Sunday night, January 20, 2019, I decided to tinker into the realm of astronomy, astrology, mythology, theology, philosophy and a little history by watching one of the best free celestial shows in town: The Super Blood Wolf Moon starring the Sun, Earth and Moon. The lunar eclipse. Did you see it? It was quite a sight.

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I was watching from 9 pm until 2 am. The moon was in its glory and was telling me a story. A story of fact, feign, faith and fate. I watched with renewed awe as it went from golden to dark to copper red and back to golden.

At first, the edge of the shadow cover looked fuzzy or ragged.  As the eclipse progressed, the shape of the shadow became round or curved suggesting that the object that was blocking the light from the moon was a round one. Finally, the full eclipsed occurred and the moon’s colour went copper or red. Super Blood Wolf Moon.

During the nearly 5 hour show, I managed to research lunar eclipses and the reason this one was called Super Blood Wolf Moon. It launched me into the Flat Earth/ Geocentric and Spherical Earth/Heliocentric debate. Let’s us delve into it together if you dare or care. Might be a bit disturbing for the weak of heart yet enlightening for the meek at heart.

Basically, the Super Blood Wolf Moon is a result of a number of several things occurring simultaneously.

According to, the “super blood wolf moon and a perigee syzygy” is explained as follows:

  • Super Blood Wolf Moon: When a super moon occurs in January and coincides with a total lunar eclipse.
  • Supermoon: A super moon is the point at which the moon comes closest to the Earth during its elliptical orbit around it. The closeness and fullness combine to make the moon look particularly large at this time.
  • Blood moon: simply describes the reddish hue of the moon during a total lunar eclipse. The color is the result of sunlight filtered and refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere illuminating the moon. When the moon is opposite the sun, with the Earth in between casting its shadow on the moon, a lunar eclipse occurs.
  • Wolf moon: This is simply the indigenous American name for the January full moon. According to the lore of yore, this full moon occurs in the dead of winter when it’s cold, the ground is frozen, and the prey pickings are slim, so wolves were hungry during this time and howled plaintively at the moon, their calls echoing frighteningly in villages.
  • Perigee: The moon orbits around the Earth elliptically. The point in the orbit of the moon or a satellite at which it is nearest to the Earth is known as a perigee. When the moon is farthest from the Earth, it’s at its apogee. It takes about two weeks for the moon to travel from apogee to perigee.
  • Syzygy: It refers to a conjunction, or an alignment in a straight line, of three celestial bodies bound by gravity. For example, during a solar or lunar eclipse when the Earth, sun, and moon are all aligned, that’s a syzygy.
  • Perigee syzygy: When the moon is at its perigee and there’s a syzygy happening, aligning it with the sun and Earth, it’s called a perigee syzygy, also known as a super moon.


Recall the story of Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) who discovered Jamaica on his 2nd visit to Jamaica in 1494. Well, according to the history books, he pulled a stunt and tricked the natives using the occurrence of a Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse. On Columbus’ fourth and final voyage to the New World, an epidemic of ship worms ate holes in the ships of his fleet and Columbus was forced to abandon two ships. He then beached his last two in Jamaica on June 25, 1503. The natives welcomed the castaways and fed them. After six months, Columbus’ crew mutinied, and robbed and murdered some of the natives, who had grown weary of feeding the crew.

Image result for columbus and the lunar eclipse in jamaicaColumbus had an almanac that foretold a lunar eclipse on Feb. 29, 1504. He met the local chief and told him the Christian god was angry with his people for no longer supplying food. Columbus told them to expect a sign of God’s displeasure three nights later, when he would make the full moon appear “inflamed with wrath.” When the Super Blood Wolf Moon came to pass, the natives were terrified and “with great howling and lamentation came running from every direction to the ships laden with provisions,” according to an account by Columbus’ son.

Just before the total phase of the eclipse was about to end, Columbus said God had pardoned the natives and would bring the moon back. The crew was well fed until help arrived in November and Columbus and his men sailed back to Spain.


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Columbus intended to travel westward to Asia based on a spherical Earth cosmos.

