There is a society of people who believe that Earth is flat, and that there is an elaborate hoax called the “Round Earth” doctrine. The Flat Earth Society believes, as scientists do, that we should not simply accept knowledge handed down, but challenge it through experimentation and examination. This foundation for their society would then lead you to believe that they are scientists. However, the experiments and examinations conducted by this society are aimed at proving their beliefs, not discovery, and contradictory results to their beliefs are tossed out as being not yet fully developed or understood.  This goes against the scientific method, and therefore cannot be considered to be scientific. 

Scientific Method – a method of procedure that has characterised natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses. “Criticism is the backbone of the scientific method.”

Here in the Southern Hemisphere, we are especially fortunate as we can do our own experimentations and examinations which firmly disprove the Flat Earth doctrine without having to travel half way across the globe. Their explanations for the motions of the sky are centered around what is visible to people living between the equator and the north pole (the Northern Hemisphere). Observations made south of the equator do not align with their Flat Earth doctrine, and so are discounted as being false.

The Flat Earth Societies’ doctrine:
“The earth is a plane, with a northern centre, over which the stars move in concentric courses at different radial distances from the northern centre as far south as and wherever observations have been made.”

The Flat Earth Societies’ evidence:
“The Southern Cross is not at all times visible from every point of the southern hemisphere, as the “Great Bear” is from every point in the northern, and as both must necessarily and equally be visible if the earth is globular.”

The Flat Earth Societies’ reasoning:
“The southern region of the earth is not central, but circumferential; and therefore there is no southern pole, no south pole star, and no southern circumpolar constellations; all statements to the contrary are doubtful, inconsistent with known facts, and therefore not admissible as evidence.”

The Round Earth evidence:
The “Great Bear” is not visible from every point in the northern hemisphere, just as the “Southern Cross” is not visible from every point in the southern hemisphere. At the equator, and latitudes nearby, both the Great Bear and the Southern Cross rise and set. The Southern Cross even sets for a brief time in locations as far south as Brisbane. However, from Auckland (and any other locations at latitudes further south), the Southern Cross never sets. We can see it anytime of night, anytime of year.

Seeing southern circumpolar constellations or using the Southern Cross to find the south celestial pole, directly contradicts the Flat Earth doctrine that there is only one pivot point in the sky. But don’t our word for it, head outside tonight and observe it for yourself! See if you can find south using the Southern Cross in the evening after sunset. You can use our teacher resource Using Stars to Find Your Direction Activity or search “how to use the southern cross for celestial navigation” if you haven’t tried this before. Then before sunrise see if you can use the Southern Cross to find south again. If there wasn’t a second celestial pole in the sky, then we wouldn’t be able to use the Southern Cross for celestial navigation. 

Stardome Educator, Vanessa Rancour