UPDATE: Unfortunately some of the links in this article are no longer working.
By Phil Plait of www.badastronomy.com This article was written by Phil afew years ago now but is still relevant to the newest wave of “Nibiru SOHO” images to hit the web. These images show exactly what Phil describes below.
What is going on in the SOHO images?
A few people have been asking about this, but there hasn’t been much talk about it. As it happens, I have a lot of experience with astronomical imaging. I spent about a decade working on Hubble images, and a few years before that on a ground-based telescope. I still do dabble in digital astronomical imaging. I am not bragging, just putting my credentials down to show that I am very experienced in this field.
Let me say this up front: the images from SOHO are completely within the realm of what you’d expect from such images. The “anomalies” pointed out by Tuatha (who claims spaceships are all around the Sun: do a websearch on the words “suncruiser” and “SOHO” and you’ll see what I mean), Ms. Lieder and the rest are not anomalies at all. They are simply things that happen when you use a digital camera.
The cameras usually used in astronomical imaging are called CCDs, for Charge-Coupled Device. It’s like a computer chip that’s sensitive to light. The best analogy for one is like an array of buckets in the rain. Each bucket (CCD pixel) collects rain (light). The amount of rain collected depends on how much rain falls on that bucket; the amount of light in each pixel of the CCD depends on how bright an object is. When light hits a CCD it is converted to electrons, and when the image is done the electrons are “read off” the CCD and counted. The more electrons you see in a pixel, the more light hit that pixel. The numbers of electrons can be converted to images by your computer. That’s how the images on, say, the SOHO site are done.
So, how does this affect the Planet X arguments? In many ways:
Sometimes, a pixel is more sensitive to light than others. This can happen when a pixel is hit by high energy radiation like cosmic rays (which I’ll abbreviate “CR”), which are subatomic particles zipping around space. What happens then is that pixel is always “bright”, or “hot”, even when nothing is putting light into it. You have to make a map of the hot pixels in a CCD so you can compensate for them.
Ms. Lieder claims the images taken by Steve Havas show Planet X. What they really show is a hot pixel. When the pictures are properly calibrated, as several people have shown (see here and here), the “Planet X” pixel goes away. One giveaway is that stars/planets/etc. are round in the image (they cover several pixels), where hot pixels look like single points. The things pointed out by Ms. Lieder and others are single points, so they cannot be real. This shows two things: 1) you have to be careful and understand CCDs when you look at the data, and 2) Ms. Lieder is wrong.
A lot of the stuff pointed out by Tuatha in the SOHO images is really just hot pixels. They aren’t spaceships at all, they are simply pixels inside the SOHO camera that are a bit too overenthusiastic.
When cosmic rays hit a CCD, they dump their energy into a pixel, making it look very bright. Sometime, if the impact angle is low, the CR leaves a streak. At the end of the streak, it can suddenly dump lots of energy into the pixels, making what looks like a spray. I saw this all the time in my Hubble images. Unless there are billions of spaceships out there leaving little trails in all those random images, I would prefer to assume they are actually the somewhat more common cosmic ray.
In the SOHO images, there are lots of CRs. Sometimes these are particles from the Sun, accelerated during a coronal mass ejection. Matter of fact, after you see a big ejection from the Sun, the particles can hit the SOHO detectors, making it look like they were hit by a shotgun. A few of what Tuatha claims are spaceships near the Sun are CR sprays. Tuatha’s claims are wrong.
Remember the bucket analogy? What happens when a bucket fills up to the brim with water? It overflows. The same thing happens in CCDs. A pixel can only hold so many electrons before it overflows. Because of the way the pixels are made, the overflow goes into the adjoining pixels horizontally, so the overflowing pixel leaks electrons into the pixels to its left and right (or above and below it). If enough light is hitting the one pixel, it can overflow the adjacent pixels, which flow into the next ones, and so on. When you look at the resulting image, a bright object appears to have a bright horizontal line going through it. This is called “blooming”. A bright star may bloom over several vertical pixels, so you get many rows of blooming.
There is a picture posted at http://www.cyberspaceorbit.com/indexback46.html which is called the “Ra” image because there is a feature that looks like the symbol for the Egyptian god Ra. This is a perfect example of a bright object blooming. If you go through the SOHO archive, you’ll see this happening whenever a bright object is in the image. Venus is the brightest thing you’ll see, and it blooms quite a bit. I don’t know what was in the SOHO field in the Ra image, but it was bright and it bloomed (it may have been a very energetic CR). Those “wings” are not real. They are simply electrons that overflowed inside the CCD itself.
