The claim: Video shows China launching an artificial sun
Social media users are falsely claiming that a viral video shows an artificial sun being launched by China.
A Facebook video shared Jan. 10 shows a crowd of people with phones gathered near a beach filming what appears to be an orange bulb ascending in the air.
"Viral video with caption saying 'China has launched an artificial sun' making the rounds," reads the caption of the Facebook video.
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The clip generated over 8,500 views in less than three days. A recently deleted Instagram post featuring the same claim and video amassed over 100,000 likes. Variations of this clip have received over 1,000 likes on Instagram and over 50,000 likes on Twitter.
But the claim is false.
The viral video shows a rocket launch that occurred in December, as independent fact-checking organizations have noted.
USA TODAY reached out to the social media user who shared the post for comment.
Video shows a rocket launch
USA TODAY was unable to find the original source of the clip. But several social media posts indicate the video circulated by the Facebook user shows the Long March 7A rocket launch in Wenchang, China, that took place Dec. 23.
A 50-minute, 14-second livestream of the rocket launch uploaded to YouTube reveals the same crowd of people gathered near the beach taken from several vantage points. The scenes are similar to the one in the viral clip.
A Dec. 23 tweet also presents an identical video of spectators with their phones facing the orange streak in the sky, which was the same day of the Long March 7A rocket launch.
"The live observation of the rocket launch was extremely shocking," reads the caption, according to Google Translate .
The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. published an official clip of the Long March 7A launch, which shows the rocket right as it is about to blast off, with flames forming an orange bulb as seen in the viral videos.
Reuters reported that the beach in the viral clip matches the one in the coastal town of Longlou, which is home to the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site where the Long March 7A blasted off.
Visitors often gather along that beach to witness rocket launches, according to the China Global Television Network.
The Long March 7A rocket successfully launched a pair of satellites into orbit, according to Space News.
USA TODAY reached out to the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site for comment.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, the artificial sun is another name for China's nuclear fission reactor, called the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST). The heavy metal device recently reached temperatures "five times hotter than the sun." But it's located firmly on the ground.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that a video shows China launching an artificial sun. The video shows the Long March 7A rocket launch near a coastal town in China.
Our fact-check sources:
Reuters, Jan. 10, Fact Check-Video shows rocket launch in China, not an ‘artificial sun’
Lead Stories, Jan. 10, Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show China's 'Artificial Sun' -- That's A Rocket Launch
Smithsonian Magazine, Jan. 10, China’s Artificial Sun Just Broke a Record for Longest Sustained Nuclear Fusion
Space News, Dec. 23, 2021, Long March 7A launches classified Shiyan-12 satellites
Google Translate, accessed Jan. 13
Xinhua News Agency, Dec. 31, 2021, Chinese "artificial sun" sets new world record
Newsweek, Jan. 10, Fact Check: Does Video Show China Launching 'Artificial Sun' Into Space?
RocketGyan via YouTube, Dec. 23, 2021, China Launch Long March 7A LIVE | HOTS Mission | High Orbit Test Satellite | CNSA
China Global Television Network, Jan. 24, 2021, In China's aerospace city, farmers rediscover an ancient art
@turbo830130, Dec. 23, Tweet
Chinese Forces via YouTube, Dec. 23, 2021, Two secret satellites launched by improved CZ-7A, Chinese medium new generation rocket
@SpaceX, Oct. 18, 2018, Tweet
The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, Dec. 23, 2021, Long March 7A Pictures and Video
Global Times, Jan. 12, Viral tweet showing China’s ‘artificial sun’ identified as rocket launch
Office of Nuclear Energy, March 12, 2021, NUCLEAR 101: How Does a Nuclear Reactor Work?
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Video does not show China launching an artificial sun