Not only was Columbus aware of astronomy, he also believed that the Earth was round and nursed a growing urge to sail west from Europe across the Atlantic Ocean hoping to find a route to the Indies—as the lands of China, Japan and India were then known in Europe.   On August 3, 1492, Columbus led his three ships – the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria – out of the Spanish port of Palos with an objective to sail west from Spain to find an all-water route to Asia and the Indies where the riches of gold, pearls and spice awaited. Columbus took more than two months to encounter land on an island in the Bahamas that he called San Salvador; the natives called it Guanahani.

Although, Christopher was aware that the world was round (spherical) he, erroneously, thought that Spain was closer to China by sea westward than by land eastward and was just a few weeks away. As such, he naturally called the land he encountered “West Indies” thinking he had reach western Asia. This miscalculation of the distance of the Indies from Spain almost cause mutiny on the ships. The sailors began to wonder and cower in fear as they were not used to travelling this far westward . Columbus made several voyages to the Caribbean but never reached the mainland of the now America.

It was Amerigo Vespucci who got the acclamation for becoming the first explorer to recognize and identify the Mundus Novus (“New World”) in 1499 as a separate continent and not part of East Asia, contrary to what many, including Columbus had believed. While further exploring the coast of what is now South America, he learned to calculate how far west he had traveled by observing the conjunction of the Moon and the planet Mars.


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Carta Mariana (or Cosmographiae introductio): first ever drawing of a new continent to the West which named America in honor of Amerigo Vespucci

During this time, a German mapmaker named Martin Waldseemuller (1470 – 1520), was working on a contemporary world map. Waldseemuller designed his world map based on the writings of the ancient Greek scholar Ptolemy who touted the idea of a Spherical earth.  Based on the writings of Amerigo Vespucci, Waldseemuller also became convinced, as did many scholars at the time, that the New World comprised new continents. He designed and created a wood block world map called Carta Mariana (or Cosmographiae introductio) that contained the first ever drawing of a new continent to the West which he named America in honour of Amerigo Vespucci. Thousands of maps were printed and distributed across Europe. People everywhere began to call the New World, America.


Everything written above is made on assumption that the earth moves, is a sphere and not at the centre of the universe. Poppycock? Needless to say, many people denounce this view and are more prone to believing that the earth is flat, doesn’t move and is at the centre of the universe. Actually, this is an age old debate and the Mesopotamia mystery religions would confirm that the earth is flat and doesn’t move. So, is it the sun that moves or is it the earth? Does it matter?

Sadly, many people have lost their lives because they believed that the earth moves and it is the sun that is at the centre of the universe (heliocentric). They were persecuted and killed by people who believed in a fixed Flat Earth which was at the centre of the universe (geocentric).

By now, you may have taken a side and have strong convictions to the fixed Flat Earth or movable Spherical Earth idea. Of course there are strong arguments on both side of the debate.

Religions and Flat Earth. Many religions embrace a Flat Earth concept which had its genesis in Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia (from the Greek, meaning ‘between two rivers’) was an ancient region located in the eastern Mediterranean, roughly today’s Iraq.   The ‘two rivers’ are the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers . The Sumerians originally practiced a polytheistic (many gods) religion, with anthropomorphic deities representing cosmic and terrestrial forces in their world.  Anthropomorphism is the showing or treating of animals, gods, and objects as if they are human in appearance, character, or behaviour. This can be seen as expressed in the colourful language used in the religions of Babylon, Egypt, Greece and even aspects of the Hebrew Bible.

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Many religions, including the Hebrew, embraced a Flat Earth concept which had its genesis in Mesopotamia.

The Babylonian cosmology was shaped like a modern domed stadium. The Babylonians considered the earth essentially flat, with a continental mass surrounded by ocean. The vault of the sky was a physical object resting upon the ocean’s waters (and perhaps also upon pillars). Sweet (salt-free) waters below the earth sometimes manifest themselves as springs. The Egyptian cosmology was also enclosed, but it was rectangular instead of round. (The Egyptians pictured the goddess Nut stretched across the sky as the enclosing dome.)

