Flat Earth “Theory” And The Pole Stars Conundum

About a month ago, that titan of modern cosmology and philosophy, Rory Cooper (Rorycoopervids), decided to take on what is possibly the greatest proof possible for anybody unable to leave the surface of the Earth, that the Earth is a spheroid.

We’ll call this “The Pole Stars Conundrum”.

Anybody able to use the photosensitive ganglion cells in their retinas, together with all the other highly evolved parts of their optic system enabling them to see, can look up at the night sky and notice that the stars they can see appear to revolve around a central point (with an exception mentioned below).

In the Northern Hemisphere, you will notice that the closest star to this central point is Polaris. In the Southern Hemisphere, you will notice that the closest star is Sigma Octantis.

Image

Rory Cooper’s frankly childish conjecture is that these are actually the same star, meaning that the Earth has only one pole star – which would certainly seem to confirm a flat Earth.

However, as usual, Rory runs into a few problems with his asinine approach to astronomy.

 

The first problems, as pointed out by JimSmithInChiapas, in his video No, Flat Earthers: Polaris ISN’T Sigma Octantis, are quite simple:

 

1) Polaris and Sigma Octantis have different apparent magnitudes – which is to say that they aren’t the same brightness.

Polaris is bright and clear in the night sky at magnitude 2, whereas Sigmas Octantis is significantly fainter at magnitude 5.42.

(A quick note: The lower the magnitude, the brighter the star.)

Flat Earthers can attempt to explain this away by stating that someone past the government-conspiracy-concocted line called the equator (that’s someone in the Southern Hemisphere for those of us still in full control of our critical faculties), would be further away from the pole star and that this would account for the difference in the observed brightness of the star.

The problem with this conjecture is that the brightness of Sigma Octantis doesn’t change for someone in Australia or someone near the equator. Neither does the apparent magnitude of Polaris change for someone in Scandinavia or someone in Kenya.

Image

Instead, the pole star must then magically jump from magnitude 5.42 to magnitude 2, as soon as you move a few kilometers either side of the equator – and yet stay at this magnitude no matter how much further away from the equator you travel.

Flat Earthers can provide no physics to explain this phenomenon.

ImageImageImage

2) The star fields surrounding Polaris and Sigma Octantis are completely different – they are surrounded by different constellations.

Again, Flat Earthers try to explain this away by arguing that when you move towards or away from the pole star, the sky would obviously change.

Here they run into several problems, though.

To begin with, just as last time, the star fields don’t change for someone in Australia or someone near the equator (or in the Northern Hemisphere, someone in Scandinavia and someone in Kenya), but somehow the stars magically jump to new positions once you travel just a short way across the equator.

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Another problem they find difficult to explain are the different distances and directions each star must move in order for us to see them in their new constellations.

There is still another large problem though, which is apparent to anyone who lives near the equator – because they can see that stars to the South seem to rotate around one central point, whilst stars in the North appear to rotate around another central point. Not only that, but they can confirm that the constellations in the Northern sky and those in the Southern sky are not the same. They can see Ursa Major (which the Plough is part of) AND the Southern Cross at the same time.

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Why is this significant?

Simply because Gacrux and Acrux (the “pointer stars” in the Southern Cross) point to Sigma Octantis, whereas Merak and Dubhe (the “pointer stars” in the Plough) point to Polaris.

If Polaris and Sigma Octantis were the same star – and the star fields around them consisted of the same stars – then it would be impossible to see the Plough and the Southern Cross, because these must just be the same constellation viewed from a different perspective.

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But perhaps the largest problems with any attempts Flat Earthers fling around to explain “The Pole Stars Conundrum” away, like distraught monkeys flinging their faeces at a passing lion, are the directions the stars lie in and their motions across the night sky.

 

To begin with, Polaris is visible when you look towards the North (in the Northern Hemisphere) and Sigma Octantis is visible when you look towards the South (in the Southern Hemisphere).

