# Explained: Two "Suns" Sanibel Causeway, Florida [Offset Lens Reflection]

#### Mick West

Staff member

A popular video claims to show an object in the sky that resembles a "second sun". However analysis of the video proves that what is shown is an offset lens reflection of the Sun itself. There is nothing else in the sky. The effect is also not a sun-dog, an atmospheric reflection, or a mirage. It's just a reflection happening at the camera.

We can see this quite clearly if we stabilize the video so the background is fixed. We can then see the reflection moving with the camera motion. Notice how the small movements of the reflection are in sync with the large movements of the lens flare.

Offset lens reflections occur when a flat piece of glass (such as a filter) is in front of the camera, but is tilted slightly away from the plane of the camera (either accidentally, or deliberately). When combined with a second flat optical surface (like the protective cover of a cell-phone camera, or a second filter on a larger camera) you get a fainter reflection of the sun offset from the actual sun in the direction of the tilt.

It is easy to simulate this effect with a cell phone such as the iPhone. Here I just attached a glass slide with a rubber band.

This results in a "second sun"

There are a number of reasons that indicate that the Florida video is an offset lens reflection:
• It's next to the sun - All such reflections are very close to the sun.
• It's the same size as the sun - Since it's a reflection of the sun, it's going to be the same size.
• Nobody else saw it - If there was something in the sky, then it would have been visible to millions. But only one person claims that she (and a friend) saw it.
• It looks like other similar effects known to be offset lens reflections
But the absolute proof that it is simply a reflection is that it rotates around the sun as the camera rotates.

Since the offset reflection depends on the direction of the tilt, then when the camera moves the reflection will move with the camera, which is the opposite direction to the background in the video. Here's a demonstration with a more pronounced rotation.

To detect this in the video we need two frames at the same zoom level, but with the camera rotated slightly. Now the videographer does a good job of keeping the camera vertical, but there are a few degrees of sway, so we can take two such frames from the video and overlay them so that the background matches.

As you can see, in the overlaid image (which I've made partially transparent so you can see the background matches), the "second sun" has rotated about the actual sun.

If you compare the amount of rotation of the reflection with the amount of rotation of the image, you can see they match up.

Hence it must be an offset reflection.

So is this a hoax? It's hard to say. It's quite possible to get this effect by accidentally cross threading the second filter on a camera. Here's an example of a cross threaded filter on my camera.

And here's the result:

This example is actually quite compelling as a "second sun", as it seems to be behind the leaves of the tree. However those are the leaves in front of the actual sun.

So you can see it's an easy effect to fake, and yet it's also a quite easy effect to have happen accidentally if you have stacked filters. Either way though, it's not a second sun, or Niburu, or Planet X. It's just a reflection of the sun.

So what about the other things that it is not? Various things have been suggested by over-eager debunkers on the Youtube video (and then repeated uncritically on The Daily Mail)

It's not a sun dog, because sun dogs, despite often being called "mock suns" are not perfectly round disks like the sun. They look like this:

It's not an "atmospheric reflection", as there's really no such thing as an atmospheric reflection. The air cannot reflect light in any meaningful way. It can only absorb it, scatter it, or bend it. The latter is "refraction", which is the closest to a real atmospheric phenomenon, a mirage such as fata morgana, that can create something you could loosely call a second sun. But the best you are going to get is a distorted mirroring that might seem to break off a bit of the sun as seen in this montage:

Atmospheric refraction cannot create a second full clear image of the sun, the atmosphere lacks the refractive index, and is too turbulent.

Note: This is a summary post of material in the discussion thread. The original first post follows.

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Can anyone shed light on the formation of the "second sun" in this video? It is obviously not a planet (let alone Nibiru), nor is it a lense flare or any atmospheric effect I'm familiar with (and I'm quite familiar with them: this is definitely not a halo/sundog or mirage of some sort).

In fact, everything seems to point towards a simple solution: it's the Sun's reflection in a (double glazed) window in front of the camera. Compare this, for example.

But there we have the problem: The Nibiru lady does not appear to be behind any kind of glass, nor does she seem to be holding her shades in front of the lens like here.