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A “flat-Earth” map drawn by Orlando Ferguson in 1893. Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain


Egypt and early Greece, with their Flat Earth view, have had great influence on the Bible and the Church. It must be noted that the Church’s view and attitude were based on  its interpretation of the Bible and its authority of scripture.  Indeed, Joshua 10:12-13, 2 Kings 20:11, Psalms 93:1, 104:5, Ecclesiastes 1:5, Isaiah 30:26, Isaiah 38:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 and Habakkuk 3:10-11 all seemingly contradicted the astronomers.

Indeed, a peep at a few obvious texts from the bible do suggests that the earth is fixed: 1 Chronicles 16:30: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable.”; Psalm 93:1: “Thou hast fixed the earth immovable and firm …” and Isaiah 45:18: “…who made the earth and fashioned it, and himself fixed it fast…”

However, this does not necessarily mean that the earth doesn’t orbit the sun. Indeed, we can reason that the earth has always been fixed and immovable, both in relation to us and in relation to its orbit or movement around the sun. The earth has not “unfix” itself and “move” itself out of its orbit around the sun. In fact we’ve learned to take it for granted that the sun will shine during the day and that there will be ground for us to stand on when we awake in the morning.

In, Joshua 10:12-13: Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: s“Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies.

The language that Joshua uses in addressing the sun and moon is the language of ordinary observation still used today in the scientific age. Probably Joshua and his contemporaries thought of the sun as moving around the earth, but his language should not be pressed to construct a “view of the universe” any more than should todays reference to the rising and setting of the sun (Marten Woodstra, The Book of Joshua, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans: 1981, p. 175).

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Ancient religions cosmos of the Earth.

Suffice to say, the Bible is written in colourful language using Anthropomorphism, figurative speech and personification, mostly influence by Greek, Babylon and Egyptian philosophy. Image result for ancient hebrew view of the earth

Provokingly, it is believed that one of the chief characters in the Old testament was not only influenced by Egyptian philosophy but was also trained at a high level. Moses, who is a Hebrew by birth, was brought up as an Egyptian in Pharaoh’s palace, learning the art and science of mysticism.  It is even being postulated that the Decalogue or 10 Commandments mimic verses from The Egyptian Book of the Dead which was written circa 1800 BCE in 1491 BCE., some three centuries later.

A comparison of the Book of the Dead text with the version of the Ten Commandments found in King James Version Exodus 20:2-17 is striking in similarities and differences. Both consist of a series of negative statements but one extol only ONE god and revered the Sabbath.

Related imageBook of the Dead: “I have not belittled God. I have not murdered or given such an order. I have not copulated (illicitly); I have not been unchaste. I have not used false balances or scales. I have not purloined (held back) the offerings to the gods. I have not stolen. I have King t uttered lies or curses.”

Exodus 20:7-16: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain….Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery.Thou shall not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor…” 6,7

The major difference in the two writings is that Moses wrote the Decalogue from the point of view of monotheism (one god), a Hebrew doctrine, while The Book of the Dead embraced polytheism (many gods), a Mesopotamian and Egyptian doctrine.

The Book of the Dead: I know thee, I know thy name, I know the names of the 42 Gods who are with thee in this broad hall of the Two Truths .

King James Bible: Thou shall have no other gods before me cause I am a jealous God.

The Book of the Dead is also silent on the Sabbath but the Bible commands: Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.


There are many claims and counter claims supporting and denouncing the idea of a Flat Earth or a Spherical Earth. Many of these claims are for theologians, philosophers and scientists and will boggle the mind of the average person.  It is possible to watch videos on Flat Earth vs Spherical Earth and switch views upon watching one or the other.

Needless to say, common sense is uncommon. It depends on the locale of the person. Imagine a Jamaican child who experiences almost 12 hours of sunlight and darkness (day and night), every day without fail for 365 days in a year. Now imagine a child in Barrow, the northernmost town in Alaska, who won’t see the sun for 67 days come winter, (beginning in November and ending in January) but enjoy the midnight sun all summer – over 80 days of uninterrupted daylight.

