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Eclipse Science R. Baer, S. Kovac/AP

This photo provided by Bob Baer and Sarah Kovac, participants in the Citizen CATE Experiment, shows a "diamond ring" shape during the 2016 total solar eclipse in Indonesia. For the 2017 eclipse over the United States, the National Science Foundation-funded movie project nicknamed Citizen CATE will have more than 200 volunteers trained and given special small telescopes and tripods to observe the sun at 68 locations in the exact same way. The thousands of images from the citizen-scientists will be combined for a movie of the usually hard-to-see suns edge.

August 17, 2017

What do flat Earthers think about Monday's solar eclipse?

There's talk of a mythological serpentine sky creature being involved in the process

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And now, this week’s question...

Flat Earth conundrum 

Did you talk to the flat-earthers about the upcoming eclipse? You’ve been on top of the flat-earthers movement and you can’t cover it as thoroughly as you have and not have a piece for the eclipse. C’mon, bro! – @HeckPhilly, via Twitter

This is why it’s so important to listen to feedback from your readers, folks. I hadn’t thought about doing a piece on what flat Earthers think about the eclipse until HeckPhilly suggested it.

He’s right. Our coverage has been thorough (see here, here, here and here for a refresher course.) 

I reached out to sources within, and skeptical of, the flat Earth community to gauge their opinions about the solar eclipse that will be visible (to various degrees) across America on Monday afternoon.

MORE ON ECLIPSE: Pennsylvania optometrist on solar eclipse: 'It's not worth it'

What appears below is seven believers and four skeptics making their cases (albeit edited for space since they sent us thousands upon thousands upon thousands of words). 

What it boils down to is this: Nobody seems very sure what exactly to make of the eclipse through the flat Earth lens, but believers are eager to find out.

Mark Sargent (flat Earther):

The flat Earth community is all over the eclipse, and has been hyping it up for some weeks now.

We are advertising on a high profile billboard at the first ground zero location in Salem, Oregon. A documentary team out of Los Angeles is taking me down there this Sunday, will stay a few days and do commentary on it.

A bunch of videos are being put out regarding the event. These are two of my favorites, which is interesting, because they're just a commentary on how the mainstream can't easily explain it.

Atlantis (flat Earther):

Honestly, here is so much confusion regarding eclipse mechanics. I don’t think the flat-earth people have anything that I consider definitive or worthy of discussion.

The most interesting maybe the concept of Rahu and Ketu which are mentioned in Vedic astrology. These are supposedly invisible bodies that may be causing the eclipses.

I’m not suggesting all flat-earthers believe this. The concept would blow people’s minds, if true, that there may be additional invisible celestial bodies that nobody was ever taught.

I find this eclipse topic so complex and very speculative. I think it is best left alone for now.

I do not think this topic would help the flat earth movement but may actually hinder it.

Dave, The Flat Earth Podcast (flat Earther):

There is so much about the eclipse that raises questions to the heliocentric nonsense we are indoctrinated to believe.

Science has never been able to make a shadow with a distant light get smaller as the object moves away from the surface the shadow is on. 

Here's an example: Hold a golf ball against a wall with a light at any distance and notice the shadow on the wall is about the same size as the ball itself. Now, move the ball away from the wall towards the light and what you will see is the shadow gets bigger and fuzzier until it no longer can cast a shadow at all.

This is not what we see during a solar eclipse. We see a shadow approximately 70 miles wide made by an object that is suppose to be 2,000 miles wide and 238,000 miles away. This is complete nonsense and impossible.

The path of the eclipse is also questionable. The shadow can be modeled perfectly on the flat earth model with a close and local small sun and moon. On the FE model, the sun and moon make circles over the flat earth where the sun takes about 24 hours and the moon takes just a little longer just how we observe it.  Once every 27.3 days the sun over takes the moon and if the alignment is right we get an eclipse that is viewable from somewhere on the flat plane of earth.

Believing that the earth is falling around the sun while the moon is falling around the earth and not effected by the sun's gravity is nonsensical again. This is what children are taught in school and are not allowed to question without being labeled mentally impaired. 

Every sense we have tells us the sun and moon are close to the same size, local and circle above our flat stationary plane.  Only nonsense tells us otherwise.

