Saturday, November 28, 2015

The invisible kraken: Evidence that the earth is not flat

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

My new book, Star Myths of the World, and how to interpret them: Volume One, is the first installment in a series designed to provide conclusive evidence that virtually all of the myths, scriptures, and sacred traditions from around the world -- from the myths of ancient Greece, Sumer, and Egypt to those of China, Australia, and Africa, to virtually every episode recorded in what we call the Old and New Testaments of the Bible -- are built upon a common system of celestial metaphor.

This is extremely important information for many reasons. When we understand this system of celestial metaphor, then we can use that understanding to plainly see unmistakable evidence that the ancient wisdom given to the cultures that eventually became western Europe was originally intended to convey the same fundamental message as that given to all the other cultures of the world. 

It is a message that involves what can be called a shamanic worldview, in which the entire material universe is perceived at every point to be connected to and interpenetrated by the invisible realm, the spirit world: the realm of the gods.

The Star Myths of the world use the motions of the constellations and planets, and the cycles of the sun and the moon and the longer cycles involving planetary conjunctions and orbits and even the awe-inspiring action of precession, as a way of conveying to us the importance of this invisible realm, and our ability to travel there, and to make contact with the divine realm -- because we are actually already in contact with it all the time, as is everything else in the universe.

And, if we are actually all connected to the invisible realm, then that means that we are all in some way connected to one another, and dependent upon one another, as well as connected to all other living things and indeed to every rock and star and molecule in the universe -- and interdependent upon their well being for our own. If we are all actually connected to and bound together by the same invisible spirit realm, then damage that we do to a rain forest or a river or a mountain or even an asteroid has an impact on every other thing in the material realm, and on every other being, and on the welfare of all of them.

It is pretty clear that this ancient wisdom was interrupted at some point in the distant past in "the west," and the repercussions are still being felt to this day. 

The good news is that, although the damage that has resulted from this loss has been enormous, and ongoing, and even accelerating, the invisible realm itself has not gone away (if it had, then there would be no more life on earth, since it is out of the infinite realm that the plants and trees unfold into this material world, and animals and people receive the spirit by which they move and act). And, the ancient texts and myths are still there, telling forth their message about the importance of the sacred realm, our constant dependence upon it and thus our interdependence with the rest of the universe and with all other living beings in it, and the ways given to humanity to make contact with and even journey to that realm during this life, in order to learn things there and effect changes there which cannot be learned or effected in any other way. 

If the loss of this knowledge was a central factor setting the west down a wrong path (a wrong path with global consequences), then it stands to reason that the solution (if one is possible) will entail regaining contact with an understanding that was anciently lost.

I believe that this is an incredibly important message.

I am by no means the only person trying to make this message (or some variation of it) more widely known (in fact, there are many, many others who are bringing this general message to far more people than I reach, many of whom have devoted their lives to spreading such knowledge for many decades and who by their actions over time and the consistency of their message and their work have earned a right to speak on a very large stage and who reach thousands of people every time they give a talk).

However, even as I am making what I believe to be a very important case about the celestial foundation underlying the different mythologies and sacred traditions of humanity around the globe, I find that one of the most frequent questions that I am asked (on the web, at least, and especially in the "comments" left on some of the videos that I have made) is some variation on what I think of the "flat earth" idea.

Because I believe that it can be conclusively demonstrated that the myths and scriptures and sacred traditions of the world are all encoding the motions of the constellations and the cycles of the sun, moon, and stars (as well as longer cycles, including the precessional cycle), this question is actually (in one sense) somewhat relevant to my work.

However, I believe the entire discussion to be a pretty major distraction to the extremely important subjects discussed above. We're talking about evidence that shows all the world's sacred traditions (including the stories in the Bible) are based on the stars, and now we have to stop and haggle over the evidence that the earth is a globe that rotates on its axis once per day, and  goes around the sun once per year?

This is not really an argument that I want to get into at all. I personally believe that the fact of the earth's sphericity and the fact that it orbits around the sun (and not vice versa) is extremely well established. 

I'm actually a little suspicious of the motives of those who insist that this point is not yet proven, and insist on forcing the discussion onto this subject all the time. I actually wonder how many of those who argue for a flat earth truly believe such an argument, and how many might be dragging the debate into that quicksand for other reasons, whether just for the sheer fun of being contrary and picking arguments, or for some other motive.

