Wonderful Engineering

3 Suns Appear Over Chinese Sky For The First Time

A week ago, China woke up with an extra sunny morning, having to greet three suns waiting for it. Seems like science is diving deep into the secrets of nature, trying to gift us with an extra sun as well. Oh, don’t take it on a serious note, it wasn’t another breathtaking scientific discovery but what we call as “Sun dog”, a scientific phenomenon where light when gets refracted from the ice crystals suspended in the air.

The amazing scene was observed by the residents of Fuyu, a city in northeast China’s Jilin Province, and the span it covered was around 20 minutes.

Three suns were seen in China

Getting into the science behind this sun dog, also referred to as “mock suns or parhelia”. It is an atmospheric optical phenomenon that triggers the formation of colored spots of light. Well, China has got the extra luck as this event occurs once in a below moon due to the strict conditions it requires to form. One of which includes temperature reaching minus 20. Furthermore, you have to wake up early to experience the miracle as it usually occurs before morning but after sunshine.

Nasa names the irregular creatures as ice halos as the refraction occurs due to hexagon or plate-shaped crystals suspended in the air. Adding to your information, history recorded the first sun dogs somewhere between 384 – 322 BC by none other than the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. Quoting his words, “Two mock suns rose with the sun and followed it all through the day until sunset” His observation also included their positions that were always to the sides of the sun, and never above or below it. Some myths associated with them include an indication of rain, wind or a storm. They might also be a sign of an upcoming war, oops!

Depiction of sundogs appeared in the Nuremberg Chronicle, an early printed book showing world history, published in 1493

Backing up the idea, a major battle took place during the War of Roses, after three suns were observed, in 1461, and since then, they were considered to be the three sons of the Duke of York.

You might be wondering if the residents would have gotten sunburns and tans. Obviously, one sun makes us overloaded with all the sunscreens an UV protection serums, so how could three, spare us? But well, you need not worry about the side effects of these ice halos, as they are just for your amusement and disappear after 20 minutes!