$10,000 Flat Earth Sextant Challenge

Many flat earthers claim that a sextant can only work on flat earth. If this is the case, what is the method?

I challenge flat earthers to use two different sets of elevation angles to three separate stars to determine the location of the observers using only flat earth geometry. Read the full challenge in the text file attached below.

Since many monetary challenges are poorly conceived and dishonestly issued, I will be using the Legit Challenge Framework to prevent any modifications of the parameters, personally biased judging, or other common ways that people squirm out of the challenges they issue.

The prize is $10,000 paid via a Bitcoin transfer to the winner. The money is in escrow described here: https://mctoon.net/escrow/

The official challenge is in this downloadable file:

The uncompressed TXT file’s SHA 256 Checksum is 8ab3996d96de43738f367c23fd23c3ca94490b39cb5f3fc3f39077de6fb11a4e

The SHA256 sum was generated on command line:

> shasum -a 256 Celestial\ Navigation\ Challenge\ 2022-02-19.txt

…and verified by copy-pasting on this web site: https://www.freeformatter.com/message-digest.html

The contents of the file are reproduced below. Note that the reproduction here is not the official challenge, the downloadable text file linked above with the matching checksum is the official challenge.

First set of elevation angles to three separate stars:

Published 2022-02-19

  • Observation date: November 15, 2018
  • Instrument used: sextant
  • Method: angle between star and horizon
  • Eye Height: 2 meters
  • Index Error: +0.3′
  • True Bearing: 0°
  • Speed: 12 kn
  • Temperature: 12C
  • Barometric Pressure: 975 millibars 
  • Regulus: 70°48.7′  at  8:28:15 GMT
  • Arcturus: 27°9.0′  at 8:30:30 GMT
  • Dubhe: 55°18.4′  at 8:32:15 GMT

Submissions: none yet

Legit Challenge Framework v0.9b

Celestial navigation has long been used to obtain one’s position on the earth. Navigators have used celestial navigation for centuries. The foundations of celestial navigation are based on knowing specific information about the earth, a rotating globe, and the stars in the celestial sphere around the globe. Celestial navigation uses measuring devices to obtain the angular elevation of stars, planets, sun, or moon. A common measuring instrument is a Sextant. Using a sextant is so common that the term “using a sextant” is somewhat synonymous with celestial navigation.

Flat earthers often claim that “a sextant can only work on a flat plane”. This implies that all usages of sextants to perform celestial navigation have never worked using globe geometry and that celestial navigation can only work on flat earth with flat earth geometry.

Using only flat earth geometry, use the elevation angles to three separate stars to determine the observer’s position on the earth. Twice.

In the event that the method accurately identifies the position of the first observer within the acceptance parameters, a second set of elevation angles to three separate stars will be published and the submitter shall use the exact same celestial navigation method to determine the location of the second observer. This will be submitted using the same submission method as the first measurement.

If a different celestial navigation method is used for the second elevation angles to three separate stars, the submission will be invalidated.

Acceptance parameters:
The position of the observer must be determined to within 25 statute miles for both sets of elevation angles to three separate stars. The location can be in latitude/longitude, street address, or a relative distance and bearing to a landmark.

The exact method used to determine the position must be included in the submission. All details used must be provided so that a third party can perform the same steps to get the position. This method will be tested independently of the submitter’s answer to verify the same answer is obtained. If a different answer is obtained, the submission will be invalidated. If the method is not sufficiently described to perform calculations, the submission will be invalidated.

The method must use only flat earth information and geometry. Any methods or information presuming the earth to be a globe, or derived from a globe, invalidates the submission. This includes maps, star charts, dip charts, refraction charts, and calculations of distances over the surface of the earth.

The method must include derivations or citations to the derivations of any numerical constants used in any formulas or calculations.

The method must only use the known and documented behavior of light propagation. Unexplained or arbitrary treatment in the path of light taken from the star to the observer will disqualify a submission.

Submission method:
Any combination of the following methods are acceptable:
-YouTube Video
-Web page hosted on your server
-Email submissions to mctoon@mctoon.net, entries submitted this way will be posted in their entirety on mctoon.net website or via video on MCToon’s YouTube channel.
-Posting on a publicly accessible place on the internet

If there are multiple published submissions, the submitter must identify a single method as the authoritative method. The authoritative method shall be the only method evaluated when judging the challenge.

Submission communication method:
A notification of the submission must be sent via email to mctoon@mctoon.net. A confirmation of receipt via email will be sent back to the submitter. The submission is not complete until a confirmation of receipt has been received via email to the submitter.

$10,000 US Dollars. Payment will be via Bitcoin using the most favorable to the submitter conversion rate from coinbase.com on the day the submission is first sent in UTC time zone. If the escrowed funds are less than $10,000 in value, the full balance of the escrowed funds shall be awarded. If a previous prize has been awarded for a different competition and the escrowed value is less than $10,000, the remaining balance will be awarded.

Timing and Number of solutions:
The challenge is immediately open for all entries. At most one single winner shall be awarded.

0.4BTC is held in escrow by Brainy Beaver. Brainy Beaver will transfer funds to the winner in the event of a successful solution. See escrow documentation on mctoon.net/escrow

MCToon is the primary judge.

Should an entry be submitted but rejected by the judge, and this rejection not accepted by the submitter, a panel of three experts shall be named in accordance with the Legit Challenge Framework specification version 0.9b section 5.1. See https://mctoon.net/legit-challenge-framework/

Each judge must be qualified in one of the following ways:

-Professional ship navigator with at least 5 years of navigation experience and currently employed as a ship navigator.
-Professional celestial navigation educator with at least 5 years of educational experience and currently teaching celestial navigation at least once a year.

Judges must be able to provide verification of their qualifications.

The challenge has no expiration date. At MCToon’s discretion, the challenge can be withdrawn. This will be announced on MCToon’s YouTube channel with at least 30 days prior notice.

If a winner is ever declared and prizes are awarded, the challenge expires.

Sets of elevation angles to three separate stars will be published separately from this document. This will be on the MCToon.net website on the same page as this challenge is published. The primary set will be noted on the website as “First set of elevation angles to three separate stars”. The secondary set of elevation angles to three separate stars will not be published until a submission successfully identifies the location for the primary set of elevation angles to three separate stars within the specified acceptance criteria.

The secondary set of elevation angles to three separate stars will be posted within 48 hours of receiving a submission that successfully identifies the location of the first observer within the specified acceptance criteria. This will be sent in an email to the submitter and on the website as “Second set of elevation angles to three separate stars”.

Each set will include the angular elevations of 3 stars, the date/time/timezone to the nearest minute, the bearing and speed of the observer, the method and instrument used to measure the angles, the elevation of the observer if applicable, calibration information for the measuring instrument, and any other information necessary to obtain an accurate fix.

Each set of elevation angles to three separate stars will be done at different locations on the earth.

Each set of elevation angles to three separate stars will be verified to work using globe-based celestial navigation techniques within the same acceptance criteria.

Different methods of measurement may be employed including sextant referenced to the horizon, sextant referenced to a resting pool of liquid, bubble sextant, or theodolite. The method used will be clearly indicated in the measurements data. This will include all additional information needed to obtain the accurate angular elevation of each star.

After a submission has been sent, the additional details of the primary set of elevation angles to three separate stars will be published on the website. This information will be independently verifiable to ensure that the observation is legitimate.

While there is no active submission in progress the published “first set of elevation angles to three separate stars” can change without notice. All prior sets will remain on the website with dates when they were active. Any submissions using a set of elevation angles to three separate stars can use a previous set for no more than 3 days after it is deprecated.