Stellar Parallax

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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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Star’s Annual Motion

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

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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.

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The Moon and Stars in a Single Picture

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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Sunlit Objects and Visibility of Stars

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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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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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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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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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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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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Atmospheric Refraction

Light waves are not always moving in a straight line. When it passes through a medium of a different refractive index, the waves will deviate. The phenomenon is called refraction and described according to Snell’s Law.

Earth’s atmosphere has variation in air density that depends on the altitude. As the refractive index changes with the density of the medium, light waves passing through Earth’s atmosphere also experience refraction.

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The Starburst Effect is not Evidence of CGI

In photography, the starburst effect gives the illusion of light rays from strong light sources in an image. The effect happens when the lens’ aperture is not a perfect circle, and it gets more pronounced under a narrower aperture.

Flat-Earthers often find themselves looking for any peculiarity —no matter how small or unbelievable— to discredit any picture they deem unacceptable to their misguided causes. One of this peculiarity is the starburst effect.

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Polaris: Our Current North Pole Star, But Not For Forever

Flat-Earthers often claim that the fact Polaris not appearing to move is ‘evidence’ that the Earth is flat and stationary. If the Earth is a rotating sphere, then Polaris —as they say— should appear to be in motion.

In reality, Polaris is indeed moving across the sky. Though it is not something we can observe in a single night, or even in our entire lifetime.

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Star Trail: Evidence the Earth is a Sphere and Rotating Around Its Axis

In the northern hemisphere, if we look at the sky to the north, we can observe stars rotate counter-clockwise around a point. This axis of rotation is not visible from observers in the southern hemisphere.

On the other hand, in the southern hemisphere, if we look at the sky to the south, we can observe stars rotate in the opposite direction. Conversely, this axis of rotation is not visible from observers in the northern hemisphere.

This motion of the stars cannot possibly happen in a flat-Earth. The motion of the stars is a proof that the Earth is round and rotates around its axis.

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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.

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