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We're Not Living On Tatooine

Updated on January 17, 2012

If the Internet is to be believed, we are now living in a solar system (solars system?) with an unprecedented second sun.

That is the conclusion of many dozens of YouTube videos that document, in still photos and musically-torturous video, a bright round object appearing near our Sun in the sky. The pseudoscientific community is citing this as irrefutable evidence of the fictional planet Nibiru and/or Planet X having arrived in our inner solar system.

As a proud but unpaid shill for the skeptical inquiry industry, I had my doubts and decided to investigate further.

Video Evidence of a Second Sun? Really?

I've chosen to examine the video at left in greater detail, as the videographer was kind enough to include a date and location. This second sun was observed March 4th of 2011 from Manchester, United Kingdom. The video clearly shows an anomalous yellow circle to the right of the Sun in the sky not long after sunrise.

Very interesting indeed.

If this is indeed a celestial object near the Sun - or at least appearing to be near the Sun from our perspective - it would be seen from more locations than just Manchester. At this time, observers all over Africa, Europe, and Asia would be seeing the same object near the sun at high noon, midafternoon, and in the early evening. This, to my knowledge, did not happen.

We would also expect it to be visible from our Sun-observing satellites.

Image from SOHO LASCO C3 camera, 03/04/2011 7:30UTC
Image from SOHO LASCO C3 camera, 03/04/2011 7:30UTC | Source
Image from SOHO LASCO C2 camera, 03/04/2011 7:36UTC
Image from SOHO LASCO C2 camera, 03/04/2011 7:36UTC | Source
Image from the NASA/JPL Solar System Simulator - the Sun viewed from Earth on March 4, 2011.
Image from the NASA/JPL Solar System Simulator - the Sun viewed from Earth on March 4, 2011. | Source

Walking Through The Streets Of SOHO In The Rain

I decided to check the imagery from one of these satellites: the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, which is positioned at the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrangian point 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. This is one of five points in space where the gravity of the Sun and Earth balance each other and a satellite is able to remain stationary with respect to our planet.

There's no time stamp on the video, but checking a solar calendar I found that sunrise in Manchester was at 6:51 GMT that morning. Since the Sun is a bit higher in the sky in the video, I guestimated it to be shot at around 7:30. The images at right are from SOHO's Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph Experiment (LASCO) instrument, which observe the Sun's corona out to 30 solar radii in the white light spectrum. If there were another celestial object near the Sun - be it a second sun or a rogue planet - it would show up in LASCO's imagery.

I do not see a second sun or unusual planet in these images from the C3 (top) and C2 (bottom) instruments - just some nice big solar flares and background stars. There are two exceptionally bright dots to the right and left of the Sun, however. Further investigation using Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Solar System Simulator showed these to be Mercury and Mars - two interesting but certainly non-rogue planets.

While there is a pretty substantial solar flare visible in the image, this is highly unlikely to be responsible for the second sun seen in the video, as solar flares are far too dim to be seen from Earth with the naked eye.

With this in mind, I think we can rule out a celestial cause for the unusual sighting and begin searching closer to home.

Sundogs in Fargo, North Dakota. Taken February 18th, 2009.
Sundogs in Fargo, North Dakota. Taken February 18th, 2009. | Source

Poll time!

How many Suns do we have in our solar system?

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You're The Sun Now, Dog

One feature all of these "second sun" videos share in common is that they were all filmed near sunrise or sunset. This is a key detail, as there are a great many optical phenomena involving the Sun that occur around sunrise and sunset. Sun dogs, green flashes, mirages, light pillars, Fata Morganas, and other effects are caused by the refraction of sunlight in the atmosphere near sunrise or sunset.

Sun dogs (or parhelia, in more scientific terms), for example, are a fascinating and visually striking effect caused by sunlight deflecting through ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. Under the right conditions, these can cause a complete halo around the sun in the sky. This effect has been recorded throughout history, and was often interpreted as an omen of impending doom. Today, we understand optics and light refraction and know that it is a completely natural phenomenon.

Sunlight is often refracted by ice crystals and temperature inversions and high clouds and other atmospheric characteristics as it nears the end of its 93 million mile journey from the Sun to our eyes. This is particularly common at sunrise or sunset as the light is arriving at a low angle and must penetrate through a much thicker blanket of atmosphere than when the Sun is directly overhead.

Our atmosphere has a well-established history of bending light in all sorts of fascinating ways, producing all manner of interesting and visually beautiful results. While the "second sun" effect is certainly interesting and pretty rare, its origin is also quite natural and explainable - without invoking ancient Sumerian myths or pseudoscience.

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    • LewSethics profile image

      LewSethics 5 years ago

      Interesting and well researched. Great hub!

    • Druid Dude profile image

      Druid Dude 5 years ago from West Coast

      Very informative. This was the first I had heard of it. I think that if we were in a binary star system, we would have no doubt.

    • MrMaranatha profile image

      MrMaranatha 5 years ago from Somewhere in the third world.

      Thank you sir for clearing up the Dis-information that some folk are so quick to perpetuate. Wonderful article keep up the great work.

      Very well researched.

    • scottcgruber profile image
      Author

      scottcgruber 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you all for reading and commenting!

    • Carinae Majoris profile image

      Carinae Majoris 5 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      The main problem I find with the internet is that ANYONE can present their ideas.

      The second problem is that some people can't really analyse whether what they are saying is correct or true. They assume, that because they may use certain scientific terms or make general conclusions, that they are perhaps to be given credit.

