Saturday, February 6, 2016

Playing Fast and Loose With Polaris

One of the most frustrating things about dealing with flat-Earthers is the way they will suddenly change the subject from whatever you were talking about to a completely new line of thought. I saw an example of this on Twitter recently when the question of seeing the North Star, Polaris, from Reunion Island, which is more than 21 degrees south of the equator, came up out of nowhere.

This is, of course, impossible. There was an illustration, showing that this is impossible. But no proof that it had ever actually happened. The poster just took it as read. So I decided to find out where the story came from.

A little searching brought me to the only place I can find where anyone claims that Polaris has ever been seen from Reunion Island: a massive book called The Greatest Lie On Earth: Proof That Our World Is Not a Moving Globe by Edward Hendrie. There is no other source for this claim, even on flat-Earth websites.

Fortunately, Google books has a preview inside where I found page 105, where Hendrie says:
Below is a time lapse photograph of the North Star (Polaris). The photograph was taken in October, 2008, from the Le Make Reunion Astronomical Observatory on Reunion Island.100 That observatory is at an altitude of 4,921 feet and is located at 55.39° east longitude and 21.5° south latitude. The photograph was taken by Laurent Foumet and lean-Philippe Olive, who are members of the Club Astro Astrium in Toulouse, France. Olive and Foumet used an Olympus camera, 28mm f/8 lens, 2 hours and 40 minutes exposure time; Ektachrome 210 ASA film.
Note how detailed this is, how it looks so accurate and well thought-out. It even has a source reference. Very convincing. Except for two things: the photograph, which I will give you the link to presently, which shows, in the center of the star trails, not a bright star, but a dim cluster; and second, that I know what is described is impossible.

So, let's check out that reference. Hmm. Seems that this picture is not of Polaris at all. It says right in the text that these are southern circumpolar stars.

So, is Hendrie just missing something? Or was he just counting on everyone who read the text not bothering to check the reference? In either case, it seems that anyone who writes a 400-page book claiming that the Earth is not a globe should have a better standard of evidence.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for pointing that out. I misread the statement in the description of the time-lapse photograph that “circumpolar stars trail in a counterclockwise direction around the north celestial pole” and the reference to “the Big and Little Dippers” as meaning that the star trails in the photograph depicted the star trails around Polaris. I have revised the book to redact that section.

    Edward Hendrie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate your honesty; I have not rarely seen flat-Earth proponents admit to error or oversight.

      I hope, Mr. Hendrie, that you will also consider the other (existing and upcoming) posts in this blog in possible future revisions to your book.

      Delete
  2. Interesting star trail pics looking to all 4 cardinal compass points from the equator (taken in Ecuador).
    http://sguisard.astrosurf.com/Pagim/From_pole_to_pole.html

    ReplyDelete

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