So if she isn't, what else could account for this effect?

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Why do you think it isn't a lens flare?

Why do you think it isn't a lens flare?

1. It doesn't move along with the movements of the camera;
2. In fact, both the Sun and its "copy" have their own lens flares (that do move along with the camera);
3. If it was a flare, what would have alerted her to start filming?

3. If it was a flare, what would have alerted her to start filming?

I suspect she saw a highlight in the clouds. Sometimes a singular cloud, or cloud hole, can create a dramatic flare of light. Then when she looked at it zoomed in through the camera, she saw this.

I suspect she was filming the sun through some sunglasses. See:
https://www.metabunk.org/debunked-two-suns-weird-sun-or-two-12th-may-2012-uk.t580/

Which I see you said it does not appear like, but I'm not clear how you can tell.

I can't; you may be right. The brownish hue of the video could definitely point in that direction; but then again, that may be due to the camera's white balance correction. What made me sceptical of the sunglasses solution is that - apart from it implying deliberate deception - it would take some skill in moving them along with her brisk movements (and zooming would make the objective poke out, possibly hitting anything held in front of it). Also, wouldn't the Moon she's pointing at around 0:12 show the effect as well (to a lesser extent, of course)? EDIT: Meh, maybe not - probably too dim.

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After a little experimenting I think it's probably not sunglasses, but is instead some flat piece of glass right in front of the lens. One of:
• Part of the lens design, a protective flat layer.
• A third part case designed to protect the camera
• A piece of glass deliberately held in front of the lens, either to dim the light or create this effect.
You can easily duplicate it with a microscope slide, or similar piece of glass. I does need ot be at a slight angle in order to get the reflection, so a slightly ill-fitting case seems plausible.

1. It doesn't move along with the movements of the camera;
2. In fact, both the Sun and its "copy" have their own lens flares (that do move along with the camera);
3. If it was a flare, what would have alerted her to start filming?
The Sun's copy looks like a double reflection. The example with sunglasses above is one possibility, but I regularly see this effect when watching sunsets through a thick (1/2 inch) glass window. The sun beam reflects from the front side of the glass and then returns after reflecting once more from the back side, offsetting the Sun's copy and weakening its brightness.

The Sun's copy looks like a double reflection. The example with sunglasses above is one possibility, but I regularly see this effect when watching sunsets through a thick (1/2 inch) glass window. The sun beam reflects from the front side of the glass and then reflects ones again from the back side, offsetting the Sun's copy and weakening its brightness.

Yup, that's exactly what I'm thinking too - except there doesn't appear to be any sign of a glass window in the video.

After a little experimenting I think it's probably not sunglasses, but is instead some flat piece of glass right in front of the lens. One of:
• Part of the lens design, a protective flat layer.
• A third part case designed to protect the camera
• A piece of glass deliberately held in front of the lens, either to dim the light or create this effect.
You can easily duplicate it with a microscope slide, or similar piece of glass. I does need ot be at a slight angle in order to get the reflection, so a slightly ill-fitting case seems plausible.

Makes lots of sense. Thanks for your thoughts - and experiments!

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Might also be a 3rd party lens addition, the magnification seems too good for a simple phone. Ideally we'd know exactly what she filmed with, and what accessories, etc.

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Might also be a 3rd party lens addition, the magnification seems too good for a simple phone. Ideally we'd know exactly what she filmed with, and what accessories, etc.

Ah, yes of course, that would explain the vertical video in combination with quality zooming.

The "object" seems clipped on the top. The sun appears to be flattened as if partially behind come clouds, at the bottom. I think it's an inverted reflection of the sun.

This is a good video demonstration

Good one! Yeah, that looks pretty conclusive. It was the reflection's not moving along with the camera that made me suspect a fixed window surface, but this shows convincingly that needn't be so.

Now I've actually got some sun I did a few more experiments. Here's a pic I took with my Canon 7D

The flared out object on the right is the sun. The object on the left is a reflection of the sun created with a filter held at a slight angle in front of the lens.

