Lens Flare, Not a Mysterious Celestial Body

A photograph of an object does not necessarily look the same as the real object. There are various optical imperfections, which are impossible to avoid by both the designer of the optical system and the photographer taking the picture. One of those imperfections causes lens flare.

Some flat-Earthers noticed the existence of a ‘mysterious celestial body’ next to a photograph of the Sun or the Moon. They would use such sightings to ‘explain’ various celestial phenomena which cannot be readily explained in the flat Earth model, like eclipses. They are wrong. The ‘mysterious celestial body’ was merely a lens flare.

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Real Photos of the Earth

The first photo showing the entire Earth was taken in 1966 from the spacecraft Lunar Orbiter 1. Since then, there are too many photos showing the whole earth taken from various missions to space.

The advent of computers in the 80s introduced a new technique of generating such pictures. A satellite can be used to take many photos of the Earth from a low orbit, and computers can be used to assemble those pictures into a single photo of the Earth.

Flat-Earthers ‘discovered’ such technique, then they concluded that all pictures of the Earth taken from space are all composites, the results of manipulation or assembled by computers. They are wrong. Just because there were pictures created using such technique, it doesn’t mean there is no genuine picture showing the entire Earth, not composites, not stitched, and were taken from a single shot.

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Infrared Vision

When we are unable to see a distant object, then it is due to one of these reasons:

  • Our eyes lack the sufficient angular resolution to recognize the object.
  • Atmospheric condition limits visibility.
  • The object is far enough and obscured by Earth’s curvature.

Some flat-Earthers like to show that a previously unseen distant object can be brought into view using infrared vision. They would take that as ‘evidence’ of the non-existence of Earth’s curvature. They are wrong. Infrared vision can reveal hidden objects caused by visibility limitations, but not ones obscured by Earth’s curvature.

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Sunset, Camera Zooming, and Autoexposure

There are videos showing the sun to appear to set, but after the camera is zoomed in, the sun is still above the horizon. The reason is that the camera’s autoexposure system is constantly adjusting the exposure, and in such scenes, there’s a difference in overall brightness before and after zooming in.

Flat-Earthers are taking such videos as ‘evidence’ of a receding sun. They are wrong. This is merely a matter of photography. In reality, the sun is not receding, and it has the same angular size throughout the day.

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The Curvature Fitting Game

The amount of curvature that appears in a photograph of a sphere depends on 1. The radius of the sphere, 2. Camera distance from the sphere, 3. Field of view of the camera, and 4. The distortion characteristic of the camera being used.

The ‘curvature fitting game’ has been flat-Earthers’ favorite pastime. They would try to fit a photograph of Earth’s curvature with another. If they find the result is not proportionally correct, they will make fun of it. They are wrong. Two different photos of a sphere can be taken differently and would show a different curve, even if the object being photographed is the same object.

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The Reasons Why Fisheye Lenses Are Used

Action cameras are being used in high-altitude balloons, rocket launches, and the ISS because they have some advantages compared to other cameras. And most action cameras are equipped with a fisheye lens.

Flat-Earthers allege that there is an evil intention behind every use of fisheye lenses, especially in space and high-altitude usages. They are wrong. The use of fisheye lenses is not unreasonable. And if a rectilinear result is desired, it is trivial to convert any fisheye footage to a rectilinear one.

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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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The Lack of Stars in the Pictures of Space

In many pictures taken from space, stars are not visible, even with a dark sky. The reason is that stars are very dim compared to the primary object in the pictures. If the camera is set to take a correctly exposed image of an object that is much brighter than the stars, then the stars would not be visible in the picture. The same thing would happen everywhere, in space, or on the surface of the Earth.

Flat-Earthers often take the lack of stars as fakery. They are wrong. This is simply a limitation of any camera.

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Sun Glare Makes the Sun Appear Larger

The Sun has the angular size of approximately 0.53° seen from Earth, and it is practically constant throughout a single day. But sunlight is very intense and result in a glare that surrounds the Sun. Because of the intensity, we are unable to distinguish the Sun from its glare.

During a sunset, the intensity of sunlight is lower due to the fact that sunlight has to traverse Earth’s atmosphere at an angle. Because of the reduced intensity, the amount of glare will also be reduced, and the Sun can look as if it is shrinking.