Now imagine the Jamaican trying to convince the Alaskan that it is impossible to see the sun at midnight or to have months of pure darkness and no sunshine. If they were reggae artists the Jamaican would sing “ every day the sun rises” but the Alaskan would sing “Only some days the sun rises”. Both would be arguing from their own “common sense” and both would be wrong outside their locale.

As seen above, determining fact from feign and truth from falsehood can be difficult. I have chosen a few of the claims for Flat Earth and Spherical Earth for discussion.  These pointers include the curve on the moon during a lunar eclipse; Circumnavigation of the Earth; Antarctica being a continent and not a circle of ice around the earth; the existence of the South Pole; Satellite pictures of the earth and possibility of seeing the sunset twice in one day. The main thread in these claims is that they can be determined by an average citizen.

1. Reading Aristotle . Aristotle(384–322 BC) was Plato’s prize student and “the mind of the school” and he believed that the earth was a sphere. Aristotle observed “there are stars seen in Egypt and Cyprus which are not seen in the northerly regions.” Since this could only happen on a curved surface, he believed the Earth was a sphere “of no great size, for otherwise the effect of so slight a change of place would not be quickly apparent.” (De caelo, 298a2–10)

Aristotle provided further physical and observational arguments supporting the idea of a spherical Earth:

  • Every portion of the Earth tends toward the centre until by compression and convergence they form a sphere. (De caelo, 297a9–21)
  • Travelers going south see southern constellations rise higher above the horizon; and
  • The shadow of Earth on the Moon during a lunar eclipse is round. (De caelo, 297b31–298a10).

2.   Observing Lunar eclipses. 

“The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church.” – Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521) Portuguese navigator Discoverer of the Straits of Magellan and the Philippines.

Image result for shadow of disc on the moon lunar eclipseThe shadow of the Earth on the Moon during a lunar eclipse is always a dark circle that moves from one side of the Moon to the other (partially grazing it during a partial eclipse). This could be produced by a flat disc that always faces the Moon head-on during the eclipse, but this is inconsistent with the fact that the Moon is only rarely directly overhead during an eclipse. For each eclipse, the local surface of the Earth is pointed in a somewhat different direction. The shadow of a circular disc held at an angle is an oval, not a circle as is seen during the eclipse. The idea of the Earth being a flat disc is also inconsistent with the fact that a given lunar eclipse is only visible from half of the Earth at a time.

The only shape that casts a round shadow no matter which direction it is pointed is a sphere, and the ancient Greeks, since Aristotle, deduced that this must mean the Earth is spherical.

3.   Visit Antarctica continent as a tourist. Not an impenetrable ice wall that encircles the Earth

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Tourists visits to Antarctica and the South Pole is growing rapidly to the extent that its impact is worrying some authorities. CLICK TO WATCH EFFECT OF TOURISM ON ANTARCTICA

Antarctica is the world’s southernmost continent resting in the Antarctic Circle and surrounded by the Southern Ocean. With 14 million square kilometers (5.4 million square miles) of area, it’s the 5th largest continent. It is bigger than the European Continent and twice the size of Australia.

Antarctica is the highest, driest, coldest, windiest and brightest of the seven continents. Almost 98% of the continent is covered by ice 1 mile thick. This ice accumulated over millions of years through snowfall.  This makes for harsh terrain and not many people live there. In 2016, the highest population recorded during the year is just over 4,000 and were mainly researchers, scientists and tourists. Presently, the Antarctic ice sheet contains 90% of the ice on Earth and would raise sea levels worldwide by over 200 feet were it to melt.

Since, the Arctic and Antarctic are cold, dark, and remote, we often think these two places are nearly the same. However, they are quite different. One notable difference is that polar bears live only in the Arctic, and penguins live only in the Antarctic.

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Get your ticket to Antarctica for the Marathon. A two-week excursion by air with one day at the Pole, and a 25-day expedition (including all travel time and stopovers) skiing the last degree to the Pole and flying back. Departs from London by way of Buenos Aires. $42,450 and up. CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO CLIP OF 2017 MARATHON

Despite housing zero permanent residents, Antarctica has two major marathons. The Antarctic Ice Marathon takes place at the base of the Ellsworth Mountains and has been running since 2004. Participants fly in on a private jet from South America to run over snow and ice, where the average temperature is between 0°F and 10°F, and the average windchill is -4°F.

