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A Flat Earth eclipse is a hypothetical name assigned to the lunar eclipse by the Flat Earth society, and according to them, the phenomenon transpires when a mystery satellite of the sun (called the shadow object or the anti-moon) finds its way between the sun and the moon, thus blocking sunlight from illuminating the lunar surface.
The results of a poll conducted by YouGov revealed that about 2% of their selected batch (8,215 people) believed that we live on a pancake Earth (Source).
Flat Earthers And Flat Earth Society
2% may not seem like a big deal, but these people are just the tip of the iceberg. The same poll results also reported that about one-third of Americans aged 18 to 24 doubt the spherical reality of our planet. Together, these people are referred to as ‘Flat Earthers’ and have formed a collective community popularly known as the ‘Flat Earth Society.’
The society often puts out theories to explain day-to-day phenomena in support of their hypothesis of a flat Earth and recently have published another theory explaining how the lunar eclipse and, as a result, the blood moon appeared in the skies of January 2019.
Let’s take a look at the theory, shall we?
Also Read: How Do We Know The Earth Isn’t Flat?
What Is A Lunar Eclipse Anyway?
An eclipse, in general, is when a space entity like a planet or the moon gets in the way of the sun’s light striking Earth. Currently, there are two different kinds of eclipses that we experience on our planet, namely, a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse. In the event of a solar eclipse, it is the moon that blocks the passage of sunlight to the Earth’s surface, resulting in complete (or partial) darkness right in the middle of the day at certain locations. More information on solar eclipses can be found here – All you need to know about a solar eclipse.
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On the other hand, a lunar eclipse is when the Earth blocks the sun’s light from illuminating the moon’s surface. A lunar eclipse occurs for the same reason as a solar eclipse, i.e, the three bodies (the sun, Earth, and the moon) get aligned in a (somewhat) straight-line fashion (see the below image for reference). This configuration, also known as a syzygy, results in the central body (Earth, in the case of a lunar eclipse) shielding the terminal body (moon) from the sun’s rays.
Similar to a solar eclipse, there are two types of shadows that the Earth casts on the moon. In the umbra region, the central portion of Earth’s shadow, our planet completely cloaks its satellite from the sun and causes a total lunar eclipse. Whereas in the penumbra region, the moon is partly shielded and appears to be only slightly dim, and is thus called a partial lunar eclipse.
Also, contrary to solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to be observed with the naked eye and can be viewed from any location at night.
Logic dictates that since no sun rays are directly incident on the moon, no light is available to be reflected off its surface; thus, the moon should appear completely dark to all the viewers on Earth. However, a small amount of light refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere is incident on the lunar surface, resulting in a glowing reddish hue, leading to the name ‘blood moon‘.
The same phenomenon (Rayleigh’s scattering) is also responsible for many other perceptible phenomena, including the colors we see during a sunrise or sunset, as well as the color of the sky.
Now, let’s flip over to the flat side of things.
Also Read: Why Does The Moon Turn Red During A Lunar Eclipse?
Flat Earth Eclipse
The flat Earth Society emphasizes Earth being a real-life Westeros with seven kingdoms (aka continents) laid around the north pole on a pancake Earth. At the edge of this pancake Earth are giant snow walls guarded by NASA,; who either kill any trespasser in sight or hold them hostage forever. Additionally, the Earth is believed to be the center of the solar system & remain stationary, while all celestial objects hover/float over its surface (Source).
Coming back to the lunar eclipse, since the sun and moon are believed to float over our planet, the Flat Earth Society discards the alignment of the three bodies as the cause of lunar eclipses.
Instead, flat Earthers state that a lunar eclipse is caused by a mysterious satellite of the sun that finds itself between the sun and the moon a couple times every year. The mysterious entity has been anointed the name ‘the Shadow Object’ or ‘the Anti-moon’. According to them, the Anti-moon’s orbital plane is tilted by roughly 5°10’ with respect to the sun’s orbit and thus causes eclipses when the three (the sun, the anti-moon, and the moon) are aligned.
The mystery shadow object is also said to orbit in very close proximity to the sun and in a region where most celestial bodies are invisible to the naked eye. However, it may somehow find its way between the Solar System’s primary star and our satellite as many as three times every year.
Pertaining to the identity of this mystery object, the Flat Earth Society claims that more study needs to be conducted in the matter, but there exists a slight possibility that it is an already known space entity.
Additionally, the theory explains the redness of the moon as a result of the Anti-moon’s density. The Anti-moon is thought to be not sufficiently dense (semi-transparent), which causes some light to leak through and fall on the moon’s surface. This occurrence is compared to the way a flashlight shines through one’s hand when placed directly over it.
For those with a curious mind, similar theories explaining eclipses can be found in Samuel Rowbotham’s (also known as Parallax) book ‘Zetetic astronomy’.
With the pace at which space research and space entities are discovered nowadays, one would think that the so-called Anti-moon must have already been discovered.
Also, no, it isn’t Mercury, Venus or Mars causing a lunar eclipse. They are millions of miles away from Earth and none of their orbits cross ours. However, this is presuming that the lunar eclipse is indeed caused by a mysterious object floating over a flat Earth.
The concept on which the Flat Earth Society anchor their hypothesis for a lunar eclipse, i.e, the Earth is flat as a pancake, has already been debunked several times. We, at ScienceABC, have also systematically exposed the Flat Earth Society’s hypothesis, which you can check out at How do we know the Earth isn’t flat?
Also Read: Can Earth’s Gravity Break The Moon Apart?
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References (click to expand)
- Lunar Phases and Eclipses | Earth's Moon. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- The Flat Earth | The Psychology of Extraordinary Beliefs. The Ohio State University
- Rowbotham S. B. (2016). Zetetic Astronomy, Earth Is Not a Globe!: An Experimental Inquiry Into the True Figure of the Earth: Proving It a Plane, Without Axial Or Orbital Motion; and the Only Material World in the Uni. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform