Planets vs Stars

Planets are not stars. On casual observation, both planets and stars appear as bright dots in the night sky. But with careful observation, we know planets are different from the stars.

Flat-Earthers insist that planets are just stars. In reality, we can easily observe many of the planets’ attributes that set them apart from the stars —using minimal efforts and equipment.

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Selenelion: The Phenomenon Where Both the Sun and Moon Are Visible During a Total Lunar Eclipse

A selenelion occurs during a lunar eclipse when the sun and moon are observed above the horizon. Atmospheric refraction bends light rays and lifts the image of the sun, and the moon typically up to 0.6°, so both can appear above the horizon.

Flat-Earthers assert that a selenelion should not be possible if Earth is a sphere due to the fact during a lunar eclipse, the sun and moon are 180° apart. In reality, a selenelion is possible because Earth’s atmosphere refracts light.

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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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Synodic Day vs Sidereal Day

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In 24 hours, the Earth makes slightly more than one full rotation due to its motion around the Sun. We call it one day or one synodic day. On the other hand, a sidereal day is the period of one rotation relative to distant stars.

Flat-Earthers claim that if the Earth is in orbit around the Sun, after six months, at the same hours, then the day would turn into night and night would turn into day. In reality, it would have been true if we are using sidereal day, not synodic day, or just “day” in our everyday language.

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Sweden Solar System

The Sweden Solar System is the largest scale model of the Solar System in the world. We can use it to get a better sense of the sizes and distances in the Solar System.

Flat-Earthers like to claim that we never see a scale model of the Solar System, and use it to “prove” the failure of science to explain the world. The Sweden Solar System proves them wrong, and also gives us an idea about the problem of making a scale model of the Solar System.

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Lunar Libration

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The Moon is tidally locked. Half of the Moon is always facing the Earth. However, due to libration, we can take a glimpse of areas of the moon that are not always visible.

Flat-Earthers invented many “scenarios” to “explain” how the so many lunar-related phenomena can happen on the flat Earth model. Some of these “explanations” include “transparent Moon”, “hemisphere-shaped Moon”, “flat circular Moon”, etc. Lunar libration rules out the majority, if not all, of these “explanations.”

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They are Image Noise, not Stars, and the Moon is not Transparent

In some photographs of the Moon, there are bright spots in the dark part of the Moon. Some flat-earthers believe that these are ‘stars’, and the Moon is actually transparent.

These are in fact image noise, not stars.

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Stellarium

Some flat-Earthers like to observe celestial phenomena and the positions of celestial objects. Sometimes, they insist such events cannot possibly happen if the Earth is a sphere orbiting the Sun, and took the wrong conclusion that the Earth must be flat.

We can try asking them the time of the occurrence and the position of the observer, then use Stellarium or similar applications to simulate it. If the result matches the observation, then they have nothing to complain about. Their confusion was only the result of their ignorance.

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

The orbit of the Earth and that of the Moon are not perfectly aligned in the same plane. The orbital plane of the Moon is inclined 5.145° from the Earth’s orbital plane. This is the reason an eclipse does not happen every month.

Sometimes we see flat-Earthers claim that an eclipse should happen every month. But it does not, and they take that as ‘evidence’ of the failure of modern science to explain the occurrence of an eclipse. Their mistake is that they don’t account for the orbital inclination.

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Determining the Distance to the Sun from the Transit of Venus

The distance to the Sun was first determined with a good accuracy from worldwide observations of the transit of Venus. A transit of Venus is a phenomenon where Venus passes in front of the Sun. By measuring the time Venus spends crossing in front of the Sun from two or more locations on the surface of the Earth, it is possible to calculate the distance to the Sun.

Flat-Earthers insist that it is impossible to determine the distance to the Sun in the globe model because sun rays are practically parallel. They are wrong. Using simple geometry, the distance to the Sun can be determined from the observations of the transit of Venus.

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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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Galilean Moons: The First Objects Observed to Orbit Another Object

Jupiter possesses four large moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. These are called the Galilean Moons. They are easy to observe and the first objects found to orbit a planet other than the Earth.

Flat-Earthers are often seen demanding proof that an object can orbit another object. All they have to do is to use a telescope to observe Jupiter and its Galilean moons.

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Fraunhofer Lines

Sunlight can be broken into its constituent colors using a prism. The colors are the optical spectrum of the Sun. They are the same colors on rainbows. On careful observation, the spectrum is not perfectly continuous, but it has dark lines scattered over the entire spectrum. It turned out that from the lines, we can tell the composition of the Sun without physically getting there.

Some flat-Earthers think that it is impossible for us to determine the composition of the Sun, as it is impossible for anyone to visit the Sun without getting roasted in the process. They are wrong. The composition of the Sun can be determined from the spectral lines, or more specifically for the Sun: the Fraunhofer lines.

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Observing Mercury and Venus

Mercury and Venus are closer to the Sun compared to the Earth. The best condition to observe these planets is during some time after sunset or before sunrise. In some cases, they are even visible in the day.

Many flat-Earthers think that it should be impossible to observe Mercury & Venus as they are closer to the Sun. They are wrong.

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Neptune and Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation

Unlike other planets that were found by empirical observation, Neptune was found by mathematical prediction involving Newton’s law of universal gravitation.

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How the Sun ‘Burns’ Without Air in Space

A candle gets its flame from combustion, a chemical reaction. The hydrocarbon that formed the candle reacts with oxygen, and we get carbon dioxide, water, and heat energy as the results. The oxygen is obtained from the air. If the air supply is cut off —for example by covering the candle with a glass— then the reaction will stop, and the flame goes out.

We hear flat-Earthers often claimed that it is impossible for the Sun to be in space. They said the Sun burns, and therefore it requires oxygen. Space is empty, so it is impossible for the Sun to be there. They are wrong. The reaction that is occurring in the Sun is not combustion. It works differently from what happens with the candle.

Nuclear fusion powers the Sun.  It fuses hydrogen atoms into helium atoms. All the necessary component for the reaction to happen is in the Sun, and the reaction doesn’t require matters from external sources.

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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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Not to Scale: Illustration of the Solar System

Practically every illustration showing the Sun, Earth, and Moon is drawn not to scale. The reason is that the sizes of celestial bodies are far too small compared to the distances between them.

Flat-Earthers sometimes use this fact to point out the alleged “failure of modern science” to describe celestial bodies, or even “a mean to deceive us all.” However, the real reason is just that it is practically impossible to create a model of the solar system in the actual scale, using static images, that still effectively describes the objects it is trying to explain.

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