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Cosmology, the study of the origin & structure of the universe:

Proofs 15 to 22 that the Earth is not flat.
What does the public believe its shape is?

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Part 9

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Proof 15: Sundials:

The Sun's shadow produced by a sundial rotates clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. That would be impossible with a flat earth, but is a necessary observation if the Earth is close to a sphere.

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Proof 16: Star trails:

Photographing star trails around Polaris in the Northern Hemisphere shows that the stars appear to draw circles in a counterclockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere. A photograph in the Southern Hemisphere shows them apparently moving counterclockwise. Again, that would be impossible with a flat Earth, but is a necessary observation in a spherical Earth.

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Proof 17: Apparent rotation of the Sun:

As viewed from the Northern Hemisphere, the sun appears to rotates clockwise. In the Southern Hemisphere rotation is counterclockwise. This can be observed, with suitable precautions to avoid damage to one's eyes, by tracking sunspots across the surface of the Sun. Again this is impossible with a flat Earth, but is a necessary observation in a spherical Earth.

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Proof 18: Duration of sunlight:

The Arctic region lies north of the Arctic Circle, which is a line at 66┬░33' North Latitude. At that latitude, the sun remains completely below the horizon throughout the 24 hours at the date of the Winter Solstice, about DEC-21. As one moves closer to the North pole the number of days without sunlight increase. Also at the Arctic Circle, the sun remains completely above the horizon near the time of the Summer Solstice (about JUN-21). As one moves closer to the North pole the number of days with 24 hours of sunlight increase. The same is true near the South Pole, except that the dates are reversed.

However, if the Earth were flat, then when the sun rose above the horizon, it would be visible everywhere on Earth. The number of hours of sunlight and darkness would be the same on every day and at every location around the Earth.

Earth, as seen from the moon on an Apollo missionEarth portrait by Appollo mission

Earth rise or set. View of the Earth.
As seen from the moon on an Apollo mission: real or hoax? 1

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Proof 19: How the moon appears in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere:

The "Ask an Astronomer" web site is updated by volunteers in the Astronomy Department of Cornell University. They attempt to give answers to questions posed by their site visitors.

One question was posed by a person from Australia. She or he was visited by people who lived in the U.S. The visitors noted that the moon looks inverted in Australia to what it appears in the U.S. This is to be expected, if the Earth is near spherical in shape. People looking at the moon are typically standing with their feet on the earth. Therefore, people in Australia are upside down when compared to people in the U.S. The web site stated:

"... imagine for simplicity that the orbit of the Moon was exactly in the same plane as the Earth's equator. From the northern hemisphere, the Moon is in the southern sky because that's the direction of the Earth's equator. In the southern hemisphere the situation is reversed.

Now imagine that you are standing on the equator. The Moon would be directly overhead. First face north and look straight up at the Moon. It should look like it does in Australia. Now turn and face south and look at the Moon. You are now looking at the Moon flipped from how it looked when facing north. This is how the moon looks in the northern hemisphere to your American friends." 2

If the Earth were flat, then everybody on earth would see the moon in the same orientation.

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Proof 20: Appearance of the stars and star constellations in the sky:

constellation orion The constellation of Orion appears upside down in the Southern Hemisphere -- say in Australia or New Zealand -- compared to how it appears in the Northern Hemisphere -- say in North America or Europe.

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Proof 21: Measuring the distance from the Earth to the Moon:

Orthodox flat-earth teachings include a belief that the sun and moon are both small objects, approximately the same size, and both located about the same distance from the earth. Both are believed to rotate around the flat earth. Samuel Birley Rowbotham (1816-1884), a believer in fundamentalist Christianity, was the first major promoter in a flat earth in modern times. He used several pseudonyms: Tryon, S. Goulden, Parallax, and Dr. Birley. 3 He was the first flat-earth believer to estimate the diameter of the sun and moon in a flat Earth system. He estimated both to be about 32 miles. Many flat earthers still use this value. They further believe that both are about 3,000 miles from Earth. Meanwhile, astronomers believe the distance between the Earth and moon is about 239,000 miles or 384,400 km. The two values differ by a factor of about 80.

Fortunately, it is now possible to measure the distance to the moon from Earth by generating a radar pulse on Earth, bouncing the signal off of the moon, and measuring the elapsed time between the transmission of the signal and the detection of the return pulse. The Apollo 11 missions left reflectors on the surface of the moon to facilitate such measurements by enhancing the return signal's strength. Knowing the speed of radar signals, which is about 300 million meters per second, the distance can be accurately measured, if you have the right equipment.