However, assuming that some people may actually entertain honest doubts about this matter, I will list just a few of what I believe to be many reasons to believe that the earth is a globe that rotates on its axis and orbits the sun (and has an axial tilt which precesses). 

I realize that critics might be able to come up with some way of explaining each of the points offered below with a hypothetical model other than a spherical earth orbiting the sun along with other planets in the solar system, but it is actually possible to do that with virtually any point (one ancient name for this kind of pseudo-argument was sophistry). 

If Sherlock Holmes presents you with extensive evidence which proves beyond all shadow of a doubt that Mr. J murdered Mr. Y, a sophist could still come up and ask him, "Even with all this evidence, how do you know that it was Mr. J and not a grizzly bear that did it? Can you actually prove that it wasn't a grizzly bear?" If Holmes points out that no bears had been reported by any witnesses, and in fact no bears lived in the area, and that in fact no zoo in the area even had any bears in captivity either, the sophist could still say, "But can you prove that it wasn't a grizzly bear?" If Holmes then shows that the victim was strangled and not bitten, the sophist could then say, "Then how do you know it wasn't a kraken? Can you prove it wasn't?" 

Such tactics could be extended indefinitely: if Holmes shows that nobody had reported anything like a kraken in the area, the sophist might knowingly say, "A ha -- but how do you know it wasn't an invisible kraken?"

I am personally not that interested in debating the possibility of an invisible kraken. 

I would be suspicious of anyone who wanted to persistently steer the argument off in that direction. I assume that there are some people who have honestly been convinced of the possibility of a flat earth, and who will be interested in honestly considering the arguments offered below giving my reasons why I am not at all convinced of that possibility.

The fact that I do not want to go there should not at all lead anyone to the conclusion that I myself am trying to cover up the existence of krakens or that I am part of some group trying to keep the knowledge of the existence of krakens from the general public. 

I will present some evidence below which convinces me that the earth is a sphere and goes around the sun, which I hope will be helpful to anyone who is honestly doubting that this is the case. But in the future I do not plan to get into any extended discussions on the subject, just as I wouldn't expect Sherlock Holmes to want to spend hours discussing the hypothetical possibility of an invisible kraken.

1. The whirl of stars around the celestial north pole and the celestial south pole:
Two different whirling points, one counterclockwise and one clockwise.
The elevation of the whirling points changes as you go further north or further south.
You cannot see both at once, but you can see the appropriate one based on whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere.

The rotation of the earth towards the east causes the stars to appear to move from the east to the west. If you were to lie down at the north pole and look up, you would see the stars appearing to move in a circle around the point directly overhead (ninety degrees up from the ground) -- the celestial north pole. Anyone in the northern hemisphere can also see the stars move in a circle around the celestial north pole, but as we move further south, the point that they all appear to circle around gets lower in the sky (but always towards the north). 

After we cross the equator into the southern hemisphere, however, we can no longer see the whirl of stars around the celestial north pole: instead we can see a different whirl, around the celestial south pole. The further south we go (the closer to the earth's south pole), the higher this whirl will be in the sky, but always towards the south. 

This fact of the two different whirls of stars in the sky is perfectly easy to explain if the earth is a globe. 

The fact that the height that the point around which the sky appears to whirl will change as we go further north or further south is also exactly what we would expect if the earth is a globe.

It is very difficult to explain why there are two different points around which the sky appears to whirl, if we are on a flat earth that does not rotate. It is very difficult to explain why the north celestial pole is higher in the sky the further north one goes in the northern hemisphere, and lower in the sky the further south one goes, if we are not on a globe.

I have personally seen the south celestial pole and the stars turning around it when I was in New Zealand, and I have personally seen the north celestial pole and the stars turning around it from many different latitudes in the northern hemisphere. This is not hearsay evidence that I am talking about. 

(I have not personally observed these two whirls from the equator itself, but from there you would be able to see the "upper half" of both of them, one if you looked towards the north pole, and the other if you looked towards the south pole -- if you doubt this, you can verify it for yourself by going to the equator and doing some observing). 

