It is widely understood that on August 21, North America will experience a total solar eclipse for the first time since 1979. For a few brief, blissful moments, the moon will pass between the sun and the Earth, blocking the star from view for anyone within a 70-mile path that cuts across the United States. Amazing!
And yet, for a small group of people, the total solar eclipse isn’t a natural phenomenon caused by the rotation of the Earth, the sun and the moon. Rather, for the Flat Earth truthers out there, the eclipse is proof that our planet is flat.
Of course it is not, and how exactly this eclipse proves their theory is a confusing tale.
Micwent down the rabbit hole, interviewing Flat Earth truthers and noting that people in this camp have two theories as to how this eclipse proves their point. First, they seem to think that, if the Earth is spinning from west to east, then the path of totality should travel from east to west, right?
Well, no. The moon’s orbit velocity is faster than the Earth’s rotation, meaning the moon’s shadow will move quickly across the Earth from west to east. (Here’s an AR demonstration of how the eclipse actually works.)
Second, per Mic, Flat Earth truthers are pretty sure that if the moon is indeed casting a shadow on the Earth, shouldn’t the shadow look way bigger? Aiming to demonstrate this second theory at home tends to involve a small spotlight, a globe, and some kind of ball on a stick not exactly sound stand-ins for our massive sun and the comparably puny moon.
Additionally, Flat Earthers on Twitter seem to think that urging eclipse viewers to use caution while staring into the sun is some kind of NASA ploy to stop people from really seeing whatever it is truthers think is going on up there. Never mind that looking at the sun for just a few seconds can cause serious eye damage. How do they explain sunburn?
These theories proudly ignore established science in favor of personal beliefs and the notion that if the Earth looks flat to the human eye, then it must actually be flat.
But if you’re bored and looking to fall down a weird-as-hell internet hole for a few hours, the Flat Earth conspiracy theory corner of YouTube is a mildly entertaining if lightly brain-melting place to do so: