Exposing PseudoAstronomy

May 25, 2012

Eclipses and Pole Shifts


First, this post is a bit of a show-off for my recent photography. That said, it is also a musing on one of the more bizarre claims out there that the sun and/or moon are no longer rising/setting where they’re “supposed” to.

So let’s get the first part over with first …

My Photos and Video from the May 20, 2012, Annular Eclipse

With two friends, I drove 480 miles south to just outside of Albuquerque, NM (Richard C. Hoagland territory!). We were in the path of full annularity, and we set up in a beautiful spot with no people around us and clear sight to the western horizon.

I took a long sequence of photos and created a few montages and even a movie. I’m only posting three of the montages (I don’t like the third one, but I’m posting it anyway). These are only 6% full size, and you can only get to it by clicking on the image to have it open in a new browser. The full-res versions are suitable for printing at 72″ wide at 300ppi … that’s a lot of pixels and brings my computer to a crawl when I open it.

Annular Solar Eclipse Montage, Type 0, Version 1.3

Annular Solar Eclipse Montage, Type 0, Version 1.3 (click to embiggen)

Annular Solar Eclipse Montage, Type 2c, Version 1.3

Annular Solar Eclipse Montage, Type 2c, Version 1.3 (click to embiggen)

Annular Solar Eclipse Montage, Type 4, Version 1.1

Annular Solar Eclipse Montage, Type 4, Version 1.1 (click to embiggen)

And here’s the movie:

I’m not going to go into image processing details here. If you’re interested, I posted a lengthy thread about it here that goes through all the gritty details.

Relevance to the Crazy Conspiracy

I’ve not addressed this conspiracy before on this blog, but I have in my podcast, Episode #24, “Help! The Sun (or Moon) Is Moving!” The premise is, as I said before, that the sun and/or moon is no longer rising or setting or in the sky where it previously was, or where it’s “supposed” to be.

The answer to this is that it always shifts position though the cycle repeats annually. It shifts because Earth’s axis is constantly pointing towards the North Celestial Pole, so as Earth orbits around the sun over the course of a year, the angle the sun makes with the horizon changes. It rises and sets closer to your hemisphere’s pole during your hemisphere’s summer, and vice versa.

The implication by most conpsiracists that I’ve heard – if they have an implication other than generally “something’s happening that NASA’s covering up!” – is that we are in the midst of a geographic pole shift that THEY don’t want you to know about. Again, I’ve addressed pole shifts before (such as here or here).

“How is this relevant to eclipses?” you may ask.

Folks at NASA, as well as innumerable other people, have provided paths of past and future eclipses out to over 1000 years into the future. Both solar and lunar (1000 for lunar, 100 for solar from NASA).

And, at least since I’ve been using the site for the last decade, they’ve all been 100% accurate! The point is that this would not be possible at all if we were undergoing a pole shift. Even a tiny pole shift, where I’m defining “tiny” by, say, 1° which would not be noticeable to these people claiming the sun/moon is in the wrong place, would shift the path of solar eclipses by a non-trivial amount.

And yet, these eclipses continue to demonstrably and perhaps stubbornly be where they were predicted to be decades ago.

Final Thoughts

This is something that I like about science and get a great sense of “ah ha!” when I come across it: Conspiracists, pseudoscientists, and others who claim to be re-writing science do so in isolation. They do not realize – or they choose to ignore – what the implications would be for their claims outside of their one phenomenon.

In this case, if Earth were undergoing any sort of geographic pole shift, the annular solar eclipse that we witnessed last weekend would not have taken place where it had been predicted. A shift of 1° of the poles would have shifted the eclipse’s path by around 70 miles (110 km). If we were in a pole shift of more than around 0.5°, I would not have seen the moon completely within the sun’s disk from where I was in Albuquerque.

And it’s really as simple as that. Claims in science do not exist in isolation. You must carry them through and apply them to all other things that rely upon that data.


  1. But a real crustal pole shift is perhaps possible – Einstein endorsed the idea, and there is evidence for it happening 10-12K years ago. All that is missing is an explanation for how it could occur.

    Comment by 2012er — May 26, 2012 @ 5:24 pm | Reply

    • Do you have any documented evidence for either of your statements (though the first doesn’t even matter considering it’s an argument from authority – Newton believing in astrology and alchemy has nothing to do with their validity)?

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — May 26, 2012 @ 5:27 pm | Reply

    • Ignoring the fact that Einstein was a physicist not a geologist and thus hardly the go-to guy for this sort of thing, endorsed is perhaps too strong a word … he wrote a foreword to a book written by the guy whose idea it was. And for all his enthusiasm for the idea in places, he also tempered that with sensible phrases like “… if it continues to prove itself…”. So probably the best you can say about it in that sense is that he thought the idea promising.

      Comment by Chris — May 27, 2012 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

  2. I like those “Aha!” moments,too. The problem is that you have to explain so much background info that their ears shut off and their eyes glaze over.
    One may also point out that astronomy programs accurately predict the current position of the Sun, Moon and planets (I use a 10year old version of Red Shift and also Carte de Ciel). This means that NASA must have conspired with the people who wrote those programs years ago, so they accurately show the shifted positions of these objects today. Sounds likely to me……

    Comment by Hypatia's Daughter — October 5, 2012 @ 5:07 am | Reply

    • Well then Hypatia, how did NASA conspire with Simon Newcomb when he wrote the Tables of the Sun and the Four Inner Planets about half a century before NASA existed? You can still use his tables today to compute the position of the sun to within a very high degree of accuracy, about an arcsecond or so, 1/3600 of a degree. Likewise I’ve compared the results of those tables to the position of the moon as calculated using tables from a book that comes from astronomers in France over 20 years ago and indeed eclipses like this one are happening where and how they should. I could also use Brown’s tables of the moon if I wanted, written long before NASA existed. They also show the same thing, and they too are accurate to within an arcsecond or so.

      What the conspiracy theorists fail to realize is that accurate ephemeris can still be generated using old analytical methods that predate NASA.

      Comment by Scott — May 28, 2013 @ 8:41 am | Reply

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