There are also many photographs on the web of the stars whirling around the north celestial pole, taken from various latitudes in the northern hemisphere, and many photographs of the stars whirling around the south celestial pole, taken from various latitudes in the southern hemisphere.

At the top of this post is an image, taken from a point in the southern hemisphere (in Chile), showing stars circling the south celestial pole. Below is another image, taken from a point in the northern hemisphere (in Arizona), showing stars circling the north celestial pole:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Now, before someone tries to come up with some flat-earth explanation of how we could have two different points around which the stars rotate, one only visible from north of the equator and the other only visible from south of the equator, and how the point around which the sky appears to turn will be seen to be higher or lower in the sky based on your latitude (all of which makes perfect sense if we are on a globe that is rotating on its axis, but which requires some extremely convoluted contortions to try to explain from the perspective of a flat earth), there is one other aspect of this phenomenon which is difficult to explain for a flat-earth theory but makes perfect sense from the perspective of the globe-and-axis theory, and that is the fact that the stars rotate around the north celestial pole in a counter-clockwise fashion, and the south celestial pole in a clockwise fashion.

Why would this be? It makes perfect sense, if we are on a globe rotating towards the east. As the ball we are standing on spins towards the east, it causes objects in the sky to appear to speed towards the west. This happens to the sun once per day: it "rises" in the east and moves across the sky towards the west, then sinks down below the western horizon as a function of the fact that the ball we are standing on kept spinning towards the east, bringing the curve of the western horizon in between us (where we are standing) and the sinking sun. 

The reason the sun (and all the other stars) appear to move east to west is the same reason a billboard or a barn or a tree seen from the window of a speeding car or train appears to move towards the rear of the car or train: you are rushing forwards, so things outside appear to rush backwards. As we spin east, things in the sky appear to move west: the earth is spinning towards the east, so objects in the sky (including the sun, planets, and stars) all appear to move from the east to the west.

If we are standing in the northern hemisphere and look towards the north, the stars will be rotating east to west (just as they do everywhere else on a ball that is spinning towards the east). But as we look north, this will cause them to rotate around the central north celestial pole in a counter-clockwise direction (because if we are in the northern hemisphere facing the north pole, east is to our right, and stars rising in the east will arc over us from right to left as we face north, and those close to the north pole will go around from right to left also in a counter-clockwise fashion around the central point, such that a star at the three o'clock position will rotate up to twelve o'clock before continuing down to nine o'clock and eventually down to six o'clock and back around to three o'clock). 

Below is a video from the northern hemisphere (in northern Spain) of the stars going around the central point in a counter-clockwise direction:

There are many other such videos available on the web (and if you are in the northern hemisphere you can make one for yourself, or just observe it happening with the naked eye).

However, if we are in the southern hemisphere and we look towards the south pole and watch the stars rotating around the south celestial pole in the sky, they will move in the opposite direction: clockwise around the central point. Why is that?

Well, the stars are still moving from east to west, just as they do everywhere else on a globe that spins eastwards (the sun rises in the east for people in the southern hemisphere too, just as it does in the northern hemisphere). But, when we look to the south celestial pole, we are facing south, and now east is to the left of us and west is to the right, and stars will be rising from our left and going towards our right. Those close to the central point around which all the stars in the sky appear to turn (the south celestial pole, above earth's south pole) will go from left to right as they go over the central hub: they will go clockwise. A star which begins at nine o'clock will go up to twelve o'clock and then on down to three o'clock and so on.

Below is another video, this one from the southern hemisphere, showing all the stars going around the south celestial pole in a clockwise fashion -- just the opposite of the way they whirl around the northern hub:

The above discussion is, in my opinion, already conclusive evidence that we live on a spherical planet which turns on its axis once per day in a rotation towards the west. This model explains perfectly all the phenomena shown and discussed above. A flat-earth model has a very hard time explaining all the above evidence (although someone using the "what about invisible krakens" method of sophistical argument could probably do it -- I just have my doubts whether they themselves would actually believe it).

2. There are stars that not visible to observers in some latitudes.
Some stars are too far south to be visible from northern latitudes, but are obscured by the horizon. But as you go further south they come into view -- rising above the southern horizon, even if only just barely. As you go further and further south, they will arc at a higher and higher altitude in the sky.

