The astrophotographer faces accusations of “false image” from flat earthers

The ISS transiting the Moon, left, satellite photo of the entire Earth, right.
Andrew McCarthy’s photo of the ISS crossing a crescent moon, left, a satellite photo of Earth, right.

Backyard astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy took to Twitter to respond to allegations that his images are “fake” following his latest photo of the ISS traversing the Moon.

Specifically addressing people who believe the Earth is flat and those who think the International Space Station (ISS) doesn’t really exist, McCarthy advocates fighting ignorance with knowledge.

“My latest image of the ISS has led to a lot of ‘interesting’ conversation to say the least. Everything from the Moon is a hologram to I’m paid by NASA to fake these images” he writes.

“I absolutely neither support nor agree with being rude or verbally attacking people who claim the space is fake. They are wrong, yes, but the insults are contributing to the problem, not the solution.

“The moment you brand yourself as an enemy and attack someone’s intelligence, you lose all hope that they will return to a reasonable worldview,” he adds.

Why do some people think the Earth is flat?

McCarthy goes on to say that space deniers aren’t stupid, but they do have a distrust of organizations that is a common attitude in the West. In fact, McCarthy even says he was tempted by that worldview.

“When I bought my first telescope in 2017, I scoured the internet for suggestions of what I could see with it,” he writes.

“Of course, I came across some flat earth Youtube channels. Enticed with “How planets REALLY look through a telescope” or some other headline, I watched some videos.

“The videos captured it perfectly – how do I know what I was taught in school was correct? Well, I guess not really. I only trusted my teachers.

The ISS passing in front of the Moon.
McCarthy’s recent photo of the ISS crossing the Moon.

But McCarthy says he was intrigued by the flat earth videos which he says prey on a “basic understanding of physics” and a “lack of education in astrophysics.”

“The reason it didn’t work for me: I had just bought a telescope and Jupiter and Saturn were in our skies at the time. My visual observation matched what I saw in textbooks, not what these Youtubers were showing me with their Nikon [Coolpix] P900,” he writes.

“They also said the ISS was fake, so my mission was to photograph it. And I did! I was lucky that this first photo of the ISS wasn’t a misshapen blob like many of them (photographing the ISS is difficult).”

A common attitude

Recently, Peta Pixels reported on a new European weather satellite that has captured a stunning picture of Earth. Sadly, some of the discussion around the image has focused on whether the Earth is flat, and some people have wondered if space is real.

Full Disk Earth
This recent image taken by a European satellite has also been a target for flat earthers.

McCarthy’s honesty about being seduced by flat earth videos when he was younger is commendable and shows how even an intelligent and experienced astrophotographer can have a momentary lapse in judgment when he was less experienced.

“I’m not sure there’s a way to ‘fix’ the cancerous spread of anti-space rhetoric,” adds McCarthy. “People are entitled to their beliefs and opinions, however wrong they may be.

“My advice: learn as much as possible about our universe. Fight ignorance with knowledge. And remember before you answer that the other person got so tired for a reason, they’re only human. Treat them the way you would like to be treated and maybe they will recover.

Photographers like McCarthy and space agencies like NASA do a great job of bringing the cosmos to the general population so people can learn about objects in our solar system and the wider universe.

More of McCarthy’s work can be found on his Instagram, Chirpingand website.


Image credits: Andrew McCarthy and EUMETSAT/ESA.


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