However, don’t be daunted by Flat-Earthers that claim that Antarctica is a giant icy wall designed to keep us from falling off our disc-shaped world. It is a continent of 90% ice.

Flat Earthers believe that no one has ever crossed Antarctica.

3. Surface circumnavigation of the Earth and Antarctica

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New Zealander Edmund Hilary (the first man to climb Everest) completed the first overland crossing of Antarctica, via the South Pole, on 2 March 1958. He was however the third person to reach the South Pole. CLICK TO WATCH THE VIDEO.

Since the 1500s, many people have sailed or flown completely around the world in all directions, and none have discovered an edge or impenetrable barrier.

Some Flat Earth theories that propose the world is a north-pole-centered disc, conceive of Antarctica as an impenetrable ice wall that encircles the planet and hides any edges. This disc model explains east-west circumnavigation as simply moving around the disc in a circle. (East-west paths form a circle in both disc and spherical geometry.) It is possible in this model to traverse the North Pole, but it is not possible to perform a circumnavigation that includes the South Pole (which it posits does not exist).

Explorers, government researchers, commercial pilots, and tourists have been to Antarctica and found that it is not a large ring that encircles the entire world, but actually a roughly disc-shaped continent smaller than South America but larger than Australia, with an interior that can in fact be traversed in order to take a shorter path from e.g. the tip of South America to Australia than would be possible on a disc.

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First land crossing of Antarctica. CLICK to watch part 5 of the expedition which was recorded. 

Many exploratory airplanes have passed over the continent in various directions.  The first overland crossing of Antarctica, the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1955-1958, succeeded in the 1950’s what Sir Ernest Shackleton had attempted to do in his ill-fated expedition in 1914-1917. British Explorer Vivian Fuchs and New Zealander Edmund Hilary (the first man to climb Everest) led the expedition which took place during the IGY – International Geophysical Year. The expedition successfully completed the first overland crossing of Antarctica, via the South Pole, on 2 March 1958.

4. The South Pole Exists

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Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station at Antarctica. The North Pole is the Arctic Ocean while the South Pole is on land. WATCH VIDEO ON SOUTH POLE STATION

The South Pole, also known as the Geographic South Pole or Terrestrial South Pole, is one of the two points where the Earth’s axis of rotation intersects its surface. It is the southernmost point on the surface of the Earth and lies on the opposite side of the Earth from the North Pole.

Situated on the continent of Antarctica, it is the site of the United States Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, which was established in 1956 and has been permanently staffed since that year. The Geographic South Pole is distinct from the South Magnetic Pole, the position of which is defined based on the Earth’s magnetic field. The South Pole is at the centre of the Southern Hemisphere.

Today, the ice sheet above the South Pole drifts about 10 meters (33 feet) every year. Compared to the North Pole, the South Pole is relatively easy to travel to and study. The North Pole is in the middle of the Arctic Ocean on a sheet of ice, while the South Pole is on a stable piece of land. 

According to Flat Earthers, the South Pole does not exist. They do believe in a North Pole. However, how can there be North and no South? Can there be up without down or top without bottom?

5.   Observing the Sun

On a flat Earth, an omnidirectional Sun (emitting light in all directions, as it does) would illuminate the entire surface at the same time, and all places would experience sunrise and sunset at the horizon at the same time (with some small variations due to mountains and valleys). With a spherical Earth, half the planet is in daylight at any given time (the hemisphere facing the Sun) and the other half is experiencing nighttime. When a given location on the spherical Earth is in sunlight, its antipode – the location exactly on the opposite side of the Earth – is always experiencing nighttime. The spherical shape of the Earth causes the Sun to rise and set at different times in different places, and different locations get different amounts of sunlight each day.

