Three Suns viewed in Mongolia!

January 23, 2015 5:57 PM |


A rare and an unusual celestial phenomenon was captured in snowy Mongolia. The video gives an illusion of three suns in the sky. The sun is seen in the centre with one reflection each on both sides. This phenomenon is known as the anthelion, which occurs when the sunlight passes through snowy crystals in the air.  The stills of this uncommon event were captured on an ITN video. This phenomenon is also known as 'phantom suns' or Sun dogs. Scientists say that an anthelion can only take place when the temperature fall below -30°C and when the air is filled with ice crystals, vapour, and clouds.

When the sunlight is refracted by large, hexagonal ice crystals, similar to those in snowflakes, it is then sun dogs are created. These sun dogs appear as two patches of light on either side of the sun. The ice crystals act like prisms so that it is bent by 22 degrees as light passes through them, before they reach the eyes of the viewer to create the illusion.

If the crystals are located in clouds more randomly, one can see a complete ring around the sun, which is called a halo. But at the same time, if the ice crystals sink through the air, they get arranged in vertical lines, for the sunlight to refract horizontally, further creating sun dogs.

If the phenomenon occurs at the time when the sun is rising, the sun dogs move away from the sun, but they stay at the same elevation. Thus the three 'orbs' appear to be at the same distance from the horizon. These sun dogs when close to the sun are red in colour. They further fade to yellow, orange and finally blue as they gradually move away from the sun.

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