Samuel Rowbotham on Polaris

“Another phenomenon supposed to prove rotundity, is thought to be the fact that Polaris, or the north polar star sinks to the horizon as the traveller approaches the equator, on passing which it becomes invisible. This is a conclusion fully as premature and illogical as that involved in the several cases already alluded to. It is an ordinary effect of perspective for an object to appear lower and lower as the observer goes farther and farther away from it. Let any one try the experiment of looking at a light-house, church spire, monument, gas lamp, or other elevated object, from a distance of only a few yards, and notice the angle at which it is observed. On going farther away, the angle under which it is seen will diminish, and the object will appear lower and lower as the distance of the observer increases, until, at a certain point, the line of sight to the object, and the apparently uprising surface of the earth upon or over which it stands, will converge to the angle which constitutes the “vanishing point” or the horizon; beyond which it will be invisible.

What can be more common than the observation that, standing at one end of a long row of lamp-posts, those nearest to us seem to be the highest; and those farthest away the lowest; whilst, as we move along towards the opposite end of the series, those which we approach seem to get higher, and those we are leaving behind appear to gradually become lower.

This lowering of the pole star as we recede southwards; and the rising of the stars in the south as we approach them, is the necessary result of the everywhere visible law of perspective operating between the eye-line of the observer, the object observed, and the plane surface upon which he stands; and has no connection with or relation whatever to the supposed rotundity of the earth.”

Zetetic Astronomy, by ‘Parallax’ (pseud. Samuel Birley Rowbotham), [1881]

http://www.sacred-texts.com/earth/za/za37.htm


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