Stars, latitude, elevation angle and perspective
« on: December 07, 2020, 10:11:56 PM »
Hello all,

I'd consider myself to be a strong RE proponent - for me the FE theory simply lacks credibility. There is, from what I can see, simply no credible FE model that adequately explains the observations that we can easily make - it seems to have no meaningful predictive power.

One example of this, that I'd really like an FE view on, is the relationship between celestial bodies and navigation. For many centuries now sailors have been using the stars to determine latitude (longitude took a lot longer to crack, as it requires accurate timekeeping). At its simplest, in the northern hemisphere, we can pretty accurately determine our latitude by measuring the elevation angle of the north star, Polaris. As this sits almost perfectly in line with the earth's rotational axis above the north pole (declination angle of over 89 degrees), its elevation angle is directly related to our latitude - directly above us at the north pole, reducing to being barely visible around the horizon at the equator. The same would be true in the southern hemisphere, although there isn't a clearly visible star that aligns with the south pole. For this reason most people use the Southern Cross, although this has a declination angle of about -60 degrees, which is why it is visible in large parts of the northern hemisphere, and you have to do a bit of extrapolation to find true south using it.

These things are observable without sophisticated instruments. Go out in your garden with a protractor and a weight on a string and try it - the angle will roughly equate to your latitude. You can go further too - you can measure the elevation of Polaris, then drive 60 nautical miles north and observe a one degree change.

The response to this in the wiki here ( is simply not plausible. It tries to explain the disappearance of, for example, Polaris as you move into the southern hemisphere, as being caused by perspective - the star is getting further away and therefore lowers to the horizon and vanishes at some distance from the observer. Aside from this not being how perspective actually works, the fundamental flaw with this argument is that, if it were true, the stars close to the horizon would appear to get progressively closer together, just as the observed angle between equally spaced street lamps reduces as they get towards the 'vanishing point' that the wiki author mentions. But this doesn't happen - the angle between the stars remains exactly the same whether they are overhead or 'setting' at the horizon.

Furthermore, if you accept that there are 60 nautical miles in a degree of latitude, and therefore 5400nm from the equator to the north pole, then the FE model, with a distance of only some thousands of miles from the earth to the stars, doesn't work, because that distance, as calculated by intersecting any two observed elevation angles from points a known distance apart would change depending on which latitudes you chose for your observations.

These things seem pretty fundamental to me. Interested in your replies. Thanks