By Natalie Wolchover
Weeks after a story shot across the Web claiming that the imminent explosion of a nearby star would result in the appearance of a second sun in the sky — a story that was later debunked — two suns were caught on camera yesterday in China. The suns — one fuzzy and orange, the other a crisp yellow orb — appeared side-by-side, one slightly higher than the other.
What's going on? Life's Little Mysteries, a sister site to Space.com, asked Jim Kaler, the University of Illinois astronomer who squelched the excitement over the aforementioned exploding Betelgeuse and who has written books on the day and night sky. The double sun image is an effect of optical refraction, Kaler said, but it's a "pretty darn rare" one, and one not fully explained by science.
"I doubt it's been computer modeled," he said. "There must have been some blob of atmosphere somewhere that caused this truly spectacular phenomenon, which in a sense is a mirage." [Amazing Sun Photos From Space]
Mirages appear when particles in the atmosphere refract, or bend, light. This typically happens near the horizon, where air is thicker, though, and mirages are usually aligned vertically above or below the original source of the light — not beside it, like in the video. It's possible, Kaler said, that an unusually thick patch of atmosphere wandered in front of the sun to create the unusual effect.
Previous sightings of horizontally-aligned double images of the sun and moon are recorded in a book called "Light and Color in the Outdoors" (English edition: Springer 1993) by the famous Flemish astronomer Marcel Minnaert, which remains the most complete reference on double suns. "So many other instances have been reported that there is no longer any doubt about ... observations of sun and mock sun(s) being at exactly the same altitude," Minnaert wrote.
"The case of a mock sun 3 degrees and 25 arc-seconds to the left of the nearly set sun sounds incredible but has been recorded photographically." Indeed, Minnaert's description sounds nearly identical to the scene in question.
He goes on to state that the double or multiple image phenomena are produced by abnormal refraction, but that "it remains extraordinary that the images of the sun and moon were sharp and of the same size as the real sun and moon."
To check whether more has been learned about the double sun effect since the time of Minnaert's writing, Life's Little Mysteries consulted several atmospheric optics experts. None of them had ever seen anything quite like the effect shown in the video.
"This is not a common optical phenomenon that we're seeing here," said Grant Perry, 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," Perry said. "But that doesn't happen."
In terms of an optical explanation, he said, "You would have to assume it is particles of ice or something in the atmosphere aligned in such a way that they would refract the sunlight at that very small angle, but only in one direction. It would require some fairly peculiar characteristics."
Several related atmospheric optical effects are fully explained by science. Sun dogs, sunset mirages, sun pillars and sun halos are all relatively common and well understood. But not this effect.
"It's very intriguing," said Kaler.
Earth may soon have a second sun
The red supergiant star Betelgeuse is getting ready to go supernova, and when it does Earth will have a front-row seat. The explosion will be so bright that Earth will briefly seem to have two suns in the sky.
The star is located in the Orion constellation, about 640 light-years away from Earth. It's one of the brightest and biggest stars in our galactic neighborhood - if you dropped it in our Solar System, it would extend all the way out to Jupiter, leaving Earth completely engulfed. In stellar terms, it's predicted to explode in the very near future. Of course, the conversion from stellar to human terms is pretty extreme, as Betelgeuse is predicted to explode anytime in the next million years.
But still, whether the explosion occurs in 2011 or 1002011 (give or take 640 years for the light to reach Earth), it's going to make for one of the most unforgettable light shows in our planet's history. For a few weeks, the supernova will be so bright that there will appear to be two stars in the sky, and night will be indistinguishable from day for much of that time. So don't count on getting a lot of sleep when Betelgeuse explodes, because the only sensible thing for the world to do will be to throw a weeks-long global supernova party.
Physicist Brad Carter explains what Earth (and hopefully humanity) can look forward to:
"This is the final hurrah for the star. It goes bang, it explodes, it lights up - we'll have incredible brightness for a brief period of time for a couple of weeks and then over the coming months it begins to fade and then eventually it will be very hard to see at all."
Although there'll be no missing the explosion, Carter points out that the vast majority of material shot out from the supernova will pass by Earth completely unnoticed:
"When a star goes bang, the first we will observe of it is a rain of tiny particles called neutrinos. They will flood through the Earth and bizarrely enough, even though the supernova we see visually will light up the night sky, 99 per cent of the energy in the supernova is released in these particles that will come through our bodies and through the Earth with absolutely no harm whatsoever."
Indeed, just in case anyone is concerned, Betelgeuse is way too far away from Earth to do us any damage. There's been some doomsday speculation of late around the eventual supernova - which might not happen for a million years, it bears repeating - but, as with pretty much all doomsday speculation, you can just ignore it.
