Old Star Charts and Earth’s Axial Precession

Due to Earth’s axial precession, the positions of Earth’s celestial poles shift gradually in a cycle of approximately 26000 years. These days, Polaris is very close to the north celestial pole. However, 2000 years ago, Kochab is much closer to the celestial pole than Polaris. In the next 2000 years, Errai will replace Polaris as our pole star.

Flat-Earthers claim that the stars are always in the same position proves the Earth is stationary. They are wrong. By observing old star charts from a few centuries ago, the shift of celestial poles can be determined. It proves stars are not always in the same position as today, and that the Earth is rotating.

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Determining the Visibility of a Star From Its Declination and the Observer’s Latitude

We can determine if a star is visible from a specific location using the declination of the star and the latitude of the observer, subject to other conditions like observer’s topology, the magnitude of the star, weather conditions, etc. It is possible to do this because Earth is a rotating sphere.

If the Earth is flat, every star would have been visible all night from every location. We don’t see the same stars every night because some of them are below the horizon and obscured by the Earth.

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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 Astrolabe was used from classical antiquity, about 2nd century BC,  until the age of discovery where it was superseded by the more accurate sextant, star charts, and time-keeping devices.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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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 Distance to Polaris

Anyone who is in the northern hemisphere can observe the star Polaris, located very close to the north celestial pole. As a result, when observed casually, Polaris appears practically stationary in the same position.

Flat-Earthers claim that the fact Polaris appears stationary as ‘evidence’ that the Earth is stationary: if the Earth is in motion, then Polaris should appear in motion too. They are wrong. Polaris appears stationary because it is very far and its motion can’t be visually observed in the scale of a human life.

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Polaris: Our Current North Pole Star, But Not For Forever

Flat-Earthers often claim that the fact Polaris not appearing to move is ‘evidence’ that the Earth is flat and stationary. If the Earth is a rotating sphere, then Polaris —as they say— should appear to be in motion.

In reality, Polaris is indeed moving across the sky. Though it is not something we can observe in a single night, or even in our entire lifetime.

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Polaris – The North Star

To most flat-earthers, the Earth is stationary. Stars are light sources attached to the firmament (for some mysterious reason), and they rotate around Polaris (again, for some mysterious reason).

However, they are missing the fact that Polaris is never visible from the southern hemisphere. And furthermore, the southern stars also rotate around the south celestial pole.

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