Report from Zimbabwe: Double sunset

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ZIMBABWE – On December 11, 2015, Zimbabwe was still experiencing an intense heatwave with almost clear skies and very little rain. While the sun was setting behind a lone small cumulus cloud, a diffuse duplicate appeared above it in a thin veil of more distant high cloud.

This spectacle lasted for just over a minute before the second sun faded away.

The photo was taken between using a hand-held Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 compact camera in intelligent auto mode.

I asked Jim Foster of the Earth Science Picture of the Day what might have caused this phenomenon. He worked as a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for more than 37 years before retiring in 2014. He replied that a double sun is:

… only seen when the sun is low in the sky and likely a result of reflection by ice crystals.

The Earth Science Picture of the Day on Facebook also published this photo on December 14, 2015.

Bottom line: Apparently double sunset – likely due to reflection by ice crystals – seen in Zimbabwe on December 11, 2015.

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