Astrophotographer Addresses ‘Fake Image’ Allegations From Flat Earthers

The ISS transiting across 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 address accusations that his images are “fake” following his latest photo of the ISS crossing the Moon.

Specifically addressing people who believe that the Earth is flat and those who think the International Space Station (ISS) does not actually exist, McCarthy advocates fighting ignorance with knowledge.

“My last image of the ISS brought a lot of ‘interesting’ conversations to the thread say the least. Everything from the Moon is a hologram to I’m paid by NASA to fake these images,” he writes.

“I absolutely do not support or agree with being rude, or verbally attacking people who say space is fake. They’re wrong, yeah, but name-calling is contributing to the problem, not the solution.”

“The moment you brand yourself as an enemy and attack someone’s intelligence, you lose any hope of them ever coming back to a reasonable worldview,” he adds.

Why Do Some People Think the Earth is Flat?

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

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

“Naturally, I stumbled on some flat earth Youtube channels. Lured in with ‘What the planets ACTUALLY look like through a telescope’ or some other title, I watched some videos.

“The videos framed it up perfectly — how do I KNOW what I was taught in school was correct? Well, I guess I really didn’t. I just trusted my teachers.”

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

But McCarthy says that 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 with me: I had just bought a telescope, and Jupiter and Saturn were in our skies at the time. My visual observation matched what I’ve seen in textbooks, not what these Youtubers were showing me with their Nikon [Coolpix] P900s,” he writes.

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

A Common Attitude

Recently, PetaPixel reported on a new European weather satellite that captured a stunning photo of Earth. Sadly, some of the discussion around the image focused on whether the Earth is flat and some people wondering if space is real.

Full disc Earth
This recent taken image taken by a European satellite was also a target for flat earthers.

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

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

“My suggestion: learn as much as you can about our universe. Fight ignorance with knowledge. And remember before replying that other person got so jaded for a reason, they’re only human. Treat them the way you would want to be treated and maybe they’ll come around.”

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

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

Image credits: Andrew McCarthy and EUMETSAT/ESA.