# Question: How to explain what refraction is doing to occlude this image of the sun?

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One point I often make in flat earth discussions is that refraction won't cause an object to be occluded, the curve of the earth will do that, and refraction can just artificially extend how far you can see (and therefore could allow you to see more of the object).

But given this video, I'm struggling with how to formulate the words for a response. The point being made is that on a flat plane, the lens in front of this image of the sun is causing the sun to be partially occluded. Therefore, the argument goes, occlusion is perfectly possible with atmospheric refraction on a flat plane.

This is the video, and the part in question is from 3:20 - 3:27:
External Quote:
A screen capture of the occlusion:

So, how would you explain what is going on in this video, and am I incorrect to say that objects (like boats, mountains, etc.) couldn't be occluded on a flat plane with just atmospheric refraction?

He's taking pictures with a cell phone, which of course adds its own lens distortion, and he doesn't explain what his setup is for that portion of the video. It appears to have an occluding "horizon" that is not part of the table top, which may be just the bottom of the water bottle. If that's the case, of course more or less of the object will be hidden depending on its distance. Without clarification of that I don't think we can determine much. I can't help thinking that his lack of detail on that "sunset" demo was deliberate on his part.

He completely misunderstands atmospheric refraction as being due to "tiny droplets acting as lenses", when it's due to the fact that different portions of the atmosphere have different density; water vapor is just one of the more common things that can cause a difference in density, but heat variation can do it as well.

I always appreciate short videos, well done

1:33 if the atmosphere is made up if zillions and zillions tiny convex drops of water

the water in the atmosphere is mostly gas (vapor), not liquid drops, otherwise we'd see a rainbow all the time as sunlight hits these droplets

1:43 collectively, perhaps they all combine to make one convex lens

- water drops on a window pane don't do that

- the idea isn't new, I heard it years back from Rob Skiba, but
if you experiment with a magnifying glass, you quickly find out that it flips the image upside down (actually rotates 180⁰) from most distances, and we don't see the atmosphere doing that

2:30 water causes refraction, bending the image downward, and magnifies it

- it's actually the shape of the glass that does this

- atmospheric refraction does downward bending, this doesn't occlude anything

- atmospheric magnification happens only in special conditions, most often close to water

I have uploaded home experiments on the lens inverting the picture, and about water not magnifying, on youtube.

So it's possible to set up a lens to make something look like that. That doesn't mean that has anything to do with what is actually going on. If he moved the lens he'd get a different effect.

it looks like his Sun still gets larger in angular size as it approaches the screen. And if the effect depends on the amount of moisture then we should see variations on the sunset/sunrise appearance depending on weather.

The next step would be to produce a mathematical model relating the position of the Sun over the flat earth and the humidity to the angular position of the sun in the sky. Then we could start talking.

It also wouldn't explain why the Sun sets azimuthally where it does. That is, how much the sun sets north or south of west. On the equinox, every point on Earth sees the sun set due west. How do little droplets of water explain that?

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It appears to have an occluding "horizon" that is not part of the table top, which may be just the bottom of the water bottle.
Ahh, I didn't catch that. I was assuming the "horizon" was the table top, which is why I was puzzled. It actually looks to me like it might be the surface of the water

it looks like his Sun still gets larger in angular size as it approaches the screen
yes. the sun (and every single star constellation) being pretty much the same size no matter where or when it is in the sky is immediate counterevidence to physical explanations of flat earth celestial mechanics (the nonphysical explanation being along the line of god deceiving us all individually for some unfathomable reason).

I'm pretty sure the false horizon isn't the bottle. It's definitely not the surface of the water in the bottle, which is above the top edge of the phone. But with the record controls on the same side as the bottle, with every smart phone I'm familiar with the lens(es) would be at the opposite end of the phone, so they wouldn't be looking through the water bottle.

The magnification effect is from the stand up box, which has a magnification panel in it (the distinct radial glare pattern gives this away).

