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.

If Polaris were a star in the center of the ‘firmament’, and stars rotate around it, then we should be able to see it from all over the Earth. In fact, this is claimed by 19th-century pseudoscientist and a notorious peddler of the flat Earth ‘theory’, Samuel Rowbotham:

“If the Earth is a sphere and the pole star hangs over the northern axis, it would be impossible to see it for a single degree beyond the equator, or 90 degrees from the pole. The line-of-sight would be a tangent to the sphere, and consequently several thousand miles out of and divergent from the direction of the pole star. Many cases, however, are on record of the north polar star being visible far beyond the equator, as far as the tropic of Capricorn.”

—Dr. Samuel Rowbotham, “Earth Not a Globe, 2nd Edition”

Obviously, he got the fact wrong. But astonishingly, this statement is still cited by various flat Earth ‘literature’ even today. Anyone who lives in the southern hemisphere can verify this themselves simply by looking up. It is a well-known fact that we can’t see Polaris from the southern hemisphere.

Only 10-12% of all humans live in the southern hemisphere. So if you were to sell the flat Earth ‘theory’, then it would make sense to focus on the northerners. After all, the market is 10× bigger. You can be as vague as possible on the southern facts and phenomenon, and practically nobody will notice.

Samuel Rowbotham could have told everyone a blatant lie and got away with it. In the 19th century, nobody would waste their time sailing to southern hemisphere just to check if you get your facts correct. A victim of flat-earth misinformation could be forgiven for falling for it.

But there’s no excuse for us.