This book originally began as a short pamphlet in the 1840s, explaining the basics of the theory with a few sketches alongside. Rowbotham was already a known inventor and author at the time, over time the theories of Zetetic Astronomy - in which the Earth is portrayed as flat - became popular. Eventually, in 1881, the author greatly expanded and published this book, in part to meet demands of public and scientific scrutiny. Keen to let the hypothesis stand on its own merits, this book was first published under the pseudonym of 'Parallax'.
Upon the pages are many experiments and demonstrations, all of which are conducted in support of the Earth being flat, with the astronomical bodies situated above, rather than all around it. Most of these are framed with illustrations and diagrams, that the reader better understand Rowbotham's explanations. Various chapters concern such topics as motion of the heavenly bodies, sunrises, sunsets, the tidal movements, and the actual distances of the Sun and Moon from the Earth.
Samuel Rowbotham was fiercely in favor of his theory, and asked many leading astronomers and scientists of his day to disprove it. One success of his public challenges was that it exposed many in the scientific community to be angry and poor at coping with a man with a well-argued and contrary hypothesis. Aware of these indignant sensitivities, Rowbotham was vociferous in disputing the prevailing order.
Today, Zetetic Astronomy both as a book and a movement lives on. Following Rowbotham's death in 1884, his friend Lady Elizabeth Blount founded the Universal Zetetic Society, which was comprised of people committed to the belief that the Earth is flat. Although membership declined, following World War Two the group was revived as The Flat Earth Society, which continues to discuss subjects relevant to the movement in meetings and on the Internet.