The horizon is not distorted by the magnifying panel, so it's on the near side. But it's not visible in the space between, and doesn't cast a shadow in the glare patterns from the water bottle and magnifying panel, so it has to be very close to the camera, hidden behind the phone. It has a curled edge like a piece of paper.

I think there's a piece of tape directly on the camera, partially obscuring the camera.

It's likely the fresnel lens is just displacing it and shrinking it. If what you are saying is true then they are cheating by making that image go behind their "horizon" rather than behind the table their sun is moving across.

Looking back at the video I see that their horizon is in focus when the sun is close but when they push it back the camera adjusts focus to stay on the sun and the horizon distinctly shifts to be put of focus, suggesting that whatever it is is closer to the camera.

The horizon is not distorted by the magnifying panel, so it's on the near side.
yes
But it's not visible in the space between, and doesn't cast a shadow in the glare patterns from the water bottle and magnifying panel,
i don't understand this
so it has to be very close to the camera, hidden behind the phone. It has a curled edge like a piece of paper.
it's not hidden. If you look at the "tablecloth" between the phone and the fresnel lens, it's uneven, and would look even more so from the smartphone camera's angle.
I think there's a piece of tape directly on the camera, partially obscuring the camera.
there's no need to assume that.

The magnifying effect of the lens means, in broad terms, that that the space needed for the magnified image is "missing" in the scene, i.e. the lens really does prevent certain areas to be seen, and moving the sun away moves it into this blind spot (which is on the far side of the lens). There's no obvious hidden trickery, this experiment is reproducible.

Note that the FEers doing these experiments never move the camera, as this exposes all sorts of wonkiness we don't see in reality—that's the non-obvious trickery.

am I incorrect to say that objects (like boats, mountains, etc.) couldn't be occluded on a flat plane with just atmospheric refraction?
mountains? no

boats? maybe, refraction can be very wonky close to water

boats? maybe, refraction can be very wonky close to water
i dont think they can be occluded, its more they get all squished down into slivers..like if you squish a playdoh boat down.

but you're right it is occluded by the table cloth folds he designed in front of the camera. people need to look at the camera screen and not his inset in the upper left that crops out the tablecloth folds.

a VERY quick and dirty example: obviously with either a longer table or the fisheye?lens he has..the effect here would be greater.

and here showing how fisheye lenses can occlude stuff:

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So, how would you explain what is going on in this video, and am I incorrect to say that objects (like boats, mountains, etc.) couldn't be occluded on a flat plane with just atmospheric refraction?

He has one observer. we have 8 billion. Or model works for all observers simultaniously.
Also - his sun shrinks widthwise as it sets, so it doesn't even work for the single observer.

I'll admit, it's cute, but it's simply microscopically less horrifically wrong than prior FE models. It also fails to answer all of the other failings, such as that of gravity, and eclipses, and satelite orbits, and stars, and basically everything else we've ever observed looking up.

Thinking about it, what's doing the occlusion?

Can he (or someone else) reproduce the experiment with a ruler on the table (perhaps with little lego men stading every foot along its length, just so we don't need to be able to read the digits on it)?

We don't get to see behind his lens frame - could he be hiding an artificial bump behind it?

So, I purchased a Fresnel lens and replicated this experiment. On my kitchen counter I first set up my camera so that it was level with the counter, to make sure that I wasn't looking from underneath it. In fact I had it slightly above so I could see a bit of the counter across it. I took a little stand with a post-it-note on it with a circle drawn for the Sun. This could be slid across the counter to maintain a fixed height above the countertop. I then taped the Fresnel lens on the front of the counter, so it was between my camera and the post-it-note. And indeed when I pushed the circle backwards I could get it to "set" from the view of the camera. There's no need to invoke table cloths or other things to explain what is observed. You can get your own Fresnel lens and replicate the effect yourself.

