Binary Sun Seen in China

Two Suns: China May Have No Explanation for Dual Sunset but Astronomers Do

March 05, 2011 08:20 PM EST


comments: 1

China had two suns recently and there seems to be no valid explanation for the odd phenomenon. The appearance of the two suns comes just weeks after a rumor sent the web into a frenzy by saying that a star would soon blow up causing two suns to appear in the sky. Was this the star showing up or is there some other explanation for the odd event?

Even though the story was debunked, it seems that it happened anyway. The suns appeared next to each other in the sky, creating a dual sunset. One of the sun’s was fuzzy and orange,  while the other sun appeared to be more yellow.

According to Jim Kaler from the University of Illinois, the two suns can be explained scientifically, but it’s not something that even science completely understands. Though this is an extremely rare event, the double sun in the sky is actually just an effect of optical refraction, Kaler said.

“I doubt it’s been computer modeled,” Kaler said. “There must have been some blob of atmosphere somewhere that caused this truly spectacular phenomenon, which in a sense is a mirage.”

Other scientists and astronomers agree with Kaler.

“This is not a common optical phenomenon that we’re seeing here,” said Grant Perry, who is an atmospheric scientist at the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Institute for Satellite and Meteorological Studies. “I’m asking myself if this is an artifact of the lens, but if that were the case — if it’s reflections of the lens elements — then the images would move in relation to each other as the camera moves…But that doesn’t happen.”

What do you think of the two suns? It definitely looks like some sort of optical illusion, but at the same time, it’s amazing to think that it is actually a natural phenomenon. Those who witnessed it first hand are very lucky!

Photo Credit: MSNBC