You can see several examples on this page: http://www.iwonderproductions.com/suncru.htm. In fact, the explanation given by Joe Gurman on that page is correct, and the webpage author didn’t believe him. The cosmic rays and bright objects give the same shape every time because what’s happening is inside the CCD, not on the sky. Also, the “torpedo” in that image is a comet! Lots of comets are seen going very near (and sometimes actually impacting) the Sun. Matter of fact, more comets have been discovered using SOHO than any other single telescope. Hundreds have been seen.
As far as other “anomalies” in SOHO images go, there are many, but all the ones I have seen have rational explanations. Sometimes you see what look like palm fronds coming out, fanning across the image (this one is a favorite of The Millennium Group, which you can see here). I asked a SOHO person, and they said that sometimes debris gets knocked off the satellite (there are a few moving parts on the satellite that can jolt it) and this stuff drifts in front of the camera. They are out of focus at first, and as they move away they get more and more in focus. That’s why you get the palm frond shape; the thick base is actually when the particle is close, and the narrow tip is when it’s far away. It’s a time exposure of something coming into focus.
Well, that was longer than I anticipated, but I hope it clears some things up. The point here is that people like Tuatha, Ms. Lieder and others have no experience with digital astronomical cameras, and assume they simply take pictures. CCDs are far more complicated than that, and in fact I have just scratched the surface here with what you need to know to interpret CCD images. Every single thing Tuatha has pointed at in the SOHO images actually has a far more mundane explanation than alien spaceships.
Like Robert Sepehr (a man who has a Planet X video to sell, and constantly makes easily-disproven claims on a PX discussion group), who constantly claims the Sun is acting up without understanding that this is actually the Sun’s normal and expected behavior, Tuatha and the others simply don’t understand the subject they are talking about. It’s really that simple. I don’t mean this to sound condescending; I mean it to be literally true. I try to stay away from topics (like geology and mammoths) in this field when I do not have the expertise to give an informed opinion, but in this case I do. If more people actually went out and tried to find the answers to some of these questions, a lot of the Planet X “evidence” would go away.
UPDATE: We never got round to asking NibiruShock2012 anymore questions. Repeated attempts at trying to contact him via YouTube have failed.
Sorry its been a while since any new posts on our blog, we have so much stuff to go over ready for new future articles that we’re pretty bogged down at the moment sorting out the important stuff from the not so important. The following article, or Q&A we feel is very important. You may have read some of our past articles mentioning the YouTube user by the name of NibiruShock2012. Over the past few weeks we here at Yowcrooks have been submitting questions to NibiruShock2012 about his hoax videos that he posted on YouTube back in February 2008 that caused a frenzy of activity in the Nibiru world, and he kindly allowed us to make a Q&A article about it. This will be published in two parts. So, without wasting anymore time, lets get to it.
Yowcrooks: We would like to start off by thanking you for accepting our Q&A invite. I suppose the first and obvious questions would be, why did you make the hoax videos?
NibiruShock2012: You’re welcome. I’m glad I have finally got a site like yours that wants to ask serious questions and not be abusive towards me for what I did. The reason why I made the videos was simply a test. A test to see how many people could be so easily fooled by afew pictures that took me about 10 minutes to make in photoshop. I didn’t expect the videos to get as many views as they did in such a short period of time and certainly didn’t expect websites to start running articles on them and saying they believed they were 100% genuine.
Yowcrooks: Was this the desired effect you were after when making/uploading the videos for YouTube?
NibiruShock2012: Well I wanted to see how many people could be fooled. I didn’t expect high profile people in the Nibiru community to analyse the pictures and say they were genuine. If anything I expected them to dismiss the pictures instantly.
Yowcrooks: How did it make you feel that so many people believed the photos were real?
NibiruShock2012: At first I found it funny that so many people could believe they were real. I found it funny that so called “experts” in the Nibiru field said they analysed the pictures and proved 100% they were not photoshopped hoaxes. At first this was the reaction I was after but if anything that made it worse.
Yowcrooks: Made it worse in what way?
NibiruShock2012: I think by people who are pretty well respected by Nibiru believers analyzing the pictures and saying they were genuine made it worse. I started getting hundreds of messages in my YouTube inbox from people who were really terrified by the videos I uploaded and seeing videos by other people who analysed the pictures and said they 100% real.
Yowcrooks: What kind of questions were these people asking you?
NibiruShock2012: They were asking me things like how much time do they have left? Where is the best place to go to try and survive this? I remember one message I got from a young woman saying she wanted to have an abortion because she didn’t want her child to go through this. I even got messages off people saying they wanted to commit suicide because of this whole Nibiru 2012 thing scared them so much. This is when I decided to pull the plug and come clean about the videos.
