Geocentric Coordinate System Does not Imply Geocentrism

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 Astrolabe was used from classical antiquity, about 2nd century BC,  until the age of discovery where it was superseded by the more accurate sextant, star charts, and time-keeping devices.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

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We can’t observe stars moving relative to each other, and the shape of constellations looks the same every night. The reason is not that stars are stationary, but their motions are very slow and cannot be observed over the timescale of human life.

Flat Earthers claim that the fact constellations don’t appear to change as proof the Earth is stationary. They are wrong. Stars have proper motion, but they can only be observed using precise instruments over a long time. Constellations do change, but the change is slow and cannot be perceived over the timescale of human life.

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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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Stars in the Southern Sky: Evidence That the Earth is a Rotating Sphere

If we look south in any location in the southern hemisphere, we are going to see the same set of stars. The stars are seen rotating around the south celestial pole, in the Octans constellation, nearby the star Sigma Octantis.

This phenomenon is unexplainable in the flat-Earth model. Looking at the so-called ‘flat-Earth map’, we should see the different set of stars on the different location in the southern hemisphere. The reason is that the so-called ‘flat-Earth map’ does not represent the real Earth.

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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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Proper Motion

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 motions, one of which is proper motion.

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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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