Spiritual North (flat Earther):

One of the greatest assets of Science is that it does not trust coincidences. However, and rather contrarily, the purported “distance and size” relationship between the sun and moon with respect to each other and the earth rests on perhaps the biggest coincidence of all time.

The popular heliocentric model currently alleges the Sun is 400 times farther from the Earth than the Moon is from the Earth, and that the Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun is, which creates the illusion that they are the same size (an illusion which can be viewed in reality on August 21st, 2017, across a swath of the United States, and significant portions of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans).

From a Flat Earth perspective, the Sun and Moon are just as they appear to be – the same size – and that is why the Moon is able to fully occlude the Sun during the lunar-solar alignment.

It may be prudent to ask what is more likely: that two celestial objects of radically different sizes and distances from earth fit “snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug” or two celestial objects that look the same size are in fact the same size?

If Occam's Razor is indeed a rational and scientific application, and the question of the solar eclipse were at hand, Flat Earthers would be well-equipped to apply it.

As much truth, if not more, can be found in the flesh of life than in the text of academia.

So I would recommend, on August 21st, look with your own eyes. Perhaps, you will observe two objects, both moving – a sun and moon – above a stationary earth, and experience their intersection as a sacred geometric union of purpose and enigma.

Their perfect size also evokes the ancient Chinese yin-yang symbol, which depicts an equinoctial harmony of day and night, with two equal sized disks in balanced opposition, and indeed the solar eclipse behaves much like that small circle of dark on the light half of the symbol, when "night" exists in the day.

Whether you're pro-stationary/flat or pro-spinning/sphere, the solar eclipse is a grippingly unique phenomenon.

Since, to some degree, it can be explained on either model – with the consideration that one explanation is vastly simpler and seemingly more logical, while the other is highly coincidental and logistically far-fetched  all a "wacky Flat-Earther" might prod you to do during such an auspicious occasion, is to trust your own senses and enjoy the show!

Tim Osman (flat Earther):

There is a lot going on with the eclipse. The Flat Earth community will be watching closely, sharing observations, and a few will be conducting experiments. 

Bob from "Globebusters," a prominent channel, is doing a high altitude balloon launch to get some footage of the event. 

The general consensus is that the eclipse may not have to do with the moon's shadow at all but some other phenomenon altogether.

Bob Knodel from Globebusters (flat Earther):

We’re going from Denver to Alliance, Nebraska, directly in the path of totality, with photo equipment, solar filters and more to get good photos.

We’re also launching a balloon and it’s going to have three cameras on it. They would be set up at the sun, not ground. What we’re hoping to catch is images of what we believe will be “dark bodies” up there.

Rahu and Ketu in Vedic astrology are considered mythology by western astronomy. Rahu is the head of the serpent and Ketu is the body. In mythology, during an eclipse, they thought the head swallowed the sun.

We have to have something rise that causes eclipses in the flat-earth model. We think it’s not necessarily caused by the moon, though it could be.

What I find interesting is photos that came from a flight that took place during another eclipse. People were shooting (pictures) out the windows. It was suspicious. The only thing that came out of that were some vague out-of-window shots. But, when they were digitally enhanced and blown up, we could see several black objects that looked like a little serpent, which was really strange.

From another angle, we saw the same objects. It appears that there are other bodies involved in the eclipse, and that’s what we’re shooting for.

(The flat-earth movement) will be launching balloons all over the country. Some of them are more advanced than others. I personally know of four and put out a call for people to launch them all over the place.

If what we are saying is true, and we believe that it is, that means it’s unquestionably the biggest cover-up and biggest lie in mankind’s history.

When people taught about the Ball Earth Model, right out of the crib, we’re flooded with images of globes. It’s completely embedded in you.

Obviously, there’s much, much more to the story. We’ll be revealing, in the near future. devastating evidence that we’ll ask scientists to take a close look at. We are building one heck of a preponderance of evidence for our case and we’ll be formally presenting it soon.

“Simone Williams” (flat Earther, alias):

As a flat earther, I am super interested in the eclipse.

I saw a tweet from Neil Degrasse Tyson recently saying he was surprised flat earthers were not denying the eclipse, I thought that was funny.