Somehow – and god only knows how – as you walk away from whatever pole star you can see, as you cross the equator, the pole star must jump ahead of you.

This is a remarkable celestial feat.

 

The other problem arises when you observe the motions of the 2 pole stars.

Polaris can be seen moving counter-clockwise around the night sky, whilst Sigma Octantis travels clockwise around its central point.

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This provides a massive problem to the Flat Earth conjecture and a F***ING MASSIVE CLUE about the shape of the Earth.

 

Flat Earthers of any denomination cannot account for the fact that anybody living “inward from that government-conspiracy-concocted line” called the equator would view Polaris moving in a counter-clockwise direction – and yet anybody living outside that same line would not see Polaris, but would see Sigma Octantis moving in the opposite direction.

When pressed on this, Flat Earthers draw an amusing blank.

 

The sky must, for Rory’s conjecture about Polaris and Sigma Octantis being the same star to be true, magically flip over when one crosses the equator.

The best, or rather funniest and only attempt at an answer that I have ever been provided with by a Flat Earth proponent, came from someone going by the name of “Can Attal”.

It was a simple video that involved 2 circles, one inside the other, both rotating in opposite directions. (I’d show it to you, but I haven’t worked out how to make wordpress not be a complete arse, yet).

The more astute among you will realise some important issues with this model.

Firstly, we should be able to see a shearing motion in the sky – a line at which the stars can be seen to move in completely opposite directions.

Oddly, nobody sees this or mentions it.

More importantly, though, the center of the sky will still be moving in one direction. That means that the pole star is still going to be moving in the same direction, so we still wouldn’t see Sigma Octantis and Polaris moving in different directions to each other.

 

I’ve got to be honest, here. I really tried to give Can Attal’s model every chance it had of explaining how the same star can be seen to move in 2 different directions across the sky, depending on where you observed it from on a flat Earth.

The very best I can conceivably come up with is if this is how they believe the Earth itself revolves.

That is to say, their model is only true if everything within that “government-conspiracy-concocted line” called the equator rotates one way and everything without it rotates in the other direction.

 

I’m frankly amazed how this hasn’t been reported in the news. Surely it would not escape the notice of someone in Southern Kenya, say, that part of their country disappeared every day, to be replaced by seas and parts of Asia, then more seas and parts of South America – all zooming past at break neck speed.

I’m pretty certain that I’d have seen this strange shearing effect when I flew to Tanzania in 1998.

And we’re not even touching on the problems that this would have on trade and communication.

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But here’s the crux of “The Pole Stars Conundrum”: It’s not that it is impossible for the stars in the sky to be seen to have 2 different points around which they revolve, if you live on a Flat Earth. That’s fine.

No, the point is that, on a Flat Earth of any kind (yes, there are more than one kind of Flat Earth model), it is impossible for one pole star to be visible to anyone living within a concentric circle of that Earth, whilst being invisible to anyone outside that concentric circle – and for everyone outside that concentric circle to be able to see a pole star that is invisible to everyone who lives within that concentric circle.

The only way that 2 pole stars can exist in a Flat Earth model is if someone at one end of your flat Earth sees a completely different pole star to someone at the other end – but people all over the Southern hemisphere see the same pole star.

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People standing at Points A and C can only see a pole star that moves clockwise around the sky and cannot see a pole star that moves counter-clockwise around the sky.

People standing at Point B can only see a pole star that moves counter-clockwise around the sky and cannot see a pole star that moves clockwise around the sky.

It is impossible for someone standing at Point A to be able to see the same star as someone standing at Point C without being able to see the same star as someone standing at Point B.

Every Flat Earth model is only possible if the people at Point A can only see one pole star moving in one direction and the people at Point C can only see a different pole star moving in the completely opposite direction – and people at Point B can see both stars.

 

In short, you can only have 2 pole stars that behave this way on an Earth that is not flat – and I mean not flat according to any denomination of Flat Earth models.