No need to spend too much time on this one, but it is very difficult to account for from a flat-earth perspective, and perfectly understandable if the earth is a sphere and space extends in all directions, with stars in all directions in space. If we are on a ball and space is all around us, then some stars will not be visible to observers on the "top half" of the ball, unless those observers move "down" the ball towards the equator line or even cross down into the "lower half" of the ball.

Observers in the northern hemisphere cannot see the constellation Crux (the Cross) unless they are pretty far south -- that's why it is popularly known as the Southern Cross. I myself never saw this constellation until I traveled to New Zealand.

Even Fomalhaut is pretty difficult to see from northerly latitudes in the northern hemisphere, but the further south on the globe you travel, the easier it will be to see it because it will "clear" the southern horizon with a higher and higher arc as you travel further and further south.

This makes sense if we are on a sphere. It does not make much sense if the earth is flat.

You might find a video that I made a long time ago, using a metaphor that I call "the orbit in the dining room," to be helpful for imagining the way that we see the stars in space from the perspective of our location on a globe: there are stars on all the "walls" as well as on the ceiling and floor, but if we're on the upper half of the ball we can see the stars on the ceiling but not the floor, and we can see stars on the walls but only those on the "upper half" of the walls -- the further "down" the ball we go, the further down the "wall" will come into view.

3. Constellations look "upside down" in the southern hemisphere, compared to their orientation in the northern hemisphere.

This is another point that is very damaging to the flat earth model, but makes perfect sense if the earth is a globe. When you travel to the southern hemisphere, if you have lived in the northern hemisphere all your life, you will soon notice that all the constellations are "upside down" to the way you are used to seeing them (if you are used to looking at the constellations, that is).

This phenomenon is perfectly understandable if we are on a globe. I'm not sure why the sky would seem to "flip" as we get to the outer edges of a supposed "flat earth" in which "south" is supposedly "towards the edges" and north is in the center.

But, now imagine the earth as a globe (which I am quite certain that it is). If you imagine yourself standing at the north pole and looking at the outline of the constellation Orion (located near the ecliptic plane, "out from the equator" in the sky, so to speak), and then imagine that you travel down to the south pole and look out at the same constellation of Orion, you will immediately understand why the constellation looks "upside down" from the south pole, relative to how it looked when you were at the north pole.

This phenomenon is true for points in the southern hemisphere, not just at the south pole itself.

I myself witnessed this when I went to the southern hemisphere (New Zealand and Australia). Orion was the first constellation which I noticed to be "upside down" to my way of seeing him.

4. The angle that the stars, planets, and sun and moon rise up out of the eastern horizon and sink down into the western horizon changes based on your latitude, and can be used for long-distance ocean navigation.

This is the method used by the Wayfinders of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and it is almost certainly the traditional method used for the successful long-distance ocean-crossing voyages that the people of the different Pacific Island cultures used to cross the vast distances that they crossed.

See this previous post discussing "the greatest navigators our globe has ever seen," as Thor Heyerdahl called the Polynesian peoples who traveled the almost-unimaginable distances from Hawaii to Tahiti to Aotearoa (New Zealand) to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and to many other distant shores as well.

Some discussion is presented there regarding the reason that in the northern hemisphere, the courses of the stars angles up from the eastern horizon but along an arc closer to the southern horizon, while in the southern hemisphere the courses of the stars angle up from the eastern horizon but along an arc closer to the northern horizon, and why they go along an arc straight up and perpendicular to the horizon as you cross the equator. This discussion is largely based upon the helpful diagrams and discussion found on the actual website of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, which has successfully crossed the oceans using the same traditional Wayfinding methods used by their ancestors in previous centuries.

If you take the time to read that entire page as linked, you will see that their method assumes a spherical earth, and that in fact the star courses do what they do and in doing so enable navigation because we are on a spherical earth which rotates on its axis.

I have not actually asked them, but I would be very doubtful that there are any believers in the flat-earth model among the members of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

There are others who know the science of navigating by true celestial navigation. The excellent book by Thomas Cunliffe entitled Celestial Navigation tells you how it is done using a sextant -- and it also bases all its techniques upon the understanding that the earth to be a globe.

