The blood-red color of the moon during a total lunar eclipse may be difficult to explain without a basic understanding of orbital mechanics, but flat-planet conspiracy theorists have come up with a way to circumvent scientific facts and construct a creative explanation of the phenomenon .
During the Super Blood Wolf Moon this weekend (Jan. 20-21), the Moon passed through Earth's shadow through the moon. Our natural satellite looks red during lunar eclipses for the same reason that the sunrises and sunsets appear that shade here on Earth: because the sunlight is scattered as it passes through the atmosphere.
According to the flat-earth conspiracy theorists, this astronomical phenomenon – known as the total lunar eclipse – was actually a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of a mysterious "shadow object" that orbits the sun and occasionally passes in front of the moon from our point of view here, on an allegedly pizza-shaped Earth. [Amazing Photos of the Super Blood Wolf Moon of 2019!]
Although flat-earthers believe our planet is flat as a pancake, they are wonderingly visible to come to the consensus that the sun and moon are spherical objects. However, these theorists posit that both the Sun and the Moon orbit Earth's north pole, hovering directly above the pancake and never passing around to the other side. If that were true, however, lunar eclipses as we know they could not happen, because the moon is on the opposite side of the sun for such an event to happen. So, flat-earthers fabricated a new explanation for the shadow seen on the eclipse.
In a land on the planet Earth Society, the conspiracy theorists offer no description of the so-called "shadow object" – no details about its size, shape, composition or origin. But the writers claim that this mysterious, shadowy figure causes all the lunar eclipses. Oh, and it's totally invisible when it's not in front of the moon.
"The shadow object is never seen in the sky, because it orbits close to the sun," says The Flat Earth Wiki. Even though the tiny, innermost planet Mercury can be seen close to (and occasionally in front of the sun), The Flat Earth Wiki falsely asserts that "we are never given a glimpse of the celestial bodies which appear near the sun during the day. "
If nothing else, The Flat Earth Wiki does give a description of the mysterious proposed object's orbit, stating that it's tilted about 5.15 degrees to the sun's orbital plane. Coincidentally, in reality, this is the angle at which the moon's orbit is tilted with respect to Earth's orbit. The Flat Earth Society did not provide the mathematical calculations by which it was more likely to have been "borrowed" from real astronomers' calculations than to have derived from scratch.
The wiki additionally states that "there is also a possibility that the Shadow Object is a known celestial body which orbits the sun; but more study will be needed to track the positions of Mercury, Venus and the sun's asteroid satellites and correlate them with the equations for the lunar eclipse before any conclusion could be drawn. "
Astronomers have already charted the orbits of all the planets for the foreseeable future, and none of them will come in between Earth and the moon anytime sooner (or forever).
Clearly The Flat Earth Society's explanation of the lunar eclipse is flat-out wrong. You can read more about the amazing math and physics of lunar and solar eclipses here. And do not worry if you missed the Super Blood Wolf Moon; Here's when the next eclipses will occur.
Email Hanneke Weitering at [email protected] or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spaceotcom and on Facebook. Original article on Space.com.