Curvature Calculators and Atmospheric Refraction

Atmospheric refraction causes a distant object to appear higher than its actual position. As a result, the object can be physically behind Earth’s curvature but is still visible because the light coming from it is refracted by the atmosphere.

There are many curvature calculators and simulation tools that don’t account for refraction. They would give us the correct results indicating the object’s physical positions but fail to show us the correct apparent position of the object when visually observed.

Flat-Earthers are often too happy with the calculator showing them the results they want to see and fail to see the reason for the discrepancy.

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Atmospheric Refraction

Light waves are not always moving in a straight line. When it passes through a medium of a different refractive index, the waves will deviate. The phenomenon is called refraction and described according to Snell’s Law.

Earth’s atmosphere has variation in air density that depends on the altitude. As the refractive index changes with the density of the medium, light waves passing through Earth’s atmosphere also experience refraction.

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