Seemingly Conflicting Curvature Observations in the Scottish Islands [Misidentified Islands]


New Member
Photo experiments from the Minch Sea, Scotland.

Took photos and videos whilst traveling from Oban to Barra ferry and vice versa. Height above sea level approximately 50 feet.

Photo's taken over distances up to 80 miles away from observed islands and hills in both the Outer and Inner Hebrides.

Distances calculated from Google Earth.

Interestingly enough, Isle of Barra (facing due West) does indeed recede (as curvature equations would predict) into the sea. Island gradually disappears until major hill peaks can only be seen. Furthest photo is at a distance of 42 miles.

However, when looking North towards Lewis & Harris (70 to 80 miles away), one can clearly see the island which defies all logic. Highest peak is at 2622 feet. The entire island should have disappeared over the horizon.

First photo attached shows Lewis & Harris, Isle of Skye and Rum taken 15 minutes after leaving Castlebay on Barra.

Second photo shows Barra taken from 42 miles away. Can clearly see curvature effect compared to third photo.
I have photos from different ferry positions and panorama videos to prove my point also!

Any clue as to what is going on here?
Image 2.png


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Mick West

Staff member
Here's a Google Earth file, with Photo overlay:


  • Gallso Photographs Scottish Islands.kmz
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Staff member
Having been to that part of the world, I think that the prominent triangular peak at the centre of the left-hand landmass (under the "a" of "Harris") is Healabhal Bheag (one of "MacLeod's Tables"). The cluster of peaks that were labelled as "Isle of Skye" is definitely the Cuillin Hills.


New Member
Having been to that part of the world, I think that the prominent triangular peak at the centre of the left-hand landmass (under the "a" of "Harris") is Healabhal Bheag (one of "MacLeod's Tables"). The cluster of peaks that were labelled as "Isle of Skye" is definitely the Cuillin Hills.
Correct Trailblazer. I do see the flat table in the last photo. Proves curvature!! Good.


New Member
This is a really good example of proving curvature. To physically see the Isle of Barra lower behind the horizon as the distance from the island is increased was great to experience. A single photo from a point on land is not enough as we can get mirages etc.

I do thank Mick and Trailblazer for correctly identifying my photo as being Skye. Now, if only I had had an old fashioned compass at the time, (or a phone with a built in compass) I would not have been thrown off base.

I'm glad I joined this forum.

Cheers, Paul
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