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 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 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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Proper motion is the apparent motion of stars, caused by the movement of the stars themselves, relative to the solar system. Stars will appear to shift over time, relative to other, more distant stars.
Flat-Earthers assume stars are only in motion around Polaris, or the north celestial pole. They are wrong. Stars have other apparent movements, one of which is proper motion.
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The Andromeda Galaxy is the nearest major galaxy. It is visible to the naked eye on dark nights and the easiest deep-sky object to capture even without special equipment.
There are many images of Andromeda on the Internet because it is not that hard to capture it. Flat-Earthers assumed the pictures are the Milky Way and immediately claimed those pictures as fakes. In reality, the galaxy in the photographs is the Andromeda, and it is not hard for anyone to take a picture of it. The “you are here” sign on some pictures of the Andromeda Galaxy is silly and an obvious spoof. It was merely an attempt on a joke.
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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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Orion is a prominent constellation located on the celestial equator, and therefore, visible throughout the world. The angle Orion makes during rising and setting corresponds to the observer’s latitude, and so does its altitude during culmination. All the observations are only consistent if Earth is a sphere.
Flat-Earthers claim the visibility of Orion from the entire world disproves spherical Earth. This only comes from their difficulty in understanding the geometry involved. By understanding Earth’s rotation and where Orion is located, it is not hard to conclude that the visibility of Orion is consistent with the spherical Earth model.
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Due to its almost +90° declination, Polaris practically cannot be seen from the south of the equator, and the fact is consistent only with the spherical Earth model. There is a prevalent myth in the flat-Earth community that claims Polaris is sometimes visible from the south of the Equator. The origin of the myth was an erroneous interpretation of a news article by flat-Earther Samuel Rowbotham, 1½ centuries ago.
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The Southern Cross or Crux can be observed from the south of 26°N, and it is always visible south of 26°S. On a flat Earth, it should be visible from the outer parts on Earth at the same time, but not from the central areas, disproving the flat model. The visibility of Crux is only consistent with the spherical Earth model.
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If we look south in any location in the southern hemisphere, we will see the same set of stars. The stars are seen rotating around the south celestial pole, in the Octans constellation, near the star Sigma Octantis.
This phenomenon can never be explained in the flat-Earth model. Looking at the so-called ‘flat-Earth map’, we should see another set of stars on a different location in the southern hemisphere. The reason is that the flat-Earth model is a false representation of the Earth.
Continue reading “Stars in the Southern Sky: Evidence That the Earth is a Rotating Sphere”
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, 19 centuries ago, Kochab is much closer to the celestial pole than Polaris.
Flat-Earthers claim that the stars are always in the same position proves the Earth is stationary. An ancient star chart like Almagest from the 2nd century shows them wrong. The stars today were not in the same place as stars 19 centuries ago.
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The Big Dipper is a bright asterism in the northern celestial sphere. It is always visible north of 41°N and hidden south of 41°S. Flat-Earthers noticed that the Big Dipper is visible all year and use the fact to ‘prove’ a flat Earth. In reality, the visibility of Big Dipper depends on the latitude of the observer.
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Stars are not visible in photos of the Moon –including those taken from the lunar surface— because the Moon is sunlit. The exposure needed to take a photograph of the Moon is not that much different from that used to take a photo in daylight on Earth’s surface.
To demonstrate this, we can try taking a picture of the Moon with stars visible, on the conditions: 1. The lunar features, like the craters, are correctly exposed, not overexposed. 2. Taken in a single exposure, not HDR, and not the result of editing. Even if we are using the best camera available today, the stars can’t show up in large enough quantity.
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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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Generally, sunlit objects are far brighter than any stars. It is the reason stars are not visible in a lot of photographs showing sunlit objects unless the objects are overexposed and made much brighter than the correct exposure.
Flat-Earthers take the lack of stars in photographs as evidence of misconduct. They are wrong. If the primary object in the picture is sunlit, then in most cases, stars will not be visible.
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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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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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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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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 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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