I don't think we are prone to denying anything we can observe. We disagree with most of the Copernican/NASA explanation for observable phenomena, but not with observable phenomena itself.

I would also like to add that I agree with DeGrasse Tyson on his recent comments about our suffering school system. While I think flat earth theory is not a sign schools are failing, I do think our schools are in serious need of better funding and support. If we diverted NASA's budget to teacher salaries, we could get on a much better path as a nation. 

As for the eclipse, I'm honestly not sure what I think creates the eclipse or what it means, but I'm very interested to observe and contemplate and share theories.

Actually, a bunch of us flat earthers in Los Angeles are getting together this Sunday night to talk thoughts and theories about the eclipse. 

I think generally we know the Copernican model is not accurate to describe what is happening, and the moon is not what they tell us, but we don't necessarily know what the moon truly is at all, or what is creating the eclipses. And, we may not come to any certainty about this for a long time.

Not that I can, or should, speak for every flat earther. Somebody somewhere may have a much more solid and provable theory explaining the eclipse on the flat earth. I just don't know about it. 

Now that I have acknowledged that I really, really don't know what the moon is, and what causes the eclipse, I will share some more no-holds-barred thoughts about it with the disclaimer that this might be wrong.

These are ideas I like thinking about. 

First off, yes mainstream science can predict eclipses with amazing accuracy. But what does that really mean? 

One issue is the incredibly-accurately tracked path of the eclipse shadows really do suggest a flat earth surface more so than a globe – here is a video on that: 

Another thought is that – these eclipses were predicted with relative accuracy for ages, even when the predictors also thought the earth was flat – accurate predictions do not necessarily confirm explanations.  Here is a video discussing that issue: 

But – let's get fast and loose here – is that history for sure even real? I really don't know. Maybe. But also, I don't know. 

This is a thought provoking video on the topic – while I don't think anybody doubts that the eclipses are observable in real time by real people – it is curious to see that some recordings of them look staged and inauthentic: 

If you just want to go down into the absolute depths of conspiracy theory on flat earth (where arguably most flat earthers do not go), this is only for the conspiracy extreme-ers: Consider if the moon is even a naturally existing material object at all, along with some religious ranting I do not personally endorse. Dave J says moon is a hologram:

For me – again – I don't know. I sometimes I think the moon is a totally organic and real part of our sky, and greater world and I also sometimes wonder if it is perhaps in some way a reflection or relief impression of our greater unknown flat earth terrain.

Other times, I think about how close the moon looks, and how suspect it is that we can zoom in on its texture with a high powered camera, and how this seems to suggest it can't be all that far away at all.

And sometimes I even wonder if the moon is a series of eggs and our sky is a giant womb that we live on the floor of.

And, more often lately, I genuinely wonder if the moon is some kind of shadow puppet show, and it's none of those mystical things it's just an optical trick. 

Round-earthers respond

Charles "Chett" Breiling aka Flat Earth Math (skeptic):

One thing I've noticed about Flat Earth folks (and I've been involved in the debate starting in 2008) is you can't tell them anything.

They are "True Believers," so just logic and evidence really don't hold much weight. They need to see things for themselves, hence my DIY experiment channel.

Anyway, about the eclipse: Flat Earth folks are convinced that this will help prove flat Earth because "there's no way" the globe model could have the shadow move from west to east. The reason being that the Earth turns once per day, while the Moon takes 29.5 days (synodic month: new Moon to new Moon) to make one circuit.

Thus, in Flat Earth logic, the Earth turns about 30 times "faster" towards the East, such that the moon rises in the east. This means the eclipse shadow should start in the east and move west, if the Earth were a globe.

Meanwhile, over a Flat Earth, you can have a small, local sun, overtaking a small, local moon (both moving to the West above the plane of the flat Earth) and the shadow will move West to East. That's their argument, in a nutshell, and many FE folks are very, very excited about this eclipse because it will prove them right!

The truth is that the case of the eclipse shadow is dependent on linear speed (such as miles per hour) and not angular speed. How fast will the umbra travel? The units of miles per hour require us to do some math with those units.

So if you take the Earth's rotational surface speed (roughly 1,000 mph at the Equator, more like 800 mph in Philly), and the Moon's orbital speed (roughly 2,000 mph, eastward), this means the shadow will move faster than the Earth's surface, to the East.

