A collage of six images purportedly showing two sun-like cosmic bodies in the sky is being shared with the false claim that it was captured on the US-Canada border and shows an astronomical phenomenon known as "Moon Hunters".
The message further falsely claims that the phenomenon creates the appearance of an optical illusion of two suns in the sky, but in 'reality one is the sun and the other is the moon'. The posts have misleadingly combined two astronomical phenomena, Hunter's Moon and Sundog, which have nothing in common and does not resemble the optical illusion seen in the images.
BOOM received the collage of images on its WhatsApp helpline. The collage features six images showing what appears to be five different skylines with two sun-like bodies and claims that the phenomenon is called "Moon Hunters", which occurs when the earth changes its axis. It further claims that the moon reflects the light of the sun and appears to be a replica of the latter.
The text of the message reads: "Today two suns have appeared on the US-Canada border, one is the true sun and the other is the moon. This phenomenon is known as Moon Hunters and only occurs when the Earth changes its axis. The moon and the sun are born at the same time and the moon reflects the light of the sun with such an intensity that it reminds of a second sun. Share it! So beautiful!!!"
The claim is also doing the rounds on Twitter.
"Today two suns have appeared on the US-Canada border, one is the true sun and the other is the moon. This phenomenon is known as Moon Hunters and only occurs when the Earth changes its axis. The moon and the sun are born at the same time.... pic.twitter.com/iNIlGZhGJK— Jayashree Mohapatra Gr Grand daughter of Utkalmani (@JayashreeMohap9) June 20, 2020
The Whatsapp forwarded message is being shared in the backdrop of the annular solar eclipse witnessed by India on June 21. It lasted roughly between 9.15 am to 3.04 pm. The eclipse was of the annular type which occurs when the moon is farthest from the Earth. During an annular eclipse, the moon cannot cover the entire sun; leaving a 'ring (annulus) of fire' visible.
The collage of the images with the narrative that it shows 'two suns' on the US Canada border and that the phenomenon is known as 'Moon Hunter's, is misleading and incorrect respectively. The same has been doing the rounds on the internet from as early as 2015 and has been periodically revived and shared.
The viral Whatsapp messages erroneously use the term "Moon Hunters" to describe the phenomenon. Whereas, the correct astronomical term, "Hunter's Moon", has nothing to do with the phenomenon showed in the images.
The Hunter's Moon phenomenon
The Hunter's Moon is a celestial term for the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. According to the astronomy site EarthSky, the Hunter's Moon is a phenomenon that occurs when the full moon rises earlier than usual due to its elliptical orbit. The full moon gets an orange tinge due to a combination of its position and the interaction between the earth's atmosphere and light and looks larger than usual. However, the moon does not reflect sunlight with so much intensity that it appears to resemble another sun like body, as claimed. Thus the Hunter's Moon phenomenon does not create an optical illusion of duplicate suns in the sky.
The closely related phenomenon to the one explained in the viral message is called Sundog or parhelion. Celestially, the Sundog phenomenon is the closest to seeing 'two suns' like objects in the sky.
This phenomenon is an atmospheric optical phenomenon defined by coloured spots of light which are formed on one or two sides of the sun when sunlight is refracted by ice crystals. Visit US National Weather Service to know more. An example of sundog can be seen here. However, the phenomenon does not match the viral images.
The viral collage of images could have either been digitally manipulated or have been caused due to a lens flare. According to Photographylife, "lens flare occurs when a point of light source such as the sun is much brighter than the rest of the scene." BOOM could not verify the images independently.
A similar claim was earlier debunked by the fact-checking organisation Snopes.
Claim Review : Images show two suns and Hunters Moon.
Claimed By : Social media posts
Fact Check : False