Now, the issue I see, however, is one that shows up all the time with these anti-science people. They take two phenomena that look similar and then deduce that they are therefore identical. Just because I can set up a lens and make this happen doesn't mean that's what is happening with the Sun and the atmosphere. The atmosphere is a bulk object, not a single screen-like lens.

By playing around with the distances between the camera and the lens and the position of the center of the lens with respect to the countertop I could get other phenomena to occur, such as an inverted image of the Sun. Also, the angular size of the Sun doesn't stay constant and I even saw it get bigger as it set for some configurations.

But there's no sense of scale here either. In their Flat Earth model the Sun likely won't travel far enough away for the lens effect to make it set from their perspective.

*At best*, they have merely presented a hypothesis (as that is all the Flat Earth is) and would then need to construct a physical framework for their theoretical model and back it up with quantitative predictions that could be compared to reality. I think we all know that they will not do this, either because they don't actually know how to do this and/or already know that it will fail to explain anything we can observe.

The other problem here is that they are presenting an incoherent explanation because at the same time that they try to use a lens to explain the setting of the Sun they also say that we can see too far over the horizon than a globe Earth would allow. And that by zooming in to images of objects that appear to be "occluded" by the horizon we can get the whole object to reappear. So, which is it? Do objects go over the horizon (like the Sun setting) because of refraction by the atmosphere or do we see past the horizon because the Earth is flat. They can't have it both ways.

Anyway, it's too tiring to try to fight the incoherence of the Flat Earthers and their denial of science, but I did want to see if this effect was simply "cheating" or could actually be reproduced.

So, I purchased a Fresnel lens and replicated this experiment.
Super easy to repeat, you don't really need a camera since you can use your eyes, but it helps.
By playing around with the distances between the camera and the lens and the position of the center of the lens with respect to the countertop I could get other phenomena to occur, such as an inverted image of the Sun. Also, the angular size of the Sun doesn't stay constant and I even saw it get bigger as it set for some configurations.
Exactly! The demonstration breaks down easily.

Anyway, it's too tiring to try to fight the incoherence of the Flat Earthers and their denial of science, but I did want to see if this effect was simply "cheating" or could actually be reproduced.
Told you so.

I'm always happy to see people reproduce these simple experiments. Most FE science doesn't require a big budget. Let's not forget that the Earth has been known to be a ball for over 2 millennia.

And indeed when I pushed the circle backwards I could get it to "set" from the view of the camera
did you take a picture?

did you take a picture?
Here is a photo of my setup:

And how it looks through the camera with no Fresnel Lens:

So, I'm a little bit above the countertop, just to be sure I'm not below it and hiding anything that way.

Then I put the Fresnel lens at the front of the counter like this:

And through the camera it becomes this:

To see both effects in a single shot, I include this photo:

But, as you can tell from this final photograph, the Sun's position depends highly on the relative placement of the camera and the lens. When I tried lining up the center of the lens with the camera sightline then there's no displacement of the Sun at all. If the lens center drops below the camera sightline then the Sun moved up instead of down.

I still contend that just because we can make this work doesn't mean we are saying anything meaningful about what the atmosphere is doing to light. There are many reasons why we know that a sunset is one of the most convincing indicators of a globe earth. If there were an effect like this going on there'd be many ways to investigate it. If the Flat Earthers want to claim this (despite also claiming that we can see very far on a Flat Earth, which seems in contradiction with the idea that the atmosphere is bending light beyond a horizon) then they should produce a mathematical model that can be quantitatively compared to observations.

But, I did want to check whether this effect could be reproduced as it was in the video and the answer is yes.

I leave you with this parting shot I took with this same camera of a beautiful sunset. Flat Earthers also claim that if I zoomed in farther the Sun would rise back up above the horizon, despite this claim that we should expect to see this because of the lensing effect of the atmosphere. These are contradictory statements that demonstrate the lack of a coherent flat Earth model.

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