What Flat Earth folks don't get is that comparing angular speeds only affects what we see from the ground, since it's like were at the vertex of the angle.

And yes, we DO see the moon rise in the East, because the Earth is turning faster than the Moon's orbital period. But the shadow is a different kettle of fish, since we now need to look at things from the perspective of the sun. And from the sun's perspective, the moon will "zip by" faster than the Earth's surface is turning.

Timothy Ossman (skeptic):

The flat earthers are waffling on about how this debunks the sphere model because the shadow will be going the "wrong way,” though they have no antithesis to how it works on the flat-earth pipe dream nor the correct conception on the facts and inner workings of the sphere model.

This is an issue of misconception, ignorance, bias and what I will term as sophism meme dogmatism.

Truthfully, it is not the easiest to grasp as the speeds from the prescribed heliocentric model seem contrary to what we will be experiencing. The distances and sizes involved with the sun/moon/earth combo is basically impossible to model in real life or virtually.

One of the top flat earthers, "Jeranism" has actually recently come out basically saying that the coming eclipse does work on the sphere model, whereas many others are in disagreement as per the usual from the flat earth conspiratorially biased minds.

Sly Sparkane (researcher/globe-earther):

The Flat Earth community has several interesting claims about the Eclipse (both Solar and Lunar), but unfortunately none correspond to our observations in reality. 

The primary reason for this is because the Flat Earth claim requires both the Moon and the Sun to be very close to the surface of the Earth. This makes all logical and physical definitions of the Eclipse very difficult. 

There is the claim of the Moon being transparent or translucent to account for the blue side of a phase, but creates a problem when it is supposed to obstruct the Sun. This leads to many unsubstantiated claims of a never observed "third object" in the sky causing the Solar Eclipse.

There is the physical claim of the Near Earth Moon causing the eclipse of the Near Earth Sun much in the way we expect. However, given both the sizes and distances involved, this would create paths of the Moon's umbra across the ground as well as the visible silhouette of the Moon against the sun which differ greatly from those observed in the real world. 

There are plenty of smaller claims of holograms and personal universes which one could neither prove nor disprove.

One needs to also acknowledge that the very anticipation of the Eclipse is due to the fact that it is predictable. The predictability is thanks to the understanding and tireless research of scientists over the past handful of centuries: Research based on objective conclusions from long-term tracking and experimentation, not the subjective opinions of those producing the results.

Soundly (skeptic):

In reality, flat-earthers don't have much to say worth note about the eclipse. Essentially I've seen only wild speculation.

This begs the question "What will they do the day after the eclipse?"  

The answer to that question exposes the true nature of flat-earth gurus and their minions.

The reoccurring and oft ignored fact of the matter is that flat-earthers can have no truly independent knowledge as their conjectures lack a model with falsifiable predictions.

They are not interested in knowledge. Instead, they aim is to improve their rhetoric and propaganda. We can exploit this to our advantage.

How? When flat-earthers claim that the eclipse will not match predictions, we should not aim to immediately explain why they are wrong, instead we should simply ask them "What eclipse?"

"... equinox..." "What is an equinox? How do you know one will occur?"

"... Antartica... " "What is that? Who taught you about that? Have you been there?"

"... Van Allen belts... " "Why should I believe those even exist?"

In their answers, they must reveal that, at some level, they rely on the very science that they attempt to discredit.

Flat earther gurus are building elaborate and well-tested propaganda in order to better persuade gullible new comers to this niche of the internet.

Their continued repetition includes many 24/7 propaganda channels on YouTube. This has allowed their propaganda to spread quickly like a disease (in a very real sense) and evolve over time much like a bacteria.

They learn to resist our arguments, knowledge, and models like bacteria have evolved to resist antibiotics. We use yet stronger arguments each time thrashing flat-earth, but their strongest propagandized conjectures remain and will continue to grow unless we keep the dosages high.

That's why it's important that we continue until all flat-earth claims have been exposed for the errors they are. 

We must be sure they take all of their medicine to prevent others from being infected.

In the end, their conjectures stand on their rhetorical house of cards and destroying them is as easy as taking a picture.