Is this proof of some kind of mystical power at the site of a Mayan ruin? Or is it just a photographic glitch?
This incredible scene was captured by Hector Siliezar when he visited the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza, Mexico, in 2009 with his wife and kids. While he was on the site in front of a temple used to worship the Mayan god Kukulkan, a thunderstorm erupted in the distance.
Seeing an opportunity for a very special photograph, Siliezar took a series of photos in the hope of capturing a bolt of lighting behind the pyramid. He succeeded, with dramatic results.
Not only did he catch a lightning strike, he appeared to catch something quite unexpected. As if Mayan ghosts had been inspired by Las Vegas' Luxor Casino, it appeared the temple was emanating a shaft of light from its apex to the heavens!
Naturally, some people will see this as a "signal" from some kind of deity warning us that Dec. 21, 2012 will be a bad day for mankind.
Many UFO hoaxes and bizarre shapes spotted in space photos often stem from photographic aberrations, and space scientists are all too aware of the anomalies that can pop up.
Apparently, Siliezar took three images in quick succession with his iPhone in the hope of capturing a lightning bolt. And according to Jonathon Hill, of the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University, it is no coincidence that the one photo with the lightning bolt is also accompanied by the strange shaft of light.
"The intensity of the lightning flash likely caused the camera's CCD sensor to behave in an unusual way, either causing an entire column of pixels to offset their values or causing an internal reflection (off the) camera lens that was recorded by the sensor," Hill told Life's Little Mysteries.
CCD sensor misfiring is not an uncommon occurrence, but this artifact has come in the shape of a shaft, giving the optical illusion it's coming from the top of the temple. For artistic purposes, it makes for a very fortunate and satisfying coincidence.
Siliezar says that he didn't see any shaft of light on the day of the photograph, which suggests to me that either the light was too dim to be seen by the human eye, or it appeared instantaneously when the lightning bolt flashed. As the "shaft" seems pretty bright, I'm thinking it's the latter.