‘THREE SUNS’ appear in the sky of a Chinese city for hours due to a rare natural phenomenon
- Residents of China’s northernmost city woke up to the spectacle this morning
- Footage shows what looks like three suns hanging in the sky at the same time
- The illusion happens when light passes through ice crystals in a particular way
Residents of a Chinese city have been amazed to see what appeared to be three suns hanging in the sky at the same time.
The optical illusion lasted three hours this morning in Mohe, the country’s northernmost city near the Russian border.
The spectacle is caused by a natural phenomenon known as ‘sun dogs’ and rarely happens in China, according to experts.
A picture shared by the provincial meteorological authority shows two mock suns appearing on the left and right side of the actual sun this morning in the town of Tuqiang in Mohe, China
The stunning scene occurred from 6.30am to 9.30am in the Mohe town of Tuqiang. Mohe is part of the Daxing’anling region of north-eastern Heilongjiang Province.
It was one of the longest-lasting sun dog occurrences in the area in recent years, the Daxing’anling Fire Brigade said in a social media post while sharing a video of the sight.
Pictures and footage uploaded by the Chinese weather authorities show two bright spots, called ‘phantom suns’, appearing on the left and right side of the actual sun which was rising from the sleepy town of 20,000.
The stunning scene occurred from 6.30am to 9.30am in Tuqiang Town on Thursday. Pictures shared by the weather authority show two bright spots, called ‘phantom suns, around the sun
Sun dogs happen when sunlight passes through high-altitude ice crystals in cirrus clouds. The phenomenon is also called ‘parhelion’.
Grahame Madge, a spokesman for the Met Office, said that sun dogs can occur anywhere in the world, and they are always ‘intriguing to see’.
Mr Madge told MailOnline: ‘Occasionally they can form multi-coloured patches – like sections of rainbows – or they can appear in this case like multiple suns.
‘The atmosphere above our heads is ever-changing and often there can be interesting things to see for those with the dedication to look.’
An unusually bright moon can create the same effect, but such an instance is ‘very rare’, according to the Met Office.
The spectacle occurred in Mohe (seen above in a file photo), the most northern city of China
Chinese meteorological engineer Bian Yun previously told MailOnline that sun dogs rarely happen in his country.
Mr Bian, who works for China Meteorological Administration, commented on the illusion in an interview in 2019: ‘There are many hexagon-shaped ice crystals in the semi-transparent, delicate clouds in the sky.
‘Occasionally, they will line up finely and horizontally in the sky and when sunlight shines on these ice crystals, such irregular reflection will occur.’
Residents of a town in Xinjiang in north-western China were treated to a similar sight on an afternoon in December last year. A pair of mock suns brought a stunning halo to the small city of Khorgas on an otherwise biting cold day.
THE HISTORY OF SUN DOGS
The strange phenomenon is first known to have been recorded by Aristotle between 384 and 322 BC.
The Greek philosopher wrote: ‘Two mock suns rose with the sun and followed it all through the day until sunset’. He noted that they were always to the sun’s side and never rose above or below it.
The poet Aratus, who lived between 310 and 240 BC mentioned them in his catalogue of Weather Signs, saying that they indicated wind, rain or an approaching storm, while Artemidorus, a diviner in the second century, included the phantom suns in his list of celestial deities.
Sun dogs were sometimes seen as an omen for bad times ahead, such as war, and observations of them feature in ancient texts by Aristotle, Seneca and Cicero, among others. This depiction of sundogs appeared in the Nuremberg Chronicle, an early printed book shwoing world history, published in 1493
Roman authors Cicero and Seneca mention them in their writings too.
In later works it was feared that sundogs were omens for bad times ahead, such as war.
An anthelion is said to have occurred before the Battle of Mortier’s Cross in Herefordshire in 1461 – a major event in the War of the Roses.
Apparently the Yorkist commander, later Edward IV of England, convinced his frightened troops – who feared the worst – that the event represented the three sons of the Duke of York and they won a decisive victory, as described in William Shakespeare’s King Henry VI.
A powerful anthelion in the summer of 1629 is believed to have influenced René Descartes to write his work of natural philosophy called The World.
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