This type of measurement was shown on Season 3, Episode 23 of the TV program "The Big Bang Theory." 3 The episode is called "The Lunar Excitation." The team said that they used equipment borrowed from the California Institute of Technology (a.k.a. Caltech ) where most of the show's main characters are supposed to work. At a distance of 384,400 km, the signal would have taken 2.56 seconds to travel from the earth to moon and back. If the moon was only 3,000 miles away, the interval would have been about 32 milliseconds. Needless to say, astronomers measure intervals close to the 2.5 seconds estimated by Leonard on the program.

During the TV episode, Leonard demolished another NASA conspiracy theory. He commented that this type of measurement is the only definitive technique to prove currently that humans actually did reach the moon and leave objects on its surface.

This type of measurement only proves that one part of the Flat Earth belief system is incorrect and that the distance from the Earth to the moon is about 80 times that estimated by Flat Earthers. This proof does not prove that the Earth is roughly spherical in shape.

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Proof 22: Directly observing the curvature of the Earth from the International Space Station (ISS):

earth from the ISS  10

The image is from NASA. It was taken by an astronaut in the International Space Station (ISS) on 2018 OCT-07. The ISS was over 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Australia at the time. According to NASA, the strikingly beautiful orange light is:

"... caused by chemical reactions high in Earth's atmosphere. ... This ghostly glow usually happens when ultraviolet radiation from sunlight energizes molecules of nitrogen, oxygen, sodium and ozone in the atmosphere. These energized molecules then bump into each other and lose energy as they collide, resulting in a faint but spectacular afterglow."

The dark, complex shapes in the bottom of the above photograph are parts of the ISS.

earth from the ISS  11

This NASA photograph shows the ISS circling the Earth. It was taken from the space shuttle Endeavour on 2011-MAY-30.

A superb 169 second NASA video is available on You Tube.

If an austronaught took 92 similar photographs at the rate of one a minute, the ISS would have made one complete orbit of the Earth, The first and 92nd photos could then be seen to show the same part of the Earth's surface. Examination of the other photographs would show the various continents. One would see one sunrise and sunset, and seen absolute proof that the Earth's shape approximates a sphere. But, skeptics would probably claim that the 92 photos were all created on the Earth using Adobe's« Photoshop« program.

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This excellent You Tube video shows how life on Earth would be very different if it were actually flat:


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2018-FEB/MAR: "Mad Man Hughes" and his home-made rocket:

Mike Hughes, 61, has built a' rocket called Liberty 1. He had planned to launch a rocket from public land in California. However, the Bureau of Land Management┬ prohibited the launch. He later arranged to take off from private land at Amboy, CA.

Hughes' rocket  5

His goal is to find out the actual shape of the Earth. However his plans do not seem to make a lot of sense. He only expected to reach an altitude of a few thousand feet. He could do the same by renting a private plane at far less cost. Also, at that altitude, the view of the horizon will be essentially the same as at ground level. To see the curvature of the Earth, he would need to go much higher.

"Anonymous No. 16764" commented on the web site that he had traveled to Russia where one can allegedly pay 15,000 Euros to go into the stratosphere in a Mig29. 6 Some suggest that he could buy a ticket on a conventional airliner; they typically cruise at 28 to 35 thousand feet altitude.

Prajjwal Pathak, at SciTech Labs commented on Quora that a person:

"... should be able to detect it from an airplane at a cruising height of around 10,600 metres (35,000 feet), but you need a fairly wide field of view (i.e. 60 degrees) and a virtually cloud-free horizon. The reality is that clouds, hills and mountains mean we rarely get to see the kind of perfectly flat horizon where the curve would be most obvious.7

On the afternoon of Saturday, 2018-MAR-24, he did take off in his steam-powered rocket, reached an altitude of about 570 meters (1,875 feet), and survived the return to earth with only a few aches and pains. Unfortunately, he would not have been able to sense the actual shape of the Earth from that altitude. He plans to refine his rocket design and try again. He also plans to run for Governor of California. 8

The Concorde airplanes, which are now grounded, typically flew at 60,000 feet (18,000 meters). Passengers could routinely and clearly see the curvature of the Earth. Passenger jets that fly today typically cruise at 30,000 feet. On rare occasions, if conditions are optimum, the curvature is visiible to passengers.

