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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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