Everyone relax. While the jury may be out on abundant life in space we can squash this other space-related "second sun" story out of China. Our solar system has not sprouted a second sun and we are not on Tatooine. It was a mirage.

More specifically, it was an example of optical refraction. The effect is caused by changes in the Earth's atmosphere, and while incredibly rare the effect has been photographed and analyzed before.


In 1993 for example, Flemish astronomer Marcel Minnaert catalogued double-sightings of both the Sun and the Moon. His findings were near-identical to what happened over China this week.

So, to review, Betelgeuse did not go supernova and create a bright second Sun in the sky. A rogue star has not spirited into our solar system to cook us all alive or cast our little blue pebble into the void. It was just a mirage, most likely created by the smog of industry that grows wildly within China with each passing day. [MSNBC]