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32 responses to “Flat Earth “Theory” And The Pole Stars Conundum”

  1. terry says :

    I think this is the best article I have read on the subject. I do wonder, about the common argument that, “As you walk north, Polaris will get higher and higher overhead.” Wouldn’t it also from ‘perspective’ get higher and higher on a flat earth? thanks

    Like

    • mahraiziller says :

      Yes, on a flat Earth, as you walk in the direction of anything in the sky, it’s declination will increase (meaning it will rise overhead).
      That’s why it’s not really used as an argument against a flat Earth – or rather shouldn’t be. I’ve not heard it used, but would also advise against it for this reason.

      The most important thing, as far as this article is concerned is that, no mater where you are North of the equator, you have to look due North to see the stars rotating around a central point in the sky, and you don’t see this Northern central point from South of the equator.
      However, no matter where you are South of the equator, you have to look due South to see the stars rotating around a central point in the sky, and you don’t see this Southern central point from North of the equator.

      Now, it’s going to be impossible for you to see this Southern central point whilst looking directly away from the North from every point South of the equator if the Earth is flat. The stars would have to be traversing across the horizon, not rotating around a central point that lies in the direct opposite part of the sky to the Northern central point.

      Thanks for the comment 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. confused says :

    Thanks for taking the time to produce this. Flat Earth theorists claim Polaris IS visible from the southern hemisphere. Is that where they are claiming it is the same as the southern cross star? Wouldn’t you look south to see the southern cross even on a flat Earth? Basically, is there any authority that can document Polaris is NOT visible from the southern hemisphere without me going there to look for myself? Thanks.

    Like

    • mahraiziller says :

      Some of them say that Polaris and Sigma Octantis are the same star – which is ridiculous, since you have to look in completely opposite directions to see them – and others try to say that somehow “perspective” makes you see the southern circumpolar stars, but are completely incapable of showing how this can be the case (for instance, how perspective can let a group of people standing in a circle, all looking out, away from the center, can magically all see the exact same thing in front of them).

      On a flat Earth, you can’t always look south to see the sourthern cross from everywhere south of the equator.
      As I say, it’s like saying a group of people all standing in a circle, facing directly away from the center (and so all looking in completely different directions) can somehow magically all see the exact same thing directly in front of them.

      I recommend having a look at this:

      It explains it pretty well.

      “is there any authority that can document Polaris is NOT visible from the southern hemisphere”
      Yeah, the fact that nobody has a video of Polaris from the southern hemisphere (well, below a degree or so latitude south of the equator, because Polaris isn’t actually sitting directly above the North pole).
      But, I’m afraid, as with all things, you should verify it for yourself. But better still, you can’t see Sigma Octantis from the Northern hemisphere, which proves the exact same thing.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Arendale says :

        Thanks for this article (etc.). I’m not a scientist, but my brain works okay. And I’m tired of hearing flat-earthers talk without much sense. Two questions I’ve asked them that they can’t reasonably answer:

        1. Why would [the government] lie about the shape of the earth?

        2. Is every astronaut, airplane pilot, and the millions of other people who’ve gone up over 30,000 – 70,0000 feet enough to see the earth’s shape lying when they say that the earth is round?

        Liked by 1 person

      • mahraiziller says :

        To me, the beauty of this conspiracy theory isn’t in how many people must be in on it, or how there’s no reason to even lie about the earth’s shape.
        It’s in the fact that basic geometry proves them wrong, demonstrating how far they’re willing to go and make things up that directly contradict reality in order to feel like they have some special hidden knowledge.
        It’s their unfettered arrogance in their extremely obvious ignorance.

        Conspiracy theorists elsewhere may want to disown the flat Earthers, but they’re only doing the exact same thing every other “truther” is doing, just to a more extreme degree.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Arendale says :

        I honestly don’t know what has gotten into flat-earthers or what’s in their brains, but I’m not going to try to figure it out. What I do see is a type of blind pride that is repulsive.