5. Objects that travel through the air for long distances have to take into account the rotation of the earth.
This is true for airplanes.
It is also true for artillery shells that travel very long distances, and other military munitions.

I am not an airline pilot, but I have a very good friend who is an airline pilot. There are a very large number of airline pilots in the world. I do not believe that they are all "in on" a major conspiracy to hide from us the fact that the earth is really flat.

In order to accurately take off on one point and travel a very far distance to land where you want to land, you have to account for the fact that the earth actually rotates on its axis.

I was in the military for many years. I graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, which was founded in 1802 in part to provide the level of mathematical and engineering knowledge necessary to fling artillery shells from one point on the surface of the earth to another, and also to be able to construct bridges that would not collapse: the young nation needed a school to teach such subjects, and did not have one until the Academy was founded (most of the universities such as Harvard and Yale were originally founded as theological schools).

Although I was not commissioned as an artillery officer, I did have to learn quite a bit about the science of flinging artillery shells from one point on earth's surface to another and having them land where you want them to land (I remember hearing stories while at West Point about artillery shells being sent by accident into the vicinity of the Bear Mountain Bridge, which is not far from the training areas and also not far from where Jack Kerouac started the journey he recorded in On the Road; I have no idea whether that story about shells accidentally landing near Bear Mountain Bridge is true or not, but I suspect that it could have been: the stories were passed on to us to emphasize the importance of doing the calculations properly and carefully, with "attention to detail," and the consequences that could happen if we did not).

In order to send artillery shells (or any other military munition) long distances with accuracy, you have to account for the rotation of the earth. This can be verified by looking at any number of artillery manuals that have been published through the years. Older manuals (and even some of the newer ones) have firing tables that help you to make the calculations that account for the rotation of the earth.

It does not make any sense to argue that these calculations are just introduced in there to keep us from knowing that the earth really doesn't rotate at all. If the earth did not rotate, then accounting for rotation that did not exist would cause artillery shells to land in places that they were not supposed to land.

I believe that some proponents of a flat, non-rotating earth will try to explain this away by resorting to an invisible fluid or element known as "ether." I believe that this is basically the same as resorting to an invisible kraken. I don't care to try to prove that there is no such thing as ether -- it may be very difficult to prove the non-existence of ether (and also of invisible krakens). But since the rotation of the earth explains the need for these artillery calculations (and because there is extensive evidence of other forms that shows we are on a spherical and rotating earth -- see all the points above -- I don't believe I or anyone else need engage in a debate over the existence or non-existence of a hypothetical substance called "ether").

For one example of an artillery manual which discusses the need to make calculations to account for the rotation of the earth, see USMC Field Manual 6-40, and page 7-19 and following (where you will be directed to "Table H," which gives you the calculations needed to account for the rotation of the earth).

Army manuals for field artillery are also numbered 6-40: you can find many of them on the internet which discuss the importance of accounting for earth's rotation. Some which are available on the web go back to 1944 or 1945 (well before the founding of NASA, an organization which some flat-earth adherents blame for much of the supposed disinformation about the shape of the earth in modern times).

6. The Coriolis Effect caused by the laws of physics related to inertia and angular momentum cause large bodies of air and water to rotate in generally predictable patterns, which differ on either side of the equator.

This is getting a little technical, but those interested can read about it in many different places on the web or in textbooks.

One thing that is caused by the Coriolis effect is the pattern of air currents and the direction that they swirl on our planet. They generally swirl counterclockwise off the equator to the north, and clockwise off the equator to the south.

You can see this in Coriolis-induced action in images of hurricanes.

Hurricanes in the northern hemisphere generally rotate counter-clockwise around their central eye, and those in the southern hemisphere generally rotate the other way (clockwise).

Below is an image of a hurricane in the northern hemisphere:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

Note that the "arms" of the swirl from the left side of the circle (nine o'clock) open "up and to the right" (look from nine o'clock up towards the twelve o'clock of the storm to see this). Another way to think about it is that the storm appears from above to be swirling inward towards the center in a counter-clockwise direction.