In order to explain day and night, time zones, and the seasons, some flat Earth theorists propose that the Sun does not emit light in all directions, but acts more like a spotlight, only illuminating part of the flat Earth at a time. This theory is not consistent with observation; at sunrise and sunset, a spotlight Sun would be up in the sky at least a little bit, rather than at the horizon where it is always actually observed. A spotlight Sun would also appear at different angles in the sky with respect to a flat ground than it does with respect to a curved ground. Assuming light travels in straight lines, actual measurements of the Sun’s angle in the sky from locations very distant from each other are only consistent with a geometry where the Sun is very far away and is being seen from a hemispherical surface (the daylight half of the Earth). These two phenomena are related: a low-altitude spotlight Sun would spent most of the day near the horizon for most locations on Earth (which is not observed), but rise and set fairly close to the horizon. A high-altitude Sun would spend more of the day away from the horizon, but rise and set fairly far from the horizon (which is not observed).

6.    Length of the day

On a flat Earth with an omnidirectional Sun, all places would experience the same amount of daylight every day, and all places would get daylight at the same time. Actual day length varies considerably, with places closer to the poles getting very long days in the summer and very short days in the winter, with northerly summer happening at the same time as southerly winter. Places north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle get no sunlight for at least one day a year, and get 24-hour sunlight for at least one day a year. Both the poles experience sunlight for 6 months and darkness for 6 months, at opposite times.

The movement of daylight between the northern and southern hemispheres happens because of the axial tilt of the Earth. The imaginary line around which the Earth spins, which goes between the North Pole and South Pole, is tilted about 23° from the oval that describes its orbit around the Sun. The Earth always points in the same direction as it moves around the Sun, so for half the year (summer in the Northern Hemisphere), the North Pole is pointed slightly toward the Sun, keeping it in daylight all the time because the Sun lights up the half of the Earth that is facing it (and the North Pole is always in that half due to the tilt). For the other half of the orbit, the South Pole is tilted slightly toward the Sun, and it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere. This means that at the equator, the Sun is not directly overhead at noon, except around the autumnal equinox and vernal equinox, when one spot on the equator is pointed directly at the Sun.

The length of the day varies because as the Earth rotates some places (near the poles) pass through only a short curve near the top or bottom of the sunlight half; other places (near the equator) travel along much longer curves through the middle.

7.    Watching the sun set twice

On level ground, the difference in the distance to the horizon between lying down and standing up is large enough to watch the Sun set twice by quickly standing up immediately after seeing it set for the first time while lying down. This also can be done with a cherry picker or a tall building with a fast elevator. On a flat Earth, one would not be able to see the Sun again (unless standing near the edge closest to the Sun) due to a much faster-moving Sun shadow.

When the supersonic Concorde took off not long after sunset from London and flew westward to New York faster than the sunset was advancing westward on the ground, passengers observed a sunrise in the west. After landing in New York, passengers saw a second sunset in the west

8. Satellites Pictures of the Earth

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An astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) focused a digital camera on the narrow strip of land that joins North and South America and divides the Caribbean Sea (left) from the Pacific Ocean (right).
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October 4 1957, the Soviet Union launched SPUTNIK-1 into an elliptical low Earth orbit

Satellites (Artificial) have been known to been in space and have taken mind boggling pictures suggesting a curved earth. Flat Earthers say this is impossible as Artificial Satellites do not exist despite data showing that there are more than 40 countries that have launched more than 4,000 satellites.

Indeed, on October 4 1957, the Soviet Union launched SPUTNIK-1 into an elliptical low Earth orbit. It was a 58 cm (23 in) diameter polished metal sphere, with four external radio antennas to broadcast radio pulses. Its radio signal was easily detectable even by amateurs, and the 65° inclination and duration of its orbit made its flight path cover virtually the entire inhabited Earth. This surprise success precipitated the American Sputnik crisis and triggered the Space Race, a part of the Cold War.

According to Flat Earthers, GPS is operated by fibre optic cables running under the sea from continent to continent and by towers. There are no satellites. Claims by countries to have sent satellite into space is considered as conspiracy theory facilitated by NASA. One might understand NASA falsifying information but a conspiracy between the Soviet Union and NASA during the cold war era needs much thought.


