New Science: A Rare, Spectacular Astronomical Sight - Double Sun

A Marvelous Sight - Double Sun Rings in the Sky above Qingdao City

Not long ago the media has reported a lot of unusual phenomena in China, including out of the ordinary mirages and UFO sightings. According to news report published on December 16, 2002, a marvellous astronomical sight appeared beside the Jiuzhan River, Harbin at dusk. As the fiery red Sun was setting in the west, another round object as bright as the Sun appeared in the sky. According to eyewitness descriptions, at 3:45 PM on that day, people were enjoying the beautiful scene of the setting Sun by the riverside when they suddenly saw a “White Sun” positioned sideways above the setting Sun. This “White Sun” was one size smaller than the setting Sun and bright white in colour. At the beginning, people thought it was the moon. But it was positioned so close to the Sun and shone with such an unusual light that people did not know what to make of it. A while later a crescent-shaped moon appeared on the south side of the sky. So the white object was not the moon as people had first thought. At 3:48 PM, the upper half of the “White Sun” that had been hidden by the cloud layer revealed itself in the shape of a semicircle. People saw it clearly in the sky for the next seven minutes. At 3:55 PM, as the Sun set completely, the “White Sun” was blocked by the red clouds and vanished.

The same thing was observed for the next eight days. According to experts in the field, such a phenomenon is unusual. They were not able to offer any persuasive explanation to the reason why this sighting occurred [1].

The above is one form of the “Double Sun.” Another form of the “Double Sun,” the more common one, takes the shape of a concentric ring with the Sun in the middle.

A news article published in the “Peninsula Metropolitan Newspaper” (a local newspaper in the city of Qingdao) on May 25, 2002 stated, “Around 10 AM on May 24th, a magnificent and marvellous sight suddenly appeared over the sky of the city: A colourful and dazzling circle of light emerged around the Sun. From the elevated view of a tall building, one could see an unusual circle of light with the colour red on the inner side of the ring and the colour yellow on the outer side of the ring. It was extremely eye-catching under the clear sky. About half an hour later, a second colourful, dazzling circle of light appeared around the Sun. It was even more gorgeous than the first one. The circle of light gradually faded and disappeared completely around noon [2].” Around the same time, on May 24th at 12:30 PM, a colourful circle of light appeared above the sky of Dongying City, Shandong Province. It encircled the Sun until 2:30 PM when it vanished.

Lhasa, Tibet sits 3000 meters above sea level. It is known as the “City of Sunlight.” The sky there is consistently clean and clear. The “Double Sun” phenomenon has also appeared there. According to a Chinese News Agency report, on the morning of May 1, 2002, tens of thousands of city residents saw two giant colourful concentric rings around the bright Sun. The most readily observable colour of the rings was orange, the next one was yellow, then green, blue, and white. The two rings were in a perfectly circular shape, just like that drawn by a compass [4]. The diameter of the inner ring was about twenty times that of the sun. The area between the edge of the sun and the inner ring was pitch black, which made the Sun in the centre stand out even more. The diameter of the outer ring was about forty times that of the sun. The area inside of the outer ring was dark blue. These two rings were so large that they looked like a hat covering the entire city of Lhasa. Several veteran reporters and staff members of the Chinese news agency who have worked in Tibet for many years said that it was the first time they had seen such a magnificent celestial phenomenon. Some people thought what had happened was either an unusual sun ring or aureole. The occurrences of sun rings or aureole are usually related to moisture in the upper atmosphere, high ground temperature, and excessively strong solar light. However, the reason why two such large rings appeared around the Sun still needs further analysis.

Similar phenomena have also happened in other major cities in China, such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Kunming.

An even more rare phenomenon related to the Sun is when several suns are seen shining in the sky. Such phenomena happened in ancient times. The most well-known one took place during the reign of Emperor Yao. It is recorded in many ancient history books that ten suns were seen appearing in the sky at the same time. In China, this kind of unusual celestial phenomenon has happened again.

On the morning of March 20, 2002 , on the way to work, people in Huludao City were surprised to see three suns on the eastern side of the sky. According to eyewitness reports, the sun in the middle was the biggest and shone with a bright light but was not blinding to the eyes. The suns on either side were smaller. Although the suns were not of the perfectly circular shape, they appeared identical to the sun to the naked eye. There were only a few light clouds in the sky. This phenomenon lasted for about 40 minutes and then the suns vanished.

On December 15, 2001, three suns were also seen in the cities of Harbin and Shuangcheng. According to eyewitness reports, at around nine o’clock in the morning, two small suns appeared on each side of the Sun in the southwestern sky. The two small suns were perfectly symmetrical to the sun the middle. An upside down seven-colour rainbow hung on top of the sun in the middle. Experts from the city planetarium also witnessed the marvellous sight.

What special meaning is there behind this kind of unusual phenomenon related to the Sun? In ancient China, there were prophets who were in charge of astronomy for the government in the royal court. These prophets were able to predict good and bad fortune according to special astronomical sights and warned the emperor on what was could happen. In the book, “Astronomy Record of the Ji Dynasty,” the following recording might serve as a reference to us: In January of 314 A.D., three suns were seen moving from the west to the east. In January of 314 A.D., three suns appeared in the sky again with a white rainbow going straight up to heavens. Multiple rings of lights were seen around the Sun. There were two small suns on either side of the sun in the middle. The royal astronomer said, “The white rainbow foreshadows an impending war. The three suns appearing together means that feudal lords are about to fight for the crown within the next three months.” The prediction came true. In March, the feudal lord from the State of Wu declared himself Emperor, and then other feudal lords followed up with their own declarations. The whole world was thrown into complete chaos.


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