        As far as ‘conspiracy theories’, they aren’t all theories; some of them are just plain conspiracies that are not theories but are in fact truth.

        Like

      • connor2598 says :

        I suppose Sigma Octantis could be the central point for a mass of stars located just below the mass of stars circling Polaris in the same way a cog would go in the opposite direction to another cog it was locked onto..

        imagine one cog being Polaris and the mass of stars circling it and the other cog being Sigma Octantis with its mass of stars circling it..

        But Polaris would be above the north pole turning anticlockwise and Sigma Octantis would be going around the rim of the earth locked onto Polaris but rotating clockwise..

        Like

      • mahraiziller says :

        Except you’re missing the key fact that the stars south of the equator, due south of the observer, rotate around a FIXED central point, debunking that idea, because that central point wouldn’t be FIXED, but would traverse the horizon – meaning that the stars would appear to traverse the horizon whilst rotating.
        That doesn’t happen, thus demonstrating that such an idea is completely incorrect.

        Liked by 1 person

      • mahraiziller says :

        That is, the south circumpolar won’t be fixed, due south for all observers, again debunking the idea.

        Like

      • connor2598 says :

        @Mahraiziller: Your answer is good, but you’re missing a fundamental point, We were asked to come up with a working model, plus on a flat earth there is “no” south pole, therefore a south pole star cant be in one fixed position on any theorised model, it would have to move around the circular disc flat earth..

        However, if you look at the southern locations Sigma Octantis is observed from you’ll find that its located above different countries throughout their nights in 6 hourly intervals, where as Polaris is observed from different northern country locations on the same night..

        Like

      • mahraiziller says :

        And that’s the problem. You admit that the stars to the south can’t rotate around a FIXED central point on a flat earth.
        The fact that they do, and that that point is fixed disproves the flat earth.

        No, Sigma Octantis isn’t located above different countries in 6 hourly intervals.
        I’ve been south of the equator and seen it remain in the same position all night.

        Why is it that flat Earthers can only make rubbish up, when reality doesn’t fit their delusion?
        Oh yeah, right.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. domineaux1 says :

    The article says,

    I’ve got to be honest, here. I really tried to give Can Attal’s model every chance it had of explaining how the same star can be seen to move in 2 different directions across the sky, depending on where you observed it from on a flat Earth.

    The very best I can conceivably come up with is if this is how they believe the Earth itself revolves.

    That is to say, their model is only true if everything within that “government-conspiracy-concocted line” called the equator rotates one way and everything without it rotates in the other direction.

    ———————-

    Most flat earth proponents believe the earth is not moving.

    They should be able to see both North and South pointer stars from anywhere on the earth?

    Liked by 1 person

    • mahraiziller says :

      “Most flat earth proponents believe the earth is not moving.”
      I know, that’s why Can Attal’s “model” was so ridiculous. In order to match observation in any way, it would require not the sky to be moving, but the Earth to moving – and even for it to be moving in opposite directions either side of the equator.

      And yes, in order for everyone south of the equator to be able to see Sigma Octantis, everyone north of the equator would have to be able to see it.

      Like

  4. domineaux1 says :

    I neglected to mention the restrictions from field of view

    Like

  5. ScaryTruth says :

    Does it matter to the flat-Earthers, (or anyone else for that matter), that from the equator and with fairly even terrain, both Polaris and Sigma Octantis can be viewed at the same time, exactly opposite each other — one just above the extreme northern horizon and the other just above the southern horizon?

