliptic —the line that marks the annual path of the Sun against background stars. From these motions, it is obvious that Venus and Mercury are in motion around the Sun. And the motion of the other planets can only be explained if Earth is in motion around the Sun.

Flat-Earthers claim that Earth is stationary. In reality, from observing the planets’ motion, the most plausible explanation is that all planets, including Earth, are in motion around the Sun.

Negative Parallax

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Stellar parallax is the apparent shift of closer stars against more distant stars due to the orbiting motion of Earth. Negative parallax, or stars going the wrong way— occurs due to measurement errors placing the nearer star as the farther one and vice versa.

Stellar parallax directly proves Earths’ motion around the sun, and flat-Earthers use negative parallaxes to dismiss it. In reality, negative parallaxes are just statistical uncertainties.

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Airy’s Failure

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Airy’s Failure was an experiment performed in 1871 in which Sir George Biddell Airy failed to confirm the aether theory by measuring stellar aberration. The phenomenon of stellar aberration, in itself, was the first direct evidence of Earth’s motion around the sun.

Flat-Earthers claim that the “failure” in “Airy’s Failure” is the failure of proving the motion of Earth. In reality, the experiment aimed to confirm the aether theory. The “failure” was in proving the aether theory. The experiment relied on the already accepted knowledge that Earth is in orbit around the sun.

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Helical Motion of Planets

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The Solar System is in motion around the Milky Way galaxy, while the planets in the Solar System are in orbiting motion around the sun. As a result, from an observer outside the Solar System, planets will appear to move in a helical motion. Someone created an animation of this helical motion; it went viral and had a lot of media attention.

Flat-Earthers noticed the animation and use it to reinforce their arguments. They claim if the animation is correct, then stars should appear moving & star trails should be impossible. In reality, the animation does not show us the vast distances to the stars.

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Apparent Motion

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Apparent motion is the appearance that celestial objects move due to the motion of Earth. If all the objects that appear in the sky are moving similarly, then it is far more likely that the movement is only apparent and caused by the motion of the observer.

Flat-Earthers claim that the motion of celestial objects “proves” that Earth is stationary, and the celestial objects are moving. By the same “reasoning,” we can conclude that the train we are in is stationary, it is just all the objects outside, as luck would have it, are moving in a very similar fashion.

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Stellar Aberration

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Stellar aberration is the apparent shift of stars about their actual positions, depending on the direction Earth is moving in its orbit around the sun. It occurs because the speed of light is finite; it takes time for light to reach the observer.

Stellar aberration was discovered in 1727 by James Bradley. It was the first direct proof of heliocentrism, that Earth is in orbit around the sun.

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Stellar Parallax

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Stellar parallax is the apparent shift of the position of a nearby star against the background of distant stars. It is the result of Earth’s orbital motion around the Sun. It is tiny and difficult to observe. Successful measurement of stellar parallax was done only after the 19th century.

Some flat-Earthers claim that stellar parallax has never been successfully observed, and they use it as ‘evidence’ Earth is stationary. In reality, stellar parallax has been successfully measured in 1838 and is now used as the basis for measuring stellar distances.

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Star’s Annual Motion

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On each day, we can observe stars to drift about 1° in their motion around the celestial pole. In a month, they will appear to have moved about 30° when observed at the same time in the night. In a year, they will be back to their original positions as the same day in the previous year. The observation is the basis of the solar calendar system we are using today.

Some flat-Earthers claimed that the stars appear the same every night, and they would erroneously conclude that the Earth is stationary. In reality, stars are shifting about 1° every day.

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Geometry of a Crescent Moon

Some people are confused that the crescent moon can be visible at night, even though during the time, the Moon is closer to the Sun than Earth, and the part of the Earth is facing away from the Sun.

Many flat-Earthers have the same visualization difficulties, but they take it a step further and use it as ‘evidence’ as a ‘failure’ of science to explain the fact. In reality, the phenomenon can be readily explained in the spherical Earth model.

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Geocentrism: Incompatible with the Flat Earth Model

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Geocentrism is a superseded description of the universe with Earth at the center. Under geocentrism, celestial bodies all orbited Earth. Geocentrism was the accepted model of the Universe for approximately 18 centuries; before we knew that Earth orbits the Sun —or what we call as heliocentrism.

We often observe flat-Earthers using the arguments for geocentrism as if it supports the flat Earth model. They are wrong. Under geocentrism, the Earth is a sphere, located at the center of the universe. It is not remotely compatible with the flat Earth model, which is an even more archaic understanding of the Universe.

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Analemma

An analemma is a photograph or diagram showing the position of the Sun in the sky, as seen from a fixed location on Earth at the same mean solar time, as that position varies over the course of a year. The diagram will resemble the figure 8.

The north-south component of the analemma results from the change in the Sun’s declination due to the tilt of Earth’s axis of rotation. The east-west component results from the non-uniform rate of change of the Sun’s right ascension, governed by the combined effects of Earth’s axial tilt and orbital eccentricity.

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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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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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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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Total Solar 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 Galileo Affair was Never About the Shape of the Earth

Flat-Earthers often bring Galileo into the discussion. They treat him as a ‘villain’ who supported the spherical Earth but unable to prove it as he failed to demonstrate the occurrence of stellar parallax.

They are wrong. The Galileo affair was in fact not about the shape of the Earth at all. It was about geocentrism vs. heliocentrism. Everyone involved already knew that the Earth is spherical.

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