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A satellite image shows the Earth's western hemisphere on May 20, 2018. (AP) A satellite image shows the Earth's western hemisphere on May 20, 2018. (AP)

A satellite image shows the Earth's western hemisphere on May 20, 2018. (AP)

Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu
By Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu May 29, 2024

Earth is round and high-altitude footage doesn’t prove Earth is flat

If Your Time is short

  • Photos from space show that the Earth is round.

The Earth is not flat, and that is a fact roundly agreed upon by scientists. But a video on Facebook claims to show otherwise.

Text posted with the May 20 Facebook video said: "Compilation footage of 120,000k+ ft high altitude balloon shows a completely flat horizon proving the flat Earth and completely destroying the globe theory."

The video showed clips of clouds, oceans and rivers and what appears to be a flat line where Earth meets sky.

The Facebook video was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook, Threads, and Instagram.)

The Earth is not flat. Humans have known this for more than 2,000 years, and since then, scientists have improved our understanding of the Earth’s shape, including by collecting pictorial evidence from space that shows the planet is round. 

So, what does this video show? Flat-Earth theorists often use selected images from high-altitude videos to show a flat horizon. But even at lower altitudes than claimed in the video, Earth’s curvature is visible. For example, passengers in the retired supersonic Concorde plane, which could travel up to 60,000 feet, could see the Earth’s curvature. The curvature is sometimes visible at 35,000 feet, but that requires views devoid of clouds and a wide field of view, which most passenger airplane windows don’t have.

Photos taken from the International Space Station, which orbits the Earth at an average altitude of about 250 miles (much higher than the balloons in the Facebook video), also show the Earth is round.

"Even though our planet is a sphere, it is not a perfect sphere," according to NASA. "Because of the force caused when Earth rotates, the North and South Poles are slightly flat. Earth’s rotation, wobbly motion and other forces are making the planet change shape very slowly, but it is still round."

Additionally, other planets are also round. "Through the use of high-powered telescopes, we’ve been able to examine planets both in our solar system and beyond, and all of them are spherical in shape," researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said.

PolitiFact previously debunked similar claims about the flat-Earth theory.

We rate the claim that this footage shows the Earth is flat Pants on Fire!

RELATED: Outer space is real, the Earth is round and many photographs prove it

Our Sources

Facebook post, May 20, 2024

PolitiFact, Flat-out wrong: Rapper B.o.B. duels with Neil deGrasse Tyson over whether Earth is round, Feb. 1, 2016

National Aeronautics and Space Administration, What Is Earth? (Grades 5-8), accessed May 24, 2024

National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 90 Years of Our Changing Views of Earth, Dec. 21, 2020

National Ocean Service, Is the Earth round? The Earth is an irregularly shaped ellipsoid, Oct. 4, 2023

PolitiFact, The James Webb Space Telescope and the images it has taken are real, Jul. 18, 2022

BBC Earth, Why some people believe the Earth is flat, April 6, 2017

The Independent, How the ancient Greeks proved Earth was round over 2,000 years ago, Dec. 28, 2017

Arizona State University, How Do We Know the Earth Is Round?,  accessed May 24, 2024

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Round Earth Clues: How Science Proves that our Home is a Globe, Mar. 11, 2019

University College London, Why is the Earth a sphere?, Sep. 13, 2022

Google Arts and Culture, Concorde: A Supersonic Story, accessed May 28, 2024

The Financial Times, It’s not only astronauts who can see the Earth is round, Feb. 13, 2019

How It Works, How high do you have to go to see the curvature of the Earth?, Aug. 30, 2016 

Flat Earth.ws, Curvature of the Horizon in High-Altitude Balloon Footage, accessed May 28, 2024

National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Observing our Planet from Low Earth Orbit, Jul. 24, 2022

ISS National Laboratory, Earth Day on the International Space Station, April 22, 2019

PetaPixel, Breathtaking Photos of Earth Were Taken From Even Higher Than the ISS, Sept. 30, 2021

BBC Sky at Night Magazine, 5 ways we can prove Earth is round, not flat, May 20, 2024

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Earth is round and high-altitude footage doesn’t prove Earth is flat

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