Flat-Earthers often use this phenomenon as ‘evidence’ of a receding Sun during a sunset. They are wrong.

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Zooming in Will Not Reveal More of a Distant Object

Zooming in using a camera merely magnifies the center portion of the image. Changing zoom does not change an object’s position with respect to another object or the camera. It will not reveal more of a distant object.

Flat-Earthers often claim that zooming in will reveal distant objects that are ‘allegedly’ behind the curvature. They are wrong. If the object is really behind the curvature, then no amount of zooming can bring the object back into view.

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Perspective Compression: Determining If a Curvature Exists

Soundly’s pictures and videos of Lake Pontchartrain power lines and causeway stirred up the flat-Earthers’ nests. They clearly show the curvature of the Earth, where it is usually hard to discern. For the rest of us, those pictures are just the consequence of the fact that the Earth is a globe.

Flat-Earthers can’t take this, and they invented various excuses to attack the credibility of these pictures and videos. Some of them look for specific vantage point where it is impossible or very hard to discern the curvature.  They would conclude if the curve is not seen from these vantage points, then it should not be visible from Soundly’s viewpoints.

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Curvature of the Horizon in High-Altitude Balloon Footage

High-altitude balloon footage is often abused by flat-Earthers to show us that the Earth is flat when seen from a high altitude.

We analyzed more than two dozens of footage taken from high-altitude balloons on YouTube, and we can easily conclude the curvature is there and usually easy to spot, including in the cases where flat-Earthers use the video as ‘proof’ of a flat Earth.

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Zooming In On Distant Ships Does Not Disprove Earth’s Curvature

If we can’t see a distant ship, then it is because of one of these reasons:

  • Our eyes have limited angular resolution and are unable to resolve the ship at that distance.
  • The atmospheric condition is limiting our visibility.
  • The curvature of the Earth obscures the ship.

Flat-Earthers are keen to demonstrate that a previously invisible ship at a distance can be made visible by zooming in. They take this fact as ‘proof’ that the curvature of the Earth doesn’t exist. They are wrong. The curvature of the Earth is not the only reason a distant object is not visible.

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Earthshine Proves the Moon Obscures the Sun During a Total Solar Eclipse

During a total solar eclipse, the Moon is right between the Earth and the Sun. Thus, the near side of the Moon does not receive any sunlight. But while it is dark, it still gets some light reflected by the surface of the Earth. This phenomenon is called Earthshine.

Some flat-Earthers argue that a solar eclipse is not caused by the blocking of the Sun by the Moon, but by another, mysterious celestial body. The reason is that eclipses are incompatible with their beliefs about the motion of the Sun and the Moon.

Earthshine proves that they are wrong.

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The Starburst Effect is not Evidence of CGI

In photography, the starburst effect gives the illusion of light rays from strong light sources in an image. The effect happens when the lens’ aperture is not a perfect circle, and it gets more pronounced under a narrower aperture.

Flat-Earthers often find themselves looking for any peculiarity —no matter how small or unbelievable— to discredit any picture they deem unacceptable to their misguided causes. One of this peculiarity is the starburst effect.

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The Oblate Spheroid Shape and Pictures of the Earth From Space

The Earth is not perfectly spherical. Its diameter is longer across the equator than between the poles; it is oblate spheroid. This fact is often questioned by flat-Earthers. According to them, every picture of the Earth from space shows the Earth as a perfect sphere, and never as an oblate spheroid. Then they would present it as ‘evidence’ that scientists have been lying to us.

But it is actually possible to determine that the Earth is in fact oblate spheroid from pictures of the Earth taken from space.

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Difference in Entrance Pupil Diameter: The Real Reason Why An Obscured Object Appears When Zoomed In

Ever seen a video where a flat-Earther tries to demonstrate that a distant object that appears to be behind an obstacle can be brought back into view simply by zooming in? He would then conclude the same thing would happen when zooming in to a distant ship, and the reason a distant ship is not visible is not the curvature of the Earth.

Well, no. The real reason why the object in that experiment can be seen after zooming in is that the obstacle is close, and there’s difference in the camera’s entrance pupil size when the zoom changes. For a camera that has very long zoom range —like the Nikon P900—, the difference can be very dramatic.

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