Image result for heliocentricAlthough Aristotle, whose ideas prevailed, believed that the Earth was a sphere he also believed in a Geocentric universe where the planets and the Sun orbited Earth. He saw no sign that the Earth was in motion: no perpetual wind blew over the surface of the Earth, and a ball thrown straight up into the air doesn’t land behind the thrower, as Aristotle assumed it would if the Earth were moving. For Aristotle, this meant that the Earth had to be stationary, and the planets, the Sun, and the fixed dome of stars rotated around Earth.

In the early second century BC, Eratosthenes underlined Aristotle’s spherical earth notion by accurately measuring the circumference of the spherical earth and Claudius Ptolemy’s Almagest, from the early second century AD, provided a useful model for calculating the positions of heavenly bodies. While this model was geocentric, it did not promote a flat earth, but instead was based upon a spherical earth.

For nearly 1,000 years, Aristotle’s view of a stationary Spherical Earth at the centre of a revolving universe dominated the studies of the physical world. This geocentric worldview became ingrained in Christian theology, making it a doctrine of religion as much as natural philosophy.

Then, according to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Of all discoveries and opinions, none may have exerted a greater effect on the human spirit than the doctrine of Copernicus. The world has scarcely become known as round and complete in itself when it was asked to waive the tremendous privilege of being the centre of the universe.”

Image result for sun centered universe copernicusNicolaus Copernicus blurted, “We revolve around the Sun like any other planet.”

Although, Aristarchus of Samos, who had formulated such a model some eighteen centuries earlier, it was Nicolaus Copernicus, (1473-1543), a Renaissance-era mathematician and astronomer, that formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the centre of the universe and the world as not been the same since.

Martin Luther, the founder of Protestant Christianity, commented on Copernicus’ theory that the Earth orbits the sun:

“This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth (Psa xciii. I). […] Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?” Martin Luther, Quoted in Bertrand Russell (1946).  Science has since decided who was the fool. 

Image result for tycho brahe discoveriesTycho Brahe, (1546 – 1601) was a Danish astronomer and nobleman arguably the most famous astronomer of his day. He believed in the idea of a geocentric universe, a universe with Earth at its center was in opposition to Copernicus’ belief in a heliocentric universe with the sun at its centre. He advocated for an alternative to the Ptolemaic geocentric system: a geo-heliocentric system now known as the Tychonic system in which the five then known planets orbit the sun, while the sun and the moon orbit the Earth.

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Giordano Bruno was accused by the Church of being a heretic.  He was burned at the stake in 1600 CE.

Giordano Bruno (1548 – 17 February 1600) was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, poet, and cosmological theorist. Contrary to Tycho, he extended the then-novel Copernican model. He not only adopted the Copernican view that the sun was the centre of the solar system, but, also imagined that there were infinite worlds out there in space, many with intelligent life on them. Of course, such heretic thoughts wreak havoc with the idea that God had one son, who lived and died on one planet to be salvation to one specie etc.

“On the demand of the spiritual authorities, the Vatican (Inquisition or Holy See as the Romans loved to call it), Bruno was removed from Venice to Rome, and confined in the prison of the Inquisition, accused not only of being a heretic, but also a heresiarch, who had written things unseemly concerning religion. The special charge against him being that he had taught the plurality of worlds, a doctrine repugnant to the whole tenor of Scripture and inimical to revealed religion, especially as regards the plan of salvation. After an imprisonment of two years he was brought before his judges, declared guilty of the acts alleged, excommunicated, and, on his nobly refusing to recant (death before dishonour) , was delivered over to the secular authorities to be punished ‘as mercifully as possible, and without the shedding of his blood,’ the horrible formula for burning a prisoner at the stake.” He was burned at the stake in 1600 CE.

“History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science” by John William Draper (1881

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Galileo pointed his telescope into the night sky for a number of nights in January, 1610  and the world was changed. He saw the movements of moons around Jupiter which dismantled Aristotles geocentric cosmos and supported Copernicus  heliocentric cosmos.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was a priest, Italian mathematician, scientist and astronomer. He acquired the design of Dutch inventor Hans Lippershey’s telescope (invented in 1608) and improved on the design. Galileo pointed his telescope into the night sky and the world was changed. He discovered that multiple stellar bodies have their own moons, and that the Earth orbits the sun. Galileo reported seeing … four ‘stars’ orbiting the planet Jupiter, which he eventually concluded must be satellites or moons. Galileo also observed the phases of Venus, which proved that the planet orbits the Sun.

