Frame of Reference

A frame of reference consists of an abstract coordinate system and the set of physical reference points that uniquely fix the coordinate system and standardize measurements. Speed or velocity is relative to a frame of reference. It is possible that two speeds/velocities are measured relative to a different frame of reference and thus cannot be directly compared.

Flat-Earthers would often compare two different speed measurements like an airplane moving at 900 km/h (560 mph) and Earth’s surface near the equator at 1674 km/h (1040 mph). They would conclude the airplane should not be able to catch up with Earth’s surface and would not be able to land if the Earth is rotating. They are wrong. The speeds are measured relative to the different frame of reference, and therefore, cannot be compared directly.

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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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Orbital Station-Keeping

A satellite in a high enough orbit can remain operational for a very long time because in space there is practically no air resistance. This is a situation that never occurs in our everyday life. A car requires a constant consumption of fuel to keep running, but a satellite can remain in motion without consuming any fuel because there’s practically no force stopping it.

Flat-Earthers claim that satellites cannot stay up there for such a very long time because ‘we never refuel any satellites.’ They are wrong. In space, there is practically no drag, and satellites only need to consume fuel to adjust their speed periodically.

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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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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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The Directions of Up and Down

The directions of up and down are determined from the direction of the Earth’s gravitational acceleration. Up is in the opposite direction, and down is in the same direction as the Earth’s gravitational acceleration.

Flat-Earthers are often seen making fun of this fact. They show us ‘upside down’ pictures taken in the southern hemisphere. They are wrong. To anyone in the southern hemisphere, down is in the same direction as the Earth ‘s gravitational acceleration, the same as anyone in the northern hemisphere.

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Geostationary Satellites

If a satellite has the orbit of 35786 km above Earth’s surface, the satellite will be in motion at the same speed as the Earth’s rotational rate. As a result, the satellite will appear practically motionless when observed from the surface. Many communication satellites reside in this orbit, and a satellite dish receiving signals from the satellite does not have to track the satellite.

Flat-Earthers often take the fact that satellites are in motion and most satellite dishes have a fixed direction as ‘proof’ the dishes cannot be pointing to satellites. They are wrong.

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Curved Rocket Trajectory

Rockets follow a curved trajectory when going into space because their objective is not only to reach space, but also to enter Earth orbit. In Earth orbit, rockets have enough speed to counter Earth’s gravity and do not require a lot of energy to stay up there. To enter Earth orbit, a rocket needs to attain a high enough horizontal speed.

Flat-Earthers claim the curved trajectory of any rocket launch tells us no rocket has ever reached space. They are wrong. The curved trajectory is a way for rockets to enter Earth orbit.

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So, Where’s the Curvature?

A human eye can only visually perceive the curvature of the Earth if we are at a considerable altitude from the surface, which is still beyond the reach of most humans today. A commercial jet airliner is the highest position realistically attainable by most humans today. At such altitude, we can only perceive very slight curvature, and only in an ideal condition.

The basis of flat-Earthers’ belief is that the horizon appears flat. They would say if we cannot see the curvature, then there’s no curvature, and thus, the Earth is flat. They are wrong. Most of us these days cannot travel high enough to see the curve.  The best we can do these days is going on board a commercial jet airliner, which can only go about 11-15 km up, only a fraction of the radius of the Earth.

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