Good morning world!
We all hail from different places and while we share a good many things, we have many different perspectives. Culture, values, religion and more subjective content matter are what makes the bubbling pot of humanity such a rich and nourishing experiment to be a part of.
But what of the differing perspectives that are more objective?
The things around us we see, touch, feel, and experience with a degree of certainty?
At what point does it stop being a perspective and start being scientific truth?
Well, strap on because we have a fantastic question from a member of our illustrious Australian Space Society in this edition of: Ask ARSE!
"G'day ARSE, I have a cheeky one for you. I am a "bloke" living in the United States and I love your "banter" and snarky science stuff. Especially when you folk go after the crazies with their theories. One that comes up often with the flerfers is that the moon is the wrong way around in Australia. Some of these nutters say this is evidence of the Earth being flat and some more will say its a glitch in the matrix because Australia is an elaborate hoax. Please give me a snarky answer that i can copy verbatim and shut them up! Your mate, Anthony"
Yeah righto cobber we appreciate the straya but let's turn it down a notch.
You're at "Croc Dundee" right now, I'm gonna need you at "ooo this vegemite is spicy!" before we go any further.
Righto, this is an easy one.
And the easy ones leave room for being the snarkiest.
Similar to the phenomenon of the swirling toilet, or "dunny" (seeing as though the jargon is giving you stiff nips), if you stay within the northern hemisphere you will see a reliable representation of the moon. That is, according to your reference point and historical understanding of what this side of the moon looks like.
However, the more you deviate south of the equator, the more you will see a flipped perspective of the moon.
Why is that?
Unfortunately for your nutjob friends with the tin-foil fedoras, this is evidence of curvature. Especially when each hemisphere uniquely shows more of the moon than the other. See the difference between the bottom and top labelled lines on the below diagram?
Yep, only possible if the Earth is more rotund than pancake. Unless, of course, you make up some wild notion that Australia is the Truman show and then all bets with reality are off. Oh, and within that same concept that the flipped moon is a lie, you have to include the entire southern hemisphere such as South America, Africa, New Zealand and even Antarctica.
"tHeY aLl In On iT eVeN tHe PeNgUiNs"
How does this way of thinking happen?
Well, much of what folks see is catered to their perspective and reinforces their world view. Not just space, but the values and culture we spoke of before. In terms of anthropology, this phenomenon is known as ethnocentricity. This simply means someone evaluates other cultures according to the standards of their own culture, more often than not this occurs subconsciously.
North Americans see more representations of reality from their observatories, films etc and it reinforces their literal view of the moon when they step outside at night. This creates a concrete visual perspective of Earth's satellite.
People start getting nutty about this when a pervasive model of thinking shows *up*.
That's a pun, because many who believe there is only one "right way" to the moon think that north - as we understand it as humans - means up.
In reality, north is humanity justifying direction.
Space is a vacuum, there is no up.
In truth, there's no north in space either.
Is a direction for Earthlings to navigate our blue dot.
Up and north are relative.
Stand exactly on the north pole. Now, which way is south?
You can do the vice versa with standing on the south pole.
The saying "I'm on top of the world" can either be taken as true or a scientific fallacy.
And the funny thing is neither is wrong...
You're always on top of the world.
But at the same time, there is not top of the world.
But that's enough floundering about.
Why Does The Moon Look Different Between Hemispheres?
Let this groovy graphic from Assistant Professor in Physics & Astronomy at Oberlin College, Jillian Scudder, show you.
Makes sense, right?
If you believe north means up, you see one side of the moon. You can choose to be a d**k about it and only see your centric point of view.
You can understand a similar person in another hemisphere considers up the southern sky. Because the Earth is more round than not.
A person 45 degrees north from the equator and another 45 degrees south of it take a photograph of the moon each. They then swap places and hold the photo up to the moon.
The moon has now shifted 90 degrees, exactly.
Either that is solid evidence or that camera is the Infinity Gauntlet and we can throw moons at Tony Stark.
North doesn't mean "right-side up." North is a perspective. A point of view, literally.
A person who stands on the south pole will see a different starry sky, but when they do a handstand all the blood rushes to their head. "But but but, why is the blood not rushing to their feet..."
Because "up" is dependent on perspective and "north" is not.
If you stand waiting in a single file line, everyone has an identical perspective to you.
Say you turn around, now left is right and right is left.
Would you consider everyone else wrong?
Is it a conspiracy...
Or are you showing a lack of perspective and some serious issues with a singular world-view - an actual, true view of the world.
The moon is certainly not the only object that "flips" between hemispheres. Orion, one of the most prominent constellations to the naked eye will seem "upside down" to anyone who changes hemispheres.
Because like the moon, Orion is visible from both hemispheres. And because nothing in space flips, you do.
Thanks for the question Anthony and we truly hope this helps. Good luck with your country.