    Liked by 1 person

    • mahraiziller says :

      In my time dealing with flat Earthers I’ve come to realise one thing: Nothing matters to them, because they will just knowingly lie through their teeth.
      I’ve heard them claim that “perspective” accounts for this, but then completely fail to come up with any explanation of how perspective does this.
      But I’m not surprised, since they’ve openly lied about what perspective is and how it works – as evidenced by the way they contradict themselves constantly regarding it – and they even lie through their teeth about basic geometry (I’ve even had some of them claim that the first basic law of shapes, which children figure out for themselves, is somehow wrong because they want it to be).
      As such, I’ve come to realise they are the most contemptible and worthless people on Earth.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Lyle Landstrom says :

      Because each one is light years away along the celestal axis they would appear over the curve of the Earth.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pan Smith says :

    If the heliocentric model is accurate, I have a question. Keep in mind I am just using my 12 grade education, and can only follow the math so far, but….
    if it’s high noon on January 1st, why isn’t the sun on the opposite side of the planet on June 1st? I am assuming the Earth rotates 360 degrees every 24 hrs. From my research into the physics, Kepler’s 2nd Law demonstrates the difference in the sundial compared to universal mean time… the Equation of Time, but it only adds 30 minutes difference in sunrise/sunset., — (Galileos Pendulum, author Roger G. Newton, pg. 58) — What accounts for the 12 hour difference?

    Signed, Homeschooling parent — Little help? Thank you.

    Like

    • mahraiziller says :

      Don’t worry, this is a very frequently asked question, but that answer is actually very simple.
      The Earth doesn’t actually rotate 360 degrees every 24 hours, but every 23 hours 56 minutes and 4 seconds – this is called a “sidereal day”. It takes 24 hours for the Sun to appear in the same position in the sky every day – this is called a “solar day”.
      The reason for the difference between the 2 is that as the Earth is rotating about its axis, it is also revolving (orbiting) around the sun. That means each day it has to rotate more than 360 degrees in order for the sun to reach its highest point in the sky.
      You can do a simple exercise to figure out the basic geometry behind this:
      Get a soccer ball and draw a dot on it. Now put a table in the middle of the room (with plenty of space to walk around it), and put a lamp or something on the table. Hold the soccer ball so that the dot is pointing straight at the lamp, and make a note of which wall the dot is pointing at. Now walk in a circle around the table, spinning the ball as you go. You’ll soon find that as the dot on the ball is pointing at the lamp, the wall that it is pointing at has changed, because the ball has had to rotate more than 360 degrees each time in order for the dot to keep lining up with the lamp.

      As you add up the difference over half a year, then the total difference between sidereal time and solar time comes to about 12 hours – meaning that the side of the Earth that was facing the sun is now facing away from the sun on the other side of the orbit.

      Finally, this has nothing to do with Kepler’s second law, or any of Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. His second law just relates to how fast a body moves in its orbit compared to its distance from the focal point of its orbit (the closer it is, the faster it orbits, basically). None of his laws have anything to do with the rotation of a planet around its own axis.
      I’m not sure what the book you’re quoting says, but I think you’ve misread Kepler’s laws and what they are about.
      This is just purely to do with the simple geometry fact that if something is rotating whilst also revolving around something else, it has to rotate more than 360 degrees in order to point again at the thing it is orbiting.

      Like

      • Robert Swick says :

        This is also the explanation as to why the constellations change. Amazing article! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • mahraiziller says :

        Cheers, glad you like it.

        Like

      • DavidB says :

        I came across the same question on some flat earth video on YouTube, but I thought there was a simpler answer, without going into the niceties of sidereal versus solar time. The earth revolves around the sun in very nearly 365 (solar) days. Since that is an odd number, half-a-year is actually 182.5 solar days. So if it is noon right now, after half-a-year it will be midnight, and the sun will indeed be on the ‘opposite side of the planet’! I’m not sure if this is essentially the same solution as yours.

        I have ignored the complication of leap years, etc.

        Incidentally, I am fairly new to this flat earth nonsense, but I have already noticed that flat earthers often disguise their motives by pretending to have ‘innocent’ questions that have just occurred to them, yet which are repeated with monotonous regularity in flat earth propaganda. What a coincidence.