Yowcrooks: Lets talk a little about the hoax declaration. Why did you upload the “X Configuration” video and the coded message video that spelled “THIS IS A HOAX”? rather than just simply saying all the videos are hoaxes?
NibiruShock2012: Good question. I’m not entirely sure myself to be honest. I think I wanted to keep a little more mystery in the videos rather than just blurting out it was all a hoax. The X Configuration video was done just to see how many people would stop, and think to themselves hang on a minute this is getting silly now. Either way it wouldn’t have mattered, too many people were already convinced the pictures were real and then conspiracies started going around that my account had been hijacked by a government agent that was trying to dismiss the videos as a hoax.
Yowcrooks: Lets talk a little about that. What do you think when you see people saying your account was hijacked? We have also noticed another channel on YouTube, NibiruShock2010 that claims they are you and they have re-uploaded your first three videos. Alot of other people have also re-uploaded your videos. How does this make you feel?
NibiruShock2012: Well first of all the people who say my account was hijacked are just pathetic conspiracy theorists that just want to keep the Nibiru myth alive via my videos. They have no proof my account was hijacked apart from the words of one man, Marshall Masters. That’s why afew months ago I decided to re-open my account to prove it wasn’t hijacked and closed. The NibiruShock2010 user I have no idea who that is or why they are claiming to be me. It’s pretty low and desperate to say the least. As for others who have uploaded my videos there is nothing I can do about that. But that should be enough to convince people I’m not a government agent trying to get rid of these videos because if I was I would have made sure that not one of those videos remained on YouTube. But because I’m not I don’t really care who re-uploads them. At the end of the day I know I am who I say I am and I know I was the one who made those pictures. I don’t really care what people say or think about them anymore, I know they are fake and there isn’t much longer to wait now before everyone else who believed they were real will be proved wrong.
Yowcrooks: You mentioned Marshall Masters there. There was a time when people thought you could actually be Marshall Masters and these videos were a ratings and publicity scam to sell more books. We here at Yowcrooks were also suspicious of this. Did you have any contact with Marshall Masters of yowusa.com during your hoax? Also what do you think of his so called “analysis” and “highly credible” conclusion regarding your photos?
NibiruShock2012: I think he contacted me via YouTube once or twice but he sent quite alot of messages trying to get me to reply before I messaged him back. This was when the hoax was peaking and he was writing all sorts of articles about the videos and also uploading his own videos about them. I did send a lenghy reply back which he then decided to sell on his website before allowing people to read it. I do honestly have to say that because of the videos I made he got alot more people visit his site and probably sold alot more books and got more subscriptions, so on that side of things he got what he wanted out of it. As for his analysis on my pictures I found it hilarious that he could come to a “highly credible” conclusion. At least for me anyway it proved that he and his disciples have no idea what they’re doing or what they’re talking about. I honestly believe he knows they are fake but because he ran so many articles and did his own videos on them he wanted to keep as many people believing him as possible. It would probably have had a severe impact on his credibility otherwise. But I knew he would be one of the first to jump in my inbox and make a buck from it, it’s what scam artists like him do but unfortunately for the people that believe his rubbish they’ll have to learn that the hard way.
Yowcrooks: That brings us to our next question – what do you think of the people like Marshall Masters that are using this Nibiru hoax to make money?
NibiruShock2012: There isnt really anything anyone can do about it apart from keep on exposing them for what they are. I could have quite easily made money from my hoax by saying I had more pictures but I want paying for them but I’m sure people like Marshall Masters has made a nice sum of money from my hoax. It’s probably one of the reasons why he jumped on them so quickly, he saw a golden oppertunity. But scammers like this wont stop, there are alot of people making money from similar scams across the internet. Even when 2012 passes and Nibiru fails to show up once again I doubt the myth will die, it will just be modified and reinvented ready for the next wave of gullible people to part with their money.
Yowcrooks: Our final question to you for now is this – do you regret hoaxing those photos and uploading the videos to YouTube?
NibiruShock2012: Yes. If I could go back in time and change it I would, but I can’t. The only thing that gives me peace of mind is the fact I know the pictures I made and what I said about them is complete rubbish which wont happen, other people will realise this soon and I just hope they wont be so quick to believe in something so stupid in the future, but here’s to wishful thinking!
Yowcrooks: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us NibiruShock2012. We look forward to talking with you again soon.
NibiruShock2012: You’re welcome. I hope your readers will have had some questions answered regarding myself and my videos.
Part 2 of this Q&A will be published soon.