I also took a short video showing the reflection stays in the same position relative to the sun whereas the lens flare moves. (There is actually a bit of movement of the reflections, as I was hand-holding the filter).

The 7D and most large cameras need two filters to get the effect. A cell phone usually has a protective flat cover, and so only needs one.

It's also possible that some cameras might do it regardless, depending on their design.

Interestingly, using a shallower angle (and after cleaning the glass) revealed there are actually three suns.

Interestingly, using a shallower angle (and after cleaning the glass) revealed there are actually three suns.
In this design, if you tilt or rotate you cameraphone during filming, the sun's copies should move relative the background. Is this correct?

In this design, if you tilt or rotate you cameraphone during filming, the sun's copies should move relative the background. Is this correct?

Yes. Which would be a good test. Possibly the OP might show that effect.

Yes it does:

About one seconds apart, camera rotates, everything moves with the camera as you would expect, except the sun. Hence it's a reflection.

And the angle it rotates around the sun (relative to the background) is the same angle that the image (and the horizon) have rotated.

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I shall write a summary post to go at the top, as this videos is getting quite popular, having being linked from the Daily Mail a couple of days ago.

Sweet, thanks so much, Mick, for all the thorough work! I couldn't wrap my head around the precise configuration, but you've made abundantly clear how a reflection like this doesn't need a fixed window surface like I initially thought.

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Stabilizing the video shows the the reflection moving with the camera motion

Stabilizing the video shows the the reflection moving with the camera motion
Excellent work Mick, thanks!

I shall write a summary post to go at the top, as this videos is getting quite popular, having being linked from the Daily Mail a couple of days ago.

Thanks for the explanation. We need more people who explain things like this.

Sorry, I have a doubt. I know how the effect was made, but I don't understand why we can see that "sun" behind the clouds?

Thanks for the explanation. We need more people who explain things like this.

Sorry, I have a doubt. I know how the effect was made, but I don't understand why we can see that "sun" behind the clouds?

You can't. The clouds that you see are actually in front of the real sun. Like these leaves:

And an even more obvious example:

And another:

You can't. The clouds that you see are actually in front of the real sun. Like these leaves:

And an even more obvious example:

And another:

Ok. I get it. It's a reflexion by the true sun. I couldn't see that clouds opposite to the sun because of its brightness.

Thank you so much.

Not the same process, but as a PS to this thread, today's Optics Pod shows a nice example of multiple images caused by glass windows.

This is from India

I think this is also what you are calling an offset lens reflection. I studied photography in the '70's and learned to call this a filter flare. When you have a single glass filter, and it is properly screwed onto the lens, you can get a flare directly opposite the optical axis, I think because the light is reflecting off the surface of (spherical) lens onto the inside surface of the filter. This is not what is happening in your example. But if you had multiple (and flexible) gel filters in an old fashioned filter holder, which was a common thing decades ago, you could get internal reflections between the slightly offset filters, and get a flare very much like in your example.

This one, I'm confident, is an internal reflection in a double paned window. At 1:04 you can see the window frame.

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This is a great post. Some excellent examples to show people getting freaked out about imaginary planets. Thanks for all the great work you do Mick, it is helping some people.

It's not a sun dog, because sun dogs, despite often being called "mock suns" are not perfectly round disks like the sun.

both "sun dogs" and "moon dogs" can look like rather perfect copies of the sun/moon, when it's cloudy and the higher atmospere is full of ice. however, both can only occur at the same place/angle on the left and right side, but never like shown in the fake video/photo.

both "sun dogs" and "moon dogs" can look like rather perfect copies of the sun/moon, when it's cloudy and the higher atmospere is full of ice.

Only if the sun already looks like a blurry glare. In this example you can tell it's not a sundog because it looks like a round disk. Sundogs cannot look like round disks.

Only if the sun already looks like a blurry glare. In this example you can tell it's not a sundog because it looks like a round disk. Sundogs cannot look like round disks.

... but never like shown in the fake video/photo.

Well, there's nothing fake about the video, per se. It just doesn't show what the filmer thinks it does.

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