Galileo was convinced that he had now seen proof of the Copernican view of the universe with his own eyes. He also concluded that if Aristotle were right about all things orbiting Earth, then these moons could not exist.

This so alarmed the Catholic Church that in 1616 CE they issued an injunction against Galileo to force him not to discuss these findings. Due to the Church’s implacable opposition to the heliocentric theory, Galileo’s  cosmological work Dialogue on the Two Great World Systems was not published until 1632.

Clare Gibson tells this part of the story:

Horrified by its contents, the Church banned the book, subjected its author to house arrest and eventually ‘persuaded’ Galileo to recant his allegedly heretical, Copernican views.” Perhaps not very brave as Bruno, but practical to the end, he may have thought it best to be a live astronomer than a dead ideologue.

Related imageIt took the church 359 years to rehabilitate Galileo Galilei. Only in 1992 did the Vatican formally acknowledge that it had been wrong and Galileo right.

At about the same time, German mathematician Johannes Kepler was publishing a series of laws that describe the orbits of the planets around the Sun. Still in use today, the mathematical equations provided accurate predictions of the planets’ movement under Copernican theory. In 1687, Isaac Newton put the final nail in the coffin for the Aristotelian, geocentric view of the Universe. Building on Kepler’s laws, Newton explained why the planets moved as they did around the Sun and he gave the force that kept them in check a name: gravity.


The Aristotelian geocentric view that the earth was the center of the universe and that all heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth was a widely held notion up to the 18th century. Indeed, many of my Flat Earthers friends share that view. 

Interestingly, although  Aristotle believed in a geocentric universe he felt that the Earth was a sphere but Flat Earthers vigorously disagree with him in this regard. In the early second century BC, Eratosthenes accurately measured the circumference of the spherical earth and Claudius Ptolemy’s Almagest, from the early second century AD, provided a useful model for calculating the positions of heavenly bodies. While his model was geocentric, it did not promote a flat earth, but instead was based upon a spherical earth.

Flat Earthers have claimed that a heliocentric universe and a spherical earth are conspiracy theories perpetuated by the corrupt Catholic Church. The only truth in that claim is that the Church is corrupt. As was seen, Copernicus (1473-1543),  Giordano Bruno (1548 – 17 February 1600) and Galileo (1564-1642) all proposed a heliocentric universe (sun at centre  of universe) but this was against Church teaching and they were persecuted, even killed. Their blood cried out to the maker of truth.

Lest we forget our past and repeat it. There are no records of Spherical  Earthers killing Flat Earthers for their belief in a flat earth. However, history has shown that Flat Earthers represented by the crusades and Inquisition ordered by the Holy See or Vatican Church, have killed many innocent souls whose only crime was not to believe in a geocentric universe.

Is it really worth killing over a Flat Earth or a Spherical Earth? Does one feel demoted or extra special if  one realizes that Earth, despite its small size, is still the place to live? Many Christians think that to believe that the Earth is not the centre of the universe but is just one of many planets, could reduce their faith in a great creator who made the Earth specially for his purpose. It would make them feel insignificant. They also think this knowledge could mean that no higher power cares about humanity, and Jesus did not suffer just for the benefit of its human inhabitants. The implications on prayer, faith and fate could result in the demise of the Church.

Related imageCommon sense eventually prevailed, and fortunately or unfortunately, kids are now taught in kindergarten that the earth is spherical, and does move but is fixed in its plane and orbit around the sun as well as doesn’t move under their feet because of gravity. Indeed, the church bowed and in 1992 the Vatican formally acknowledge that it had been wrong and Galileo right. Eppur Si Mu ovo: And yet it (earth) moves.  Galileo Galilei. Of course he was simply using observation to support Nicolaus Copernicus, “We revolve around the Sun like any other planet.”

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