In any event, the Betelgeuse explosion will likely be the most dramatic supernova Earth ever witnesses - well, unless our Sun eventually explodes and destroys our planet, which would probably leave Betelgeuse the runner-up. Either way, it isn't the first, as history has recorded the appearance of several so-called "guest stars." Most of these just looked like short-lived stars in the night sky, but some were bright enough to be seen in the day.
The first supernova that history records is thought to have occurred in 185 CE, when a star 8,200 light-years away exploded. Chinese astronomers make explicit note of the sudden appearance of a star and its subsequent disappearance several months later, and the Romans may also have made more cryptic references to it. Astronomers have since located the remnants of the exploded star, confirming the accuracy of the ancient accounts.
The two most dramatic supernova explosions occurred in the 11th century. A supernova in 1006 - you can see its modern remnant above - is the brightest star ever recorded, appearing in the records of China, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Japan, and Switzerland. There's even some thought that a rock painting by the Hohokam, a Native American tribe in what is now Arizona, represents the first recorded sighting of a supernova in the Americas. Here's the petroglyph in question, which might well record the presence of an unexpected bright light in the sky:
The various observations even allow us to pinpoint what specific type of supernova it was. In all likelihood, it was a Type Ia supernova, which for a few weeks burn as brightly as five billion suns. Astronomer Frank Winkler explains that we can work out from that supposition:
"By knowing this distance and the standard luminosity of Ia supernovae, we can calculate, in retrospect, just how bright the star must have appeared to 11th century observers. On the magnitude scale used by astronomers, it was about minus 7.5, which puts its brightness a little less than halfway between that of Venus and that of the full Moon. And all that light would have been concentrated in a single star, which must have been twinkling like crazy. There's no doubt that it would have been a truly dazzling sight. In the spring of 1006, people could probably have read manuscripts at midnight by its light."
The supernova of 1054 wasn't quite as dramatic, and it seemed to go almost entirely unrecorded in Europe, although there's some thought that records of the new star made by Irish monks got corrupted into allegorical accounts of the Antichrist. Still, the rest of the world saw it just fine, with records popping up in China, Japan, Korea, Persia, and the Americas. Astronomers of the time period wrote that it could be seen in daylight for over three weeks and remained visible in the night sky for nearly two years.
A pair of supernovas in 1572 and 1604 were extensively studied by two generations of legendary astronomers, Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler. Since then, the Milky Way hasn't had any supernovas visible from Earth, and so our night sky has remained rather tediously ordinary.
There's about sixteen known candidates in our galaxy for a future supernova explosion, and quite a few of them would have a dramatic effect on our skies. But Betelgeuse is by far one of the closest, and its huge size means its explosion will be particularly dramatic. This is one cosmic disaster that we actually want to see happen sooner than later, because there may never be a sight quite like this ever again.
Betelgeuse is the left shoulder of Orion, one of the easily recognized constellations.
Two Suns Rise In Hawaii
Video captured by The CFH observatory that hosts a world-class, 3.6 meter optical/infrared telescope. The observatory is located atop the summit of Mauna Kea, a 4200 meter, dormant volcano located on the island of Hawaii.
The CFH Telescope became operational in 1979. The mission of CFHT is to provide for its user community a versatile and state-of-the-art astronomical observing facility which is well matched to the scientific goals of that community and which fully exploits the potential of the Mauna Kea site.
Recorded Date: 5-28-2011. Reports and info saying that it may be just that (or Venus). It is still very interesting visually I think. Just because this may not prove the existence of an extra solar body, it does not disprove it either.
TWO SUNS EVERYWHERE
To the reason(s) behind the FBI releasing this top-secret document at a time when our entire world is continuing to be pushed towards the abyss, and admitting what the US Military and past American regimes have spent hundreds of millions trying to hide from their own people; it is not in our knowing.
What is in our knowing, at least as far as the Americans are concerned, is their CNN News Service reporting this past week that the sales of bomb/survival-shelters in the US have risen an astounding 4,000% this past year showing a growing fear among these people of what is soon to come, and which many believe is related to the ancient Hopi Indian prophecies relating to the ending of this present age.
In our March 1 report ‘Russian Warning Issued Over “Controlled” Comet Headed Towards Earth’ we further documented that the Americans aren’t alone in their fears as Russia is building an additional 5,000 bomb shelters by 2012 too, but unlike the US will protect ordinary peoples and not just the elite classes whose wealth has been gained by wholesale theft.
Though many in the West continue to shun the ancient prophecies related to these times, and which the Sorcha Faal has well documented in her seminal works “The Masks Of The Dark Gods: The Coming Destruction Of Planet Earth” and “Battle Begins For Throne of This World: The Return of the Einherjar Warriors”, it is well worth noting, that with each passing day, the headlines of world’s most mainstream newspapers, more and more are beginning to resemble titles to reports we could have very well written ourselves.
After all, there is truly nothing new under the Sun, what has happened before will happen again, as it is now as our world blindly stumbles to its end of this age. (EU Times)