Now look at the image below of a hurricane in the southern hemisphere:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

It should be readily apparent that this hurricane is swirling in the opposite direction from the hurricane shown in the image above it. This one appears to swirl towards the center in a clockwise direction, and the arms appear to open "up and to the left" when seen from the right side of the storm. To see this, look at the six o'clock position and trace up towards the three o'clock.

It is very difficult to explain why hurricanes would swirl in one direction on the north side of an equator line on a flat earth and in completely the opposite direction on the other side of the same equator line (an equator line doesn't really even make sense on a flat earth, but let's assume that there is such a line, and many flat-earth proponents talk about one).

However, it does make sense on a rotating sphere, in which the Coriolis effect is present (and completely explainable based on the laws of physics).

I don't know if any flat earth theorists try to explain this phenomenon away. They certainly cannot argue that hurricanes are some kind of a hoax. I personally went to Florida to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and have witnessed the devastation they cause first hand.

I was also in southern China during a typhoon once.

7. The Foucault Pendulum demonstrates the rotation of the earth.

I was fascinated by the Foucault Pendulum at the old Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco when I was young. It is still in operation, but has now moved to the new museum location.

The way that a pendulum demonstrates the rotation of the earth is somewhat technical, but fascinating.

It can actually show you your latitude on earth's surface, if you know the principles and can do some trigonometry.

The explanation for Foucault's Pendulum and the rotation of the earth is well explained in the videos shown below (far better than I could explain it, and demonstrated visually far more easily than it can be explained in long paragraphs of verbiage):

First video
(gives a decent explanation of what happens -- but the third video below is really the best for visualizing why):

Second video
(probably the best for seeing how it works in action, because it uses an ink marker -- also, this one is outstanding because it explains how to determine your latitude with some degree of accuracy using a pendulum):

Third video 
(in French but visually the best one on the web that I've found, and because it is in French it probably also pronounces "Foucault" most properly):

Once again, I believe some advocates of a flat earth try to explain away this pendulum phenomenon by relying upon "ether" or some other complicated or convoluted argument to try to say that it isn't really the earth that is rotating but rather then pendulum. It is difficult to understand why the "ether" would not rotate at an arbitrary line called the "equator" on a flat earth, however, just as it is difficult to understand why hurricanes would rotate in opposite ways on either side of such an arbitrary line on a flat earth. 

All of the actions of a Foucault Pendulum, however, are well explained by a spherical earth rotating on its axis.

8. The very existence of time zones should prove that we are on a rotating sphere.
Some parts of earth are in night when others are in day.

This provides a pretty simple and obvious argument for a spherical earth, and one which requires some pretty strange arguments from the flat-earth proponents in order to try to explain for a flat earth.

When I was in China, I could Skype with my family in California, but when it was night for me it was day for them.

Why would the sun above a flat earth illuminate (and heat) one area called "day" but not another area (on a flat plane) where it was night? (The exact same argument, could be made regarding solstices and seasons, and the fact of longer days in one half of the earth while the other half is having shorter days, which is caused by the tilt of the earth and discussed in countless previous posts, including this one from 2011).

Flat earth theorists, I believe, argue that the sun is kind of like "floodlights" that only beam down in a fairly tight cone of light. This doesn't make much sense, if the sun is a ball.

That leads us to the next point:

9. The moon and the visible planets are clearly spherical.
Why would we argue that the earth is flat, if we can see that Mercury, Venus, the moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are all spherical? 

You can actually see this with a telescope, if not with the naked eye (you can pretty much see that the moon is a sphere with your naked eye.

10. The motions of the planets on their courses makes sense if earth and the planets are orbiting the sun.
Otherwise, you have to introduce complicated concepts such as "epicycles" to try to explain retrograde motion, etc.

The concept of "retrograde motion" (which you can observe for yourself, on successive nights when one of the visible planets is in retrograde) is something that I discussed at some length in a previous post, back in 2012 during a retrograde period for Mars. Earth was "passing up" Mars on our "inside track" as we orbit the sun, making it look (for a short time) that Mars was moving the opposite direction from earth in its orbit around the sun (Mars and the other visible planets orbit in the same direction around the sun that we do).

11. The monthly cycle of the moon makes perfect sense if it orbits the earth and the earth orbits the sun.
The moon is full when it is exactly opposite the earth from the sun, and highest in the sky at midnight.
The moon is new (and invisible) when it is exactly between earth and the sun, and highest in the sky at noon.

