People in St. Petersburg were left stunned after three mysterious suns appeared in the sky, resulting in countless images and videos being posted online.
However, according to scientists, this is in fact a natural phenomenon.
Head of popular science at the Petersburg Planetarium and a current Ph.D. student in celestial mechanics at St Petersburg State University, Maria Borukha explains that the enigmatic view is the result of a natural phenomenon known as ‘Sun Dogs.’
The ‘three suns’ were the result of an atmospheric phenomenon that consists of several bright spots appearing next to the sun. Sun dogs, mock suns of phantom suns are a meteorological phenomenon created by light interacting with ice crystals in the atmosphere. This optical illusion is occurring mostly after night frost and when the temperature falls rapidly.
This fascinating phenomenon can occur anywhere in the world but usually do not appear as obvious and as bright as in St. Petersburg.
The three sun phenomenon occurs during freezing weather and mostly when the sun is low in the sky.
Nikolay Zheleznov, a researcher at the Institute of Applied Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, indicates that some ‘halos’ were even more eye-catching.
Speaking about the phenomenon Zheleznov said:
‘This was a regular halo and not the most spectacular type; it wasn’t a closed circle of halo. It is nothing but a play of light on ice crystals in cirrus clouds at an altitude of five to ten kilometers (three to six miles) above the ground.’
The scene that caught the attention of people from St. Petersburg was immediately likened to Star Wars and Tatooine, Luke Skywalker’s home planet.
Similar appearances have been reported of Siberia and officials warn that these ‘illusions’ cause road accidents because of the brightness.
It is believed that the earliest clear description of the phenomenon was given by Jacob Hutter –a Tyrolean Anabaptist leader and founder of the Hutterites— who wrote in his Brotherly Faithfulness: Epistles from a Time of Persecution:
“My beloved children, I want to tell you that on the day after the departure of our brothers Kuntz and Michel, on a Friday, we saw three suns in the sky for a good long time, about an hour, as well as two rainbows. These had their backs turned toward each other, almost touching in the middle, and their ends pointed away from each other. And this I, Jakob, saw with my own eyes, and many brothers and sisters saw it with me. After a while, the two suns and rainbows disappeared, and only the one sun remained. Even though the other two suns were not as bright as the one, they were clearly visible. I feel this was no small miracle…”