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How to settle the disagreement about the shape of the Earth:

During 2017-JAN, students at the University of Leicester in the UK attached cameras to a weather balloon which reached an altitude of 44,429 feet or 23.6 km. Their color images clearly showed the earth's curvature.  13 However, believers in a flat earth would probably believe tht the pictures were faked. This experiment could be replicated by a group consisting of both spherical Earth and flat Earth believers. They could coordinate a joint experiment to obtain cameras, verify that they had no images stored in them, launch the cameras on a weather baloon(s), take pictures of the Earth, jointly retreive the camera, and study its images. If the process was done carefully, the entire group would have confidence that the photographs were real.

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Public opinion polls about the shape of the Earth:

A YouGov public opinion poll found that, among U.S. adults:

  • 84% believe the Earth is spherical.

  • 5% once believed in a spherical earth but now have doubts.

  • 2% believe that the Earth is flat.

Among young U.S. adults, aged 18 to 24 years:

  • 4% believe that the Earth is flat. This is the highest belief among any age group.

There is a linkage between religion and belief in a flat Earth:

  • 52% of those who believe in a flat Earth consider themselves to be "very religious." This compares with 20% for the general population. This difference may be caused by the multiple references in the Bible to a flat Earth surrounded by a firmament -- a metal dome in which the stars, moon, sun, and planets are embedded.

  • 17% of those who believe in a flat Earth consider themselves to be "not religious at all." This compares with 25% for the general population. 9

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RELATED FEATURE ESSAYS on Cosmology, the study of the origin & structure of the universe:

  • Part 1: Overview about cosmological beliefs. The Ancient Pagan view originating in Sumer.

  • Part 2: The revised Pagan view, as generally accepted within early Christianity.

  • Part 3: Greek Pagan cosmology (Continued). Modern view of the solar system. Church taught an Earth-centered system. The big hoax: that the church taught a flat Earth during the Middle Ages.

  • Part 4: A modern-day return to the belief that the Earth is flat, and that there is a massive, false conspiracy teaching that the Earth is similar to a sphere

  • Part 5: Three more proofs that the Earth is more or less spherical and not flat.

  • Part 6: Five more proofs that the Earth is more or less spherical and not flat

  • Part 7: Arguments about the Earth's shape. A weak proof of a spherical Earth. More Old Testament passages about the Earth's shape.

  • Part 8: Passages from the New Testament about the Earth's shape. Proofs 13 & 14 that the Earth is not flat.

  • Part 10: Proofs 23 to 33 that the Earth is not flat. Are Flat Earthers Creating a Hoax?

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "NASA Got Sick of Moon Landing Conspirators and Released 10,000 Photos From Apollo Mission," Before It's News, 2016-AUG-12, at:
  2. Laura Spitler, "Does the Moon look different in the northern and southern hemispheres?" Ask an Astronomer. Undated, at
  3. A segment of "HD The Big Bang Theory - The Lunar Excitation Episode," can be viewed at
  4. "10 Things That Would Happen If The Earth Was FLAT," The Hub, 2017-JUL-16, at:
  5. Avery Thompson, "Flat Earth Rocket Man Will Take to the Sky in February," Popular Mechanics, 2018-JAN-23, at:
  6. Kyle James, "Flat Earth Rocket Man Will Launch In February, This Time On Private Land," The Goldwater, 2018-JAN-24 at:
  7. Prajjwal Pathak, "At what altitude do you see the curvature of the Earth?," Quora, 2017-NOV-19, at:
  8. "Flat-Earther's steam-powered rocket lofts him 1,875 feet up into Mojave Desert sky," Los Angeles Times, 2018-MAR-25, at:
  9. Hoang Nguyen, "Most flat earthers consider themselves very religious," YouGov, 2018-APR-02, at:
  10. "Ghostly Orange Light Envelopes Earth During Rare Airglow," NASA image on Live Science, 2018-NOV-07, at:
  11. Deanna Connors, "How to spot ISS in your sky," NASA image on Earth Sky, 2018-OCT-12, at:
  12. "First time in the Universe: Spacewalk filmed in 360, 2017-OCT-03, at:
  13. s, "7 Ways to Prove the Earth Is Round (Without Launching a Satellite)," Live Science, 2017-SEP-28, at:

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Copyright ę 2016 & 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2016-AUG-12
Latest update and review: 2019-JUL-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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