Both of the above make perfect sense if the moon orbits the earth. I discuss these cycles, which are not (unfortunately) widely understood by the general public unless they take the time to learn about it (it is not generally taught in school, at least in my personal experience), in a blog post here from several years ago. You can find other posts in which I discuss the cycles further by searching for "new moon" in the internal blog search window.

The moon is a thin crescent when it is only a few days old (after new moon), and follows closely behind the sun (at this time in its cycle, it can be seen just after the sun goes down, following "hard after" the sun). This also makes sense if the earth is a rotating sphere and the moon is the earth's satellite. 

All of the moon's cycles, and its relative position to the sun and distance "behind" or "ahead" of the sun, make perfect sense if it orbits earth and earth rotates while orbiting the sun.

To explain all of this using the flat earth ideology would require some contortions.

12. Solar and lunar eclipses make sense for the same reasons described above for the phases of the moon.
Solar eclipses take place when the moon passes between earth and the sun, and thus can only happen on a point of new moon.
Lunar eclipses take place when the earth is between the sun and the moon, and thus can only happen at a time of full moon.

These phenomena are well explained by the model of the earth orbiting the sun, and the moon orbiting the earth. The moon orbits on a plane that is "tilted" relative to the plane of earth's orbit around the sun, and thus we do not have a solar or lunar eclipse at every single new moon or full moon (this is discussed in previous posts about the "lunar nodes").

Once again, explaining why this happens the way it does from a flat earth model causes some contortions (this pattern is typical of an incorrect model: a correct theory will usually clear up a whole lot of evidence that the incorrect theory had to tie itself in knots to try to explain). 

An additional problem for the flat earth theorist is the fact that during a lunar eclipse, it is the shadow of the earth that creeps slowly across the face of the moon as earth moves between sun and the moon. The edge of this shadow can clearly be seen to be curved, indicating that earth is a sphere (as do so many of the other pieces of evidence offered above).

This creates a king-sized problem for flat earth theories.

I have even read that some flat earth theorists posit the existence of another moon-like body that is throwing its shadow across the moon during a lunar eclipse, to alleviate the problem caused by the curved shadow that earth projects on the surface of the moon and that is clearly visible to the casual observer. Of course, this "hypothetical moon" that occasionally eclipses our moon is invisible and has never been seen, but it "must" be there, according to some theorists (apparently -- I myself have never spoken to anyone who actually believes such a theory, and I actually have difficulty believing that anyone honestly believes it themselves).


These are just some of countless other pieces of evidence which could be offered (and I'm not even a physicist). I haven't even gone into the problem of GPS location, which is now such a common fact of life with smartphone users that they take it for granted -- but I personally remember the first time our unit in the 82nd Airborne Division was issued portable GPS devices (only six for the entire company of over a hundred paratroopers, and they were huge -- about the size of a flat brick), and I remember sitting out in the field and waiting to get "three satellites" (you couldn't accurately get your location if you only had two satellites or one satellite in communication with your device).

Nor have I touched the very complex (but perfectly understandable given a rotating earth going around a massive sun and orbited by a less-massive moon) mechanism of the ocean tides (which everyone who surfs regularly must keep an eye on), or the even more awe-inspiring mechanism of the precession of the equinoxes (which is almost certainly a function of the principle of the conservation of angular momentum, the fact of the equatorial bulge, and the resulting motion of the axis around which the earth rotates in the same way that a gyroscope or even a spinning bicycle tire suspended from a string will precess).

All of the above evidence convinces me that the flat-earth argument is incorrect -- and also causes me to wonder about the motives of at least some of those who spend a lot of time trying to get people to argue about it.

Those, at least, are my reasons. And that is about as much as I wish to say on this subject.

Please do not contact me with counter-arguments to the above evidence, or with complicated and purely hypothetical models that could possibly account for one or more of them. As I said before, I believe that such arguments are akin to trying to engage Sherlock Holmes in a debate over the possibility of an invisible kraken -- and such debates can be extended indefinitely by a really aggressive and contrarian debater who enjoys arguing for the sake of argument -- but they distract from what I believe to be the real discussion at hand.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).