According to The Flat-Earth Conspiracy By Eric Dubay , Polaris can be seen, up to approximately 23.5 degrees South latitude.

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That latitude is the Tropic of Capricorn which crosses through (the Northern part of) Australia.

Setting aside the bigger question of whether the Earth is flat, is it true that Polaris can be seen from a latitude that far south - e.g. in Northern parts of Australia?

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    The bottom line is "No, Polaris is not visible from Australia because the Earth is round and Australia is on the wrong side of it.". Seems pretty straightforward to me. Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 22:06
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    Same question elsewhere on network: Can you still see Polaris even if you are in the south pole?
    – Batman
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 22:54
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    @ChrisW The Tropic of Capricorn is too far south. There are no confirmed sighting of Polaris more than 1 degree south (atmospheric refraction and terrain give some leway, but normally you can't see it even at the equator, because it is too dim that low on the horizon). The book either lies or talks about false claims.
    – Batman
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 23:01
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    Oh you're right: the Earth is titled relative to its orbit round the sun, not relative to Polaris.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 23:04
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    The Earth isn't flat, because you can't see Polaris from Australia, because the Earth isn't flat - that is circular reasoning and is inappropriate for an answer.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 2:40

1 Answer 1


The current night sky as seen from Nairobi, Kenya (1°17′ south latitude) and from Darwin, Australia (12°27′ south latitude) are shown below.

Nairobi, Kenya night sky: Image of the current night sky over Nairobi, Kenya. Polaris is at the very edge of this star chart.

Darwin, Australia night sky: Image of the current night sky over Darwin, Australia. Polaris of course is not a part of that star chart.
Sources: https://www.fourmilab.ch/cgi-bin/Yoursky

Nairobi, Kenya is just south of the equator, so at the right time of the year (this is the right time of the year), Polaris is barely visible in the Nairobi nighttime sky. It's the star just above the "N" (for "North") at the very bottom of the first image. Polaris would not be visible from Nairobi if the Earth had no atmosphere. But it does have an atmosphere. Atmospheric refraction enables us to see objects 34 arc minutes below the horizon. This below the horizon viewing is built-in in modern star chart software.

A tiny bit of Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper) is visible at this time of year from Darwin, Australia. Polaris is not a part of the picture as seen from Darwin. While parts of Ursa Minor can indeed be seen from the northern portions of Australia, Polaris cannot. At a bit over 12 degrees south latitude, all one can see of Ursa Minor are the bright stars Kochab and Pherkad -- but not Polaris.

Polaris can be seen, however, up to approximately 23.5 degrees South latitude.

This was a lie 160 years ago when first issued by Samuel Rowbatham. It remains a lie to this day. It would have been hard 160 years ago to find someone had been to Australia and came back to tell the tale. That's not the case nowadays. You don't even have to fly around the globe. The internet is good enough.

People all over the world use tools such as the site referenced above to look at the night sky. They see exactly what those star charts suggest they will see. I myself have seen Polaris very high in the nighttime sky in Stockholm, and the Southern Cross very high in the nighttime sky in Buenos Aires. I did not see the Southern Cross in Stockholm, nor did I see Polaris from Buenos Aires.

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    For those of use unfamiliar with this, can you tell us where to find Polaris on the first chart?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 6:08
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    Uh, are you sure? Astronomy clearly isn't my strong suit, but isn't that star just above the N actually Yildun/Delta Ursae Minoris. I don't think Polaris is on the top map, but I am ready to shown wrong - a reference would help.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 14:22
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    I think that @Oddthinking is correct - Polaris is the 3rd star in the handle of the little dipper. The top map cuts off after the 2nd star in the handle. Polaris appears to be just below the horizon this time of year even in Nairobi, a good deal more north than Australia.
    – KAI
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 14:34
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    The 23.5 degrees number has got to correspond to a spherical cow model of a spherical Earth with no atmospheric effects and no obstructions on the horizon. It is immediately clear that some has to be deducted for the oblateness of the Earth, atmospheric effects and so on. But I find myself surprised that it amounts to 12 degrees. Do you know, off hand, what is the largest contributions? Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 18:42
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    In any case, Polaris is never visible from any part of Australia. Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 12:03

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