      They are not.

      Great hubs Scott!

    • scottcgruber profile image
      Author

      scottcgruber 5 years ago from USA

      Carinae - very well put.

      What I find most infuriating about it is the fact that we are living at a tine in human history where individuals have more access to scientific literature and raw data than ever before. Satellite imagery, weather station data, radar maps, seismograph data, geologic maps, space probe imagery, exoplanet candidate data - it's searchable, downloadable, and free for anyone to analyze. Sure, some data sets are privately-owned and many studies are behind pay walls, but there's still an amazing amount of data and literature accessible to everyone through science blogs and university web sites.

      And yet people seem to be drifting farther and farther into woo and pseudoscience. Maybe it's just my perception, clouded by aspect dominance or something. But then I see surveys showing that 50% of Americans don't know how long it takes for Earth to orbit the Sun or that 40% think humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time, and I fear that the woo is winning.

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 5 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      The second sun theory is absurd and I don't think anyone that has half a brain is suggesting that we have a second sun.

      That being said all of your technical data does not rule out another planetary body such as Nibiru. I suggest that Nibiru is now between the Sun and the Earth and can not be seen clearly until it begins to leave our solar system.

      Any data with pixels can be altered, so quoting from the JPL sources is merely accepting their data and proves nothing.

      It is akin to accepting that Moon rocks can only come from the Moon.

      If one lie is proven then can we just assume that is the only lie and they are telling the truth about everything else?

      Regurgitating another's lies is not proof of anything, but nice try, really like the technical jargon . . . !

    • melpor profile image

      Melvin Porter 5 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      It is possible that this is probably a supernova explosion much further way in space as seen from the direction of the Sun. Supernovas are know to be bright enough to be seen in daylight when they occur. Another possible explanation is that this a natural phenomena with light caused by the atmosphere.

    • scottcgruber profile image
      Author

      scottcgruber 5 years ago from USA

      melpor: That could be possible, sure. But a distant supernova would also be detected as a gamma ray burst. Also, a supernova close enough to appear that size in our sky would probably have wiped out all life on Earth by now, so we can pretty much rule that out. :)

    • scottcgruber profile image
      Author

      scottcgruber 5 years ago from USA

      @somethgblue: "It is akin to accepting that Moon rocks can only come from the Moon."

      Moon rocks can only come from the Moon. This is a pure grammatical fact, if nothing else. That is why they're called "Moon rocks."

      Claiming that NASA somehow was lying about the origin of Moon rocks because Earth rocks have been found with the same mineral as Moon rocks is, well, idiotic. As are the other assertions you've made in this hub.

      If there's a third planet between the Sun and the Earth, prove it. This information should be easy to obtain - you don't even need a direct image. Just show how the orbits of Venus and Mercury are being distorted by another gravity well.

      If the Navy is manipulating SOHO data and imagery to hide a planet, prove it. This should be easy to determine - even the best Photoshoppers occasionally leave jpeg artifacts.

      If you can't provide any evidence for these testable hypotheses you've proposed, I have to assume you're full of crap, and must ask go troll somewhere else.

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 5 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      Since you have not read any articles of mine is proof that you are afraid and I will go some where else, thanks for your permission

    • profile image

      sparkster 5 years ago

      I did not present nibiru or planet x as fact in my hub, it was purely speculative. If you read back through it you will see this, though I did make some factual relevant points. Using a hub to attack other hubbers and the subjects they write about should not be allowed here and is out of order.

    • scottcgruber profile image
      Author

      scottcgruber 5 years ago from USA

      Sparkster: I did not attack you or your hub. All I have done is present some explanations for the mysterious phenomenon you reported in your hub -- specifically the YouTube videos you embedded that DID present Nibiru as fact -- and credited you for the inspiration.

      I fully support your right to speculate, and your right to counter any ideas I have presented here with hubs of your own.

    • sparkster profile image

      Marc Hubs 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Ok, I agree with you that most of those videos were probably a result of sun dogs. However, the explanation doesn't cater for the huge bright star (which I personally would not call a 'sun') that has suddenly appeared in the sky. I see it every night after sunset and it shouldn't be there. It's brighter than both Venu and Jupiter put together.

      Your summary did state that this hub was influenced by Sparkster and started it off stating:

      "If the Internet is to be believed, we are now living in a solar system (solars system?) with an unprecedented second sun.

      That is the conclusion of many dozens of YouTube videos that document, in still photos and musically-torturous video, a bright round object appearing near our Sun in the sky. The pseudoscientific community is citing this as irrefutable evidence of the fictional planet Nibiru and/or Planet X having arrived in our inner solar system."

    • scottcgruber profile image
      Author

      scottcgruber 5 years ago from USA

      Ok. Let's talk about your mystery object. Where in the sky does it appear? What time do you begin seeing it? What's your latitude? There are some simple ways to investigate this phenomenon and try to figure out what it is - or at least rule out what it isn't. Wild speculation and guesses get us nowhere.

      And that was, essentially, the entire point of my hub.

    • profile image

      Sparkster 5 years ago

      Researchers and astronomers all over the globe are trying to do just that - and that was the point of my hub.

    • scottcgruber profile image
      Author

      scottcgruber 5 years ago from USA

      Are you able to provide any of the information I asked for? If not, I'm inclined to think that the mystery object is imaginary.

    • profile image

      Sparkster 5 years ago

      You would!

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