        Like

      • Pan Smith says :

        That makes no sense at all. The original reply took us a while to wrap our heads around, but sounds plausible. I used this website to clarify some facts, not to use as propaganda. Thank you.

        Like

      • mahraiziller says :

        Apologies for the late reply, but thanks for the response. I hope the answer I gave has helped you to gain some insight into what’s happening.

        Your original question wasn’t silly, it’s something that many people have asked – and answering it allows me to explain a bit more about geometry which is something I enjoy.
        All the best with the home schooling, and I hope you continue to find assistance with any queries you have – and if you ever have any more questions on this topic or geometry in general, don’t hesitate to ask.

        Like

  7. DavidB says :

    Replying to Pan Smith:
    Re-reading your original question, I see you asked ‘if it’s high noon on January 1st, why isn’t the sun on the opposite side of the planet on June 1st?’ I admit I didn’t spot the error at first, but if I had, I would have replied ‘Why do you expect the sun to be on the opposite side of the planet after only 5 months?’
    But even if you had said July 1st (i.e. after 6 whole calendar months instead of 5), it would still be too vague. July 1st covers a 24-hour period, during which at some point the sun certainly will be ‘on the opposite side of the planet’! The gist of my earlier comment was that if it is noon now, in half-a-year’s time it will be midnight, given that there are an odd number (365) of solar days in the year. If January 1st starts at zero days, by noon we will be 0.5 days into the year, and after another half-year (182.5 days) we will be 183 whole solar days into the year, which means it will be midnight, since every day starts at midnight. So if the purpose of your question was to ask ‘why isn’t the sun on the opposite side of the planet in half-a-year’s time?’, the short answer is that it will be.
    I apologise if I was wrong in suspecting you of having a flat-earth agenda, but I have seen flat-earthers raise a similar question, and it seems an odd one to ask in relation to the original article.

    Like

  8. Lucas Coelho says :

    Awesome article. You seemed to have spent a very great time developing this post, but you were extremely accurate on the topic. I believe that you clarified the circumstances of polar stars and constellations for both sides – since we’re considering ones disposed to read and understand it all. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dilonn the humble human says :

    I often wonder why I care so much and speak towards equality and treating my fellow humans with respect, then I see how so many are so ready to argue just for the sake of releasing hot air out of their mouths accompanied by sound. No wonder the capitalists can get away with anything and everything( being cheered and applauded along the whole time) leaving behind their “free market” in dust and pollution to their sacred land of money doesnt buy happiness. Man it is amazing that we have even made it as far as we have although let’s get real, it was on the backs hard ,never ending work and struggle, by the masses. But like Jesus, I still love ’em all, despite their ignorant backwards fews.

    Like

  10. Joe Thrush says :

    Great article, really interesting argument.

    Sadly in terms of persuading Flat Earthers you’re fighting both confirmation bias and Bayes’ Theorem (not to mention their slightly tragic desire to possess “special” knowledge), but it might at least get some people on the fence to see that this is the side with the weight of evidence behind it. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mahraiziller says :

      Cheers, though to be honest the main point is to use flat Earthers and their claims to explore geometry more than persuading them.
      The make a good case study to explain geometry – especially trigonometry as this article explains what the actual physical identities of the trig functions are, including some more arcane functions that aren’t used today so much like the versine and the exsecant.
      At school the trig functions were taught to many of us (myself included) as just abstract functions, with little visual aid or practical work demonstrating what they are and where they come from.
      It was only later when I really looked into them myself and use them to solve problems (such as investigate the claims of flat earthers) that I got a real understanding of what they are and how they work.
      It’s my hope that people can get into an article like this with the entertaining backdrop of flat earthers, to understand these functions as well.
      I’ve had some parents contact me about my videos saying that both them and their kids now have a better grasp of certain geometric concepts and functions now – which is the most important audience I think, as you’re right about the inability of most flat earthers to accept reality 😉

      Like

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