Two Suns at Sunsrise

I just got around to processing some photos from the end of last month. I had taken some photos of a pretty sunrise as we were leaving Moreton Island off the coast of Australia. When I processed them today, I realized there were two suns in my sunrise photos!

Two Suns

You can see the full sequence of five shots I took in the album below. At the start, the second sun is just a bottom half. The other three shots really look like two suns are rising. NOTE: there was NO Photoshopping going on here. These are real photos!

View full-sized with descriptions

While I am a big fan of Star Wars, and most people remember the scene of Luke Skywalker watching a double-sunrise on Tatooine, I don’t propose that I’ve really taken a shot of two suns. At first I thought it was jittery photo taking, but that didn’t explain it. Then I thought maybe it was a reflection on my lens, but you can see that’s not the case. But, I think it is a VERY rare occurrence based on searches I did on the Internet.

I do have a theory for how this is happening. What I think happened is that the sun was reflecting off the water between the cloud and the sun (on the other side) and appears on the cloud between me and the sun. Still, I think it’s amazing!

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3 Responses to Two Suns at Sunsrise

  1. Matt says:

    The double sunrise phenomenon can be caused by a UV filter on your camera (if you had one on). The extra piece of glass between your sensor and the subject causes a very slight refraction that is only noticeable when shooting bright light sources such as a sunrise/sunset or a billboard at night.

  2. Matt says:

    Just a quick addendum to my comment. Do a Google search for “filter flare” and you’ll see tons of discussion about the subject.

    • Frank Taylor says:

      Matt, after re-examining the original photos closely, I think you are correct. The “reflected” image is a duplicate of the sun seen in each photo (not a different part of the sun that would be seen from behind the clouds like I thought originally). So, filter flare is probably the correct term to describe it. Darn, I liked the idea of a reflection off the sea better!

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